Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Depravity -- Criminality

I know I usually write stories, but this article in PsychologyToday caught my attention. Usually, we in psychology try to edge away from ethics. Even the most criminally-associated personality disorder, "antisocial," is not "bad" in the classical sense. No where in the DSM-IV TR is there a requirement for a person to be a "bad guy" to have a mental disorder, although some people may lack an understanding of what society considers good and bad. I got my bachelor's studying ethics in philosophy, and I see why psychology cannot believe in an inflexible morality: it would be too high a standard. If psychologists had to sign on to the Christian 10 commandments, for example, on determining whether someone was morally confused, everyone would have some kind of personality disorder (especially Christians).

This doctor, of whom I have just heard about, discusses "depravity" in ethical terms, mostly as it relates to antisocial personality disorder- the classic sociopath. On the Michael Welner's website, he presents us with about 30 different elaborations on crimes which we are asked to define as "especially, somewhat, or not at all depraved."

Forensic psychologists are commonly called to cases in which a suspect's insanity is in question. If the APA had its way, anyone with a mental disorder who committed a crime would be sent to the mental hospital. And, in the early 1980's, this was actually the case until district attorneys had to take pay cuts for not sending more poor people to jail. The M'Naghten rules for criminal insanity mean that the suspect has to (1) not know what they were doing at the time of the commission of the crime and (2) have had no intention to commit that crime to get the insanity defense. The person had to be not only delusional but hallucinatory as well, which leaves out nearly all mental disorders except for the most acute cases of schizophrenia. As a result, of 1,000 felony charges only four try the insanity defense, and of those only two get it.

"Depravity," a tentative step in the direction of forensic ethics, tries to measure a criminal's "guilti-ness" so to speak. In the article linked to, Dr. Werner queries whether Bin Laden is a true psychopath or whether he is driven by religious devotion. I, myself, would prefer that we go back to the APA rules for the insanity defense so that criminals might get the correct treatment. Instead of measuring a criminal's depravity, which might indicate that person's stress levels and delusional beliefs instead of actual "evil-itude," we should strive to give these poor people the correct treatment.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Snow, chapter 18

The psychologist never liked walking down whitewashed hallways. Everything was white: all the white brick walls. Here, in this polished place, are the scum of the earth: People who made fools of the American government, heh. He straightened his lab coat in preparation. Why do they make me wear this? Of course, this wasn't some looney-wing of a hospital, however. NORAD had allowed many new people in since the attacks had subsided. The country had been crippled, and Doctor Kay was the most qualified to find out where they had began... as though it matters any more.

"So what do you make of this, Doctor?" his field guide to the 'exhibits,' Mr. Bledsoe, said. He was only a student, but he was respectable, and so Kay kept him on his team.

"Well, he's obviously antisocial," Doctor Kay said, staring straight ahead. "Other than that, this guy has no story."

The hall was so white. It reminded him of one of the most clever con artists he had ever interviewed. The man he had interviewed all those years ago was not a typical obsessive-compulsive: he had social skills to a high degree. Enough, apparently, to infiltrate the CIA after a few years of trying. Clean cut, a compulsive groomer and cleaner; they never saw it coming. This whiteness always seems dishonest to me. Of course, who was he to claim purity?

Kay arrived at the cell, somewhat nervous. He pressed the call button, and the wall separating him from the prisoner became transparent.

"Hello, I'm Doctor Kay, and I'll be taking care of you for the next few months. Your name is... 'Fog'? I hope you feel like talking today, Fog. I want to hear what you have to say."

The man looked up: He was an intimidating figure even in his condition. They stared at each other for a while, which was fine with me. Kay was getting paid whether his subject said anything or not, but they only call back those who get information from their 'clients.' Kay held his wallet closer than anyone else in his life.

Fog had painted a picture with his remaining arm. It was just eyes, and Kay gathered that Fog had drawn it in a hurry. He took my coat off and slung it around the chair they placed in front of the plexiglass cell.

"Put down 'delusions of persecution' too, Bledsoe," Kay whispered.

"You like my painting, doctor?" A vague European accent that Kay couldn't place.

"Yes, it's interesting. Is someone watching you?"

"Oh yes. I do not think I will be in this cell long."

Kay waited a moment, just in case he wanted to answer his own statement. "Why is that? You've been here for eight months. Is someone coming for you?"

"Is not someone always 'coming' somewhere? Heh, heh, heh."

Kay make it a point to never laugh at a sociopath's joke, or any joke made by an insane person: It gets in the way of conversation, and that gets in the way of Kay's business. He waited a few moments. Fog was now looking in my direction very intensely. Kay tried the same line of questioning, just in case it bore fruit.

"Is someone going to arrive here... 'soon,' you said?"

Fog looked straight at the wall and said, "Why am I in prison?" and shuffled in his simple bed. It was as though he asked the wall the question.

"Er, I think we both know the answer to that, Fog..." Kay tried not to shift in his seat. He just watched fog lying there, as though he couldn't move. In spite of all this, he looked so relaxed that it was as if he would melt through the concrete walls and escape.

Fog lay there, silent. Kay knew that he would be one of the 'silent types,' but even they loosen up eventually: They all want their story to be known, or some shit like that. They all want to be famous. Kay packed up my things and gestured to Mr. Bledsoe to call in to re-opaque the wall. As he walked away, the doctor had a strange feeling that Fog knew far more than he was letting on.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Different Story #2: High school theme, ch. 2

At school the next day, Alex was hanging around his friend Scott. Scott was clean and cool, tall and muscular, the star of the track team, and only a freshman himself. The cafeteria was crowded and noisy, like always. Alex felt like crap. He wanted to start a riot.

"Scott, what are you doing?" Alex asked, seemingly out of nowhere.

"What do ya' mean, Alex?" Scott replied, a part of a sandwich in his mouth. "I'm not doing anything."

"I mean, why do you want to be the best on the track team?" Alex asked, his cool, unblinking eyes peeking just below his brow. "Is there a girl?"

Scott shifted in his seat, feeling uncomfortable for the first time around his friend of 5 years. "Well, there's a girl I have a crush on, but I'm not, uh, really the 'best'..."

