Tagged: Serial Saturday

Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Three by Robert Gabe

  1. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part One by Robert Gabe
  2. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Two by Robert Gabe
  3. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Two by Robert Gabe
  4. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Three by Robert Gabe
  5. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men, Part Four by Robert Gabe Scheduled for June 1, 2024

 

 

Part Three

 

I figured I’d rent a motel room to set up shop. The place is called “The Blue Moon.” It sits on the fringes of town and it goes for about seventy a night. I park my ford focus and am greeted to its neon sign stuttering against the backdrop of a black sky. I grab the tarnished keys from the clerk, a haggard man in his fifties with bloodshot eyes and when I open the door to room thirteen I’m met with the smell of mildew and weed. I survey the room. There is a single bed with a lumpy mattress and a desk and a small bathroom with a shower without hot water. This is where people came to die, where the downtrodden let their hair down, where degeneracy festered. I’m told by the clerk that the police circle the place constantly looking to crack down on drug transactions. I rest Tana’s black book on the desk, lock the door and go to rest on the bed. My first thoughts traced back to childhood memories. When I was young I remember being at a similar motel with my father. I mustn’t have been over the age of four. We had rented out the motel room for a weekend trip where he promised he’d take me to a new theme park that had had its grand opening no more than five miles down the road. Instead he left me at the motel and went to get drunk at a nearby dive bar where he lost track of time. I remember the room being blisteringly cold and I wasn’t tall enough to change the room temperature thermometer. At midnight, cutting through the silence, I heard a high pitched cry come from the neighboring room. I stepped outside the door and when I did I saw a woman in her early fifties, skinny and all marked up with red scratches, frantically trying to escape an intimidating black man who had stripped her naked and given her a black eye. He shut the door behind her and left her to fend for herself in the wintery dead of night. When she finally noticed me standing there, she gawked at me with this dead vacant expression that made me turn rigid in fear. And without saying anything, she lifelessly crossed the empty freeway in the full nude and disappeared hopelessly into the thick woods that loomed from across the motel. My father came back in the morning and took me upon the knee and apologized. I said nothing about what I had seen. We went to the park the next day, but all the time I was joyless as I couldn’t forget the woman, hoping she had found shelter from the cold. Whenever I pass said woods in my car, I turn my head to look for her, as if she might emerge, clothed and smiling. But upon reflection, I felt that whatever fate fell upon that woman, it wasn’t one of pity and she more than likely died in those woods that night from hypothermia.

I fantasized about Tana in the middle of the night and it occurred to me I’d never done so before until I started investigating her life as Night Nocturne. I never really thought about her in such a way before. My motel room was dingy and oppressive so I lit a cigarette not caring if the staff would charge me for a smoking fee. I could hear a couple fighting next door—something about not having enough money to spend the week. I tried to drown out their screams by increasing the volume on my TV and turning on the bathroom fan. I began looking through Tana’s black book. There were names that meant nothing to me and others that blew my hair back. I tried to imagine her decked out in lingerie, the innocent school girl with a congenial personality wearing a black G-String and bow trim ruffle suspenders. The ass of an angel. The Ass of an Angel. The Ass of an angel. An ass I’d never get to witness as it was now buried six feet under… I clear my mind of said thoughts and when I do I feel more lucid and focused, the detailed exploits of her call girl encounters becoming major distractions. 

A night goes by and a dark shadow is casted over me as I pour myself a whisky and light up a smoke, trying to connect the dots between Tanas hostess job and how she got wrapped up in online chat rooms. They seemed to be at odds with one another. It’s eleven at night. The couple is still fighting. I go to shut the window and when I do the phone rings. Front desk. My card has declined and they want to know if I can pay cash. I grab my things, but before I can exit the room the table phone rings again. I slow my pace and cautiously approach it, putting the receiver to my ear with reluctance. A woman is singing in a deep soothing voice “Kick the chair right down from under me… Leave me hanging alone in misery…”

I know the song. It’s Rose.

 “What’s up? I say.

 “What did you think of last night?”

 “I want more.”

 “You’ll get it, but now is not the time.” Rose tells me she’s been fired without justification and she’s scared to leave her apartment. I tell her she’s being paranoid. No one saw us go home together, did they? I quickly end the conversation and tell her to come over because I’m starting to feel a little paranoid myself. When she arrives she’s dressed in all black, in fishnet stockings sporting an eighties post-punk look. 

Rose tells me about a basement party in a small church where a goth band is playing. I consider it a distraction, but it’s Friday night and getting away from Tana’s black book for a few hours might do me some good. We speed down I-95 and she lights her cigarette from her car lighter and cracks the window ever so slightly to allow the smoke to escape. The rain outside taps insistently on the windshield and ahead of me the asphalt’s yellow lines blurring indicate to me she’s going over the limit. From her radio, the vocalist mumbles “Like a flash of light, in an endless night, life is trapped between two black entities. Cause when you trust someone, Illusion has begun, no way to prepare, Impending despair.”

“You wanna slow down?” I say calmly “What’s the rush?” 

“How to tell me you drive like a bitch without telling me you drive like a bitch.” She says “I’m doing like ten over.” 

We get to the church and outside on the front steps are a bunch of scene kids tapping their feet on the pavement from the music coming inside. I enter the door and pass a front that holds holy water for baptism. The clerestory windows pierce the nave’s upper walls. We pass the altar where the crucifiction is held and go into a back room with a spiral staircase leading down, the music growing louder now and I wonder to myself how such a metal band managed to infiltrate a place of worship such as this. Inside, large tables have been set up for drinks and a crowd of people gather around a band who seem to have their faces painted in an attempt to mimic something demonic. I take a seat at the bar and watch. Rose sits next to me. 

“What a bunch.” I say flatly. 

“You’re no fun, Vincent.” 

“Someone is going to take the fall for this. This is not what I’d call Christian music.”

 Just then the band stops playing. The music cuts off like a buzz saw. The lead singer speaks into the microphone.

“How’s everyone doing tonight?” He says “We wanna take a moment to honor the fallen.”

 Oh no, I think to myself. He continues. “Tana Molnar was a sister to us all. She didn’t just wear the crown. She wore her empathy, compassion and resilience on her sleeve as well.”

The crowd goes quieter. He continues “She reminded us that beauty isn’t skin deep. It’s the light that shines from within.”

If they only knew, I think to myself. “This one is called ‘Midnight Queen’” The band starts jamming horrible noises and I can’t take it anymore so I tell Rose I’m going out for a smoke. Outside I bum a smoke from one of the kids and when I take a seat on the front steps I notice a man from across the way staring at me from across the street, his face shrouded in darkness. The kids run up to me and give me an envelope.

 “That guy across the street gave it to us.” One says “It’s for you.” I rip the envelope seal and when I do a note falls out, the paper aged and brittle. It bore nothing other than the words

 “Your curiosity dances on the precipice of danger. Give up your inquiries now or forever be a marked target. Consider this your final warning.”

 When I lift my head the mysterious stranger is gone and the kids look at me with concern. I crumble up the paper and throw it into a nearby trash can. Fear has now left my body.

After seeing the band Rose drops me back off at the motel. I offer her to come in and she does, but she is taken back by the sheer clutter on display. We order food from a nearby Chinese restaurant and she sits edgerly next to my as my desk looking at all my case files on Tana. I show her one of the names in the Tana’s book belong to a county judge named Brian Sennett. 

“Fucking wild.” Exclaims Rose Kay. “Hey, maybe I could see him as one of my clients and try to get some information out of him.”

“I don’t wanna put you in danger” I say rather dismissively of the idea.

“No, I’m having fun. This is fun.” She laughs “I’ve always wanted to tie up a judge. It’s on my bucket list.”

“How would we get him to seek out your services?” I say.

“Vincent! You underestimate me. You really do.” 

“Well how would you?”

 The following night I got a call from her saying they were meeting at a hotel in the inner-city for a dominatrix session. Perfect. It’s dangerous, but I attach a wire to the inside of Rose Kay’s robe. I tell her to tie him up first and once he’s subdued, lock him with handcuffs and start asking questions about Dream Rabbit. I’ll be listening from the next room over. I’ve also set up a hidden surveillance camera in the room so I can see the two of them in case things get out of hand. The session is at ten PM. At the high rise hotel, once again the rain is coming down hard outside. We wait in our room. 

Rose gets a text.

“He messaged me. He’s in the parking lot.” She says.

“Okay, You go into the next room. Don’t worry I’ll be watching and listening from here and if things get out of hand I’ll barge in.”

From the camera’s point of view, I hear a knock at the door and when rose goes to open it, Brian Sennett is standing at the entrance all soaked from the rain. He removes his hat to chaise the rain off of it and Rose welcomes him inside. 

“Hey Daddy.” She says. “You came to play with me.”

“Indeed I did.” He smiles “Look at you. You are beautiful.”

They kiss. Once again I feel a mixture of minor betrayal and jealousy. Was I falling for Rose Kay? I wasn’t sure. All I was sure of was the two of us were making a great team and we were about to get some answers on Dream Rabbit. Sennett puts the 1k donation of the night stand and starts removing his clothes. He urges Rose to do the same, but she tells him to go first. Sennett lays on the bed nude. He’s rather unashamed of his below par genitalia as he lays on the bed, arms stretched. First, Rose binds his feet with rope, then she handcuffs each arm to a post of the bed. He’s not going anywhere now. Then she does it. She smacks him across the face. He screams and gags him with a ball. 

“Now listen to me Mr. Sennett.” Rose says “I know who you are. You’re a judge for the local county who’s put a lot of people behind bars, some of which were victimless crimes. Right now you’re being videotaped” She points to the camera. “We wouldn’t want this footage to get back to the district attorney’s office now, would we?”

He shakes his head terrified. 

“I want to ask you some questions about a girl. You might have heard of her. Goes by the little known name of Tana Molnar…”

He sighs through his nose and tries to get out of the cuffs to no avail. 

“Now…” Rose Kay Says “I’m going to undo your gag. And if you as much as raise your voice above the way I’m speaking now I’ll whip you and torture you and gag you again. Are we clear?”

He nods and she undoes the gag. He gasps for air. Rose leans in close. 

“I wanna know about Dream Rabbit.”

“What do you wanna know?”

“How you came into contact with them..”

“You don’t come into contact with them. They reach out to you.”

