December 11th …The annual Hudson River Booze and Boobs Cruise was something of a local institution, a three hour boat ride from the port of Albany to the city of Troy and back again. The cruise offered a buffet, a bar and more exotic dancers than you could shake a money clip at. Ostensibly this low grade bacchanalia was a way for Richie Upton, the owner of Scorpio’s Exotic Lounge and other sleezy establishments, to raise money for the less fortunate. It was the kind of event that brought greasy ‘philanthropists’ from all across the tri-city area.


There had been other boats in the past but for the last five years the JT Allen had been the ship of choice. It was a three deck cruise ship, the lower two decks were enclosed with central air and tinted windows. The owners of the ship knew what kind of debauchery was taking place on all three of those decks but were more than willing to look the other way.

After all, there was money enough for everyone; the owners, the caterers, the dancers, and Richie Upton’s bosses in the Polish Mafia. Sadly they never seemed to have any money left over for the poor unfortunate souls they were supposedly trying to help.

As you can imagine, after each of these cruises there was public outrage, municipal embarrassment and condoms washing up on shore for weeks. The forces of decency would rally and vow to put an end to the Hudson River Booze and Boobs Cruise, but no one really thought the party would ever stop.

However on this night the party did stop, it was stopped forever…


THE NIGHT BLOGGER:
A Season In Hell
Episode Nine
The Werewolf
by
Al Bruno III


I was drunk, seasick and horny. It was almost ten thirty at night and I believed I was the only person on the open air upper deck of the JT Allen. It was thirty degrees, just cold enough to make me feel like I might either sober up or pass out. The party raged on beneath me.

And yes I do mean raged. The booze and the boobs had done their ugly work making some of the male attendees aggressive and demanding. The bouncers had their hands full and they had begun deputizing members of the ships crew to keep what was supposed to be a nice charitable orgy from degenerating into an orgy of manslaughter and sexual assaults. The more I thought about the things going on down there, the more sick to my stomach I felt.

My cousin Roy was the DJ for this event and he’d gotten me a free ticket. I almost didn’t go. My nights of being Roy’s chauffeur had left me feeling exhausted, vaguely alcoholic and full of self-loathing. 

Lack of sleep, unlimited free drinks and nightly prepaid peenie whackings will do that to a guy.

I stared woozily up at the sky, there were no clouds, just bright stars and a brighter moon. I found myself wishing it would snow, wishing a blanket of white would cover me, this boat, this city, everything. I wanted… I wanted to feel cleansed. I wanted to know what the fuck I was doing with my life.

There was a crash to my right, I turned around expecting to see another partier in search of fresh air or an original place to throw up.

What I saw was a partier all right, he staggered along the guard rail; his face, his throat and his gut had all been torn away. Air whistled through his ragged neck, a loosened eye rolled and jostled against an exposed cheekbone. Entrails, reeking and bloody, brimmed from his belly, slithering down to his feet.

“Sorree…” he gasped, “ahm sorreee…”

Then something brought him down, a lean canine shape.

I heard the bites that killed the already dying man. The loud snaps of a powerful jaw followed by grunts that might have been from effort or from pleasure. My every muscle was locked in place, I was utterly terrified but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I was fascinated too.

Oh fuck! I thought, Oh fuck!

The thing chomped and swallowed while I ever so slowly retrieved my smartphone and snapped a few pictures.

Click: A paw immersed in a shallow puddle of blood.

But the paw wasn’t right, it was clumped and gnarled like an old branch. Something about it made my skin crawl.

Click: A long arching back, a supine torso covered with hair but not thick with it. Its hindquarters were hunched, its shoulders were sagging, its blunt muzzle was buried deep in the torso of the dead man.

Like the paw, the entirety of the creature’s body was hard to look at. At one glance it brought to mind a sickly or deformed beast and with another it made you think of a child clumsily play-acting at being an animal.

Click: Closer now, zooming in. There were traces of what might be bruises or war paint along its throat. The jawline was distended and monstrous looking, the ear was pert and seashell like. With one eye it looked directly into the camera.

Without warning the thing loosed a long keening howl. When it howled I screamed.

I don’t remember running. I don’t remember running at all. I do remember falling down the stairs and landing with a thud onto the main deck. The smallest of the seven bouncers on duty, a pair of guys named Adam and Phil, helped me to my feet. They ushered me over to a chair at an empty table and got me a glass of water. Cousin Roy’s twenty minute Lord’s of Acid megamix was throbbing from the speakers. No wonder no one had heard the nightmare going on upstairs. “Aren’t you Roy’s cousin?” Adam asked, “What happened?”

“Someone is hurt.” I pointed, “Up on the deck. There’s blood.”

What else did you expect me to say? That I’d seen a monster? I know better than that and so should you.

Phil went upstairs to check, I looked around the room. That thing, that whatever it was, could be anywhere now. If it moved on all fours it could slink between the tables and be on me before I could so much as piss myself.

That made me concentrate on my surroundings all the more but I saw no monsters, just table after table of empty, lonely and broken men and the single mothers, runaways and other lost girls trying to feign interest in what they had to say. 

And make no mistake dear readers, I was very much a part of this scene. Sure, I didn’t pay for my ‘sessions’ with Kiki, Bunny, Charisma and Suzie but don’t think that absolves me of anything. I could have been a gentleman, I could have told Roy to take a damn cab but instead I got laid every night by women that would never tell me their real names. Women I was treating with no more thought than a handful of tissues.

Suddenly I was being manhandled to my feet and dragged up the stairs by the bouncers. They didn’t look amused at all.

It seemed darker now but that might have just been the beginnings of the alcohol poisoning I had been courting all night. The Patroon Island bridge was looming up ahead. No one was more surprised than me when I suddenly threw up all over the bouncer’s shoes. “Aw God Damn it!” Adam hissed.

“Never mind that,” Phil pulled me over to the far railing.

Of course there was no body. There was plenty of blood but no body.

“Now,” Adam said, “what the Hell happened up here?” 

As far as interrogations go the one I got from the two bouncers wasn’t all that bad. I told them what they expected to hear and insisted we had to turn the boat around and call the police.

Phil looked at me like I’d just beamed down from the Starship Peckerhead, “Are you outta your mind?”

“Someone might have fallen overboard!” I said, “We gotta get help.”

“All that happened is someone fell and hit their head,” Phil glared, “head wounds bleed a lot. Poor sap probably wandered back downstairs. Hell, maybe he’s getting another peenie whacking.”

“That doesn’t even make sense! Think about what—” I stopped talking when I felt a meaty hand on my right buttock, “Hey that’s my wallet!”

“Mr. Upton doesn’t need the police or any kind of trouble,” Adam rooted around until he found my driver’s license. He pocketed it, “So you keep your mouth shut or we’ll find you and make you sorry.”

“I’m already sorry” I snatched my wallet back, “you guys are making a big mistake.”

They crossed their arms in unison. Phil said, “We’re professionals, we don’t make mistakes.”

“Oh please,” I rolled my eyes, “this isn’t Roadhouse. Can’t you see we’re all in danger?”

“Danger? How?”

“Well… Well…” I self consciously adjusted my straw fedora, “I haven’t been one hundred percent up front with you guys.”

“Oh?” Phil stepped closer.

“I saw something else… It attacked the guy… The guy that isn’t here now…”

“Something else?”

So I told them everything, the whole story and I cringed with every word. When I was finished Adam asked, “Are you saying you saw a werewolf?”

“Hey now!” I raised my hands, “I did not use the ‘W-word’.”

“But that’s what you mean right?” Adam continued, “You’re saying you saw a monster eat somebody.”

I snapped my fingers and reached in my jacket, “Hold on. I snapped a picture of it…”

Adam and Phil stared at the pictures for almost a minute; then they exchanged glances and Adam threw my smartphone into the Hudson River.

“Hey!” I shouted, “What did you do that for?”

“The rules said no recording devices allowed on the boat?” Phil said, “You remember that?”

“I think we’re beyond such concerns now,” I tried to match him glare for glare but that isn’t easy when your line of sight is roughly equal to a guy’s pectoral muscles. “We should be worried about the werewolf!”

The two bouncers started laughing. Adam gave me a shove, “Werewolf? All I saw was some naked hippie chick.”

“Hippie chick?”

“Yeah, you know all hairy and shit.”

I facepalmed, “Oh sweet lord.”

“All I gotta say is you better stay out of trouble for the rest of this trip or you’re gonna get a tasering.”

With that I was alone on the upper deck again. A hippie chick? I thought to myself, Was he for real?

He probably was, when faced with the preternatural most people default back to their most comfortable frame of reference. I guess Adam had a thing for hirsute ladies.

Part of me wanted to leave these idiots to their fate. What would happen if I literally jumped ship we got close? Could I make it to shore? I could probably make it, I’d dealt with worse than hypothermia in my life.

But that would mean leaving Cousin Roy, and Kiki and the other girls to a fate they didn’t deserve. I had to do something, so I decided to present my case to the captain of the JT Allen. He might take me seriously.

Sure, and daisies might grow out of my ears.

Sighing with resignation I headed up the stairs to the bridge. I rehearsed the lie I was going to tell in my head, editing out any details that might arouse suspicion or laughter. I was so focused on this that I almost didn’t notice when my hand came up from the railing wet and red.

Oh no. Oh no…

I froze in place and thought about turning back but after a moment of self-hatred I started up the stairs again. But a little more slowly and quietly this time. There was a small fire extinguisher in a case on the wall. I ripped it free.

The engines of the boat thrummed, the waves lapped and splashed against the hull. I could hear the sounds of laughter and the pound of the music down below. The stars began to pale as the lights of the patroon island bridge grew larger and the flash of headlights passing across it became brighter and brighter.

The door at the top of the stairs was a sliding metal affair, it looked very secure, too bad it was wide open. There was blood on the walls and the instrument panels, there were bits of the bridge crew smeared around the floor. A bit of the captain here, a bit of the first mate there, a bit of something unrecognizable in the corner.

I walked into the room; I wasn’t hoping to find survivors, I was hoping to find the radio so I could call for help. I could hear hissing static nearby, the handset had been ripped out and the controls had been smashed.