"God damn, you're modest," Alex said with a sigh. He wasn't sure where the conversation was headed, but he felt powerful being the friend of a dimwitted, popular jock. "Well, okay, let me phrase it this way: what are you going to do, now that you're on the track team?" Alex noticed Scott's polo. He noticed how both of Scott's parents dropped him off at school that day.

"Oh, I'm not-- I'm not the best. Chris, now Chris," Scott said, pausing for a moment to think, "that guy has talent."

Alex was tired of this. "I think you should run for school office. You'd kick ass at being the Freshman representative."

"What?" Scott said, "Politics? Me? Oh, Alex, thanks but I don't know if--"

"Too late, I already signed you up." Alex said, laughing slightly. "In fact, you've already got the 20 signatures last time I checked." Scott was surprised, but also delighted.


"Yep, and I'm your running mate." Alex said nonchalantly, as he turned back to his food, pretending to focus on eating. Scott selfishly thought about his chances at winning the office if Alex was involved. Alex was only slightly nerdy in his opinion, and not likely to sway any votes.

"Running mates for class representatives?" Scott said. The question felt out of place, considering he was trying to be modest around his friend. He should've asked Alex if he thought Scott had a chance of winning again. He should have danced around it, and acted surprised some more. "Uh, I mean that--"

Alex knew what Scott was doing, and it irritated him. He didn't need Scott's sympathy. "Yeah," Alex said without turning from his meal. "They want as many people involved in the class elections as possible." Alex got up, and gestured for his friend to follow.

"What's the rush, man?" Scott said, incredulous, indicating the huge sandwich in his hands. "I just learned that I might become a politician because my best friend entered my name, and now I have to go?"

Alex rolled his eyes. "Take your damn sandwich with you man," he laughed slightly, "we have to go spread the word of Scott to the masses." Alex spread his arms wide, chortling. "I mean," Alex corrected himself, "to the school."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Different Story #2: High school theme, ch. 1

Based slightly on TheLedBalloon's story. I liked my fantasy one, and maybe I'll come back to it. I guess what I'm doing could be called "Character experiments."

Alex looked out over the empty parking lot in front of his school. What a start to his freshman year, he thought. He had been sent to detention for the third time in as many weeks. Sitting in a quiet room doing nothing didn't bore him, though.
This detention was different from the others. They let him listen to his ipod, but he chose not to this time. The stillness and the quiet with the three other detention regulars was soothing. His personality, in that short time in there, seemed to have changed.
Alex started walking across the long, boiling hot blacktop of the parking lot in the general direction of his house. His thoughts didn't have a specific content, they were focused on the heat lines off in the distance, the kind that distorted what was ahead of him.
In the quiet stillness, he didn't worry about his future anymore. He stopped worrying about his folks and his family. He stopped worrying about his grades. There was nothing but the room and him, and it didn't feel like a hostile relationship. Suddenly, in the classroom, he could feel his emotions receding from him, like blood from a heart.
Maybe it hadn't happened so suddenly. As his parents' fights had gotten worse and worse, and as he became more and more "rambunctious," he could feel emotions slipping away from him. He was getting caught less and less now, maybe because he was becoming harder to read. He didn't feel anxious about walking home, now. He didn't know what he felt.
As he was walking, Alex stared at his feet and looked at the cracks in the asphalt. That one looked like a triangle. That one looked like a spiderweb. The shapes started coalescing, and he couldn't keep them straight anymore. He wasn't sure why, but he noticed his fists were clenched, and his teeth were barred. He didn't feel angry, but he could tell that he was.
Alex left the parking lot and started down the sidewalk to his house. It was a middle class neighborhood, maybe on the verge of poverty. He was the youngest in his family, and was expected to be the peacemaker whenever his parents started fighting, or at least, that's what he felt. His two older siblings just left the house with their respective friends, and seemed in denial about what was happening.
Why did they leave him alone with his parents? He wondered. He could feel a clenching in his throat, and his eyes squeezing together, but the feeling passed. He stared at his house, and he felt something: terror. There was only one car in the driveway where once there were two. This feeling of terror grabbed him, and Alex ran inside. He knew that his dad never worked this late, and that mom wasn't allowed to drive that car.
In the kitchen was his mother, slowly washing dishes by the yellow light of a skylight overhead. Alex watched her silently, and he knew she must have heard him, but there were other things on her mind now. Alex failed, and he knew it: he couldn't save his mom and dad.
Flashing in his mind now were new thoughts. Exciting thoughts. Usually excitement meant a sudden fight had broken out between his parents and had woken him up from sleep, but this kind of excitement was different. It wasn't a sympathetic "oh I have to do something" feeling: These thoughts, he could tell, resided in the sadistic side of the spectrum. He had to do something, all right, but to whom?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fantasy theme, ch. 1

Vecna woke up next to a little lake on a nice spring morning. He could only open one eye right now, and saw that it was a beautiful day. He could barely feel the grass beneath him through his tattered rags. He was cold, and he felt like something important was missing.

Carefully, Vecna lifted his 10 year old hand up to the left side of his face. There was something very important missing. He couldn't remember anything before ten seconds ago, when he woke up, but he knew that he should have two eyes.

He could tell something pounded it out of him. All he could remember was his name, and that he felt like he had been thrown against a wall. Maybe he had. He could lift one hand, could he lift the other one?

Yes. It wasn't broken, just bruised. He felt the other side of his face, frightened for a second that he might have lost both eyes. Why would that be the case, he said as his hand wiped tears from his eyes.

Crying? He must have been crying for some reason. Funny, he wasn't sad right now. He was paralyzed in shock. The terror began to creep up over him slowly. His small body staggered to its feet. Vecna started to feel woozy, and fell back down again.

He looked over the pond at his reflection. Permanent scars stared back at him. Vecna's single eye studied the disfigured ten year old staring back at him. Absolute sadness and horror struck him, and sent waves of panic down his body.

Vecna woke up again. "I woke up again? Oh god, what happened now?" he thought. He felt his face, and nothing had changed. His surroundings had, though. Apparently, he had slept through a forest fire. "Sleep, why was I asleep? Where's mommy?" He thought to himself. "Mommy," he repeated out loud. "Mommy," he started screaming. Over and over, he screamed the word. He knew the word related to a face, but he couldn't see it.