“Go on.”

“It’s a sex trafficking ring for members of the elite. Your common civilian will never get an invitation.”

“How was Tana initiated?”

“I don’t know, but she was one of their highest priced commodities. Most of the girls are runaways, some are underage in their teens. They send them all over the US to work in and out of hotels and private brothels. They take their IDs and passports and are held captive never to communicate with the outside world ever again.” 

“Do you know Mr. Henry?”

“I don’t know him personally, but Tana did. She was his most beloved possession.”

“How many foot soldiers are there?”

“About  three hundred active members which doesn’t include the girls. They’re probably watching you right now. These people are more powerful than you could ever imagine. Their goal is to expand across the US and create a dominion, a self governing nation of kidnappers and traffickers that secretly rule over the commonwealth. Your daughters no longer will belong to you. They will become slaves of an illuminati class.”

“We know they’re watching us. They’ve warned us to back down.”

“Then you should take the hint. Solving Tana’s murder won’t get you any closer to bringing down these people. You will never find them.”

“Where is their headquarters based?”

“Somewhere in the heart of Philadelphia. That’s all I know.”

“Last question. Did Tana ever tell you she was worried for her life?”

“Yes, multiple times. She said she wanted out and they wouldn’t let her leave. She threatened to expose the organization and each time she went to an elected official they told her to yield and surrender.” He continues “Who do I think killed her? A man by the name of Jaques Mallick. He’s Mr. Henry’s right hand man. They call hits on girls all the time but usually they stage the deaths to look like overdoses or suicides. With Tana they just shot her right out in broad daylight. It was a warning to everyone. Do not fuck with us.” 

Rose Kay frees Sennett from his shackles. He throws the cuffs on the floor and immediately attacks her. I jump up from my seat and burst into the room. He clawing at her and she’s putting her arms up to defend herself. I tackle him to the ground and put a taser to his neck. He goes stiff and I tell him not to move or I’ll fry him. 

“Where do I find Jaques Mallick?” I ask him.

“He owns this hotel..” 

My stomach drops and when it does I hear a knock at the door. I let Sennett go and when I open the door a member of the hotel staff, a young spanish man in his early thirties, ask that we vacate the premises as soon as possible.

Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Two by Robert Gabe

  1. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part One by Robert Gabe
  2. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Two by Robert Gabe
  3. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Two by Robert Gabe
  4. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Three by Robert Gabe
  5. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men, Part Four by Robert Gabe Scheduled for June 1, 2024

 

 

Part Two

 

A  week later I met with Tanas mother upon her parents request. I step into Tana’s parents home which exudes an aura of timeless sophistication. Their daughter’s presence is felt. In the living room stands a grand piano and on top of it sits a portrait of Tara, her high school photo next to a bouquet of roses and next to that a mahogany bookshelf featuring a number of classics and other books on world history. Framed family portraits lined the walls, all of which feature their only daughter Tana at the forefront of them, smiling innocently as ever. Along with the officer Daniel, an up and coming rookie, who had been the first responder, they wanted to ask me a few questions on my perception of how it all went down. Every day that went by, my memory of said event got worse, as if my mind was trying to eradicate the awful imprint it had upon my consciousness. I told them what I remembered.

“I just remember one second we were all laughing and smiling. Then all of a sudden, I felt Tana pull from me as she fell to the ground.” I say. 

“Did you hear the gunshot?” ask Daniel pressingly.

“No.” I say truthfully.

“How old are you, Vincent?” Daniel ask.

“Twenty-five” 

Tana’s father John Molnar changes the subject back to Tana. 

“She was a victim of bullying,” says Mr. Molnar, blowing his nose. “In her early years she had a hard time. She was told she was ugly by some teacher above all people and I feel that really had an impact on her.”

I…didn’t know that.” I let out softly. The scene of grieving here is so massive I’m afraid to raise my voice in fear that it will cause an emotional uproar.

“There are many things people didn’t know about, Tana.” Daniel says. “That’s why we brought you here today, Vincent. Believe it or not, you were the last man photographed with her.”  He hands me a photograph. It’s Tana, Casey and I. Tanas smile radiates, her pearly whites sparkle. Casey is nearly a match to her. I smile sheepishly in my Tom Ford suit between them.

“Colton, did you know Tana was once committed to a mental facility?” Tanas mother Victoria speaks, she wipes her nose with a Kleenex.

“No. I didn’t.” I say truthfully.

“She had a hair pulling disorder,” She continues. “She was sixteen. She had pulled out so much hair we had her involuntarily committed.”

“Thankfully it regrew. But she did permanently damage the follicles of her hair.” John adds. Tana had been sent to a mental hospital at age sixteen for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. It’s always the people with the biggest smiles who use them to mask their inner-pain. One of the doctors diagnosed her as manic depressive, another bi-polar, another borderline personality. I didn’t put much stock into psychiatric labels. Maybe I was being thick-headed as I couldn’t relate. My moods were always stable. I had no real traumas in my life before witnessing Tana get shot. I was always content.  

“Can I ask what you’re getting at here” I say blushing.

The officer says “You said you saw a black van. Did you get a good look at the  license plate or who was driving?”

“No.” I say “and I think the windows were tinted”

“How much did you and Tana talk?” John asks.

“I only knew her in passing.” I say truthfully. 

“Did she ever tell you about a man named Mr. Henry?”

“Mr. Henry?”

Daniel starts to speak, a rather sullen tone in his voice “When Tana was 17 she met a man in an online chat room who went by the name of Mr. Henry.” He pauses “She never mentioned him in passing?”

“Like I said, I only knew Tana in passing. The only words I ever exchanged with Tana were ‘ Hello Tana’ and ‘Goodbye Tana.’ Like I said we were never really close friends. But I witnessed her from a distance and the power she had over people.” I pause “Tell me more about the man.”

Victoria says “we thought she was doing better. Her mental health struggles were behind her. We thought everything was behind her” she grabs another Kleenex. “We think Mr. Henry is a predator that was watching Tana, maybe for years.”

My palms began to clam up. Tana’s father begins to cry and outside the window I see news journalists beginning to gather outside, a desperate attempt for interviews with the family only one day after the open casket funeral which I didn’t attend. Daniel closes the blinds. 

“My baby.” John blows his nose “I didn’t want to believe it but this is all we have to go on. We think Mr. Henry is involved with the murder of Tana.”

“Wait, I remember something,” I say unabashedly. “When Tana was in my arms her last words were “Dream Rabbit…”

The room all of a sudden took on a new vibe. One of darkness and enigma. I thought for a Moment maybe it was better had I never come. I wasn’t sure what I was being invited to be apart of. Tana’s father looks at Daniel and his face contorts to one of deep despair. 

“Does that mean anything to you?” I add.

Daniel  sits down next to me and puts his hand on my shoulder. 

“Vincent, Tana had a friend named Sarah who she confided in about Mr Henry. She claims Tana often cited the words Dream Rabbit  when referring to Mr Henry.” He continues “We still don’t know the correlation between the two or the meaning of said words, but we know they tend to be consistent with one another when Tana relayed such vague messages to her friend Sarah.

“Why not talk to her?” I say, getting defensive. “She sounds like she has more useful information then I can provide.”

Victoria takes a sip of water and looks me dead in the eye. “She won’t talk to us. We think she’s scared. Scared of who Tana might have been involved with.”

“Vincent..” Tanas father turns to me “Will you meet with Sarah and try to talk to her for us. I understand bringing you here today you have probably known more about all this then you’d ever wish to know, but we are at a dead end. We need your help.”

I looked into the eyes of Tanas mother who was pleading for assistance. They were the eyes of a mother who’d lost everything. Her gaze was hopeless, but she looked at me like I was perhaps some sort of last beacon of  chance. My empathy disables me from saying no despite the fact that I was one hundred and sixty pounds soaking wet and felt impotent in all realms of human endeavor.

“I’ll talk to her.” I nod.

“Thank you Vincent” Daniel says.

“Where can I find her” I add.

“Where she works” Mr. Molnar utters softly.

“Which is?”

“The Rabbit in Silk. Gentlemens club up on route 202. Her stage name is Rose Kay Snow.”

 

A day later I approached The Rabbit in Silk. It was a former house that had been turned into a trashy, rundown strip-club and sat atop a bustling highway. The neon sign of a rabbit with a martini in hand glow casted itself over the otherwise ghostly parking lot. It was eight PM. I approach the club wearing a hoodie and jeans, my face clean shaven which prompts a homeless man smoking a cigarette to insult me as I go to enter the bar.

“Isn’t it past your bedtime, baby face.” He yells. 

I ignore him and enter the club. I’m greeted by a three-hundred pound bouncer who shields my view of a colorfully saturated room full of scantily dressed women.

“Five dollar cover charge.” he points out “Need to see ID too.”

I hand him my ID which he looks over for what seems like ten times fold. I interrupt him as he examines it.

“I’m here to see Rose Kay Snow” I shout over the music. A band called The Sixty

Nine Eyes is playing. I recognize the song: The Chair. “Good on you.” He retorts. “She’s got one more hour before she leaves for the night.”

He points to her and I notice a woman sitting alone in the corner of the bar doing her makeup with a hand sized mirror. She takes a break to receive a text on her phone.

“Thanks.” I tell the bouncer. I walk across the room, past multiple nude women and take a seat at the bar next to Rose Kay.

“Is your name Sarah?” I ask.

“Who the fuck told you my real name?” She responds rather horrified.

“No one did, I mean… My name is Vincent. I wanted to talk to you about something.”

“If you wanna dance it’s forty for one song.”

“Sure. How about we do three songs.”

“If you can pay for it, you can get more than a dance, Vincent.” She says rather sarcastically. “First time here?”

“Yeah”

I follow her up the spiral staircase that leads to a waiting room. One of the girls is arguing with one of the male workers. We ignore them and I’m led into a hallway that breaks off into multiple rooms. As I pass said rooms I see patrons inside handling other girls in provocative ways. We go to our room. It’s lit devilish red and I seat myself on a soft cushion king chair at the far end. There’s a fake fireplace and the top part of the ceiling is covered in glow in the dark stars and Victorian art, a strange hybrid of decor I think to myself. Rose Kay straddles me. “Listen, I’m not actually here for the dance. I wanted to talk to you concerning a friend of yours.”

