Author's note: This is based off a nightmare I had. I'd also like to dedicate this story to King Wladyslaw of Poland.

Pretty Lake

Chapter 1: Appointment

With a wary sigh Calvin Iburn looked up from his novel and at the oh so stereotypical clock on the waiting room wall. As much as the thirty two year-old banker loved reading, he simply abhorred the environment that he was in, and to further press his temper, the way in which the waiting room seats were filled to capacity caused his mind to liken himself to a sardine. A sardine among whales, more-like, he noted internally as the occupants of the seat on the right and left allowed their arms to slide back over into his. Not even that annoyed him more than the man that was seated across from him.

The slouch that was seated across from him was definitely in his forties, yet he continued to persist in taking photos with his phone's camera and wildly spin it around without regard of the other patients who were awaiting their trip to the doctor. Calvin wagered that the man was playing 'Postman Flow', a new augmented reality game exclusive to phones which utilized map data from satellites, the random distribution of virtual stamps, and the phone's built-in camera to collect said stamps. The game boasted an impressive catalog of stamps which were assigned types; when ten of the same type were collected a wall of text which gave some history about the United States Postal Service would pop-up. It was a smashing success.

Lumen after lumen assaulted Iburn's eyes as the moron took photo upon photo. Eventually, his thoughts became a cascade of hatred toward the man. Quit it before I take that phone and drive it through your damned skull. He refrained from opening his mouth and letting the entire waiting room in on his thought. However, as it turned out, he needn't bother open his mouth. Shortly after his angry thought materialized, the idiot's hands spiked his phone through his head with logic defying force, enough to cleave it in twain and to send the somehow intact phone flying into the nearest wall. Everything about the situation was stunning from the torrent of blood gushing from where the top half of the idiot's skull should have been to the mobile phone that had somehow performed such a feat and then managed to become embedded in the waiting room wall, yet none were more shocked than Calvin Iburn who was privy to knowing that something he had privately thought occurred.

The boring waiting room turned into an echo chamber of screams. Many pushed and shoved in a bid to make it out of the building, their ailments suddenly not affecting them. Others remained seated staring in terror, shock, or some combination of the two at the idiot man whose skull had become separated. The top half - which was cut off at the eyes - lie on the floor among a sticky, red puddle of blood and chunks of head-matter from jagged, white skull fragments to stringy globs of brain that stuck to the floor as though they owned it. Calvin couldn't help but stare at the lower half of the man's skull which was still attached to its body.

The former phone-wielder's bottom bit of skull/head was slumped over and, thanks to the laws of physics, the inside content was able to steadily pour out onto his lap and/or the floor, whichever gravity itself deemed more necessary. Of more interest to Iburn was the fact that the corpse's tongue momentarily spasmed. Calvin fought back vomit as he watched the tongue of the deceased stroke the blood and brain matter that coated his shirt, what a truly unfortunate position and grotesque scene made worse.

After the chaos at the building's doors ceased, Calvin made a hasty retreat from the carnage, advancing to his car in the parking lot on very shaky legs. The witness locked his car doors, leaned back into the cool, leathery driver's seat and took a moment to rebuild composure. Jesus, what the hell was that?

No sooner had those thoughts slipped into his mind then did five police cars pull up in front of the hospital and park behind each other in single-file with sirens blaring. The men in blue poured out of their cars and hesitantly into the building, some with guns drawn and others with a hand on their holster, unsure of whether or not to draw their gun and in a hospital no less.

Good luck figuring that mess out. Huh, speaking of messes... is the hospital going to close for the day? Hell, whatever, I can't deal with going back in there today anyway. I'll call and see about rescheduling my appointment. That had to have been a coincidence, I sure as hell didn't kill him. Maybe that idiot was trying to merge his consciousness with 'Postman Flow' or something, he was definitely a dumbass.

With a quick exhale, Calvin buckled his seat-belt and threw his red-colored Mustang into drive. The trip home was a blank in his memories and his awareness returned when he pulled into his driveway; he had zoned out while driving. Today's unwanted excitement had pretty much put him out of commission: a shower, rescheduling, and sleep were the rest of his actions for the day. As the tired man lie drifting off to sleep, he couldn't help but find it a bit odd that the hospital was already open for scheduling more appointments. They were surprisingly cooperative about him skipping out too, but then, nothing was normal about the situation. That sort of thing happening in a waiting room was absurd and he wasn't even sure what THAT was. He was just thankful that it wasn't him that had happened to and that getting his follow-up done wouldn't be even more of a hassle, well, hopefully not anyway.