He looked at his surroundings through a tear streamed face. All that was around him was destroyed. The sky wasn't blue anymore: smoke clogged the sunlight. There weren't any birds, no singing. There's the pond... he went back to sleep right in the same place? He started noticing that his hands were very warm. "I wanted a hug so badly that it burned my hands," he thought. His little body slumped down onto the ground, waiting for his mommy.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Snow, chapters 16 & 17

Chapter 16
Fog was watching the body from his apartment window for nearly an hour. Where the hell are the wild animals? Why aren’t they eating the bastard already? Fog still had the taste in his mouth.
He wiped an entire bottle of that toxic resin on the man’s face, and nothing. Lots of animals came and went, but they ran off as soon as they got close to the body. Mostly it was dogs, but even rats started avoiding it. Is that what the broadcasts were for? To perfect a city-wide contamination?
The radio was droning on in the background as he sat, chin resting on his palm. Fog was almost ready to call it a day, when he saw something down the street. Fog moved to the side of the window slowly to avoid the person’s gaze.
It was holding a... a what? A dog? Marching slowly, it suddenly stopped. Did he see my handiwork? Fog couldn’t tell what manner of person it was until it had run under the streetlamp below to examine the corpse.
The person was heavily armed, all right. Examining the body, it stooped down over it, and touched it. Hmmm, maybe that toxin is good for something after all. Now Fog wished he hadn’t used so much: it might become too obvious. Damn, the policeman was wearing gloves. Oh well, the poison will be effective for a few more days, probably, and hopefully he’ll handle those gloves again.
The policeman must not have been a soldier. If he had been, he would’ve known not to touch anything that the animals wouldn’t. He obviously hadn’t been in the jungle like Fog had. Suddenly, the policeman looked up, and his gaze almost caught Fog’s directly.
Fog dropped to the floor before that could happen. Outside, he heard barking. Peeking over the window’s edge, the policeman was gone, but from up the street came eight or nine dogs, foaming and snarling. One of them had a blue handkerchief in its mouth. At the back of the pack was a human shape, as though it was leading them on. Fog had time to see that it was human, wrapped in tattered clothes, except for a left arm that didn’t end in a hand... it ended in a...?
Fog didn’t have time to study it. He knew that the heavily armed policeman was inside the building, possibly hunting for him with a bullet-proof vest. Quickly, Fog scribbled onto a note pad, tore off the page, and strapped his climbing bracers to his knuckles. Without hesitation, he went into the hallway, and shoved the note into his pocket.
He had already closed all the doors, and knew that it would look suspicious, but he had no time. At the end of the hallway opposite the stairwell was a window. Fog was almost positive his bracers were strong enough to crunch through the building’s exterior. He didn’t like being almost positive.
He climbed down to the street and nervously looked around the side of the building. The pack and whatever was leading it was gone now. Fog snuck carefully into the lobby of his apartment.
Boots? Why are there boots here? Fog took them, as they were high quality, and snuck out the front again. He prayed to god that the mysterious figure leading the diseased animals was not waiting for him outside. When he was outside, he had time to pin the letter to the body, so that it would be right in the face of whomever had invaded his apartment.
As he was getting ready to climb the building again, Fog was thinking about those mysterious bottles of poison he got outside his door right before the riots broke out. He noticed he didn’t get any antidote, and he hoped it was because they hadn’t made any yet.

Chapter 17
Merky was broken. His socked feet crunched on the hard gravel. He was in the worst section of town, now. There were a few corpses around a smashed shop window, with some pigeons feeding on them. Merky was still thinking about the body. He was still wondering about the note.
“Why did you run from the dogs, Mr. Policeman? Why did you save that dog? Who are you protecting now? When you return to the apartments, I will be gone. Your city will ache and groan under my weight.”
The mysterious writer didn’t know that Merky didn’t try to bash the apartment door down. Damn it! Why was he such a sheep? If he had barged into the apartment room, he could have at least found out what he was doing in there.
Was the writer responsible for all this? How was that possible? Merky kept walking down the dark road, his courage returning. This time, though, he didn’t see the roving band of rabid dogs.
Rabid. Rabid dogs... The corpse in front of the building flashed in his mind. Dogs understood the city, just like the mystery writer. If the humans didn’t, that was their fault, and nature just took its course.
Another thing... why didn’t the killer try and confront him? Was he scared just as much, or unarmed? He knew that the man had made a mistake: he wrote a letter to an enemy.
Merky had ten miles left. His walk back was lit sporadically by light poles. Blackouts had hit the city. Merky decided that tomorrow night, he would check the power plant.
Merky stopped beneath a pole, gripping his shotgun. Why was it so slippery? He looked at his gloves, and saw a sort of slime covering them. Merky was careful to take them off very carefully, after throwing his shotgun in a nearby dumpster. So the writer gave some evidence, too?
But this evidence wasn’t like the note. He wasn’t even sure where it came from. Carefully, Merky used a stick to lower the contaminated gloves into the same dumpster as the shotgun.
Merky sat down again. He looked left to right, and held his taser tight. Down the street, from the direction he just came, he could faintly hear barking. Could he walk and read at the same time? No. Moonless.
Merky’s mind stopped thinking in complete sentences as he eyed the handwriting. Capitals. Slanted downward. Rigid, heavy pressure. Red pen. Very angry writing, but not jagged. Good flow, consistant distance between letters and words.
He could see a vague picture: someone organized, who flit in and out of social situations like a leaf on a river.
So angry. So bitter. So clever. Why didn’t you hunt me down? Why did you leave evidence for me to find? Are you not careful or just cocky?
The barking sounded clearer. It was time to leave. Merky disappeared, leaving only his gloves and his gun in an unused dumpster. Oh, more bodies. Where were they coming from?
Shivers were sent up Merky’s spine as he wondered what was happening to the environment he had just left behind.
Cold, filthy animals ravaged by disease were there now: a literal swarm. Suffering, smelling, their vision rounded at the edges by darkness. Their target had just vanished. Sniffing the air for clues of their prey, they directed their terrifying new alpha male to their newest discovery in the dumpster. Their master was pleased. They slowly raised their reddened eyes into the wrenching freeze of darkness in front of them: hungry.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Snow, chapters 13 - 15

(NOTE: --RATED R FOR VIOLENCE-- Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Also, don’t say that I’m a psycho for writing this. PHEW! Psychological thrillers!!)