“Okay…” she looks confused..

“Tana Molnar.”

She immediately gets up “Security!” she yells into the hallway.

“No. Don’t!” I shout. “Please just listen to what I have to say.”

The bouncer pokes his head in the room frantically and for a moment I’m terrified but Rose Kay snaps her figures at him and he disappears as soon as he comes.

“What about Tana?”

“You were friends with her?”

“I worked with her.”

“Where?”

“Here, silly.”

“Tana worked here?” I ask in disbelief.

“Yeah but her name wasn’t Tana. She called herself ‘Night Nocturne’ a little overdramatic if you ask me. Most of the girls have names like ‘Vixen’,’ Darby’ ‘Rosa’

“But your Rose Kay Snow” I retort.

“Yeah, well I’m high class ass. I’m the smokeshow of this shit hole. You got a problem with that?”

“No.”

Rose Kay Told me more about Night Nocturne. She would scam the patrons. At age twenty-three, she began doing escort work. Tana was selling herself out to early on to club members, but later became a high end call girl. During said time she left the strip club to be a hostess for the Casino which was right down the street.

“Is that where she met Mr. Henry?” I ask Rose Kay freezes up.

“I’m not sure I want to continue this conversation any longer.”

“Listen, Tana was murdered as I’m sure you’ve heard. Her parents are devastated. They sent me here to talk to you hoping you could help us.”

Rose looks at me puzzled. “Tana’s parents sent you here?” she laughs.

I grab both her hands, pleading. “Tell me about Dream Rabbit.”

She puts a finger to my lips to quiet me.

“Meet me outside in the back alleyway in fifteen minutes. I want to talk to you in a more secluded place.”

I leaned up against a wall in the back alleyway thinking she would never show up. Thirty minutes later, she did dressed in a rich fur peacoat. She waddles towards me

and my first intuition is to back up in fear, but I let her caress my face as she inspects me, smoking her clove cigarette.

“Mr. Henry is Dream Rabbit?” I say.

“Good work detective, but that’s about as far as you’ll get.”

“Why’s that?”

“Mr. Henry is the manager of this place. Well, he owns the bar. But I’ve never actually seen him in person. I don’t think he’s ever set foot in the place as far as anyone who

works here is concerned.”

Stray cats call out in the middle of the night as I walk with Rose Kay through a deserted backstreet, the air hanging heavy with a scent of decay and the collective trauma of a murder pageant winner. Overhead, rusty pipes drip rhythmically amongst fire escape exits. I see a young man in a T-shirt that reads “DARKTHRONE” leaning up against a garage bin. I ask him I can bum a smoke and he abides. Rain in the distance. I pull my hood over my head and turn an alley way onto a cobblestone streets, worn smooth by countless footsteps. There stands a picture of Tana with a crown of flowers at it’s base reading: 

JUSTICE FOR TANA. GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN. 

Rose Stares at it.

“She wasn’t even that pretty.” She says 

“Have some respect.” I retort. 

“If you wanna get along with my Vincent you’re gonna have to come around to my sense of humor” She continues “I feel bad for the poor girl, I really do.” 

I told Rose Kay I’d walk her back to her apartment whereupon she revealed to me that Mr. Henry was not normal. Tana spoke of him is if he wasn’t even human. She claimed “He was not of this realm.” And Tanas day time image of her helping disabled kids and volunteer work starkly contrasted her ice cold persona of ‘Night Nocturne.” Before dropping her off at her place she gave me a little black leather book with the initials “N.N” on it.

“Look I don’t know much of anything, and I’m not willing to jeopardize my safety for some chick I barely knew. But here’s her client list.“

I take the book and put it into my back pocket.

“You look lonely. Why don’t you come up to my place?”

I get flustered. “I ugh, I don’t know does it cost anything?”

“You can pay me next time you come to the club. You’re very handsome. I’ll give you a discount.”

We enter the messy apartment and Roses body pushes against mine as we embrace. I take off her pea coat and throw it to the bed and grab her ass feeling the

garter belt alongside her thighs. She fumbles for my jeans and tells me me don’t need a condom and that’s she’s disease free. Later in the night Rose sleeps next to me and I smoke one of her cloves that I fished from the pack on the nightstand. I flip through the black book. I notice the first name belongs to an auto mechanic who lives no further then a few blocks down from Tanas parents house. I make note of that. I see a black leather jacket on the hanger of the door. I take it and assume Rose is alright with me doing so.

The next day I got a cup of coffee at the nearby diner and looked over the black book. To my amazement there were fifty clients. Tana was indeed a busy girl. The waitress who knew me as a regular has been giving me the eye and I finally humored her.

“What is it?” I ask.

“You look different, Vincent”

“How’s that?”

“You have facial hair now. Less of a boyish look. I like it.”

I don’t know how to respond.

“The charm will come too. You just have to grow into your own.” She says. I made my way to the auto shop. The place sat on the outskirts of town and was mostly abandoned aside from a guy named Bill who frequented the place. Apparently it was his business. I walk through the front door and the place is a mess. Dust everywhere, papers scattered, a half eaten sandwich sitting next to the old Macintosh computer at the front desk, whereupon flies were swarming. I’m startled by a man who puts his hand on my shoulder from behind.

“Can I help you?” he says. 

“Jesus, you scared the shit outta me.” I say. “Yeah I’m looking for a man named Bill Smith?

“That’s me. Who are you?”

“My name is Vincent. I work for… ugh..”

Pause.

“I wanted to talk to you about a girl name Tana.” I continue.

“I don’t think I know any Tanas.”

“You spent a night with her at a motel six a few years ago.”

“You’re gonna have to be more specific.”

“She was a prostitute.”

“Oh, is she dead now? I had nothing to do with it.”

“No. Listen, I’m not a cop. She was just a friend of mine and I wanted to see if I could ask you some questions.”

“Shoot. I’ll see what I can recall from my memory. Problem is, I already got a bit of the old dementia going these days.”

I told him all about her altered persona Night Nocturne and that she worked at The Rabbit in Silk. He seems to not remember her until I started describing her features. Blue eyes, about five-ten. During all of this this I couldn’t get past how Tana, one of the most beautiful women I had ever laid eyes upon had lowered herself into sleeping with a man, for lack of a better way of putting it, resembled a horrifically obese monster. He was greasy and bald and from the smell of him had not showered in days.

“She was so nice to me. You see, I am not a handsome man. But Night was good to me. She made me feel at ease. She told me she wouldn’t laugh at me or make fun of my body. She put me in a real heavenly state of mind.”

“What else did you talk about?” I ask.

“Not much. I would’ve thought she was a drug addict the way she chain smoked.”

“Did she ever mention anything about a so-called “Dream Rabbit?”

“Why yes, I do believe she did.”

“What did she say?”

“The poor girl seemed scared— Terrified really. I thought she was schizo or something the shit that was coming out of her mouth.”

“Go on.”

“She claimed she knew of an ‘immortal being.’

“I don’t understand.”

“The chick sounded like she had been in the loony bin her whole life or something. She was going on about some immortal being named ‘Mr. Henry’ and how he was someone who, in her words, could lead girls out of the worlds dark crevices and into a new realm that consisted only of the world’s best earthly pleasures.”

“Such as?”

“Earthly pleasures… You know. Food, Sex, Wine. She kept using big words I didn’t understand like hedonism and other fancy words.

“How many times did you see Night?”

“Once and never again.”

The guy seems clueless for the most part and I can’t think anything else to ask him so I thank him for his time and I’ll be on my way. He offers me food but I’ve already eaten at the diner this morning and the look of the place has me questioning the credibility of anything he can offer me. I close the door behind me and start walking towards the empty lot. The rain is coming down hard now. As I’m walking with my leather coat over my head he calls me from the office.

“One more thing.” He mutters.

“Yeah?”

“She had the ass of an angel.” He says grinning.

I smile back at him sheepishly but inside feel a mix of envy, resentment and disgust.

 Seeing Rose Kay at the club had awakened something in me. The night we slept together I did not know how much I needed her until after the fact. I felt stronger because of it. More competent, less fearful of any death that was surrounding me. I had seen death up close and I was no longer afraid to leave this world. Tana had left it already. Maybe I was marching toward my demise as well.

 

Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Two by Robert Gabe

  1. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part One by Robert Gabe
  2. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Two by Robert Gabe
  3. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Two by Robert Gabe
  4. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Three by Robert Gabe
  5. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men, Part Four by Robert Gabe Scheduled for June 1, 2024

 

 

Part Two

 

A  week later I met with Tanas mother upon her parents request. I step into Tana’s parents home which exudes an aura of timeless sophistication. Their daughter’s presence is felt. In the living room stands a grand piano and on top of it sits a portrait of Tara, her high school photo next to a bouquet of roses and next to that a mahogany bookshelf featuring a number of classics and other books on world history. Framed family portraits lined the walls, all of which feature their only daughter Tana at the forefront of them, smiling innocently as ever. Along with the officer Daniel, an up and coming rookie, who had been the first responder, they wanted to ask me a few questions on my perception of how it all went down. Every day that went by, my memory of said event got worse, as if my mind was trying to eradicate the awful imprint it had upon my consciousness. I told them what I remembered.

“I just remember one second we were all laughing and smiling. Then all of a sudden, I felt Tana pull from me as she fell to the ground.” I say. 

“Did you hear the gunshot?” ask Daniel pressingly.

“No.” I say truthfully.

“How old are you, Vincent?” Daniel ask.

“Twenty-five” 

Tana’s father John Molnar changes the subject back to Tana. 

“She was a victim of bullying,” says Mr. Molnar, blowing his nose. “In her early years she had a hard time. She was told she was ugly by some teacher above all people and I feel that really had an impact on her.”

I…didn’t know that.” I let out softly. The scene of grieving here is so massive I’m afraid to raise my voice in fear that it will cause an emotional uproar.

“There are many things people didn’t know about, Tana.” Daniel says. “That’s why we brought you here today, Vincent. Believe it or not, you were the last man photographed with her.”  He hands me a photograph. It’s Tana, Casey and I. Tanas smile radiates, her pearly whites sparkle. Casey is nearly a match to her. I smile sheepishly in my Tom Ford suit between them.

“Colton, did you know Tana was once committed to a mental facility?” Tanas mother Victoria speaks, she wipes her nose with a Kleenex.