A roar and a ripping sensation and I was thrown forward. Pain bloomed up the right side of my back, the kind of pain that always proceeds an unhealthy amount of blood loss.

Terror and adrenaline kept me on my feet. I spun around swinging the fire extinguisher. Metal struck bone. Teeth clattered to the floor.

I brought the fire extinguisher back around again for another swing. Another ugly crunch of bone, my attacker- the creature- the werewolf went down.

And thank God for that because the torn skin and muscle of my back was screaming now.

No time to rest, I thought, Finish this. Could I really crush the thing’s skull? If it really was a werewolf shouldn’t I be looking for something made of silver? I stood over it, saw it thrashing half-heartedly.

Finish this! It was more than a thought now, it was a primal instinct.Grunting at the pain I raised the fire extinguisher above my head.

And that was when the boat crashed into the Patroon Island Bridge…

*

…you must know the rest, it was the news story of the year; the JT Allen striking the Patroon Island bridge and capsizing. Five dead, including the captain and bridge crew, two missing. Millions of dollars in structural damage to one of the main routes from Albany to Rensselaer. A full fledged boat rescue in the middle of the night and the scene was made all the more insane because my cousin Roy started blasting The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald over the sound system before he abandoned the DJ’s booth.

The wound on my back was a deep one, stitches couldn’t close it, they had to use surgical staples. I see an epic scar in my future. I also see a long wait at the DMV to get my driver’s license back since Adam was among the dead.

When I think about what happened I think about Tyke the elephant.

Stay with me on this, I’m going somewhere.

In 1994 during a performance of the Circus International in Honolulu, Hawaii Tyke went berserk killed her trainer and ran wild through the streets. Twelve people were injured and eventually Tyke was brought down in a hail of gunfire.

I think about that poor animal, snatched away from anything remotely resembling a normal life, abused and forced to perform for the amusement of others. I think I can understand why she did what she did and I bet you can too.

Fact: Among the injured was a dancer named Bunny. Investigations revealed that she was a fifteen year old illegal immigrant that had been smuggled into the country from Armenia and forced to work as a dancer and a prostitute.

Fact: Further investigations revealed that several girls working at Scorpio’s and other businesses associated with Richie Upton were in the same situation as Bunny.

Fact: Richie Upton is in a lot of fucking trouble and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Fact: Despite having a broken jaw, dislocated shoulder and shattered clavicle Bunny disappeared from the hospital shortly after her identity was discovered and hasn’t been seen since. The authorities suspect Richie Upton’s associates had something to do with it but I’m not so sure.

I don’t know exactly who or what the ironically named ‘Bunny’ was but I think I can understand why she did what she did and I bet you can too.

September 2nd:  …Simon Wegman’s hobby was Geocaching. For those of you that spend all your time indoors reading blogs, Geocaching works like this: someone puts a logbook and maybe a few trinkets into a small container and leaves that container in a secluded spot, usually in the wilderness. That someone then puts the coordinates for that container on a Geocaching website for other Geocachers to try and find. They find it, sign the logbook and maybe take one of the trinkets with them, or leave one of their own behind.


 

I guess its kind of like hiking but with paperwork.


 

The last time anyone saw Simon was when he parked his motorcycle in Thatcher Park’s parking lot. He wasn’t the kind of guy you missed, not with the roaring customized Victory Vision 8-Ball cruising motorcycle and bright silver crash helmet. He was fifty-five years old, had been married four times and had been an avid Geocacher since the very beginnings of the hobby. GPS and bag lunch in hand he set out for the Indian Ladder Trail.


 

Perhaps if he had known how many people had gone missing in the park recently he wouldn’t have set out alone. Or maybe he wouldn’t have set out at all. But as far as the local authorities were concerned those disappearances were isolated unrelated incidents. That’s six unrelated, isolated incidents for those of you keeping score at home.


 

I can’t know what happened to him. I can’t know what happened to any of them besides saying that they were all ‘abducted’, but that’s a loaded word isn’t it?


 

What I think happened is that Simon found what he was looking for, a small cairn of rocks too symmetrical to have just happened on its own. An army surplus ammunition case was under those rocks, in that ammo case a journal with a hundred or so entries, a cross pen and about thirty little monster finger puppets. You know the kind you can get at a junk stores and dollar shops all across the country.


 

You and I, dear readers will be the only ones to ever appreciate the cruel cosmic joke of those little hunks of misshapen plastic.


 

Simon was busily scrawling his name when he felt a lance of pain in the spot where his back ended and his neck began.


 

Then after the pain? Nothing. He was paralyzed, he couldn’t even scream as a pale, humanoid shape set to work, taking him apart bit by bit like a child trying to understand a clockwork toy…


 
 
THE NIGHT BLOGGER:
A Season In Hell
Episode Five
They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be
by
Al Bruno III
 
 

around seven p.m. Simon Wegman’s twenty year old girlfriend made a Facebook post about him not coming home. She wasn’t worried about him cheating on her, she knew he was cheating on her and he knew she was cheating on him. Somehow they made it work.


 

Her worry was not with matters of the metaphorical heart, it was with Simon’s actual heart. That heart had recently been augmented with a pacemaker. She knew where he was, she knew what he was doing and she had visions of him suffering a cardiac arrest all alone in the wilderness.


 

The poor bastard should have been so lucky.


 

Her Facebook post got passed around and eventually found its way to the Geocaching online community and then from there it went to Twitter.


 

And lo and behold one of the dozen or so remaining Twitter users that weren’t Spambots forwarded the information to the FEAROFTRUTH forums. FEAROFTRUTH is a place where all the cryptozoologists, UFO buffs and ghost hunters that are afraid to venture onto 4chan’s paranormal boards go to.


 

Which includes yours truly. Hey, I can handle vorvolaka’s and teenage stranglers, Anonymous not so much.


 

The admin of FEAROFTRUTH had been keeping tabs on the disappearances for me. His frantic instant message sent me speeding to Thatcher Park.


 

I got there a little after sunset. I remember thinking to myself, “Fuck.”


 

There was nothing else for it, I had to strike while the preternatural iron was hot. I had the coordinates Simon had been heading for, a fairly decent Garmon GPS, my smartphone and cereal bars in a fanny pack and a flashlight that in a pinch could probably knock someone out.


 

The Indian Ladder Trail begins as a metal stairway that makes its way down an escarpment. Both the metal railing of the stairs and the stone of the escarpment were cool to the touch. At the last step the trail proper begins, it’s well-worn and there are enough signs too keep tenderfoots from getting lost. It didn’t take long for the coordinates I had programmed into my Garmon to lead me off that well-worn trail and into the woods that bordered the base of the escarpment. The green LED screen glowed in my right hand and the flashlight in my left cast an unsteady circle illumination ahead of me. My tread was careful, my imagination was filled with visions of rattlesnakes, steel-jawed traps and murderous hillbillies.


 

I was, frankly, terrified but it was more than my standard fear of lions and tigers and bears oh my. Was this the work of alien beings? Everyone on FEAROFTRUTH thought so, except for that one woman that liked the blame everything on the Obama administration.


 

The woods grew darker and darker as I wandered around like a legally blind Cub Scout. Finally, inevitably, I found the coordinates I was looking for.


 

The cairn of stones had been toppled over and the rusty old ammunition box was on its side nearby. The little plastic finger puppets lay where they had fallen. Simon Wegman was nowhere to be found. I did find the journal however, it was torn and soaked with blood.


 

There was more blood a little further away from the journal, just a few spatters here and there. Just enough to follow.


 

A rational person would have turned back but I not me. At moments like this I always question myself, why was I doing this? What did I want? To find the body? Or maybe a signed confession from the killer? Of maybe a big silver UFO sitting out in the middle of a clearing?


 

All that and more I suppose.


 

The blood trail led me back towards the escarpment; I could hear one of the nearby waterfalls rumbling and hissing. This was going easier than I liked. If I had found traces of one of the missing, in the dark for that matter, why hadn’t any of the authorities?  How could yours truly be showing up trained park rangers?


 

There was a cave entrance near the lower edge of the escarpment. It gaped low to the ground, it was set in stone but it somehow didn’t look sturdy. No bear or caveman would have dared to make a home of it. The blood drops led right to it.


 

If this had been a movie my next move would have sent you throwing up your arms in disgust. You might even walked out, gone to get your money back so you could watch something light and fluffy starring Sandra Bullock or something with a series of well-timed car chases and explosions.


 

I got down on my hands and knees and crawled into the cave.


 

Pebbles and grit pattered against me as I dragged myself deeper and deeper. My shoulders brushed and dug against the walls as I clumsily shone the flashlight into the murk ahead of me. At moments like this you discover a lot about yourself, just then I was learning that I might be a little claustrophobic. 


 

“Oh Brian,” the voice of my landlady and employer Mrs. Vincenzo, whispered through my head, “what are you getting yourself into now?”


 

I whispered back, Same old same old Mrs. V.”


 

How long did I crawl? Long enough for me to start dreading the thought of the trip back. After a while the cave widened out to the point where I could stand and walk. The floor wasn’t even though, it was craggy and pitted so I had to tread carefully.


 

I opened my fanny pack and left an energy bar to mark the way I had come. The treacherous floor almost sent me toppling over a few times but there was always a nearby wall to catch myself against.


 

Years ago I had visited Howe Caverns for a grade school field trip. It had been one of the more inspiring ones really, those caves had been wide and cool, odorless and majestic.


 

This place was nothing like that; it smelled wrong, it felt wrong. Everything about it was wrong. The air was clammy, the walls oppressive. I was about to turn back when I found the nest.


 

I got out my smart phone and started taking pictures.


 

Click: a pile of ripped and stained clothes. 


 

Do I really have to tell you what kind of stains I’m talking about here?


 

Click: cell phones, ipods, plastic canteens.


 

Everything had been broken and tied back together with bits of what looked like rawhide string.


 

Click: photographs culled from wallets and other personal effects. A crumpled design on ugly looking piece of torn paper.