The next week rolled around and the repeat patient went about his business per usual up until it was time for his appointment at which point he reluctantly hopped into his car and returned to the Dowager Memorial Hospital. The waiting room expertly hid the event that had occurred yesterday; not a sign of it existed save for the indentation in the wall from wherein the cell phone had been retrieved from. Thankfully for Iburn, the waiting room wasn't brimming to capacity as usual and not only was the check-in process quick, but so was his wait.

Approximately ten minutes after seating himself, a pretty, petite, red-headed nurse swung open one of the two double doors that connected the waiting room to the consulting rooms and called for Calvin Iburn with a hint of excitement in her voice. Calvin couldn't help crack a smile when he saw his friend and favorite nurse, Gwen Evere. The two had gotten to know each other quite well over the frequent visits that Calvin had to endure, the silver lining.

“Hellooooooooo, Nurse.”

A flurry of laughs escaped from Gwen's throat and cut off with a rather embarrassing snort which caused her to close the double doors and quickly usher him along the hallway. “Hi, Cal! It always cracks me up hearing you quote cartoons. You're imitating the one with the three dog-like characters or whatever they are, right?”

“Yeah, and hey, they were originally going to be ducks. That would have been so boring... Although, I suppose I would've been too young to think that when I watched.”

“You're as knowledgeable about them cartoons as ever.”

“I know. You can refer to me as wise one.”

“Very well, in which of these rooms are you supposed to see Doctor Pendrake, oh 'wise one',” Gwen said, sweeping her open palm toward the nearest three rooms with the teasing sarcasm in her voice ever apparent.

“Er... The one with the open door?”

The nurse's eyes narrowed in challenge. “You win this round, but I'll have you know that was just a practice round. The real question is....” Miss Evere cleared her throat and let a dramatic pause trail behind her half-finished sentence as she followed Calvin into the consultation room and shut the door behind them. “...Are you free Friday?”

Although in his thirties and fairly reserved, Calvin Iburn could not help, but feel his face flush. Was Gwen messing with him? There was certainly a good chance of that and there was also an equal chance that he was reading too much into her question, but there was also the possibility of... “Y-Yeah. For a date?”

Gwen swept aside a few locks of her velvet-colored hair and inched her face a bit more closely than was professional to her patient. Her blues met his hazels with a look of absolute resolve behind them. She nearly sung her response, “Yup, a date.”

A few seconds of silence passed, but those seconds felt like an eternity to the three present. After using those few precious seconds to compose his thoughts, so as to not blurt out something stupid, he replied, “Yes, absolutely!”

“Good choice. You certainly live up to your title, 'o'wise one'.” She extended her index finger and tapped him on the bridge of his nose to punctuate her remark.

Calvin's face took on a shade that rivaled Gwen's hair. After a slight pause in the conversation, he sat down on the edge of the bed and carried on, “I'm guessing that checking my vitals is going to be a waste of time now, seeing as how you've got me all worked up.”

A smirk darted across Gwen's face.

“Nope, I still have to do it. You're going to be stuck with me for a little bit longer, so lucky!”

All the routine things that Calvin had been through hundreds of times, such as a blood pressure check, were done. However, it all felt very different to him this time. It felt personal. A pretty natural response for one who was being touched by someone that they had an attraction to. His eyes wandered across her frame, from velvety hair to black sneaker-encased toe. Despite his attempt at being subtle, her sky-colored irises caught glimpses of his trailing eyes. She kept silent and couldn't help but smile joyously over Calvin's obvious physical attraction to her.

After what seemed like too short of a time, the velcroed-cuff was removed from the patient's arm and the sphygmomanometer placed back onto a rack.

Picking up on Gwen's hesitation to speak, Cal spoke, “It's high isn't it?”

“Well, that's natural considering the circumstances.”

“What is it?” he asked, not really caring, but just wanting to be with her a moment longer.

“It's five one one two three seven nine.”

“That's not rig-... Oh.”

The beautiful, smiling nurse gave a wink and then strode out the door, only pausing to say, “Dr. Pendrake will be with you momentarily. See you soon, Cal.”

Five to ten minutes came to pass (it's hard to know exactly when because consultation rooms never have clocks in them, do they?) until a lean, wrinkly, grey-haired woman with a reserve of energy equal to that of a child entered.

“Hello hello, Mr. Iburn! How are you faring?”


“Oh ho, so you'd say that your stomach pain is gone?”

“Not gone, but it is certainly at its lowest since the car accident.”

“Good good. Lift your shirt for me, please.”