“No. I didn’t.” I say truthfully.

“She had a hair pulling disorder,” She continues. “She was sixteen. She had pulled out so much hair we had her involuntarily committed.”

“Thankfully it regrew. But she did permanently damage the follicles of her hair.” John adds. Tana had been sent to a mental hospital at age sixteen for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. It’s always the people with the biggest smiles who use them to mask their inner-pain. One of the doctors diagnosed her as manic depressive, another bi-polar, another borderline personality. I didn’t put much stock into psychiatric labels. Maybe I was being thick-headed as I couldn’t relate. My moods were always stable. I had no real traumas in my life before witnessing Tana get shot. I was always content.  

“Can I ask what you’re getting at here” I say blushing.

The officer says “You said you saw a black van. Did you get a good look at the  license plate or who was driving?”

“No.” I say “and I think the windows were tinted”

“How much did you and Tana talk?” John asks.

“I only knew her in passing.” I say truthfully. 

“Did she ever tell you about a man named Mr. Henry?”

“Mr. Henry?”

Daniel starts to speak, a rather sullen tone in his voice “When Tana was 17 she met a man in an online chat room who went by the name of Mr. Henry.” He pauses “She never mentioned him in passing?”

“Like I said, I only knew Tana in passing. The only words I ever exchanged with Tana were ‘ Hello Tana’ and ‘Goodbye Tana.’ Like I said we were never really close friends. But I witnessed her from a distance and the power she had over people.” I pause “Tell me more about the man.”

Victoria says “we thought she was doing better. Her mental health struggles were behind her. We thought everything was behind her” she grabs another Kleenex. “We think Mr. Henry is a predator that was watching Tana, maybe for years.”

My palms began to clam up. Tana’s father begins to cry and outside the window I see news journalists beginning to gather outside, a desperate attempt for interviews with the family only one day after the open casket funeral which I didn’t attend. Daniel closes the blinds. 

“My baby.” John blows his nose “I didn’t want to believe it but this is all we have to go on. We think Mr. Henry is involved with the murder of Tana.”

“Wait, I remember something,” I say unabashedly. “When Tana was in my arms her last words were “Dream Rabbit…”

The room all of a sudden took on a new vibe. One of darkness and enigma. I thought for a Moment maybe it was better had I never come. I wasn’t sure what I was being invited to be apart of. Tana’s father looks at Daniel and his face contorts to one of deep despair. 

“Does that mean anything to you?” I add.

Daniel  sits down next to me and puts his hand on my shoulder. 

“Vincent, Tana had a friend named Sarah who she confided in about Mr Henry. She claims Tana often cited the words Dream Rabbit  when referring to Mr Henry.” He continues “We still don’t know the correlation between the two or the meaning of said words, but we know they tend to be consistent with one another when Tana relayed such vague messages to her friend Sarah.

“Why not talk to her?” I say, getting defensive. “She sounds like she has more useful information then I can provide.”

Victoria takes a sip of water and looks me dead in the eye. “She won’t talk to us. We think she’s scared. Scared of who Tana might have been involved with.”

“Vincent..” Tanas father turns to me “Will you meet with Sarah and try to talk to her for us. I understand bringing you here today you have probably known more about all this then you’d ever wish to know, but we are at a dead end. We need your help.”

I looked into the eyes of Tanas mother who was pleading for assistance. They were the eyes of a mother who’d lost everything. Her gaze was hopeless, but she looked at me like I was perhaps some sort of last beacon of  chance. My empathy disables me from saying no despite the fact that I was one hundred and sixty pounds soaking wet and felt impotent in all realms of human endeavor.

“I’ll talk to her.” I nod.

“Thank you Vincent” Daniel says.

“Where can I find her” I add.

“Where she works” Mr. Molnar utters softly.

“Which is?”

“The Rabbit in Silk. Gentlemens club up on route 202. Her stage name is Rose Kay Snow.”

 

A day later I approached The Rabbit in Silk. It was a former house that had been turned into a trashy, rundown strip-club and sat atop a bustling highway. The neon sign of a rabbit with a martini in hand glow casted itself over the otherwise ghostly parking lot. It was eight PM. I approach the club wearing a hoodie and jeans, my face clean shaven which prompts a homeless man smoking a cigarette to insult me as I go to enter the bar.

“Isn’t it past your bedtime, baby face.” He yells. 

I ignore him and enter the club. I’m greeted by a three-hundred pound bouncer who shields my view of a colorfully saturated room full of scantily dressed women.

“Five dollar cover charge.” he points out “Need to see ID too.”

I hand him my ID which he looks over for what seems like ten times fold. I interrupt him as he examines it.

“I’m here to see Rose Kay Snow” I shout over the music. A band called The Sixty

Nine Eyes is playing. I recognize the song: The Chair. “Good on you.” He retorts. “She’s got one more hour before she leaves for the night.”

He points to her and I notice a woman sitting alone in the corner of the bar doing her makeup with a hand sized mirror. She takes a break to receive a text on her phone.

“Thanks.” I tell the bouncer. I walk across the room, past multiple nude women and take a seat at the bar next to Rose Kay.

“Is your name Sarah?” I ask.

“Who the fuck told you my real name?” She responds rather horrified.

“No one did, I mean… My name is Vincent. I wanted to talk to you about something.”

“If you wanna dance it’s forty for one song.”

“Sure. How about we do three songs.”

“If you can pay for it, you can get more than a dance, Vincent.” She says rather sarcastically. “First time here?”

“Yeah”

I follow her up the spiral staircase that leads to a waiting room. One of the girls is arguing with one of the male workers. We ignore them and I’m led into a hallway that breaks off into multiple rooms. As I pass said rooms I see patrons inside handling other girls in provocative ways. We go to our room. It’s lit devilish red and I seat myself on a soft cushion king chair at the far end. There’s a fake fireplace and the top part of the ceiling is covered in glow in the dark stars and Victorian art, a strange hybrid of decor I think to myself. Rose Kay straddles me. “Listen, I’m not actually here for the dance. I wanted to talk to you concerning a friend of yours.”

“Okay…” she looks confused..

“Tana Molnar.”

She immediately gets up “Security!” she yells into the hallway.

“No. Don’t!” I shout. “Please just listen to what I have to say.”

The bouncer pokes his head in the room frantically and for a moment I’m terrified but Rose Kay snaps her figures at him and he disappears as soon as he comes.

“What about Tana?”

“You were friends with her?”

“I worked with her.”

“Where?”

“Here, silly.”

“Tana worked here?” I ask in disbelief.

“Yeah but her name wasn’t Tana. She called herself ‘Night Nocturne’ a little overdramatic if you ask me. Most of the girls have names like ‘Vixen’,’ Darby’ ‘Rosa’

“But your Rose Kay Snow” I retort.

“Yeah, well I’m high class ass. I’m the smokeshow of this shit hole. You got a problem with that?”

“No.”

Rose Kay Told me more about Night Nocturne. She would scam the patrons. At age twenty-three, she began doing escort work. Tana was selling herself out to early on to club members, but later became a high end call girl. During said time she left the strip club to be a hostess for the Casino which was right down the street.

“Is that where she met Mr. Henry?” I ask Rose Kay freezes up.

“I’m not sure I want to continue this conversation any longer.”

“Listen, Tana was murdered as I’m sure you’ve heard. Her parents are devastated. They sent me here to talk to you hoping you could help us.”

Rose looks at me puzzled. “Tana’s parents sent you here?” she laughs.

I grab both her hands, pleading. “Tell me about Dream Rabbit.”

She puts a finger to my lips to quiet me.

“Meet me outside in the back alleyway in fifteen minutes. I want to talk to you in a more secluded place.”

I leaned up against a wall in the back alleyway thinking she would never show up. Thirty minutes later, she did dressed in a rich fur peacoat. She waddles towards me

and my first intuition is to back up in fear, but I let her caress my face as she inspects me, smoking her clove cigarette.

“Mr. Henry is Dream Rabbit?” I say.

“Good work detective, but that’s about as far as you’ll get.”

“Why’s that?”

“Mr. Henry is the manager of this place. Well, he owns the bar. But I’ve never actually seen him in person. I don’t think he’s ever set foot in the place as far as anyone who

works here is concerned.”

Stray cats call out in the middle of the night as I walk with Rose Kay through a deserted backstreet, the air hanging heavy with a scent of decay and the collective trauma of a murder pageant winner. Overhead, rusty pipes drip rhythmically amongst fire escape exits. I see a young man in a T-shirt that reads “DARKTHRONE” leaning up against a garage bin. I ask him I can bum a smoke and he abides. Rain in the distance. I pull my hood over my head and turn an alley way onto a cobblestone streets, worn smooth by countless footsteps. There stands a picture of Tana with a crown of flowers at it’s base reading: 

JUSTICE FOR TANA. GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN. 

Rose Stares at it.

“She wasn’t even that pretty.” She says 

“Have some respect.” I retort. 

“If you wanna get along with my Vincent you’re gonna have to come around to my sense of humor” She continues “I feel bad for the poor girl, I really do.” 

I told Rose Kay I’d walk her back to her apartment whereupon she revealed to me that Mr. Henry was not normal. Tana spoke of him is if he wasn’t even human. She claimed “He was not of this realm.” And Tanas day time image of her helping disabled kids and volunteer work starkly contrasted her ice cold persona of ‘Night Nocturne.” Before dropping her off at her place she gave me a little black leather book with the initials “N.N” on it.

“Look I don’t know much of anything, and I’m not willing to jeopardize my safety for some chick I barely knew. But here’s her client list.“

I take the book and put it into my back pocket.

“You look lonely. Why don’t you come up to my place?”

I get flustered. “I ugh, I don’t know does it cost anything?”

“You can pay me next time you come to the club. You’re very handsome. I’ll give you a discount.”

We enter the messy apartment and Roses body pushes against mine as we embrace. I take off her pea coat and throw it to the bed and grab her ass feeling the

garter belt alongside her thighs. She fumbles for my jeans and tells me me don’t need a condom and that’s she’s disease free. Later in the night Rose sleeps next to me and I smoke one of her cloves that I fished from the pack on the nightstand. I flip through the black book. I notice the first name belongs to an auto mechanic who lives no further then a few blocks down from Tanas parents house. I make note of that. I see a black leather jacket on the hanger of the door. I take it and assume Rose is alright with me doing so.