 

No, that wasn’t paper at all I realized with a sudden intake of breath. It was a scrap of flesh marked by a tattoo. Stupidly I bent down to look closer at it.


 

That’s what saved me. I got stupid then I got lucky.


 

The blow that would have dug into the place where my spine met my neck and left me nothing more than a head on a stick instead scraped along the left side of my scalp separating a four inch sliver of skin from my skull.


 

I spun around the flashlight beam swinging up and around to reveal my attacker.


 

Its body was short and brutish looking with twisted arms that ended in a series of sharpened talon-like fingers. Its face was a nightmare of squirming feelers that grasped and curled at the air. I would later realize that the fleshy appendages were just a part of its face but they had splayed wide enough to only give me a slight glimpse of its tiny mouth and blind vestigial eyes.


 

I threw my phone at it. 


 

I turned to run.


 

I screamed.


 

And it screamed back. It screamed voicelessly its cry bypassing my ears to echo and reverberate through my head. My legs failed me then. My movements became convulsive, uncontrolled.


 

I was having a seizure. I’d never had a seizure in my life.


 

It came at me and in that moment I knew how Simon Wegman and all the others had died. The intent was there in the creature’s every movement


 

Another silent cry filled my skull and another, a veritable chorus of them. That was when I realized more of them were coming…


 
*
 

Fact: I am not dead. 


 

I was found by park rangers at the base of the metal steps that led from the Indian Ladder Trail back up to Thatcher Park. The gash on the back of my skull needed stitches but I was otherwise OK. 


 

Once I got home, called in sick to work and treated myself to a long hot shower followed by a brief nervous collapse. 


 

Fact: If you look up pictures of the star-nosed mole you’ll get an idea what I saw on that thing’s excuse for a face. The appendages at the end of the star-nosed mole’s snout are some of the most sensitive receptors in the animal kingdom. Those appendages allow it to hunt and live deep under ground, some say the star-nosed mole can even detect seismic disturbances. 


 

Days later I returned to the place I had found the cave and wasn’t surprised to see it had collapsed in upon itself.


 

Fact: In 1945 an author named Richard Sharpe Shaver claimed to have encountered a race of strange and cruel beings living deep under the Earth he called ‘Deros’. Despite his account being published in an issue of Amazing Stories both the author and a good many readers insisted that the underground civilization of the Deros truly existed.


 

Shaver also claimed that the Deros had death rays and spaceships and could project tormenting thoughts into people’s minds.


 

Is that what left me twitching and helpless on the cave floor? A tormenting thought? I don’t know. Most people now believe Richard Sharpe Shaver was nothing more than paranoid schizophrenic with one Hell of a literary agent. I can the creature didn’t have any kind of a death ray, it didn’t even have pants.


 

Still though, there’s something about the name ‘Deros’ that just feels right.


 

Fact: The disappearances have stopped. 


 

What can I say about that? Do you think I scared the Deros off because I sure don’t.


 

And how did I get out of that cave?


 

This is what I think. People in general are good. Sure we have wars and do awful things to each other sometimes but I think most folks just want to live their lives in peace.


 

Of course every once in a while someone slips through the cracks and gets a taste for cruelty and death. Those people don’t go after soldiers or policemen, they go after soft targets and easy kills.


 

Is it the same way for those other beings? Had they spared me? Had they saved me? The more I go over the events of that night in my head the more certain I am that what happened.


 

That has to be answer because I sure as shit was in no state to save myself.


 

Was my attacker an aberration? A mad violent escapee from that strange underground world? I think so. I hope so.


 

Please let it just have slipped through the cracks.


May 28th …it is a matter of public record that the other prostitutes on South Lake Avenue got pinched twice as often as Mary Durward. Some of the working girls said it was because she was a snitch but Mary insisted that she was just lucky that way.

 

On this night she wore her dark hair pulled back, she had on tight jeans, a half shirt and too much eyeliner. As usual she walked the perimeter of Washington Park looking for customers. It had been a lousy night for business, cool with a hint of rain. Most of the drive ups had been giggling college boys that lost their nerve the minute she started to negotiate prices. Thankfully she still had her regulars, husbands looking for the oral sex they couldn’t get at home and old men in need of handjobs and conversation. At two AM she decided to call it a night.

 

Mary might have made it home alive if she hadn’t decided to take that shortcut through the park home. Sure she knew about the murders, but she wasn’t worried. Death was something that happened to other people.

 

Still though, she played it safe, keeping to the sidewalk that passed between the artificial pond and the tulip garden.  The sound of her pumps clicking on the concrete must have been just enough to mask the sound of being followed. The last thing she heard was her murderer unsheathing his blade.

 

Mary’s luck had run out

 
 
THE NIGHT BLOGGER:
A Season In Hell
Episode One
The Ripper
by
Al Bruno III
 
 

by the time I heard her scream it was already too late. Ever since the third murder I’d started patrolling the area around Lark Street: not patrolling in a superhero sense mind you, patrolling in a reporter sense. I had promised myself I wasn’t going to get involved in any weirdness, that this blog would be nothing more than a haven for Fantasy Football stats and occasional anecdotes about working at a pawn shop.

 

But here I was again.

 

Like I said, by the time I heard the scream it was too late. I went tear-assing through the park to find Mary Durward, well what was left of her anyway.

 

She was lying on the sidewalk; her throat had been slashed and she had been split open from gut to groin. Police reports said that the other victims had their internal organs removed. I was too uneducated on human anatomy and too busy throwing up on myself to be sure.

 

The Ripper had struck again.

 

Well, not THAT Ripper. Not exactly but kind of.

 

Don’t believe my crazy theory? Neither did law enforcement, the newspapers or my landlady Mrs Vincenzo, but it all added up. Women, usually working girls, were being savagely, swiftly and expertly eviscerated by someone that knew exactly what they were looking for.

 

Once I was done emptying out my stomach I started running, as I ran I dialed 911 from my smartphone. Sure I didn’t have to report the poor woman’s body, someone else would find it soon enough, but it would have felt wrong to do otherwise.

 

No one believed me that this was somehow connected to the events of 1888 but the pieces all fit. There had been other murders, seemingly in every generation but always in a different country- England, France, Germany, Finland, and finally here. And every time it was five murders before the killer stopped. That’s twenty-five killings spread over one hundred and twenty-five years.

 

I was pretty sure I knew where the killer was going, that’s why I ran eastward losing myself in the trees and brambles. It was pitch black but there was kind of a trail to follow, a trail made by adventurous bicyclists and wandering college students. It led towards Washington Park’s number one eyesore. Halfway down the trail and I could almost see it. I ran faster.

 

My foot caught a root or a rock or something and I fell on my face in a spectacular fashion.

 

The Ripper, the stuff of legends. How many books were written about those murders in Whitechapel? How many theories have been flying around as to the killer’s identity? If nothing else my hypothesis will go down in history as the most insane, but the names and dates all match up. There are even rumors of confessions hidden in anagrams but that part I can’t be sure about. The ‘confessions’ are in print in three different languages- and each of them was published years after the murders took place.

 

Except this time maybe. If I was right and I was clever there might not be another gruesome tell-all masquerading as a childrens’ book again.

 

How long did I lay face down in the dirt trying to remember my name? It seemed like forever. When I finally sat up I discovered that I’d landed on my iPhone and smashed it. How many is that I’ve wrecked now?

 

Good thing I work in a pawn shop.

 

I started running again, stumbled a few times, then actually managed to reach the long abandoned Grecian Shelter. And just in case you have no idea what one of those is, imagine a long rectangular structure with no real roof but plenty of Corinthian columns. Another term for this kind of structure is a Croquet Shelter and they do have a very ancient Greece kind of look to them.

 

Especially since the one in Washington Park had been left to rot since 1929. Redesigns of the grounds had left it out of sight and out of mind. Sure every few years there were outcries from the local community to either restore it or knock it down but nothing ever got done.

 

That kind of thing happens a lot in Albany.

 

The structure was overgrown with vines and some of the columns looked ready to give way but that was to be expected; what wasn’t to be expected was the ugly purple glow coming from the inside. The hair on the back of my neck prickled as I drew closer.

 

“Auditurum cantáte!” A voice cried, “Salve regina red!”

 

Great. I thought. Latin. That’s never a good sign.

 

Once I was close enough I could see that the illumination was coming from a device that looked like something a meth head locked in a Radio Shack overnight might build. There was a sickening odor in the air, like pork but sweeter. I did not want to be there, I didn’t even want to be in the same area code, but if I was right, who else could put a stop to this?

 

The voice cried out, “Rubrum regina mater omnium mortalium est!” It was ragged but still familiar. Everyone in the Capital District knew that voice, it was one of our local celebrities; children’s’ author and philanthropist Preston Myers.

 

Whenever these murders happened it was always at the hands of a children’s’ author, always at the height of their careers and always when they were in their fifty-sixth year: Preston Myers, Tove Kontio, Annette Richter, Xavier Perrault, Charles Dodgson- the pattern fit perfectly.

 

“Rubrum regina mater omnium mortalium est!”

 

I would have loved to have gotten a picture of this but my phone was in bits back down the path. The purple glow deepened, I stepped into the Grecian Shelter.

 

Preston Myers was visibly startled by my appearance, so I had that going for me at least. He was pudgy and bald, his beard was black and flecked with gray. He always went out in public wearing a suit and a tie, but as you can imagine his suit and tie were streaked with gore. When he spoke he didn’t growl or hiss, he used exactly the same tone he used when doing readings for the kids at the public library. He said, “Who are you?”

 

“I’m Brian Foster,” I stepped closer, “and I want to know who you’re doing this for.”

 

“For the Rubrum Regina of course,” the knife he pulled out of his jacket was cruel and curved, “you shouldn’t be here.”

 

“Tell me about it.”

 

“I’m going to kill you,” he stalked forward, “if you’re a good boy I’ll make it quick but if you run… If I have to chase you…”

 

“What is the Rubrum Regina?” I stepped left, he stepped right, like it was all some kind of murderous dance. “What makes you do this?”

 

“Rubrum regina mater omnium mortalium est!”

 

Not the answer I was hoping for. I pointed to the tangle of wires and bulbs, “And what is that?”