Chapter 13
Chaos. Utter chaos. Outside the window: honking, a gun blast, screaming. Fog left the lights off in his apartment while he broadcasted. He wanted control more than ever right now. “one, two, three, four, three, four, five, six, seven...”
Fog was sitting on the edge of the bed, away from the window, and was reading his logbook by firelight: fires from the building across the street. “Three, four, five, four, five, four, five, six, seven, eight...”
A train rattled by. Ding, ding, ding, ding. Screaming, glass smashing, car alarms, fire alarms. “Seven, eight, nine, eight, nine, ten, zero, zero, BREAK...”
Done. Fog set the tape to play-back, and left the bed. Fog got his machete out of his satchel, and held it in hand. In his attaché case, he had three bottles of poison that had been anonymously dropped outside his door. He took one of them and then reached for his pistol on his bed, which he didn’t bother attaching the silencer to, as he walked calmly into the hallway. In the hall, a large, desperate woman in an orange dress was asking a neighbor for food. The argument was getting loud, and the woman was becoming more and more demanding.
“I have three children!” she started screaming, “I have three children!” Fog thought she looked gelatinous when she yelled. He was slightly disgusted at her lack of self-control. His sterling steel machete glinted off the bare light bulbs overhead.
When Fog got outside, he wiped his mouth clean. It was complete chaos. Fog had been in this situation before, during the genocide. He enjoyed being in such command of the situation.
Fog stood still as, in the distance, dark, distressed figures ran and ran. The hollering was seeming to die down. Fog, in his clean black coat and dark blue pants, looked disappointed. Shrugging, he turned to go back into the building, the lamp post near the staircase guiding the way.
Clip, clop, clip... Quickened steps. Steps from behind him? He turned and caught a dark figure in the kidneys, the machete protruding slightly out the other side. Fog caught the body, and held it upright. A look of surprise was etched on the young man’s face. He hadn’t died yet, Fog thought as he held the very tense body: it was just too painful to scream.
His jujitsu training swarming over his mind in a flash of mangled legs and arms, Fog broke the young man’s back, and then the neck. Feeling numb, Fog stood over the body, examining it. Checking for a wallet, and finding it, Fog took out fifty dollars. He left five. Other than a wallet, there were some brochures for the Church of Latter Day Saints, and a picture of a pretty blond girl.
The young man was actually quite handsome, and had not shaved in a day or so. The face didn’t look like someone who would jump a large, muscular man from behind. It looked warm. The eyes closed automatically, which Fog always took as a sign that they were used to warm dreams in clean, warm places. They were used to being closed and comfortable.
Fog’s eyes very rarely blinked. They were red around the edges and always itched, but it was better than not being able to see around him.
What a good life this man must have had before today. Handsome, but not too clever, he must have had it easy. No one would leave him in an orphanage.
Fog’s heart slowed as he leaned over the young man’s body.

Chapter 14
Merky was concerned. In his riot gear, with an automatic shotgun slung around him, a taser and a pistol in his belt, and a riot shield, Merky looked around his office, ready to leave for the streets. It sounded too quiet outside.
It had been a few days since they were ordered to evacuate. Merky had gone on patrol every single night, and had rounded up about ten people. The rest eventually left through the barrier at the north end of town, far from the commercial district where the worst was happening.
It took him about an hour to walk over to the huge supermarket in that side of town. It was deserted, as were its shelves. The huge white building was now cavernous. He remembered shopping there in its better days.
Walking along the dark, quiet streets, Merky saw a figure on all fours in the distance, lit by one of a few unbroken street lamps. “Hey! Hello?” He called. The figure was moving along the ground slowly. As Merky caught up with it, he saw it was a dog, limping.
It was a border collie with a blue handkerchief around its neck. It uneasily addled away from the large, black object without eyes coming towards it. Merky took off his helmet, and the dog still seemed confused and anxious.
Merky liked the dog. He took off his gloves and sat, petting it for a while. The puppy laid its head in his armored lap. It looked injured on one leg. Merky didn’t want to abandon it, so he picked it up.
“You’ll come with me and protect me, won’t you?” He smiled at the dog. It rubbed itself warmly against Merky’s chest.
At the end of the street, past a few abandoned cars and smashed windows, Merky saw a hunched figure in front of a lamp post. Merky started jogging towards it, and the dog, curious, looked in the direction he was traveling.
As he got closer, Merky thought something was wrong with the figure. The dog was getting very antsy, and struggled as hard as it could with a broken paw out of Merky’s grip. He placed the dog carefully underneath a car.
“Sir? Sir are you all right?” He called. The figure was not leaning against the lamp post, something was propping him up. Why was he leaning like that? Why can’t I see his face?
When Merky was next to the body, he saw the head was turned completely the wrong direction. The body was handcuffed to the lamppost. The torso twisted in an irregular way, almost flexible enough to wrap around the post, as though it was broken in several places.
“Jesus.” Merky said. His initial instinct was to run, but he calmed down enough to put his gloves back on to examine the evidence. Slowly, he turned the head to face him, dreading what he would see.
Hopefully, it was the crows who did this. The blood streaked from the empty eye sockets to the shirt.
Merky had been at crime scenes before, usually with a team of professionals to keep him sane. He’d seen autopsy reports, and dead bodies. This was just another body, right? Just another drive-by? Merky hoped so, but knew it was laughably optimistic.
Merky looked around, but his eyes couldn’t penetrate the darkness. Did a mob do this? A very angry mob?
No. It was too orderly. It was too skillful. Merky was curious, and patted the man’s back, feeling a missing bone in the vertebrae. Maybe it really was a mob, a mob who jumped up and down on this man until his back broke. He felt the front. Other than a stab wound in the abdomen, he didn’t feel any trauma from a group of people punching or hitting. A single human being did all this?
Where are you, he wondered. Are you watching the body? Waiting for it to be hurt again somehow? Is that why you handcuffed it here?
From down the street, where he had left the collie, he heard a squeal. Turning around, he saw dozens of eyes piercing the nighttime squalor. A group of growling. A group ready to pounce. Foam from their mouths told a very short, nasty story.
Merky quickly bounded up the staircase of the tall, brown, apartment building he was in front of, and closed the double doors behind him.