The next day I got a cup of coffee at the nearby diner and looked over the black book. To my amazement there were fifty clients. Tana was indeed a busy girl. The waitress who knew me as a regular has been giving me the eye and I finally humored her.

“What is it?” I ask.

“You look different, Vincent”

“How’s that?”

“You have facial hair now. Less of a boyish look. I like it.”

I don’t know how to respond.

“The charm will come too. You just have to grow into your own.” She says. I made my way to the auto shop. The place sat on the outskirts of town and was mostly abandoned aside from a guy named Bill who frequented the place. Apparently it was his business. I walk through the front door and the place is a mess. Dust everywhere, papers scattered, a half eaten sandwich sitting next to the old Macintosh computer at the front desk, whereupon flies were swarming. I’m startled by a man who puts his hand on my shoulder from behind.

“Can I help you?” he says. 

“Jesus, you scared the shit outta me.” I say. “Yeah I’m looking for a man named Bill Smith?

“That’s me. Who are you?”

“My name is Vincent. I work for… ugh..”

Pause.

“I wanted to talk to you about a girl name Tana.” I continue.

“I don’t think I know any Tanas.”

“You spent a night with her at a motel six a few years ago.”

“You’re gonna have to be more specific.”

“She was a prostitute.”

“Oh, is she dead now? I had nothing to do with it.”

“No. Listen, I’m not a cop. She was just a friend of mine and I wanted to see if I could ask you some questions.”

“Shoot. I’ll see what I can recall from my memory. Problem is, I already got a bit of the old dementia going these days.”

I told him all about her altered persona Night Nocturne and that she worked at The Rabbit in Silk. He seems to not remember her until I started describing her features. Blue eyes, about five-ten. During all of this this I couldn’t get past how Tana, one of the most beautiful women I had ever laid eyes upon had lowered herself into sleeping with a man, for lack of a better way of putting it, resembled a horrifically obese monster. He was greasy and bald and from the smell of him had not showered in days.

“She was so nice to me. You see, I am not a handsome man. But Night was good to me. She made me feel at ease. She told me she wouldn’t laugh at me or make fun of my body. She put me in a real heavenly state of mind.”

“What else did you talk about?” I ask.

“Not much. I would’ve thought she was a drug addict the way she chain smoked.”

“Did she ever mention anything about a so-called “Dream Rabbit?”

“Why yes, I do believe she did.”

“What did she say?”

“The poor girl seemed scared— Terrified really. I thought she was schizo or something the shit that was coming out of her mouth.”

“Go on.”

“She claimed she knew of an ‘immortal being.’

“I don’t understand.”

“The chick sounded like she had been in the loony bin her whole life or something. She was going on about some immortal being named ‘Mr. Henry’ and how he was someone who, in her words, could lead girls out of the worlds dark crevices and into a new realm that consisted only of the world’s best earthly pleasures.”

“Such as?”

“Earthly pleasures… You know. Food, Sex, Wine. She kept using big words I didn’t understand like hedonism and other fancy words.

“How many times did you see Night?”

“Once and never again.”

The guy seems clueless for the most part and I can’t think anything else to ask him so I thank him for his time and I’ll be on my way. He offers me food but I’ve already eaten at the diner this morning and the look of the place has me questioning the credibility of anything he can offer me. I close the door behind me and start walking towards the empty lot. The rain is coming down hard now. As I’m walking with my leather coat over my head he calls me from the office.

“One more thing.” He mutters.

“Yeah?”

“She had the ass of an angel.” He says grinning.

I smile back at him sheepishly but inside feel a mix of envy, resentment and disgust.

 Seeing Rose Kay at the club had awakened something in me. The night we slept together I did not know how much I needed her until after the fact. I felt stronger because of it. More competent, less fearful of any death that was surrounding me. I had seen death up close and I was no longer afraid to leave this world. Tana had left it already. Maybe I was marching toward my demise as well.

 

Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part One by Robert Gabe

  1. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part One by Robert Gabe
  2. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Two by Robert Gabe
  3. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Two by Robert Gabe
  4. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Three by Robert Gabe
  5. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men, Part Four by Robert Gabe Scheduled for June 1, 2024

 

 

Part One

 

Prologue:

Three years ago I went to a publicist about a memoir I was writing concerning Tana Molnar. The novel was complete. I had spent the better part of the last five years assembling the book – writing treatments and outlines and by the fall of 2022 I was content with the outcome. The Publisher initially emailed me in the days that followed saying that they were fascinated by the memoir, but to publish it would be a near impossibility. The reason being I hadn’t changed the names, places or peculiar details about Tana’s story. These were real people I was writing about. The memoir involved the real story of a beloved college beauty queen I knew in passing known as Tana Molnar, her murder and the subsequent details about her life. Her reputation would be ruined, the family would have protested the publication and overall people were going to be hurt by the contents of the book as it so shamelessly unfolded secrets Tana and I only knew about.

The night after having received the email from the publication company I sat upon my high rise balcony which resided in the central metropolis of Philadelphia and contemplated what to do with the material. I felt as if the story was so important, so mesmerizing with an urgent need for listers it never occurred to me while writing that it would never reach a wide audience. The wind was howling and from my apartment I could see the flickering lights of the nearby casino as many thoughts raced through my mind, one of which was the recent suicide of one of my former colleague, Sarah Winstion, a university graduate who had gotten a Bachleors in Communications. She was a part of my sales team. She got one small article in the local times with the headline “Woman Falls to Her Death in Mysterious Circumstances.” But my peers knew what really happened. Her long term boyfriend had recently called off their wedding and as a result, she jumped. After the initial article, there was no further investigation for foul play.

I had another idea. I was going to print copies of the memoir myself through a third party, do-it-yourself publisher. Proceedingly, my plan was to take three hundred printed copies of the book and secretly place them on store shelves, public libraries, the works.. And this is what I did do, or have done rather. I hope someone discovers this work and it will somehow find its audience relating to Tana. In other words, if you are reading this, you have found one of the three hundred copies and what you do with it I will leave in your hands. I have gone by the alias penn name of Vincent Black. My true name will not be revealed. But I’m sure if one cares enough, they will be able to pin down who I am, who the author of this memoir is.  

I know what I’ve done might hurt some people. I know the narrative of Tana Molnar’s secret double life may shatter certain individuals’ perceptions about her, family included. But it’s all gone beyond that. What happened to me in the months after her death is a narrative too rich to go untold. Obsession has come over me, like a moth to a flame, and now, as a thirty-five year old recluse with nothing left but that obsession, I invite you to discover All The Queens Men.

  • Anonymous

 

There wasn’t a mean bone in Tana Molnar’s body. Anyone who knew her would tell you that. Even people who’d only known her in passing claimed she gave off a congenial quality that’s rarely seen today. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen, but her hospitable persona is what made her prettier than some of the other glamor girls in her circle. Tana was, quite simply put, a friendly person. She didn’t put others down, she didn’t gossip, she wasn’t a mean girl, nor did she posses any catty attributes that made me weary of other women and I think this made other women jealous of her. She radiated purity and kindness akin to some heavenly being. She was, simply put, a divine soul…

Now she’s bleeding out in front of me, an entry wound at her navel, dark red stains widening against her elegantly laced dress. Minutes before my hands clutching her petite waist. I hadn’t noticed. Not until I saw her smile fade gradually as her knees began to quiver, my hand ever so slowly falling away from her. When she drops to the ground a collective pitching of shrieks fill the summer day air and my only response is no response as I’ve yet to render what’s happening. But then it hits me. Tana Molnar has been shot in her abdominal region. And I’m standing over her. I have not been shot, nor has Casey, the other blonde standing next to me, as her hands cover her gasping mouth she become hysterical and runs off. I quickly drop to my knees, but my assistance is futile and without practicality. When my mind comes to, I add pressure to the wound, a sea of spectators rushing and frantic, some watch, others just scream. I catch Tana’s eyes, filled with water, she gazes directly into mine and pulls me closer to whisper something in my ear. Crying and half audible, her only words: “Dream Rabbit.”

We were in our mid-twenties and running a campus film festival, which Tana was the star guest. Members of the teachers staff were there as well as we gathered around the music hall building socializing for something we had spent months planning. The idea of the festival was for certain students to make short films which would be screened in the music hall theater and the best film would win an award of five thousand dollars. Ted Gittis, a biology professor, approaches me and compliments me on the suit I’m wearing.

“Looking sharp, Vincent. What is that, Tom Ford?”

“I got it at Macy’s.” I explain bashfully. “My mother actually picked it out.


“Don’t tell that to any of the women here. Say ‘I picked it out myself.’ You’re on the right road, kid. Are you going into sales or journalism?”


I was twenty five and only had one thousand in savings. Sometimes I felt I could still barely tie my own shoes, let alone find the appropriate attire to wear to such an event.
“Sale-” I barely make out.


“Oh shit, here comes Tana.” Ted exclaims, his attention quickly vanishes from mine as does the crowd of students surrounding us. She’s wearing a sparkling platinum LaDvine dress, her pageant crown on top of her head. She smiles the smile of perfect dental work at the welcoming students as she is whisked into the music hall. Did I have a crush on Tana? Not really. To be completely honest I never had a “crush” on anyone once I passed the third grade. I mean, she was certainly alluring, it was no secret many men desired her, myself included I suppose. I watch her as she approaches the door of the building and makes her way inside the front doors towards the screening room.

“Come on, lets head in.” Ted exclaims.


I’m sitting among a group of my peers in a theater. Casey Hiddelston sits next to me and I feel myself tense up as we accidentally bump legs, her feminine and sexual prowess having a near electromagnetic energy to it. Tana once again comes out from behind the stage curtains, the crowd cheering her, as she approaches the microphone podium. She leans into the microphone.


“Thank you all for coming out today to the campus film race. We have a wide selection of short films ranging from romance, to comedy, to horror.”


A man shouts out “I love you Tana” to which the crowd laughs and she smiles cheekily.


“Our first film is ‘Dormitory of Doom’ made by Rodger Flemming. It follows a group of young coeds as they’re being stalked by a man who claims to know about them cheating on their SATs” Tana readjust the microphone “Afterwards, once all the films are finished, I just wanted to remind everyone we will be taking pictures outside of the music hall with the filmmakers and staff.” I myself had done editing work on ‘Dormitory of Doom’ for Rodger, so that meant I would likely be in the photos.