 
“The sanctum fenestram,” he smiled.
 
“And what’s it for?”
 
“All the better to see you with.”
 
Preston Myers charged at me I feinted left but dove to the right, crashing headlong into the ‘sanctum fenestram’, smashing it to pieces…
 
*
 
 

…I’m not telling if I wrecked that crazy machine by accident or if it was all part of a brilliant plan. What I will tell you is that as soon as it broke apart Preston Myers dropped the knife, fell to the ground and started to convulse. He was dead in a matter of minutes. I watched him struggle for breath but didn’t lift a finger to try and save him.

 

The police discovered Preston Myers’ body about an hour after they found Mary Durward’s remains. The reports of his death overshadowed everything else. By the six o’clock news the murders of five Albany hookers had been dropped in favor of tributes to and remembrances of the great author.

 
No mention was made of the sanctum fenestram, or the knife, or the blood all over the great author’s clothes. The official story was that he’d suffered a heart attack while taking a walk near his home.
 
His home is miles away from Washington Park by the way.
 
Of course you and I know different but that and a five dollar bill will get us an expresso at Starbucks.
 

 All I have left now is questions. Why the cover up? Was what I did enough? Did I break the chain or will the bodies start piling up again sometime around 2037? 

 

If so, I doubt I’ll be around to worry about it.

 

By the way did you figure out the last part of the story? The kicker? Remember how I told you the first murderer was named Charles Dodgson?

 

And remember the ‘Rubrum Regina’ Preston Myers kept going on and on about?

 

Well, ‘Rubrum Regina’ is Latin for ‘Red Queen’.

 

And you might know Charles Dodgson by his pen name Lewis Carrol.

 

Sleep tight kids.

 
 
 

by Mike Leonard

You don’t have to believe the stories on my blog, you can dismiss them as good hallucinations or bad fiction if you want to but they’re all true. The darkness was never empty, there are things that wait for the innocent and unwary to turn their backs. What is it you think I’m talking about here? Ghosts? Vampires? Ghouls? If only it were that simple. The creatures of the night are still out there but they’re not shadowing your every footstep. They just check your status updates from the comfort of their tombs.

All I ever wanted was to be a Do-It-Yourself style reporter but more often than I like I find myself becoming part of my stories. It turns out gods and monsters don’t like their secrets getting out any more than your standard politician or celebrity. We all know how this is going to turn out in the end; I’m already long overdue for jail, the looney bin or a guest of honor spot at a monster buffet but until that fateful day I’m not going to back down or give up.

My name is Brian Foster and some people call me The Night Blogger.

But I wish they wouldn’t it’s kinda cheesy.

 

 

 

 

Storyline In Progress

by S.A. Hunt

 

Prologue: Personal Journal Entry #1

Episode One: The Ripper

Episode Two: Personal Journal Entry#19

Episode Three: The Zombie

Episode Four: Personal Journal Entry#25

Episode Five: They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be

Episode Six: Personal Journal Entry#39

Episode Seven: The Vampire

Episode Eight: Personal Journal Entry#52

Episode Nine: The Werewolf

Episode Ten: Personal Journal Entry #83

Episode Eleven: Firefall

Episode Twelve: Personal Journal Entry #106

Episode Thirteen: The Devil’s Platform

Episode Fourteen: Personal Journal Entry #125

Episode Fifteen: Bad Medicine

Episode Sixteen: Personal Journal Entry#156

Episode Seventeen: The Spanish Moss Murders

Episode Eighteen: Personal Journal Entry #161

Episode Nineteen: The Energy Eater

Episode Twenty: Personal Journal Entry #184

Episode Twenty-One: Horror In The Heights

Episode Twenty-Two: Personal Journal Entry #211

Episode Twenty-Three:  Mr RING

Episode Twenty-Four: Personal Journal Entry #254

Episode Twenty-Five: Primal Scream

Episode Twenty-Six: Personal Journal Entry #255

Episode Twenty-Seven: The Trevi Collection

May 2nd …there are things no one ever expects to hear, and I don’t care who you are or where you live, the term ‘Brony Death Cult’ has to be in your top ten.

But that’s what the Albany PD’s Chief of Detectives believed caused the death of Chad Trevi. He even announced it in an impromptu press conference without the slightest trace of self awareness.

One of the first things wrong with their cockamamie theory was that Chad Trevi wasn’t into My Little Ponies, he was all about My Happy Horses. Now for those of you with lives and families please allow me to explain that My Happy Horses are the Go-Bots of the plastic equine world. In other words they were a cheaply made cash-in product created to flood the dollar stores for the holidays.

Of course as soon as Hasbro found out about My Happy Horses they rained hellfire and lawyers down upon the creatively challenged Tomlande Toys Inc and the My Happy Horses line was shut down before it had barely gotten off the ground. Hundreds of the toys were pulled from the shelves and sent away to be destroyed.

That meant the ones that had actually been sold or slipped through the cracks were very rare and very collectable. A complete set of the twelve different horses were very hard to find but Chad had them all, and then some.

Other toy collectors say he had gone to unethical lengths to get them but then again I have no idea what the ethics of toy collecting are.

It all began when Chad was entertaining Les Spencer, a much wealthier My Happy Horses obsessive. We don’t know what was said but friends knew Chad was eager to show off what he was sure would make his collection the envy of his peers.

The showing must not have gone over wellNeighbors reported shouts and a slammed door. A Denny’s waitress positively identified Les as the man drowning his sorrows in an epic stack of pancakes. Les told the police that he went home right after that but the police believe that he then doubled back on foot, somehow got back into Chad Trevi’s apartment and killed him with a blunt object they had yet to find.

The real story is far, far stranger than that…

 

THE NIGHT BLOGGER:

A Season In Hell

Episode Twenty-Seven

The Trevi Collection

by

Al Bruno III

 

 Another day, another intrusion into a crime scene. It was two days after Chad Trevi met his untimely and unlikely end. It’s funny how inured I’ve become to police tape, I give it about as much passing thought as you give a clicking on a terms of service agreement.

These days however I am a little smarter in my trespasses. I own a jumpsuit just like the ones the guys at Remediation Crime Scene Clean Up use, so now if someone spots me creeping around the site of a violent death they can dismiss me as some working stiff burning the midnight oil. 

How should I describe Chad Trevi’s apartment? There was a crappy couch, a filthy TV, a sink brimming with dishes and a bag of rank-smelling laundry near the door. Ordinarily fingerprint powder and chalk outlines would stand out like a grim reminder of our ultimate mortality but here they kind of tied the room together. 

I spent a few minutes examining the chalk outline. The boards from the section of floor where Chad’s head had been were pulled up. My sources told me that his skull had been stuck with such force that it had driven fragments of bone into the wood.

I’d seen pictures of the police’s main suspect and let me tell you Les Spencer does not look like the kind of guy that could break anything larger than a potato chip, and according to Les’s brother Tom the guy was so squeamish he’d faint at the sight of a rare steak.

That’s how I got involved in all this. Tom Spencer is a member of the FEAROFTRUTH forum. He posts under the name ‘CaptainTrekker’ and he asked me to try and prove his adopted brother was innocent. I warned Tom that any mysteries I stuck my nose into usually ended up having a body count roughly equal to the final act of Hamlet but ‘CaptainTrekker’ was most insistent.

I turned my attention to the second bedroom of Chad’s apartment, where he kept his collection. Now I have to admit my inner child thrilled a little at the sight of so many GI Joes, Micro Machines and Teenage Mutant Ninja figures displayed on glass paneled white oak shelves but it was obvious the true gem of his collection was the My Happy Horses.

The display was a four-tiered pyramid-shaped shelving structure with the plastic toys arranged in ascending order from the most common, relatively speaking, to the rarest. The space at the top of the pyramid was reserved for his pride and joy - Lil’ Blucifer.

The legend of Lil’ Blucifer is an obscure one, and considering the legend is attached to an obscure toy line, I had to go all the way to the second page of my Google search to learn about it. Lil’ Blucifer was designed to be an antagonist for the Happy Horses, an equine antagonist if you will. The design of the toy had been based on the 32 foot tall, garish Blue Mustang statue that marks the entrance to the Denver International Airport. Before being completed the statue fell on his sculptor and killed him. From there things went downhill, it was linked to deaths, madness and the Blue Kachina Prophecy of the Hopi Indians.

A strange idea for a cheap knockoff toy manufacturer. I guess someone was trying to be clever. 

Trust me, clever people and hipsters will be the death of this world.

My theory was that somehow, the curse of Big Blucifer passed on to his plastic effigies. Somehow that cheap, hard to find toy had called up a supernatural force that pulverized Chad Trevi with a single strike of its hooves. It was the kind of supernatural force that could only be stopped by clever application of that most blasphemous and blessed sigil, the Sign of Ninazu.

A great theory, but the problem was that the toy wasn’t where it belonged, the top of the display was empty. My sources told me the police hadn’t taken any of Chad’s collection into evidence yet. Had some sticky-fingered cop stolen it? It made no sense to me, suddenly none of this made any sense.

I decided a top to bottom search of the apartment was in order. First I checked beneath the couch, I found a remote control, several empty bags of potato chips and one sock of disturbing stiffness. The bedroom and kitchen were no less disgusting and toy free. All I found in the hall closet was a pair of coats, an umbrella, and an indigo-colored stallion of clydesdale-esque proportions. Blazing red eyes glared down at me as I slowly and carefully closed the closet door.

I got clear of the door just as it exploded into splinters. The daemon horse strode out of the closet, the closet that was too small to hold a bicycle much less a horse from Hell, or Denver.

The world seemed to slow down in it’s proximity, the ticking of the clock, the pace of my terrified breathing, the sound of the traffic outside. The whole world had slowed down except for Blucifer.

Did I mention the damn thing was between me in the exit?

It reared up on it’s hind legs, bloodied hooves cut the air. It’s head passed through the ceiling, the solid plaster rippled like the surface of a pond.

With nowhere else to go I ran into the bathroom and in a gesture of hopeless optimism locked the door behind me. I dropped to my knees and dug the charcoal pen from my pocket.