Chapter 15
Merky tried to looked outside the door, but the lights inside the lobby made it so he couldn’t see past the door’s windows. He held his shotgun tight now: he had a feeling whoever created that mess outside was in this building.
Merky took off his boots and slowly creeped around the small lobby of the apartment building. It was in shambles. Even parts of the wallpaper were torn off, somehow. He didn’t want to use the elevator, for some reason.
Merky looked up the cramped staircase. For some reason, Merky noticed that it was freshly waxed. I wonder what the janitor was planning to do today, he thought.
It was dark and cold in this building, a feeling Merky disliked. The city was usually bright and warm, but not tonight. He felt like the darkness of the night had swarmed this building and taken it over.
He got to the second floor and leaned out the stairway door. Doors open, a few cats wandering the hallway... soundless.
The third floor was much the same: all the doors open, a few cats and dogs mewing and squeaking for food... soundless.
The fourth floor... all the doors were closed. Something smelled wrong here: salty and iron-like, it captured his attention. He heard a faint, repetitive sound coming from one of the rooms. Merky didn’t want to bust down each door, so he just slowly crept. He felt the floor in front of him with his toes, so as to avoid creaking.
When he got to the middle of the brown hallway, he saw the source of the smell: a large, dark red puddle of blood, and streaks emanating from it, going underneath a nearby door. Merky knew it was his friend.
Was this person normal until a riot broke out? Did this person feel like that was the only time they could express themselves? Merky had very few clues to go on with the city in this much shambles. If he had the homicide squad with him, the story would be different, and he thought that the murderer knew that, too. Did the guy just lose control, like the city recently had?
At the end of a hallway was an open window. Behind a door near the end of the hallway, Merky could hear a very soft voice saying something over and over. He couldn’t tell what.
Merky didn’t like bursting in to rooms without back up, and slowly creeped away, checking behind him the entire way back to the lobby. He clenched his shotgun tightly. Odd: his grip kept slipping the more he clenched.
Merky was surprised, and somewhat angry, to see his shoes gone when he exited the stairwell, but decided he had no time to search for them. Outside, attached to the body’s shirt, was a note.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Preface to Snow, chapters 13 - 15

Before I post my next three chapters, I just want to say that they're gonna be violent. And I don't mean like:

"Yeah, violence is kewl!"

...kind of violence, I mean more like:

"..." "O____O" "!"

...kind of violence. I didn't plan for my characters to do this kind of stuff. I just wanted a nice character-driven analysis of two interesting people. Suddenly, Fog does THIS and it throws my entire idea out of whack.

I'm writing realistically (as much as possible), and so the story is kind of just carrying me along. Apparently, Fog is a very angry person. There's a description of a mutilated dead body, and how Fog killed it; it's just that I don't want you to go:

"Cajek is a psycho, and not the fun kind like he was at Uncyc"

I'm still "funny" (or whatever it is I tricked you into believing I am), it's just that this story... uh, isn't? It's just a very slow analysis of these two characters, and if they do something crazy, I don't want you to think the person who wrote it is too. Okay, it'll be up in a day or so.

UPDATE: Okay, I don't feel so bad after reading Chapter 2 of Led's story, but still... mine is worse.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Toads parts 1 - 5: A Parody of Dr. Skullthumper's "The Frogs"

[NOTE: Skull, don't HATE me or ban me from the internets! Everyone else, read "The Frogs" by Christopher Lesiw BEFORE reading this.]

Ivan was a writer. That meant he liked to complain, or be drunk. This morning was special, though. As he woke up, Ivan was almost about to complain until he decided to go for a walk instead, and think about his feeeeeeelings.

To make a long story short, Ivan was run over by a car.

By the time Wes had caught up with Mark and told him the bad news, the writer had already decided to just unleash two new characters on the reader. Mark was already in hysterics. "No no it's not true or possible no no no okay I'm over it."

"Let's go to hell and find him for some reason!" Wes said, his beamy, brilliant, effulgent, incandescent, irradiant, lambent, lucent, luminous, lustrous, radiant, refulgent, and shiny smile gleaming all over the damn place.

"Sounds okay to me." Mark angrily retorted.

As they arrived at the lake front, Wes pointed out the magic Ski-Doo upon which they would travel to the river in hell that they wanted to go to. Hell in this story represents madness or something.

"Is it safe?" Mark angrily retorted.

"Meh." Wes said, and they were off. Sixteen metaphors and a simile later, they were in the place where they wanted to be.

"Wait... why did I agree to this?" Mark retorted angrily.

"LOL, PLOX! HAXXORZ!" Wes screamed in Mark's face.

"lol, lol, lol," the toads croaked. The toads represent madness too, in case you're fucking RETARDED. Pay attention, here!

To be continued... ahahaha, naw, I'm kidding.

Back to "Snow" by me...