Casey looks at me. “You worked on this, didn’t you Vincent?”


“I did”, I say proudly, masking slight embarrassment. Dormitory of Doom was not going to win. Rodger was far from a visionary. The film seemed to mimic eighties slasher trends, its only saving grace being it was a mockery of itself.


The film opens up to a group of girls and guys making a secret pact as they steal answers to the SATs. From the bushes, an unknown prowler lurks recording their conversation. The film is only thirty minutes, but in due time they start receiving anonymous phone calls with heavy breathing. In the climax of the film, the alpha male boyfriend saves his girlfriend Sasha, but not before the other conspirators are tracked down and hacked up in creatively, over the top, silly ways. One of the staff members seemed to be offended by a scene where a student gets his head caught in a vice lock and has number two pencils stabbed into every orifice of his face.That was Casey’s favorite part.

 The other films screened, most of which were pretty unremarkable, saving one called “In the Mood for Mary.” The film was a quite serious study of a man who falls in love with a ballerina. They have dinner together and he reveals his past homelife was one of neglect and violence. In the end, she decides to abandon her career until she can nurse him back to a better mental state. The film ended up winning. 

I watched Tana throughout the screenings. She sat a few rows in front of me next to two older staff members. As the films screened her smile never left her face. In that way I envied her. How could someone be so positive all the time? Did she really feel that way all the time? These questions lingered in my mind ever since I met her and still to this day my mind crumbles at the thought that it was all just a front, a put on. She had played everyone well. Because the Tana we thought we knew, was the furthest actual representation of who she actually was..

Tanas lifeless body goes stiff in my arms. My eyes are watering but I’m too engrossed within fear to do anything useful. Casey runs back to me and gets on her knees.

“Is she dead?”

“I thi-I think so.” I whimper. “I don’t know Casey.”

Casey screams out again “Oh my God,Vincent.” Nearly in a frantic state now.  “Tana, no, Oh my God baby.”

I see a black van peel off and I point to it but I’m not sure anyone notices, especially since the crowd around me is utter chaos, half of them focusing on Tana, others taking shelter and the remaining still eyed like deers in headlights, their trauma of what they’ve witnessed lay too heavy upon them. 

A police car arrives and an officer who looks to be in his early thirties runs up to me and puts his hands on my shoulder. I remove myself from the scene. There’s nothing more I can do. I am useless. Tana is gone. And so is whoever put a bullet in her.

Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Eleven – Finale

  1. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part One
  2. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Two
  3. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Three
  4. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Four
  5. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Five
  6. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Six
  7. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Seven
  8. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Eight
  9. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Nine
  10. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Ten
  11. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Eleven – Finale

 

 

Part Eleven: Dread Knows No Escape

 

After what felt like hours, Jeffrey finally mustered the courage to turn the flashlight back on once he could hear only the faint shrieks from below in that cursed chamber. Reaching the final ascent, he scrambled up out of the pit by bracing himself against those sickeningly slimy walls. It was only once he reached the hallway after sprinting along the rocky passage that he felt his stomach churning once again and vomited onto the floor, collapsing from exhaustion after a few moments. The man-made walls around him contrasted with the rocky tunnel just a few feet away, yet he felt no sense of relief- no sense of escape from the pit. The straight lines of the hallway and the pristine, neat door at the end appeared as a façade, masking the crushing weight of the universe’s savagery all around. The cheap veneer of control and order- human might and intelligence- was corroded all around him by knowing the brutal reality of was to come. All he could see were the fleeting, distracting pleasures given to a pig being fattened for slaughter, but he knew they would never taste sweet to him again- not after this night; not after seeing the rotted substance beneath a ravishing face. 

Jeffrey pushed the door open and stumbled into the main corridor, tracking ugly mildew and slime behind him. The early hours of the morning had brought the first employees in for the day, and he was soon whisked away by guards. His limp body slumped into a chair at the table in the holding room after a dazed walk through the building as he was escorted past bewildered workers looking from their laboratories. 

“Where’s Mr. Survant?” a security officer curtly asked. 

“W-who?” Jeffrey asked.

“Alan Survant, the other custodian on your shift,” the officer clarified.

“In the- in the cavern…” Jeffrey answered after a long pause, trailing off as the shrieks filled his memory again; he realized he’d never heard Alan’s last name until now. 

“You mean the bore hole behind door 4135 in corridor S-2 where we found you?” 

“I-I guess that’s it. The hole at the end of the tunnel… that’s where we were.” Jeffrey rolled the guard’s words around in his head, reflecting on the pit’s man-made nature that had not occurred to him. The story about the abandoned mining operation returned to his mind now. 

“Why were you back there? And how did you get access?”

“I don’t know- I woke up there. Alan had brought me there I think,” Jeffrey recalled. 

“Are you saying he assaulted you?” 

“He had a gun… he said I had to go into the pit,” Jeffrey’s recollection blurred as he tried to recount the night. “We were down there- we saw all of it.” 

“You saw the tunnel, you mean?” 

“Well, it was the- the…” he struggled to find the words. “It was moving, there were bodies.” 

“Sit tight for me, I’ll be back in a minute,” the officer abruptly announced as he exited the holding room, leaving Jeffrey alone to process the images in his mind- the images which could hardly be distinguished from those in his dreams over the past months. 

“Jeffrey, right? My name is Dr. Rechian.” A woman quickly entered the room and sat across from him, setting her notepad on the table and preparing to write. “You say saw something after you entered the-”

“I fell into it,” Jeffrey corrected, feeling as though he needed to communicate that he would have never entered of his own volition. 

“Right, you say that you saw something. Movement or bodies of some sort?” 

“Like I told the guard, ma’am, I saw the- the thing down there. It-I-it was, at least I thought- yes it was moving. It was there,” Jeffrey stumbled over his words, noticing the increasing difficulty he had in remembering the horrific entity in the cavern. 

“And these bodies- How many were there?”

“They were people… they were bodies of people,” he explained. “You know all of this, right? You know about what’s in the pit, or the bore hole, right?”

“Just answer the question, please,” Dr. Rechian instructed. “How many bodies? 

“At least ten or eleven, I would say… I-I can’t remember, it was hard to tell when they were around us.” 

“Around you? What do you mean?” she sharply asked, clearly taken aback by his answer.

“Well- they moved- they walked… or moved somehow… they came right toward us. I left, I left and I had to push through, I…” 

“And this creature, where did you see it? Was it with the bodies?” Dr. Rechian continued after visibly processing his answer in her own mind for a moment. 

“They were all in the same place. The thing… I don’t understand how it was… I can’t see why it would be like that… it filled all the room in front of us.” 

“Okay, take a minute to breath,” she advised, seeing the terror of recalled memories creep across his face and fill his eyes as he spoke. “Can you tell me what it looked like? What do you remember?” 

“I-I don’t know… I don’t know. It was so much- there were so many- I don’t know why it was like that,” he continued to repeat, sinking in his chair as the crushing recognition of helplessness once again closed in around him. 

“Okay, Mr. Wright, thank you for your time.” Dr. Rechian stood from her chair and began to leave the room. “Wait here and a paramedic will be in shortly to check you out.” 

“Wait, please, I-I don’t know what to do!” Jeffrey had become visibly frightened, gripping the table with white knuckles. “Please, tell me what-I just want to know what- I need…” he trailed off in defeat.

“Mr. Wright, I don’t have answers for you. I’m sorry,” she had turned back toward him, softening her stance.

“Please, I don’t know how… I don’t know why it’s like this,” he strained for words to describe the dread inside of him.

“Look, I wish I could help you,” she said as she attempted reassurance, calculating how she should manage his pleas.

“Those bodies… why did they- why did they move?” Jeffrey again contemplated. “Those bodies-”

“Those bodies have been there for decades, Mr. Wright,” Dr. Rechian cut him off with a sigh, apparently resigned to the fact that giving him information would do little damage at this point. “Those corpses have been motionless in that cavern since before this facility was constructed to study them. They’ve somehow been preserved among the growth along the cavern’s walls since a mining operation sealed off the opening after the miners refused to keep working. The fact of the matter is that we don’t understand any more than you do, which is why you’re in here and not in the back of a patrol car right now.” 

“Then… because they’re moving now, are you going to do something? What do you plan to do with them?” 

“As of this morning, they’ve all disappeared- and we didn’t find Alan Survant’s body down there either,” she replied with an informative coldness, though her voice betrayed the unsettled and disturbed fear that had fallen over the entire facility. “A new branch of the cavern system seems to have opened, though. We’ll start our search there once we’ve secured the area we know about already. This thing can’t hide forever.” 

“Hide?” Jeffrey asked in bewilderment, recognizing the assumption that it was hiding to be entirely absurd. “You can’t stop it,” he muttered, the eon-old and foreboding revelations in the book and on the blade swimming through his thoughts. 

“We’ll do what we need to do,” Dr. Rechian insisted with a renewed confidence. “We’ll find it.” 

“You can’t stop it…”  

Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Ten

  1. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part One
  2. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Two
  3. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Three
  4. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Four
  5. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Five
  6. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Six
  7. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Seven
  8. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Eight
  9. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Nine
  10. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Ten
  11. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Eleven – Finale

 

 

Part Ten: The Horror Beneath The Veil

 

Both men tumbled into the void, sliding and rolling through the slimy tunnel of what felt like long, fibrous grass or moss of some kind. Jeffrey could see nothing when he landed at the bottom, pitch black surrounding them both. The floor was rocky but covered with a thick layer of the biomass. As he grasped at the walls for support, he noticed they too were blanketed. 

Jeffrey heard Alan stirring in the darkness near him and hurried over to find him. Feeling around for the gun, he found Alan’s flashlight instead. After clicking it on, he could see they were in a tunnel just tall enough for him to stand, with floor, walls, and ceiling coated in green and orange biomass. The passage extended beyond where they landed, winding deeper into the earth. The glint of the light on the gun barrel showed Jeffrey where to dig it out of the stringy mess on the floor. Alan had fully awoken and stared at Jeffrey with contempt. 

“What the fuck did you just do, kid?” 

“Doesn’t matter now, does it,” Jeffrey replied. “This is what you wanted, right?” 