My hand sketched out the lines, crosses and curves of that most blasphemous and blessed sigil with practiced ease. Jasper was the one that had made me practice it again and again. I silently thanked him as I drew and silently cursed him for leaving on a fools errand to Syria without so much as a goodbye argument.

There. I thought as I finished, Fastest Ninazu in the Northeast.

It brought the bathroom door crashing down with a single blow from its hooves. One foot came down on the toilet, shattering the porcelain like it was fine china.

The other foot came down dead center in the sign of Ninanzu…

*

…what else is there to say? If you’ve seen one satanic horse go down like the Wicked Witch of the West you’ve seen them all. The real kicker is what the shattered toilet revealed to me.

A lump of melted plastic that was a very bright shade of blue.

All the pieces fell into place then. 

You see Les did go home after he’d had a bite to eat, he’d gone home to his own Lil’ Blucifer. He’d always assumed his was the only remaining one.

You might wonder why, unlike Chad, he didn’t brag about his amazing acquisition. It’s because he understood what the thing really was, and what it could do.

Les Spencer wasn’t the kind of man to make enemies, but over the last two years some people he didn’t like had died unexpectedly.

An ex-girlfriend, a co-worker and now a rival toy collector all dead from one kind of blunt trauma or another.

Yes, I tried to tell the police.

No, they didn’t believe any of it.

Hell, you probably don’t believe me.

Not that it matters, the Spencer family’s high priced lawyer got all charges dropped this morning. Tom and his parents are going to be bringing him home this afternoon. No one’s told Les yet that some lunatic broke into his apartment and left five heat lamps there all going full blast. His beloved toys have been reduced to goop.

Every single one.

I plan to be there when he finds out. Wild horses couldn’t drag me away.

 

To Be Continued

by Mike Leonard

You don’t have to believe the stories on my blog, you can dismiss them as good hallucinations or bad fiction if you want to but they’re all true. The darkness was never empty, there are things that wait for the innocent and unwary to turn their backs. What is it you think I’m talking about here? Ghosts? Vampires? Ghouls? If only it were that simple. The creatures of the night are still out there but they’re not shadowing your every footstep. They just check your status updates from the comfort of their tombs.

All I ever wanted was to be a Do-It-Yourself style reporter but more often than I like I find myself becoming part of my stories. It turns out gods and monsters don’t like their secrets getting out any more than your standard politician or celebrity. We all know how this is going to turn out in the end; I’m already long overdue for jail, the looney bin or a guest of honor spot at a monster buffet but until that fateful day I’m not going to back down or give up.

My name is Brian Foster and some people call me The Night Blogger.

But I wish they wouldn’t it’s kinda cheesy.

 

 

 

 

Storyline In Progress

by S.A. Hunt

 

Prologue: Personal Journal Entry #1

Episode One: The Ripper

Episode Two: Personal Journal Entry#19

Episode Three: The Zombie

Episode Four: Personal Journal Entry#25

Episode Five: They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be

Episode Six: Personal Journal Entry#39

Episode Seven: The Vampire

Episode Eight: Personal Journal Entry#52

Episode Nine: The Werewolf

Episode Ten: Personal Journal Entry #83

Episode Eleven: Firefall

Episode Twelve: Personal Journal Entry #106

Episode Thirteen: The Devil’s Platform

Episode Fourteen: Personal Journal Entry #125

Episode Fifteen: Bad Medicine

Episode Sixteen: Personal Journal Entry#156

Episode Seventeen: The Spanish Moss Murders

Episode Eighteen: Personal Journal Entry #161

Episode Nineteen: The Energy Eater

Episode Twenty: Personal Journal Entry #184

Episode Twenty-One: Horror In The Heights

Episode Twenty-Two: Personal Journal Entry #211

Episode Twenty-Three:  Mr RING

Episode Twenty-Four: Personal Journal Entry #254

Episode Twenty-Five: Primal Scream

Episode Twenty-Six: Personal Journal Entry #255

The bad news was that Chloe Tree and I were trapped almost a hundred feet below the Earth in the base of operations of a cult determined to set the human race back millions of years.

The good news was that I could cross ‘bitten by a neanderthal’ off my bucket list.

Well pseudo-neanderthal really, but I think that still counts.

The pseudo -neanderthals, the man-animals as I have taken to calling them, would have killed us if not for the timely arrival of a robed and red-haired man. He ordered  that ordered them to stop in a voice that was patient and authoritative. The man-animals forgot about us fawned and groveled at the man’s feet.

I glanced at Chloe, “Are you Ok?”

Dirt and bruises contrasted with her pale, albino skin, “Morceau de merde stole my rucksack…”

I was clutching at the wound on my shoulder. There was so much blood. My hand looked like I was wearing a single red glove. Direct pressure. I told myself, Apply direct pressure.

The stranger sent the man-animals scurrying with a snap of his fingers. He had a tall forehead, frizzy hair and an almost nonexistent chin. His voice was haughty and nasal, “We meet again Ms. Tree.”

“Mr. Volsung,” Chloe said his name like a curse.

“‘We meet again?’” I said woozily, “Who the Hell says that in real life?”

He glared at me, “I just did.”

It was at that moment I realized I was on my knees, I tried to stand up but my legs weren’t having it, “Are you really going to release a killer virus and destroy the world?”

Mr. Volsung turned his attention back to Chloe, “Who is this idiot?”

“He’s a fellow investigator.”

“Is this fellow investigator aware that he will soon be reborn as a Beast of Valhalla?”

“Is that bad?” I asked, “Because it sounds bad.”

Mr. Volsung’s reaction was a roll of the eyes, Chloe’s expression became pained. In other words it wasn’t as bad as it sounded, it was worse. I was infected, I was on a one way trip to Troglodyte Town.

“Come,” Mr. Volsung gestured to Chloe Tree, “we have matters to discuss that are not for lesser ears.”

“Oh no.” I said, “I’m a part of this, I want some answers.”

Mr. Volsung snapped his fingers and the man-animals swarmed me. They lifted me up and carried me away…

 

THE NIGHT BLOGGER:

A Season In Hell

Episode Twenty-Six

Personal Journal Entry #255

by

Al Bruno III

 

…my name is Chloe Tree and it has fallen upon me to tell this part of the story. Please understand that this is not the whole story, there are facts that must be obscured for the sake of humanity but I respect Brian Foster and what he has tried to accomplish.

Know then that the man called Volsung is an old adversary of my family and the world. He is the last and least of a bloodline as arrogant as it is ugly. Let it be known however that Volsung is the last and least of that lineage, he labors alone like a mad scientist of old in the finical and scientific ruins of his betters. The mighty had fallen I just didn’t know how far.

“Come,” he said to me, “we have matters to discuss that are not for lesser ears.”

“Oh no.” Brian’s voice was desperate, “I’m a part of this, I want some answers.”

All it took was a snap of Volsung’s fingers for the pseudo-neanderthals, the creatures some called the Beasts of Valhalla, to fall upon Brian. There was a moment of terror when I was certain they would tear him limb from limb, but why would the beasts do that when he would be one of them soon enough?

They lifted him up and carried him away deep into the heart of this fungus choked monument to one man’s hubris. “How?” I asked, “How do you make them obey you like that?”

“All in good time,” there was a tremor in his voice that seemed to spread through his entire body. He began to walk away knowing I would follow.

Brian’s straw fedora had fallen to the ground, I tossed my own hat off my head and put his on in its instead. Even now I am not sure what my motivation was for doing so. You might think it was so he could be with me in spirit,  but I don’t believe in spirits, or monsters or gods. There are only mysteries that have yet to be solved.

It was sentiment I suppose.

“Does your adoptive father know you’re here?” Volsung asked.

“He’s none of your business.”

The path he led me along sloped downward. The white fungus became thicker and thicker as we progressed, it popped and hissed underfoot like a carpet of bubble paper. The air it released was foul and choked with spores.

“What is this?” I asked.

“It was the only thing to survive when the facility descended into chaos. It spread from  hydroponics to contaminate everything.” He ran a hand along the veins of soft, whiteness, “From foodstuff to conquerer in less than a generation. Impressive no?”

This was getting nowhere, I changed the subject, “What about Brian?”

“What about him?”

“There must be some kind of cure, some way to help him.”

“No. The infection is incurable and for all but 2% of the population.”

“2%? Which 2%?”

“For some reason it does not impact individuals with a mutation of the MC1R protein. Speaking of mutations,” Volsung paused in mid stride and glanced back at me, “I was sorry to hear about your ‘uncle’ but I suppose he lived longer than someone with his genetic setbacks should have.”

I said nothing

“Did he ever consider,” he began walking again, “That perhaps his encounter with the Valhalla virus was the source of his prolonged lifespan? It can have different effects on different subjects.”

“He…” I took a moment to compose myself. This is the curse of an atheist; a religious person finds solace in the knowledge they will be reunited with their loved ones in an afterlife. Atheists know better, dead is dead and gone is gone- we only live on in memory and even that is fleeting. “He would have wanted me to try and appeal to your sense of reason.”

Volsung chuckled, “My sense of reason doesn’t come into it.”

“This strain of the virus is flawed, it could never do what you want because it is only passed through bodily fluids. All you’re going to do is create human misery.”

“Look around you Ms. Tree, we’re already in a world of human misery. Better to begin again or never to have been at all.” The door to hydroponics had fallen from it’s hinges, the ultraviolet lights dangled by half rotted fixtures and wires. The fungus was everywhere, it surrounded us on all sides, a thick mound of it festered in the center of the room. “If it is to survive Humanity must stop warring with itself. It must become one mind, one soul.”

That brought a question to mind, “Is that how are you able to control the beasts?”

“One mind,” His robes and voice trembled again. He approached the mound and caressed it, “One soul.”

An ugly suspicion took hold of my thoughts, “Whose mind?” I asked, “Whose soul?”

His expression became sly, he undid the belt of his robe and let it fall open to reveal corruption. The same fungus that had run riot over the complex had grown fat on his flesh. It pulsed in time with his heartbeat. “It has such tranquility to share,” he said, “It will forgive your trespasses.”