Snow, chapters 10 - 12

Chapter 10
Merky’s friend Rob, the radio enthusiast, had searched the airwaves every night for the mystery broadcasts. Merky knew his friend was getting more and more disturbed by his hobby, and made him stay at Merky’s house. Rob looked bedraggled and confused when he arrived, like a child. His unshaven, thin, quivering face gave Merky considerable pause. He decided Rob would do better if he was in the company of others, and took him to work.
Merky looked at the headline. “Biological Warfare?” it bellowed. He saw the picture on the front page, bodies under blue tarp being led out of a hospital to a special CDC quarantine section. Apparently, a rare strain of flesh eating virus had appeared in the homeless population on the edge of town. Merky was surprised that the CDC let this get in the papers. They were usually more careful.
Eleven homeless and one small girl had died in two days from major skin hemorraging from an unknown subcutaneous virus. Merky tried to keep his cool at least for his friend, who was sitting across from him.
It had only been two months since he had been promoted to head of homicide, and he has an outbreak on his hands. Luckily, it wasn’t under his jurisdiction. The feds had taken over the scene, and kept him out. The only queries that Merky could get answered regarded death tolls, and he could read the papers for that.
“What’s in the papers, Danny?” Rob said, sitting on the orange couch at the other side of the small office. Merky had forgotten he was there. Rob had a creepy stillness about him, in spite of his anxiety.
“Oh, Rob, nothing very interesting. Some kids were killed in a gang shooting.” Merky didn’t want to arouse Rob’s interest. He knew how persistant a paranoid person could be.
Rob was quiet for a moment. He looked down at his feet, then suddenly looked up. “Do you still have the tape of that broadcast?” he asked, like a guilty kid.
Merky was glad he kept it. “Yeah, I can have Madeline get it for you. Madeline?”
Madeline walked in, and was surprised to see the unkempt visitor. “Yes Merk?”
“Could you go to the evidence locker and get that tape I filed a month or so back? The one marked ‘May 11 9:14PM, channel 201.4’ I think. Something like that.” With some things, Merky had a dazzlingly clear memory. After fifteen minutes, Madeline returned with a tape, ‘May 11 9:04PM, channel 204’. Close enough, he thought, pleased with himself.
“Thank you, Mads.” Rob looked hungrily at the tape. Merky wondered if he made the right decision, feeding a paranoid. “Rob, I want you to see this.”
Merky turned to his window, looked below, and threw the tape. It was overcast.

Chapter 11
Fog sat alone in his room, staring at the unopened local paper. It made him feel nervous. He didn’t enjoy reading the news unless he had recently committed a crime. He needed to scan for any sign that his broadcasts had risen eyebrows.
On the front page, he saw the headline, “Biological Warfare”. Fog’s heart pounded and pounded for three minutes before he could begin to read the article.
There were some large words in there that Fog did not understand. As far as he could tell, twelve people had been killed by a flesh eating virus in about three days.
Fog was very frightened, and he felt his bowels fill almost instantly. He got on his coat and headed out the door, credit card and identification in hand. His ID said he was “Jake Felston”, aged 45.
Fog had not been this scared since he was in the pits, fighting the other orphans.
Fog exited the apartment and looked right and left. He saw a couple coming toward him. “Excuse me, where’s the nearest supermarket?” The woman smiled and said it was about ten blocks in the direction he was facing. He thanked them and left.
The supermarket was large and gleaming white. Parking was ample, but still full of cars. Fog had never imagined such decadence. The building looked like a beautiful palace. Pigs, they all were. Pigs at a never ending trough. Fog did some breathing exercises to calm down. He was glad to see a beautiful building at last, and decided to focus on the architecture of the thing instead of the pigs and the trough. The gray sky had not blocked out the sun, and as Fog jogged towards the building, it seemed eerie.
Inside it was cold, just as he liked it. Frantically, Fog gathered as much food that didn’t need preparation as he could. He knew he had to haul it all home without the convenience of a car, but he thought of it as a physical challenge. The kind of physical challenge he was trained on.
When he got back to his apartment, he flung down the six grocery bags to the floor. Mostly chips, cookies, and breakfast cereal. He put the milk in the fridge.
The sky outside looked ready to rain. Ready to wash off the city’s filth. Fog chuckled.
Fog’s door had six locks. He closed them all.

Chapter 12
Merky had seen bad times, but nothing prepared him for this. The next day, the headline, “Residents Ordered to Evacuate” sent Merky into dry heaves of anxiety. Rob was stiff on the couch, his hands pressing his eyes into his head.
Merky’s secretary and most of his staff had already left town. Rob was, at that moment, approached by two men in coats at the request of Dennis, and taken out of the room. Merky’s office had never looked so messy. Even he thought it was bad.
There weren’t enough police to make sure everyone got out safely. Merky was sure that 50 people would probably trampled to death in the evacuation. Maybe there would be some wanton shooting. He could tell that there was looting. Looking out his window, he saw the store across the street from the police station getting smashed by ten or so desperate hoodlums. The station itself was safe from looting. The first two floors had bulletproof plastic windows, including the front doors. It cost tens of millions of dollars and fifteen years of lobbying by the police, but it was worth it. Merky could see that now, whereas before he thought it was a horrendous waste.
He looked out over the city. Bumper to bumper traffic. It was better than this morning, but not much. Merky was ordered to stay in town and find out what was going on. The report he received gave him some insight.
The fifty victims of the flesh-eating virus had all been bitten by unowned, unclaimed animals, mostly dogs and rats. There was reason to believe that the outbreak was artificial, but Merky was not given that information.
What a pile of shit this is, he thought. He was the only local officer left in town. Partly it was his own fault, because he loved the city so much, but it still made Merky feel like it was the end for him.
Merky crumpled to the floor of his office, letting some of his ejected notes sift through his fingers as he cried.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Snow, chapters 7 - 9

Chapter 7
A few weeks later, Fog was sitting alone in the dark in his cramped living quarters. The transmitter was fairly large and complex for something that came out of a suitcase. It sat near Fog’s small desk near a window. Fog’s clothes were arranged on his bed. He didn’t like having his back to the door.
Fog was decidedly neat. He was neat to compulsion. Compared with his subordinates, he was very organized. Early on, he decided to organize objects, objectives, and people into an index that he would carry around with him, mentally, wherever he went.
He calculated every interaction he had with others. Even now, as he sat by his apartment window, microphone in hand, he sat in a relaxed position so as to avoid suspicion.
Fog was given a large instruction book for transmitting and a letter of well-wishing from the top echelons of his native government. Every entry for broadcast was very specific as to the date, channel, hour, minute, and second of transmission. Fog looked at his watch, which was very accurate, cleared his voice and spoke.
“one, two, three, four, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, seven, eight, nine, zero, zero...” Fog continued in this fashion for at least another minute before stopping. He played the tape for about thirty minutes before shutting off the transmitter. Fog would be transmitting every night at different intervals for the next few months. Nothing else was required of him, as far as he knew.
Fog wondered who heard it. He also wondered what it said. He was naturally curious, which was a drawback if one was going to be organized. He didn’t like being in the dark, or at least, other people’s darkness. Natural darkness suited him.
Why did they send a highly trained assassin into a city to broadcast anonymously? What were the dangers of this mission? What was in this city that was so important?
Fog sat and looked out his window for a while. He heard yelling, talking, screaming, police sirens, dog barks, and the like from the active darkness. He wanted to take it all in.