“You smug piece of shit,” Alan growled, climbing to his feet but keeping his distance. 

“I guess we both-”

Jeffrey was cut off by a deep rumble that shook the rock around them, disturbing the biomass and stirring up that familiar, potent scent. The dizzying wave of toxins blurred his vision, and both men reached for the walls as their knees buckled. When he had recovered his balance, Jeffrey shook his head and cleared his vision to see that Alan was also rubbing his eyes. Keeping the gun aimed at Alan, Jeffrey shined the light down the passage and peered as far into the lengthy void as he could. 

A shriek suddenly echoed through the cave, as though coming from deeper within. Both men froze at the bloodcurdling cries emanating toward them. The shrill screams lasted only a few moments, and then ceased. Jeffrey took a step deeper into the tunnel, straining to peer through the darkness. 

“We’ve gotta help!” he suddenly exclaimed, surprising even himself. 

“W-what the hell are you talking about?” Alan grimaced with confusion. 

“Somebody’s down there, we have to help,” Jeffrey replied with an almost matter-of-fact attitude.

“Kid, there’s nobody there! It’s not real, it’s just trying to draw you in,” Alan explained.

“No, there’s somebody there, she needs our help,” Jeffrey’s eyes had dilated, and his voice was quivering with adrenaline. 

“Look, its fucking with you!” Alan became more agitated. “That’s not real, it’s just a-”

Alan was interrupted by another scream echoing from the darkness. This time, the shrieking sounded like a garbled cry for “help.” Jeffrey’s eyes quickly darted between Alan and the darkness. Waving the gun, Jeffrey motioned for Alan to proceed down the passageway. 

“You’re making a mistake, it’s not real,” Alan persisted as he slowly complied with Jeffrey’s zealous gestures. 

The two men started down the passageway, Jeffrey holding the light above his shoulder and keeping the gun aimed at Alan’s back. The tunnel wound back and forth, gradually descending farther into the earth. As they walked, the crying became louder and more clearly resembled words- those of a woman calling for help. The thick darkness seemed to oppress even the flashlight’s beam of brightness, and the cold, damp air filled their nostrils with that musty, increasingly fetid scent. 

Worming and winding, the cavern was filled with the shrieks, yet remained muffled by the mossy growth on that cold, ancient rock; but the wailing was no longer singular. Jeffrey now could make out what sounded like the whine of an infant. He prodded Alan along the passage even faster now, feverishly pursuing the haunting cries without ceasing. The tunnel felt as if it began to squeeze the men as they rushed along, constricting them in an ever-tightening embrace until, to Jeffrey’s surprise, the passage abruptly opened into large space. 

Waving the flashlight around, he could see that the room was tall, the ceiling looming at least twenty feet above, and the walls on either side made the space double that amount in width. The wall opposite the two newcomers was far enough away that it remained shrouded in darkness beyond the flashlight’s reach. Shrieks and cries filled the cavern, creating a horrific chamber of frightful and chaotic noise. 

“We shouldn’t be here, kid,” Alan warned with a grimace. 

“W-where is the-” Jeffrey stammered as he looked around for the source of the blood-curdling howls. 

It was when he took a step farther into the space that a new sound emanated from the darkness ahead and froze him in his tracks. The sound was no shriek or cry, but the movement of some lumbering behemoth hefting its weight around. Jeffrey strained to see into the blackness, forcing his feet to inch forward across the squelching cave floor. As if the dark void in front of him began to move, he could barely make out the silhouettes of massive, shifting parts. The beam of light slowly began to illuminate the entity festering in the shadowed depths of that eon-old chamber. Moving in all directions, expanding and contracting as part of it lurched between the walls of that opening in the rock, Jeffrey tried to fathom what oozed into the space before his very eyes. Nausea welled up from the pit of his stomach as he beheld that revolting, putrid abomination. His broken stream of thoughts flashed between bewilderment and his inner voice declaring that only the most debased and twisted of designers could have fabricated such a thing. 

Uncountable tendrils quivered and reached out from the various sections of whatever part of the body was visible in this section of the cavern, and gaps in the mucous-covered flesh revealed innards with functions and purposes no scientific inquiry could have explained. A heaviness accompanied all the eldritch thing’s movements as it shifted its mass around, slowly easing toward Alan and Jeffrey. The great fungal horror stirred and writhed about, filling the room with that potent, musty scent; vision blurred, and heads ached; heart beats sounded like thunder; the room seemed to peel away into expansive darkness in all directions, a bottomless pit of infinity leaving all feelings of gravity and anchorage behind. Jeffrey violently shook his head, trying to blot out the dread filling the very core of his being at the emptiness around him and the smallness of his own body.

Both men now recoiled in disgust, backing toward the mouth of chamber. Jeffrey surveyed the room with his flashlight once more, and, turning back toward the door, caught in his peripheral vision a slight movement above their escape. To their dismay, corpses in all states of decay suspended by long, fibrous tendrils were descending toward the door from the ceiling. Bodies of men and women and children hung as if on the gallows, and fungal coils served as nooses fused into the necks. As the corpses’ feet reached the floor the deteriorating bodies did not crumple or collapse, but instead stood crookedly, heads limply hanging to one side as the tendrils animated the bodies’ remaining muscular systems. Malformed shrieks and cries from decaying windpipes croaked from agape mouths. The bodies shuffled forward, arms reaching out with barely functioning hands and fingers to investigate the intrusion. 

Alan, noting Jeffrey’s preoccupation with this newfound horror, leapt and knocked the gun from his hand. The corpses immediately sensed the commotion and lurched toward the two men grappling on the ground. Jeffrey kicked Alan away and scrambled toward the exit. Alan, for his part, clambered after the gun while avoiding the grasp of a corpse nearby. Jeffrey pushed through the bodies as he launched himself back into the passageway, shutting off the flashlight just in time for Alan to turn toward him with the gun aimed through the horde. 

A shot rang out in the darkness, and Jeffrey heard a swarm of dragging feet behind him in the room as he crawled along passageway feeling the wall beside him. Then, a few more gunshots pierced the garbled cries, followed by Alan’s familiar voice shouting in terror and cursing Jeffrey with vitriol as the corpses engulfed him in the pitch black. Afraid to turn on the flashlight too early, Jeffrey continued to grope along the spongy floor as he made his way up the inclining tunnel filled for a few minutes by the echoes of Alan’s agonizing screams. 

Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Nine

  1. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part One
  2. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Two
  3. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Three
  4. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Four
  5. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Five
  6. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Six
  7. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Seven
  8. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Eight
  9. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Nine
  10. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Ten
  11. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Eleven – Finale

 

 

Part Nine: The Vanity of Mankind

 

The strands of colorful biomass lightly clung to Jeffrey’s face as he lifted his head from the rocky floor. His vision gradually focused enough for him to realize he was in the cave where Alan had caught him. A dim lantern cast orange rays on the cold stone, and the pit beside him seemed to swallow the light into a bottomless void. He could hear Alan shuffling about behind him, but Jeffrey was too late to feign unconsciousness before Alan realized he’d awoken. 

“Ah, how do you feel, son?” Alan rolled Jeffrey over onto his back with the heel of his boot. 

“W-What the hell is this?” Jeffrey asked, still suffering the fog of two strikes to the head. 

“You know, I’m not sure if I’m getting careless, or if it’s just your sheer fucking tenacity, but I haven’t had to do this before.” Alan leaned against the cave wall in exasperation, looking down at Jeffrey. “Most people leave well enough alone.” 

“What is this place? Why-” Jeffrey was cut off by Alan’s interjection.

“See, kid, any questions you have are honestly pointless. You know why you’re here.” 

“Let me leave, and we can forget about all of this.” Jeffrey became agitated now as he regained his mental clarity. 

“What did you expect would happen, eh? Did you think you were going to sleuth out the case? Figure out what I was up to?” Alan paced the room now, muttering as much to himself as he was to Jeffrey. “Did you really think I didn’t notice what you were doing?” 

“What do you want?” Jeffrey pleaded with a grimace.

“Nothing you can give me, I’m afraid. You see, as much as you think you’ve learned, you’re still just as blind as you were to begin with.” Alan stopped and made eye contact with Jeffrey from across the pit. “Did you expect some book to open up the secrets of the universe?” Alan sarcastically mocked. 

“I found the knife, too,” Jeffrey defiantly rebutted. 

“Oh, I know you did.” 

“And it’s already being translated. They’ll be here soon.” 

“There’s probably nobody on their way. People don’t see because they choose not to.” Alan began pacing again. “And I don’t blame them. This isn’t what life should be,” Alan declared, gesturing to himself and Jeffrey. “Better to die ignorant than live with a scenic view of ten thousand terrors beyond your wildest imagination.” 

“Once they’ve translated the knife, they’ll know what’s going on,” Jeffrey vainly protested. 

“They might. But they won’t translate that knife any time soon.” Alan pulled the ancient blade from his jacket, caked with dried blood. “It’s a shame you had to drag others into this mess. Did you really think I would let those idiots fumble around with something like this?”

“What did you do?” Jeffrey cried in horror. 

“I retrieved what you stole. Action, consequence. That’s just about the only thing in this world that stays true no matter how much you know about this god-forsaken place.” 

“I-I can’t-” Jeffrey stammered in disbelief. 

“It’s funny, really. What’s written on this knife makes the book a bit… misleading,” Alan explained as he turned the knife over in his hands. “See, the fellah who wrote that text so long ago thought we could appease somebody- that we could survive if only we had the right help from ‘above’ or something. Complete nonsense!” 

“Then what is this?” Jeffrey asked again, despair creeping into his voice.

“The knife tells a more accurate tale,” Alan continued. “Mankind is so self-absorbed we can’t imagine a world without us at the very center of it. What a strange story we’ve concocted. This planet, Jeffrey- it’s not our home.” Alan stood beside the dark void and looked down. “It’s theirs.” 

“What are they, then?” Jeffrey pressed. 

“No idea!” Alan answered with a whimsical tone. “How’s a person even supposed to comprehend something like this? Kid, we weren’t made to know what these things are. These words, here,” he said as he pointed to the knife, “they tell the first part of the story. Whatever these things are, they’ve been here since the beginning- at least since the early days of this planet. This place was built for them, not us. We spend ten thousand years here and think this place belongs to us? Ha!” Alan scoffed. “We don’t belong here. We were placed here, son. Those ‘great ones’ you read about in the book- they put us here, and they aren’t merciful or kind. They’re cunning, cruel masters, and we’re just fucking rats to them.” 