I dropped to my knees, he liked that. I asked, “What does this have to do with saving humanity?”

“Livestock survives. Livestock endures.”

“You’re insane!” I reached down “Think what you’re saying.”

“Don’t you see?” Volsung spread his arms wide in a gesture of welcome, “Every flock needs shepherds. We. Have. Been. Chosen.”

One of my father’s old friends had given me the pistol and the ankle holster I drew it from. I fired twice, both shots hitting him in the face. There was less blood than I expected. Thick tendrils quivered and lashed at the air before becoming still. He didn’t fall, he just stood there like a toy with batteries that had run down.

The mound of fungus in the center of the room began to quiver, I imagined it erupting like a boil and filling the room with spores and tendrils. It was time to get out of here, but first I had to find Brian…

*

…aside from a few disconnected images I can’t remember what happened.

I know the man-animals carried me away to what might have an auditorium. There were TV screens on every wall, some hissed static others played old newsreel footage from World War II. The man-animals sat me down in the first row of seats. Just before I blacked out I realized one of the man-animals had stolen my pants.

Then gunfire. Chloe Tree came charging in to the room like, if you’ll pardon a bit of alliteration, an albino avenging angel. When she grabbed the arm attached to my wounded shoulder she got my attention. She dragged me to my feet and pulled me out of the room. The man-animals started to give chase but a few shots over their heads scattered them.

She practically carried me through the complex. All around us the white fungus was pulsing angrily. 

Somehow we got back to where we had come in. How the Hell did she get me back up that rope? The Serious Men in Serious Suits waiting for us at the top of the shaft must have had something to do with  it. There was construction equipment everywhere in the decrepit textile mill, cement mixers to be specific. The oldest of the Serious Men knew Chloe, I wish I could remember, it didn’t take long for them to start arguing about me, something about me not leaving here alive.

At that point I wanted to say something but I was too busy blacking out again.

Days later I woke up in the most sterile-looking hospital room I had ever seen. There were no windows, the bed was standard prison issue; the door was locked and there was no TV. My shoulder had been patched up and there were needle and IV tracks up and down my arms. Either I was being held prisoner by a shadowy government agency, or Albany Med had a terrifying new way of dealing with uninsured patients.

Thankfully it was the former and after a few more days of observation and tests they let me go with a warning never to tell my story to anyone.

But come on, what did they think I was gonna do?

By the time I got out Chloe Tree had already gone back to France but she had kindly emailed me the file I posted above so you could know what I missed.

Item: If you recall Volsung mentioned that people with a mutation of the MC1R protein are immune to the virus. The protein in question is the one that makes you a ginger. You don’t actually have to be a ginger to have that genetic marker, it’s recessive but just having it is enough to save you.

Item: I only have one picture of my absentee grandpa but if you haven’t guessed already he had bright red hair.

Item: In the two weeks I was gone Jasper Moradi and Mrs. Vinchenzo were going out of their mind’s with worry, now that I’m back they’re furious with me.

Item: Eight days ago my car was towed, that is a lot of storage fees. I’m going to need help paying for it and am open to donations.

Item: At least I got my straw fedora back.

Item: You won’t find anything beneath the textile mill anymore, nothing but eighty-plus feet of fresh concrete, and pretty soon you won’t even find the mill itself. The city of Troy has decided to knock it all down and build a community playground.

I wonder if there’ll be monkey bars

 

To Be Continued


________________________________


This storyline is dedicated with awe and admiration to George C. Chesbro.

 
You don’t have to believe the stories on my blog, you can dismiss them as good hallucinations or bad fiction if you want to but they’re all true. The darkness was never empty, there are things that wait for the innocent and unwary to turn their backs. What is it you think I’m talking about here? Ghosts? Vampires? Ghouls? If only it were that simple. The creatures of the night are still out there but they’re not shadowing your every footstep. They just check your status updates from the comfort of their tombs.
 
All I ever wanted was to be a Do-It-Yourself style reporter but more often than I like I find myself becoming part of my stories. It turns out gods and monsters don’t like their secrets getting out any more than your standard politician or celebrity. We all know how this is going to turn out in the end; I’m already long overdue for jail, the looney bin or a guest of honor spot at a monster buffet but until that fateful day I’m not going to back down or give up.
 
My name is Brian Foster and some people call me The Night Blogger.
 
But I wish they wouldn’t it’s kinda cheesy.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Storyline In Progress
 
 
 

November 8th: After the events of the hospital things moved quickly. Albany’s Chief of Police went on TV and declared a city-wide manhunt for the ‘drug crazed hooligans’ that had killed six people, including two highly decorated officers. I am sure that little soundbite was a great comfort to the citizenry as did the show of force that took place the next day. At high noon on November 5th the forces of law and order went marching through the poorer neighborhoods of Albany in all their army surplus enhanced glory. The whole scene was the very model of a post 9/11 dystopia. The final results of the brouhaha in body armor was twelve arrests on unrelated charges and outstanding warrants, a neighborhood dog being shot and not one ‘drug crazed hooligan’ taken into custody.

While all this was going on I was busy learning all I could about Dr. Fredrickson, my only clue as to what was really going on around here. I had assumed that I would learn that Dr. Fredrickson was some kind of mad scientist but it turns out that his degree was in criminology. He taught for a while at a downstate college before opening up his own private detective agency. That was when Dr. Fredrickson’s story got weird- really weird, Swan Lake being performed by mimes with Tourette’s syndrome in a running car wash weird. Dr. Fredrickson’s cases weren’t of the standard ‘act as a bodyguard’ or ‘find out of my spouse is cheating’ variety. He actually investigated grisly murders, mysterious disappearances and ninjas. 

Yes, you read that right. Actual ninjas!

While I did my research things kept getting more and more complicated around town. There were almost a dozen sightings of the man-animals in Troy but they were all dismissed as hysteria and lies by the powers that be. Some unlucky citizens were attacked but those attacks were blamed on rabid animals. By the third chewed up jogger the local newspapers began to get suspicious but their investigations went nowhere because both the survivors and the dead had all been spirited away by those Serious Men in Serious Suits.

It took some doing but on the 6th I struck pay dirt. My investigations revealed that in 2006 Dr. Fredrickson moved to France to act as a consultant for Interpol and never came back. In fact he moved his whole damn family across the ocean with him. I found his Interpol email address and sent him a guarded message. 

I got an answer almost immediately…

 

THE NIGHT BLOGGER:

A Season In Hell

Episode Twenty-Five

Primal Scream

by

Al Bruno III

 

…the place: Troy, New York. The time: high noon. 

Going to secluded locations at the behest of people you’ve just met on the Internet is only slightly dumber than climbing into the back of a van offering free vasectomies. But I went anyway, to the secluded location, not for the vasectomy.

I parked my car across the street from a flower shop and and made my way to the Volsung Corporation’s long-abandoned textile mill. Abandoned buildings are nothing new in Troy; the town is an urban explorer’s dream but the mill was unique in that after the Volsung Company shut down operations and moved production to Taiwan they held on to the property- and let it rot. 

At least until the Volsung Corporation went belly up in 1985. The city took the property over and came up with one idea after another of what to do with it; each idea was stupider than the last, and none were ever acted on.

The mill was an ugly rectangle of red brick with tiny windows and a pair of chimneys. It looked like an orphanage out of a Dickens novel. Dr. Fredrickson had told me he was booking a flight to New York right away and he planned to meet me there. Personally I would have preferred to meet the man at the airport or a nice restaurant but if this was how he wanted to play it I didn’t have much choice.

Not if I wanted answers.

Like most creepy, long-abandoned buildings the mill was surrounded by a chain link fence that was crawling with tetanus. There is no way to casually climb a chain link fence in broad daylight so I just got it over with as quickly as I could. My bum knee screamed in protest when I landed but I walked it off.

There was a brief moment when I paused to realize there had been a man-sized hole in the fence just a few yards from where I had gone over but I got over it and started walking again. Trash and weeds ringed the building, one of the loading dock doors was wide open, it gaped hungrily, waiting for me to enter.

And enter I did. My pen light in one hand and my iPhone filming away in the other. The loading dock looked like… well, a loading dock. Truck bays, ramps and offices. A double door led to the interior of the building I nudged it open with mill was empty, no walls, no machines. The afternoon sun was level with glassless windows, I passed from shadow to light to shadow. Somewhere an owl hooted and flew away.

The only thing worse than the stink of a building gone to rot is the odor of death and lucky me, I was smelling both. I hated myself for not asking for more answers from Dr. Fredrickson but he’d insisted that he no longer trusted the security of Interpol’s email system.

Nice going Patriot Act.

“If you head there you will find traces of the Volsung Corporation’s true legacy.” Fredrick son’s last message had said,  “Bring rope, flashlight and an open mind. Go tomorrow afternoon, before things get worse.”

Just in case this whole thing was a trap I’d decided against bringing a rope. I had no intention of being trussed up by someone as deadly as they were thrifty.

My penlight beam found footprints on the dirty floor. Dozens of them, all barefoot and all walking on the balls of their feet. I followed the trail deeper into the building. I began to find half-eaten animal corpses strewn here and there, I’m not 100% sure what kind they were but I imagined there were a lot of folks in Troy missing their cats and dogs.

Suddenly I began to wish Jasper was at my side instead of packing for his big trip. He still wanted me to go with him but how could I ever leave all this, and the Vorvolaka, behind?

“Stop right there!” a voice called from the shadows. It was soft, heavily accented in French and deadly serious.

I stopped.

“Look down,” the voice said. 

There was a hole in the floor right in front of me, even with the occasional illumination I couldn’t see the bottom. I exhaled heavily, “I should have brought that rope.”

“Indeed,” A trench coated figure stepped into view, a beautiful young woman with refined features and ghostly white skin. She was an albino. “You’re Brian Foster, I like the hat.”

The stranger was wearing a chapeau of her own, a dark blue pork pie hat that anchored down her white curly afro. “Back at ya” I said, “And you are?”

“My name is Chloe Tree, you’ve been emailing my Uncle.” There was a rucksack over her shoulder, she pulled a slender object from it. There was a muffled crack followed by a hiss, the road flare she was holding burst to life.