Chapter 8
Three days later, Merky sat in his office looking over the recent deaths. Some people had been killed by a gang of dogs, some people had been killed in gang wars, a suicide, lots of murders of passion. The gang of dogs was odd, but nothing too far out of the ordinary. Dogs in this city knew what it was to be truly alive, and if the humans couldn’t cope, why, nature then took its course.
What was out of the ordinary was an anonymous radio transmission that had been found by one of his friends. Merky was a down-to-earth type of guy, and believed in having friends in high and low places. This friend, a short-wave radio hobbyist, recorded an odd transmission two nights ago. It slipped in during the night and ended abruptly.
This friend was known to be slightly paranoid, and sent a tape to Merky. Merky listened to it and thought it was very dull. It didn’t have a beat, and you couldn’t dance to it. Merky humored his friend, took the tape, and thanked him for reporting suspicious activity. At first, it went straight into the garbage, but Merky thought that was indirectly rude, and sent it down to the evidence locker with an expiration of thirty days.
Merky looked out his office door at his pretty secretary. There was something nice about her. An inner office romance wouldn’t be “kosher,” however, and Merky let it drop, consciously, from his mind. Merky had been dating for a few months, now that he was finally over his wife’s death. He wrote down “Martha” on a piece of paper, and threw it to the floor.
At night, when the day world was more or less at ease, Merky had many dreams. Interlocking, they lit up like neon lights in his mind. That night, he had a disturbing one. Strange, dark animals containing secret messages hunted down his secretary and killed her, their excrement afterwards resembling numbers in the dirt. When Merky awoke, he found that he had peed his bed. That hadn’t happened since he was a child, he thought.
Merky looked around his room, and saw that he hadn’t hung any of his clothes up.

Chapter 9
“One, two, three, four, three, four, five, six, five, six, seven...” Fog put the microphone down, and replayed the tape for thirty minutes as instructed, this time on one of the very high frequencies.
Fog liked writing in his journal when he was frightened, which rarely occurred. His journal was arranged next to a small plant that he picked up at the flower store. He liked being afraid some of the time. It kept him in perspective.
His life was arranged. He folded his clothes, he made his bed, and he showered every morning after waking up at four o’clock. His regiment was clearly defined: nothing out of place. Secretly, he was deathly afraid of losing control.
For a curious man, who was not afraid of fear, control always seemed out of reach. When he was in the jungles, light years away and thousands of years ago, crouching in the darkness, he wondered what was within his control. He remembers looking at his gun and clenching it tight. The chamber? loaded. What does he hear? nothing. What does he see? moonlight.
These trips down memory lane, for Fog, were more than intense. He snapped back to the city, rigid in his desk chair, sweating in front of his microphone, staring out the window.
Fog decided to focus on the present. He looked at the logbook. Trying to find a pattern, he could only see one. He wrote out the first few numbers from his first broadcast, and circled the sections where the numbers started repeating.
(1 2 3 4) (2 3 4 5 6 7 8) (7 8 9) 0 (0 1 2 3) BREAK. He then wrote out the amount of numbers in the sections, and the number the sections ended with. (4 4)=8 (7 8)=15 (3 9)=12 0 (4 3)=7. Fog looked at what he wrote and decided it was too complicated to decode. He folded the paper in half and wedged it into today’s entry in his journal. Whoever was translating this may have a decoder that changes each night. Or maybe 90% of it was meaningless.
Fog looked out his fourth story window and saw a large gang of dogs run past. He heard a gunshot in the distance, and a scream. Or maybe it was just fireworks? He heard yelling and honking. A police siren. Fog looked at the time: it was nearly midnight. For once, he broke his schedule and decided to stay up, listening to his own recorded broadcasts for clues.
Fog had been sent as an assassin in different countries before. He was sure to not be cocky, even when he was a cadet. When he left a crime scene, he was sure to think about what he would say if he was caught. Late at night, walking the wide, empty streets alone after his silent murders, he tried to keep a slow pace. He tried to put himself in the shoes of the detectives who would see his work the next morning.
Fog looked out the window. The night sky was clear.

Snow, chapters 4 - 6

Chapter 4
Merky always wondered why he liked murder cases. Hopefully it wasn’t a perverse pleasure. He liked solving them, and, indirectly, it may have been the reason he was promoted.
When it’s just random shootings and stabbings for three months, Merky thinks its because the world is just stupid and violent. Last night, two young men were killed in shootouts, and eleven homeless people had frozen to death. He received death toll reports throughout the city because he was in charge of writing the monthly report to the mayor.
The two young men were gang members, of course, and they were just... shot. Unceremonious, without preparation. The culprits would be difficult to find. Two hoodlums killed in the dead of night, and police asking if anyone had seen anything? The locals would laugh them off their front doorsteps.
Most murders in this town were just random acts of violence. Crimes of passion, or just crimes of not seeing a therapist in time. In 98% of cases, the culprit was someone the victim knew. The interesting cases, the ones Merky had read about, are a fraction of that 2%. Someone having a complex delusion that marked their killing.
Merky had the homicide squad on the case of the two hoodlums, and by the afternoon, they turned up a few leads. It would take a few weeks to get the case together, but that was not a problem. There was very little pressure to find out why two random gang bangers were killed.
Merky looked out the window.