“Then why did you kill that woman in the cave? The one I found a few months ago?” 

“Pal, I didn’t kill her. The people that killed her have a copy of the book and think they’ve figured the whole thing out,” Alan explained with a sneer. “They don’t understand there’s no stopping this. We can’t appease anybody- we were put here for one reason.” 

“And what’s that,” Jeffrey asked, slightly shifting away from the pit.

“This planet isn’t some paradise of biological flourishing, Jeffrey. It’s a feeding ground. They put us here to die,” Alan sighed as he shuffled back around the pit and knelt next to Jeffrey. “It’s not our home, it’s our grave.” 

“H-how do we stop it?” Jeffrey asked, still straining to rationalize a solution of some kind. “Why are we still here if…” 

“Don’t know, kid!” Alan interjected again. “You can’t figure this one out. There’s no mysterious formula. They’ll wake up when they wake up, and that’ll be it. They’re already stirring- have been for the past couple decades. Who knows how long we have? If I’m being honest, my theory is that they’re being held off until humanity is… juicy enough,” he said with a sly grin. “From what I can tell, we’re in some gladiator match to see which species fills up the planet fastest. Almost eight billion and counting, that’s pretty impressive. I think these things weren’t supposed to wake up the first time. Humans were too few back then. Whatever these ‘great ones’ are must have had to come and put the brakes on the feeding frenzy until dinner was ready, if you know what I mean,” he concluded with a chuckle. 

“Then why are you doing this? If it doesn’t matter what we do, why are you trying to hide it?” 

“Can you imagine what people would do? Mass panic. It would be chaos. It’s all I can do keep idiots like you from blundering into this. The government hasn’t figured it out yet,” motioning down the passage to the rest of the facility. They know it’s something bad, so they keep it a secret for now. Fortunately, they don’t understand yet that all their efforts are ultimately in vain. They can’t stop what’s coming.” 

“I swear I won’t tell anybody- I understand now,” Jeffrey pleaded, feeling he needed to negotiate his way out of this situation. “I promise I won’t-”

“Look, kid, I have no idea whether you’ll keep your mouth shut. This is me sealing the deal,” Alan motioned to the pit. “Now, go ahead and climb in.” 

“W-what? You can’t be serious,” Jeffrey exclaimed.

“Oh, just get down there already,” Alan waved a gun he had pulled from his jacket. 

“Okay! Okay!” Jeffrey held his hands up in surrender, edging closer to the pit. “Please, you don’t have to do this!” Sweat broke out across his forehead, and his arms shook as he looked into the darkness. 

“Go on now, no need to drag this out. You won’t even know what’s happening once it starts, I promise,” Alan described in an almost reassuring voice. 

Jeffrey looked over the edge, his hands pressing into the soft biomass underneath him. The darkness seemed to reach out of the pit and embrace him, unknown terrors awaiting him at the bottom. The daze of his confusion over the past weeks cleared away, and his will to survive mounted. Images from his dreams danced in the darkness below him, taking on a thousand shapes in his imagination. Hearing Alan fiddle with the gun behind him snapped Jeffrey into action- with a sweeping turn he latched onto Alan’s leg as he dropped into the pit. 

Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Eight

  1. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part One
  2. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Two
  3. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Three
  4. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Four
  5. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Five
  6. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Six
  7. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Seven
  8. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Eight
  9. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Nine
  10. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Ten
  11. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Eleven – Finale

 

 

Part Eight: The Text of Terror

 

Having arrived home from the tavern on a night off work, Jeffrey collapsed into bed and fell asleep, drifting into his now-typical nightmares haunted by the ever-nearing shadow in his peripheral vision. To his relief, however, he was soon interrupted by Clara climbing into bed next to him. Contrary to what he expected, she reached over to him with a warm touch and pulled herself next to him. Surprised by her affection, Jeffrey turned toward her and returned the gesture by pulling her into his arms. The passion of her intimacy that followed further bewildered him, but almost immediately confusion gave way to desire, and the frightening forms of reality melted away. Jeffrey’s sleep for the rest of the night featured few of the terrorizing dreams, and he slept clinging to Clara’s hand as an anchor. 

As sunlight entered the room the next morning, Jeffrey lifted his head from the pillow and looked around the room. She lay next to him, buried in the blankets with her arm still extended toward him and clasping his hand. Sitting up in bed, he heard the apartment door open and close as somebody entered. The crushing anxiety of the past few months immediately rushed back into his thoughts, with images of a shadowy figure gliding through the apartment toward the door. Fright quickly turned to confusion in a matter of seconds when he recognized the figure who appeared at the bedroom door was Clara. 

“Who the fuck is that?” Clara cried out in complete shock.

“I….” Jeffrey could hardly form words in his state of equal astonishment. 

“What are you doing?” she exclaimed. 

“I thought… where-” Jeffrey gave up on his disoriented response as Lila sat up in bed beside him. She looked with confusion at Clara and then at Jeffrey as she pulled the blankets around her.

“We’re done, you piece of shit,” were Clara’s final words to him before she stormed out of the apartment. 

“Who was that?” Lila asked after Clara had slammed the door behind her. 

“That- that’s Clara… I thought that…” Jeffrey still struggled to piece together what was happening. 

“Shit, you aren’t married or something, are you?” Lila said with a hint of suspicion. 

“No, she’s my girlfriend. Or…” he corrected himself, “she was.” 

“Why the hell would you call me if you lived with your girlfriend?” Lila scolded with a casual attitude as she slid out of bed and began to dress herself. 

“I called you?” Jeffrey asked, entirely bereft of any explanation. 

“Yeah, you called me like an hour after I left,” she explained, grabbing her purse and phone from the nightstand. “You picked me up and we came back here. Were you really that out of it?”

“I didn’t drink at all last night,” he replied, probing his memory for any trace of what Lila was describing. 

“Well, then I guess you’ve got a strange sense of humor, because this definitely wasn’t funny to her,” Lila said with a slight smirk.

“I- I just don’t remember what happened.”

“Okay, buddy. You’ve got my number.” Lila had put on her shoes and begun to leave the bedroom. “Maybe figure this out before you call me again,” she advised as she waved her hand in a circular motion.

Jeffrey sat in silence for a bit after Lila had departed, trying to understand how he had lost so much memory of the previous night. Though he knew his hallucinations must be worsening, he was loathe to acknowledge that his perception was deteriorating more precipitously every day. After pulling himself from the stupor of confusion, he made his way into the kitchen and pulled the manuscript from his backpack. Finding his spot once again, he continued to probe the ancient words. 

Their many slender branches of bright and beautiful color crept across the ground, winding through the doors of our very homes and embracing us in our sleep. Life could not return to those wrapped in them, and their flesh soon disappeared from their bones. The insatiable behemoths drank of our flesh from afar with their ever-growing reach.

The text continued for many pages in which the ancient author recorded the names of those having perished, describing each household and how it came to its end. Every account began the same way: a member of the family began acting strangely, worsening to the point of madness. The madness would consume the home, finally driving husbands and wives and brothers and sisters to a crescendo of violence in which most or all members lie dead or maimed. Even before the rest of the community found them, the colorful tendrils had infested the home and engulfed the bodies.

Beasts we found, too, were overcome by the ravenous feasting arms which traveled far from their bodies, and no tool could break their almighty grasp. The madness spread among the people, driving us to ever greater bloodshed as the land became a cistern of unfathomable sights in which we were drowning. 

So few of us were left when the great ones arrived, and our souls were broken. Oh, how gracious are they that restored the veil to our eyes. Violent bolts of light struck the earth from dark clouds above, setting fires even among the rocks. Incomprehensible speech like thunder filled the earth from above, plunging our ears into numbness. The terrors beneath the rock returned to their depths and their branches of death soon withdrew. When the dark clouds had cleared, the stars returned once more to the peaceful lights we knew them once to be, and as they remain to this day. 

The veil now covers our eyes once more, and this frightful world is hidden from us again. Most now can remember the terrors only as a dream. Some even venture to claim it never was. But upon these pages I save the memory of those times for a future generation should our appeasement of the great ones cease. Yet shall these pages remain hidden from the many until then, for knowledge of this terrible truth is a burden too heavy for the soul to carry. A person cannot think rightly knowing these things. I write this now as even I forget. We must forget. We must forget.

Jeffrey sat back in his chair, gaze fixed upon the final words in the manuscript before him. The crushing weight described by the author fell upon him with a finality he had yet to experience. He felt he knew now what was in store for him; his hands trembled at the prospect that his fundamental picture of the world was but a veil. His resolve became all the more potent as his curiosity mounted into an obsessive, consuming desire: he wanted to see behind the veil

As evening approached, Jeffrey packed his things for work, stuffing the manuscript into his backpack. The building in the gorge had already fallen under the mountains’ twilight shadows. The break room was empty when he arrived, and it looked as though Alan hadn’t arrived either. Finding it a little strange, he asked the departing crew if they’d seen Alan at all yet. He was surprised to hear Alan had called out sick, as this would be the first time Jeffrey had ever noticed him take a day off. 

Alan’s absence didn’t linger long in Jeffrey’s thoughts as he grabbed a cart and began his cleaning route. Slowly progressing from one room to the next, his mind raced back and forth between obsession and fright. Down long corridors and through dimly lit labs he muttered to himself, recalling the haunting words in the final pages of the text. A suffocating anxiety broke over him in periodic waves between bouts of manic curiosity. Jeffrey wound himself up into a frenzy trying to imagine what lay behind the veil. The shadow that had stalked his dreams for months seemed to follow him down the halls as he cleaned. Each time he could feel the shiver run through his body he would spin around to try and catch a glimpse of what he knew was there but still evaded his searching eyes. 

Corner after corner he wheeled the cart, entirely losing track of time as he went about his routine. His hands shook and his eyes darted about. The sound of shuffling footsteps suddenly drew his paranoid attention, but he was too late to avoid the dizzying blow to the side of his head. Jeffrey’s knees buckled beneath him, and he braced himself on the wall with one arm to keep from falling, only to have a second strike to his head send him reeling onto the floor. The room shrank into darkness as he saw through blurred vision that Alan was standing over him.