Once I was done flinching I asked, “He sent you?”

Chloe Tree walked over to the edge of the hole and dropped the flare. The stick of reddish flame fell for eight seconds before hitting bottom. She nodded sagely and shouldered out out her rucksack. “Good, I brought enough,” she handed me one end of the rope, “please tie it around something solid.”

Like I said before the place was pretty much empty but Chloe brought plenty of rope and I managed to find a free-standing support column about six 

 to our left. “So,” I began, “Dr. Fredrickson is your Uncle?”

“Adopted,” she admitted, “when I was four years old I was orphaned by a man that thought my skin and organs could give him great power. The Fredrickson brothers rescued me.”

“And Dr. Fredrickson’s brother adopted you?”

“His big brother Garth and his wife Mary.”

I stared at the knot I had tied for a moment or two. I’d never been a Boy Scout and I couldn’t be sure the ugly tangle of rope would hold but it would have to do. “Ready!”

She dropped the rope down into the pit, “The Volsung Company presented itself to the world as an agricultural research company but they had other interests.”

“Bio-weapons?” I asked.

She flashed me a smile, “How did you know?”

“What can I say?” I shrugged, “I’m a good guesser.”

“Indeed.” After one last look around she hefted the rucksack and began lowering herself into the hole in the floor, “Climb carefully now.”

Climb down into a pit in an abandoned factory? That’s how I roll.

It has been a long time since I’ve done anything even remotely athletic and I started to ‘feel the burn’ with in a few seconds of making my way down the rope. How far down were we going? I thought eighty feet was a good estimate but that begged the question- what the Hell was down here? What had this company been doing on the side? “So,” I panted, “Volsung was making some kind of killer virus…”

“Worse, a morphic impacting pathogen.”

“I have no idea what that means but it makes me want to wash my hands immediately.”

She gave a little laugh and she dropped from the rope to pan d on the floor below, “You’ve seen the results of it on Martin Biddle, a complete re-writing of DNA to the point where a physical transformation is triggered. The transformation is mental too, millions of years of evolution are wiped away. Their minds become primitive and malleable.”

“Are you telling me,” I dropped down after her, “that this thing turns people into cavemen?”

“To put it simply yes. But the damage done is so profound that the children of any surviving victims will be pseudo-neanderthals.”

What she was saying was impossible, it was insane, it was the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey in reverse but I’d seen it. I’d seen what that poor bastard Marty Biddle had become, and I’d heard the rest of his furry posse in action.

She took the penlight from my hand and swept the beam around the chamber. The place was at least a thousand feet across in every direction and populated with long, flat buildings as well as obelisks and statues that rose up to brush the ceiling. I felt a shiver of worry at the thought I might be crossing into Dero territory again but I soon realized that this place had been designed with human aesthetics in mind. It was positively cathedral-like, “Why would anyone do this?”

“They called it the Valhalla Project,” she walked over to one of the statues, it was covered with an ugly, foul smelling mold that grew in streaks and lumps along what must have once been a seventy foot tall effigy of some saint or wise man. The coating of mold left its face and inscription impossible to make sense of, “let the virus do its work while a chosen few survivors waited in a dozen places like this around the globe. Then once the human race had been fully regressed they would emerge and guide mankind into a less warlike state of being. A kinder, gentler human race.”

“That’s… that’s…” I boggled, “You’re not kidding are you?”

“No,” she started walking then paused and glanced back at me before continuing on. It seemed like her too-pale face lingered in the shadows after her. Chesire-like.

I used my phone to snap a few pictures along the way but I knew I would never post them, not when everything looked like a shadowy photoshop job or a Yes album cover. “It would be nice if you could tell me what we’re looking for.”

“Some clue as to who blasted that hole up above. Everyone that experienced the Valhalla Project firsthand should be dead.

“Everyone?”

“Everyone except for my father and those doctors and spooks from Albany Med,” the entrance to one of the buildings was open, we took a moment to peer inside. There four rows of 70’s era looking computers a skeleton was slumped over one of the keyboards. It was covered with mold, everything was.

“What is this… gunk?” I ran my fingers along the wall, scooping up a handful of the stuff, it was moist and clammy.

“It was supposed to be a food source, I guess after the place was abandoned it got ambitious.”

“Ichhhhh!” I shook the stuff from my hand.

Up ahead was something that must have been a town square, a gathering place for discussions of great importance and possibly the occasional biome hoedown. A fire made from bones and shattered furniture blazed in the heart of it and ugly troglodyte figures danced about it in orgiastic fury. 

There was a toppled obelisk nearby, Chloe and I took cover behind it and watched. Somewhere an amplifier was playing a speech that sounded like it had been recorded long ago, “Let every man remind their descendants that they also are soldiers who must not desert the ranks of their ancestors, or from cowardice fall behind…” 

It boomed and echoed, the acoustics of the place were amazing.

“There are more than I expected,” Chloe said.

“O ye sons of heroes, that you strive to be the bravest of men. And I think that I ought now to repeat what your fathers desired to have said to you who are their survivors…”

I have so out of my depth in my life, and possibly out of my mind, “What do we do now?”

“We retreat, we contact the authorities and we hope.”

“Love it.” I said, “Best plan ever.”

There was a pause in the recording. We turned to go. I stepped on a bone. The sound of it snapping resounded like a gunshot…

*

of course the man-animals heard it.

Of course we ran.

Of course they caught up with us easily.

The moment one reached us, Chloe clocked it with her rucksack. Then her hand was in the rucksack, grabbing two more flares.

There was a crack and a hiss. The road flare burned to life. The man-animals backed away in panic but surrounded us just the same.

We weren’t going anywhere.

“How long do those things last?” I asked her.

“Here,” she threw the other one to me and I almost caught it.

When I bent down to retrieve it one of the man-animals pounced. We tumbled along the slimy, moldy ground. Teeth brushed my throat. I fought to push it away but only managed to keep the creature from biting into my neck.

My scream was half-pain, half terror. Chloe was shouting something in French. I started to beg the creature nuzzling into the meat of my clavicle for mercy.

But it didn’t understand a damn word I was saying…

 

To Be Continued

April 2nd: What follows is a tale of things that happen in dark and private moments, a tale of emotional needs supplanted by physical desire, in other words a tale of fucking. It begins with Roseanne Gluckman, a woman unlucky in love but a whiz at the stock market, a self made millionaire at thirty years old.
 

Roseanne’s plans had been to make her fortune first and get married second but now the fear that her suitors were only after her for money left her unable to get past a first date much less third base. On the Internet we call this a ‘first world problem.’

 

Since women have needs just like men Roseanne found a workaround, an expensive and preternatural one, but a workaround nonetheless; she nicknamed him Mr. RING; a callback to the simpler, geekier, days of her youth. He was an expensive lover, high maintenance and low personality but he got the job done and he was always ready for more. He made her feel things she’d barely been able to imagine feeling before. Sure she always felt a little guilty afterwards but that wasn’t enough to make her send him away, not when she was in a relationship with so few rules or expectations.

 

And isn’t that what every relationship comes down to? Rules and expectations?

 

Speaking of expectations, one she had been told to accept was Mr. RING’s complete silence at all times. He would never ask questions, make complaints or ask about her net worth. He was a blank slate she could overwrite with her every fantasy, he could be everything Roseanne thought she ever wanted.

 

Then he started humming.

 

That faint almost tuneless sound turned her normally warm post-coital sweat ice cold. She realized what she had done with a scream, a scream the shape beside her in the bed ignored. 

 

She ran from bedroom and locked herself in the bathroom. This was bad. She had broken the rule- THE rule. She had committed a sin far worse than breaking a roomful of  mirrors or feeding a gremlin after midnight.

 

The hum became a voice, almost too faint for her to hear, “Is you is or is you ain’t my baby?

 
 
THE NIGHT BLOGGER:
A Season In Hell
Episode Twenty-Three
Mr. RING
by
Al Bruno III
 
 

…if you only know the city via the Carly Simon song then let me explain that Saratoga is the closest thing upstate New York has to Beverly Hills. Except of course for it’s complete lack of celebrities, glamor and decent weather- but it has a pretty nice racetrack, so it’s got that going for it.

 

The time? Two days after Mr. RING’s impromptu serenade had driven Roseanne Gluckman from her high priced condo to her even more expensive McMansion.

 

I was barricading us into her spacious study. Rosanne was loading the gargantuan revolver she’d just purchased. She’d said it made her feel safe. 

 

That was one of us.

 

“Mr. RING means what?” I paused in nailing shut a window.

 

Roseanne blushed, “Mechanical Robotic Replicant Intended for Nocturnal Gratification.”

 

“Oh.” I said.

 

“Oh? What is that supposed to mean?” she snapped.”

 

“Nothing!” Now I was reddening, “Just ‘oh’.”

 

My Macbook was in the corner of the room, Jasper’s face was in the chat window, “I think I’ve got something…”

 

“What is it?” I put the hammer down and approached.

 

He held up a sheet of paper with Hebrew lettering on it to the camera;

 

אמת

 

“It’s the word ‘truth’,” Jasper explained. “You inscribe it on a golem to bring it to life.”

 

“A golem?” I scanned the room. The study entrance was nailed shut. A heavy oak bookshelf had been pulled in front of the glass balcony doors. There was a pitiful looking log burning in the fireplace. The fireplace poker was beside it, the business end buried in the hot coals. “She turned her sex doll into a golem?”

 

“It is not a sex doll,” Roseanne said frostily, “it is a Macho Manikin Fully Articulated Love Companion.”

 

Jasper’s voice said from the Macbook, “Yeah but now it’s a golem.”

 

“It cost twelve thousand dollars!”

 

“Then it’s a twelve thousand dollar golem,” Jasper started shuffling through his notes, “the thing is the word ‘Truth’ is supposed to be on the golem, not the golem’s owner.”

 

“That Ashley Fowler…” held her forearm up for us to see, the Hebrew lettering was there ‘אמת’. It wasn’t a tattoo or a birthmark but it had appeared on the night of April 2nd and had been growing darker and more pronounced by the hour, “she did this to me. She’s the Devil.”