Chapter 5
The man was reading the instruction booklet that came with his equipment. In one day, he had finished what his superiors had given him two weeks to do.
He remembered how he put the machine together, in case he had to quickly dismember it if he was inspected by the landlord. He didn’t ask for privacy, fearing that that would make the owner suspicious. Instead, he said very little out of the ordinary.
When he meets people, the man feels okay. He never enjoyed killing. He did it because he was ordered to, and he was good at it. “Fog” was his nickname during the revolution, and it stuck with him. He was impenetrable, mysterious, and deep. Clustered, but not solitary. Closed, but not out of control.
Fog flipped through the manual, and understood the basics within an hour. He put the book down, next to the little silver box and antennae, and decided he would look around town.
Fog had to interact with others to make sure that he kept things in perspective. Things seemed their darkest for him when he didn’t interact with people. A coffee shop nearby seemed appropriate.
He ordered coffee, black, and lay down on an atrocious red couch at the far end of the cafe. What position is best to get others to talk to you, he wondered. He put a weak smile on his face, and looked up at the ceiling, in order to induce someone to conversation.
He heard someone plop down on the couch opposite him. He looked over at him.
The man was in a brown coat. That was irritating, for some reason. Was the entire world brown, he asked himself. Fog himself was in a blue, collared shirt with blue jeans. He liked the color blue, it made him feel innocent.
Fog looked back at the man and greeted him with a quick “hey”. He looked him in the eyes, but was really focusing on the man’s bland brown coat. The man responded in the same way. Fog felt like he had seen enough, and left after a slight hesitation.

Chapter 6
A week later, Merky got a fresh list of deaths from the previous night. At least he didn’t have to go and look at them. He sent one of his deputies out to the field, with the excuse of writing up the mayor’s report.
One death in particular caught Merky’s attention. Gang violence again, one young man killed. Drive by shootings were, in Merky’s opinion, the most brutal type of killings. Suicides were full of meaning and relevance. Drive by’s were without any meaning at all, aside from “life is worthless.”
Life was interesting, to say the least, thought Merky. He could feel himself wanting to talk to the murderers and ask their opinion on life and death. He could hear them saying “who cares about life?” as though they were the only people in the world with problems.
Merky looked out the window. Again, the sun was illuminating his brown office, the light bouncing off the white papers strewn all over the place. Merky had always wondered why he was so messy, and so did his secretary.
Madeline briskly walked in the door with a few folders for her boss. She stepped over the mounds of papers lying on the floor over to her boss’s desk. She liked Merky, more than just a superior. He always looked her in the eyes.
“Thank you very much, Mads.” Merky said, half smiling, “Don’t let them give you any trouble, today, okay?”
Madeline was a young, blond, sexually attractive secretary: The kind the other officers drooled over. Merky noticed that she was dressed somewhat inappropriately for a government office.
“Thank you, Dennis.” she said. “Is there anything I can get you? Coffee, donuts?”
Merky noticed that the new secretary was calling him Dennis more and more. Also, in the past few weeks, she had offered to get him basic breakfast items. He enjoyed her youth.
“Heh, yes, get me some donuts. I’m sorry about the mess here; when I get it organized slightly, I’ll let you take over. That okay?”
“Yes, detective.”
Merky was thinking about drive-by’s again as Madeline left the office. A sudden thought entered his mind that disturbed him. Merky wrote it down and quickly threw it to the floor.

Snow, chapters 1 - 3

Chapter 1
Now, he was off the boat. Standing on the dock, the glare of the sun was dazzling. When he covered his eyes, he saw the American city. Even in daylight, it looked dirty. All he could see was brown around him, and it was made worse by the fact that he was warm in front but cold in back. He didn’t like putting his back to the ocean; it was too wide.
He stepped onto the dock, and felt somehow free. He had no assignment for a month. He had to set up the transistor in his apartment and figure out how it worked. Getting paid for this job mystified him. He held his black suitcase aloft, and shook it slightly. Jingles and jangles of metallic objects awoke in him something he hadn’t felt since the war.
He was standing motionless on the dock, but wasn’t in anyone’s way. Not that it would have mattered, but he would have thought it sloppy of him all the same.
He was wearing an overcoat with gloves in late Spring. He didn’t like opening himself up to the world, but he supposed he had better, before he looked suspicious. Curious, he thought, that opening up to the world was a way of covering up. Curious, that opening was closing. The thought wound its way around his brain.
He was a strange man. He didn’t look strange: he made sure of that. All scars were surgically removed, and his hair did not look foreign anymore. He had a strong jaw, mixed with dark blue eyes. The eyes flitted back and forth, scanning the faces on the dock.
Slowly, and with a slight sense of disgust, he moved forward into the brown American city.

Chapter 2
Detective Merky was having a good day. Freshly promoted, he found he had a low case load. The mayor’s campaign of community improvements may have done the trick.
Dennis Merky was not the most handsome looking man, but he got the job done. Short and weak-jawed his entire life, he was afraid of nothing. His mind was sharp enough to have never had to be in a fight, until he was in law enforcement. Looking up at everyone sure put things in perspective.
Making enemies his friends was what he specialized in. After ten minutes of talking with the man, you could feel easy while getting a root canal, or so the officers said. Merky didn’t like getting a reputation as an outgoing, charismatic guy: it only made being outgoing and charismatic that much harder.
He sat in his office, looking over the latest cases, his jacket slung over his chair, and his coffee steaming on his desk. His window looked out over the city, with the sun illuminating everything in his office.
This was his favorite room in the police station. He could see the city from here. It looked dirty, but everything is a little dirty. In fact, it felt very homey to him. It reminded him of his grandmother’s house in a typical morning, near the lake.

Chapter 3
The man reprimanded himself for feeling uneasy in this new area. He knew English well enough for the locals to not get suspicious, and he had all the trappings of an American, according to his previous experience in the country.
He felt uneasy like a cloud feels rainy: a very dull feeling. He didn’t like emotions: they came through one’s face, one’s hands, one’s body too easily. They shone through to strangers, and made others feel distant.
He was walking along the streets, and at least they were silver sidewalks. He watched the faces around him, and considered them the faces of boring people. This must be the impoverished side of town. It lacks “hustle and bustle,” and everyone seems a little secretive. Friendly, but still defensive, as if they would be robbed any day now.
Feelings were unnecessary for missions. In fact, they were usually a hindrance. After years of being an assassin, the softer emotions had been drained out of him. Crying was one emotion he felt uneasy about.
When he was a child, crying for the commandant to not make him execute weaker orphans had eventually transformed into crying for the lack of crying. Over time, his hardness had given way to a more mature outlook on the world.
Youth makes the world seem so clear -- either black or white -- and he used to see it as completely hard and black, like some alien pearl.
The man entered the apartments he was assigned, and, after climbing four stories of stairs, began setting up his small transmitter.