 

“No she isn’t,” I crossed back over to the door again and tested it. Would it hold? I didn’t know but I doubted it.

 

Jasper said, “But she did bring Roseanne’s sex doll… I mean Fully Articulated Love Companion to life.”

 

“She. Is. Not. The. Devil.” I bit my words off in an annoyed staccato, “I don’t know what we are dealing with but she is not Old Scratch.”

 

“OK. Whatever.” Jasper said, “Hey Roseanne, you didn’t sell her your soul did you?”

 

Roseanne shrugged, “It was more of a promissory note.”

 

“All right,” I said, “so you signed a promissory note with Ashely Fowler. What did you promise?”

 

“The deal was that Mr. RING would come to life and… take care of my needs until the day I found true love…” her voice trailed off.

 

“And?” I gestured for her to continue.

 

She sighed, “And if I ever let a teardrop fall onto his silicone flesh I would become Mr. RING’s true love.”

 

There was a long pause, I looked from Roseanne to the Macbook, Jasper just stared out of the screen at both of us. Finally he cleared his throat, “I have to admit that does sound like something the Devil would do.”

 

Roseanne nodded eagerly, “I know right?”

 

I pinched the bridge of my nose, “She is not… Wait. You cried on him? On Mr. RING?”

 

This whole affair was getting more bizarre by the minute, I wondered if she was putting me on. It’s happened before, you folks remember the time I received an email from a concerned citizen about a haunted house only to learn it was actually a meth lab, or the time I got a tip about a coven of vampires only to find out it was a group of swingers with a love of crushed velvet and LARPing. Both those adventures had nearly gotten me fucked over- just in very different ways.

 

“Yes I did,” Roseanne said, “but not on purpose. Do you think I wanted to end up spending my nights getting off with some kind of a magic robot? That night I was so disgusted with myself that I started to cry.”

 

“I’m really sorry. I didn’t think-”

 

“Haven’t you ever done something for physical gratification then hated yourself afterwards?”

 

A rueful tone crept into my voice. “Oh Hell yes.”

 

“Dude!” Jasper said from the Macbook screen, “I’m right here!”

 

“I didn’t mean you!”

 

She looked from Jasper to me and said, “Oh.”

 

“Oh? What is that supposed to mean?” Jasper snapped.

 

“Nothing!” She looked away, “Just ‘oh’.”

 

“I got a gal who’s always late,” A syrupy, Prince Charming voice interrupted us, it was making it’s way up Roseanne Gluckman’s driveway. “Anytime we have a date…”

 

“And here we go,” I closed the Macbook lid. Jasper had time for a single shout of protest.

 

Meanwhile the serenade was continuing, “I’m gonna walk up to her gate, and see if I can get it straight…”

 

There was a crash that could only be the sound of the house’s front door being kicked in. The home security system started going berserk. A stern sounding operator began issuing stern sounding warnings from the intercoms but all the while Mr. RING kept singing away, “Cause I wants her, I’m gonna ask her- Is you is or is you ain’t my baby?”

 

I turned back to look at Roseanne, the paleness was spreading out from the word on her forearm, something about it made her flesh take on an artificial tone. She cried, “You said you had a plan!”

The singer was getting closer now, I could hear his footsteps on the landing, “The way you’re actin’ lately makes me doubt…”

 

“I do have a plan,” I explained, “it just happens to be an awful one.”

 

The study door crashed open and I got my first glimpse of Mr. RING. Imagine if you will Kirk Cameron’s head perched atop the hairless body of a romance novel lothario. He wore only Roseanne’s flowery bathrobe and a pair of silk boxers. Poking out the fly of those boxers was the main selling point of a Macho Manikin Fully Articulated Love Companion. It wasn’t so much a penis as it was an assault on all sense of proportion and sanity. “You is still my baby, baby,” his mouth opened and closed like a puppet’s, “Seems my flame in your heart’s done gone out…”

 

His doll eyes zeroed in on Roseanne. She made a small terrified sound. I approached the thing, “All right now. Easy big fella. Let’s talk about this.”

 

“A woman is a creature that has always been strange…” Mr. RING took another step forward, I moved forward again, quite literally cock blocking him. “Just when you’re sure of one you find she’s gone and made a change…”

 

“I don’t think you’re a monster,” I said, “No monster has a singing voice like that. Let the lady go.”

 

He paused. Was he listening to me? Was there an actual soul of some kind that could have understood what I was doing or was he just a wish and a curse made manifest? I’ll never know because that was when Roseanne decided to shot him.

 

It was like a bolt of lightning crashed over my shoulder. A hot breeze blasted past my cheek. My right eye was flash blinded. My right ear was deafened. The bullet hit Mr. RING dead center in his smarmy smile and lodged deep in one of the steel joints that held his PVC skull together.

 

There was a long pause. I think Roseanne said “Sorry Brian.” but the ringing in my head was so loud it sounded a lot like “Starry fryin’.” 

 

Then Mr. RING started singing again from what was left of his mouth, “ITH you iTH or iTH you ain’t my baby? Maybe baby’TH found THomebody new…”

 

He picked me up by the lapels of my leather jacket and threw me into the oak bookshelf we’d been using as a barricade. I hit it with enough force to send it pitching backward. It smashed through the glass doors and suddenly I was out on the balcony.

 

Roseanne kept firing. Mr. RING kept singing.

 

Blam!

 

“Or iTH my baby THtill my baby true?”

 

Blam!

 

“ITH you or iTH you ain’t my baby, baby?”

 

Blam! Blam!

 

“Baby boy, the way you’re actin’ lately makeTH me doubt…”

 

Blam!

 

“THee here, who’TH been cuttin’ me…”

 

I got to my feet in time to see Roseanne throw the empty revolver at him. It bounced off his jaw, taking out a faux tooth before it hit the floor. She was backing away. It might have been the concussion talking but it looked like her movements were getting stiffer, her face losing the ability to hold it’s expression of terror. 

 

What was it Roseanne had been told? If she ever let a teardrop fall onto his silicone flesh she would become his true love. What would a Pinocchio with a priapism like Mr. RING want?  Another living doll of course.

 

There was no choice, it was time to implement my awful plan. I scrabbled across the study and grabbed the fireplace poker. It had been sitting in the fire for almost an hour so it was good and hot. 

 

“You’TH is THtill my baby, baby. Baby boy, it seemTH my flame in your heart’TH done…”

 

I charged, crashing past Mr. RING and bringing the red hot metal down onto Roseanne’s forearm scalding the flesh to the bone reducing the ‘truth’ marking to a blackened ruin…

 
*
 

…it was a lucky guess and something I’m surprised no one at the mercy of a demonic promissory note ever tried before. Then again this may be the first time anyone had ever tried to make a semi-satanic love doll. 

 

Item: the Saratoga Police burst into the room about thirty seconds after I’d given Roseanne her life saving third degree burn and ten seconds after Mr. RING had collapsed lifelessly to the floor.

 

I can only imagine how the whole thing looked so I am not holding a grudge over the tasering, beatdown and crushed fedora.

 

Item: Jasper isn’t talking to me again. “That oh Hell yes.” was really was not about him. It was a reference to my nights of glumly banging the dancers at Scorpio’s.

 

Seriously Jasper, if you’re reading this call me.

 

Item: Roseanne Gluckman didn’t thank for for saving her, or offer any kind of reward but she didn’t press charges either so we’ll call that one even. In the time since this little misadventure she’s given her heart, and a good amount of her fortune, to the Colonie Crusade for Christ.

 

Please don’t think I’m rolling my eyes at her decision. She seemed like a nice enough person and all she wanted was to be loved, maybe the Church is where she’ll finally find it.

 

But there also may be another reason for Roseanne’s sudden conversion.

 

Item: There was a break in at the evidence storage facility used by the Saratoga Police Department. The only item that went missing was one heavily damaged Macho Manikin Fully Articulated Love Companion. When did it go missing? On the same day as a Policeman’s Benevolent Association cookout put on by local millionaire socialite Ashley Fowler.

 

Item: Ashley Fowler is not the Devil. I know the woman. Actually we’ve never met but I know of her. You longtime readers will remember that she went to summer camp with one of my relatives. Because of this there is no way I will ever accept that the First of the Fallen, the dark tempter of mankind, the very ruler of Hell, lost her virginity to my cousin Roy back in the 80’s. That way lies madness.

 

But, just the same, I’m going to make it my goal to stay the Hell out of her way.

 

Brian Foster out.

 

To Be Continued
 
 
 
 
 
You don’t have to believe the stories on my blog, you can dismiss them as good hallucinations or bad fiction if you want to but they’re all true. The darkness was never empty, there are things that wait for the innocent and unwary to turn their backs. What is it you think I’m talking about here? Ghosts? Vampires? Ghouls? If only it were that simple. The creatures of the night are still out there but they’re not shadowing your every footstep. They just check your status updates from the comfort of their tombs.
 
All I ever wanted was to be a Do-It-Yourself style reporter but more often than I like I find myself becoming part of my stories. It turns out gods and monsters don’t like their secrets getting out any more than your standard politician or celebrity. We all know how this is going to turn out in the end; I’m already long overdue for jail, the looney bin or a guest of honor spot at a monster buffet but until that fateful day I’m not going to back down or give up.
 
My name is Brian Foster and some people call me The Night Blogger.
 
But I wish they wouldn’t it’s kinda cheesy.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Storyline In Progress
 
 
 
 
Completed Stories
 
 
 
 
 
Part Three: Digging In The Dirt
Part Four: The Red Chimes
Part Five: Back From The Shadows Again
Part Six: The Devil’s In The House Of The Rising Sun
Part Seven: The House Of Gorgo
Part Eight: The Parliament Of Moloch
Part Nine: Under The Eye Of Luna
Part Ten: The Tale Of Detective Bradshaw
Part Eleven: Waiting For The Mortician Or Someone Like Him
Part Twelve: The Shape On The Stairwell
Part Thirteen: It’s What’s Inside That Counts
Part Fourteen: Dies Irae