Calvin exposed his stomach, revealing a maze of scarred tissue. An ice-covered road had been unfavorable. His car had slid and smashed into the railing of a bridge, crumpling itself like a tin can and sending shredded metal from the driver's door into his stomach and part of his small intestine. The miracles of science, medicine, luck, and perhaps even divine intervention, were responsible for his present state of being able to recover and walk around unimpeded.

“Boy, those scars remind me of a particular, gnarly painting Arthur made for his art class every time I see them,” she continued.

“Arthur... Is that your grandson? And what was the painting of?”

“Arthur is my forty-two year old son,” the old lady paused with a smile. “The painting was made up of a group of black snakes going every which way. I remember the painting so well because the art teacher was 'concerned' over the painting and said it suggested that there were issues with Arthur's home-life. Of course, I gave 'em a piece of my mind and told him to stop trying to cause issues where there weren't any. Anyhow, your scars look as healed as they'll get.”

“That's a shame, but thanks.”

“You might stop by for one last check-up in a month or two, but I don't think it's really necessary.”

Immediately after leaving his appointment, Cal headed to one of the three local grocery stores in preparation of his date. Especially in the off-chance that Gwen wanted to come inside his home and got hungry. An array of food (really unspectacular shit: onion, cucumber, canned chili, spam, frozen beef, things along those lines) filled his shopping cart by the time he got through his uneventful shopping and to the checkout line. The going was slow, but the line progressed before coming to a grinding halt when Cal was the third person in line for checkout.

Chapter 2: Helplessness

The glasses-wearing, presumably teenaged, cashier had stopped swiping the scanner with item UPCs and instead stood still as the gargantuan mustached man before him gave an earful. The one-sided conflict had been born of a 25¢ coupon for a $3 can of Della Monte Green Beans not being accepted by the system. Realizing that the man was not going to relent, the boy dialed the number for the PA and called for a member of management to come to his respective checking lane. Despite his efforts, five minutes passed without the emergence of a manager.

As the debacle played passed the ten minute mark, a thought floated through Cal Iburn's mind. It's twenty-five freaking cents, you cheap son-of-a-bitch.. Just let the man ring up your shit, so that the rest of us can get on with our lives before I shove some quarters down your throat.

Within a matter of seconds, an overhead light snapped off from the ceiling and careened into the metal cash register. The employee was caught by surprise and an end of the light fixture. The light smashed against the youth's arm, dislocating and lacerating it as well as the cash register with such a force that it splintered open. Fragments of metal and glass shot across the lane and the area behind it, somehow managing to only hit the mustachioed bargaineer. The large man hit the ground screaming in response to the shards throughout his body as blood leaked out of a particularly nasty cut on an artery in his right leg.

As if fulfilling a prophecy, coins rained down from the wreckage of the register, but of special note were the quarters which hit the ground rolling and into the open mouth of the screaming man. Mr. Mustache's gullet became obstructed and grounded. The injured man became even more panicked; frenzied. His cut forearms weakly reached for his throat as he choked and choked, all the while a dark tide of red both dripped from his gashes and sprayed forth from the punctured artery. Instead of moving forward to help, everyone stepped back either out of shock or a desire to not get bloody. A piss poor imitation of a gurgle came from the choker and he escalated to smashing his head against the concrete floor.

Some onlookers may have thought that this was an attempt to loosen some of the quarters lodged in his throat, but no, that would have been giving him too much credit. Instead, the act was one of madness brought on by hopelessness and a dire lack of oxygen. The man's forehead began to bruise purple (or perhaps the coloration was from the lack of oxygen) not entirely unlike a very mishandled potato. His pupils soon enlarged and his movements slowed. A complete cease followed.

No one at the checkout lane bothered to check for a pulse to confirm the man's death; in fact, they all did the opposite and bee-lined out of the lane (and presumably for the nearest exit) in a panic. Cal Iburn, however, stared at the corpse in shock while blocking out the cashier's screams and cries for someone to help lift the fallen light fixture off his arm.

Oh god. I did this. I once again thought of killing someone and they died. Am I psychic?

Iburn's staring was brief and then he also made a retreat for an exit, just as a crowd started to gather around the lane.

In a similar manner to the incident at the hospital, Calvin sat in his Mustang and regained some of his composure before driving home. This time he managed to book it out of the parking lot and got a few blocks down before being passed by an ambulance and a handful of police cars in the opposing lane.

He wasn't ill per se, but he did feel sick to his stomach from what he had witnessed and the realization that he was somehow killing people. Therefore, upon his return home, he plopped straight into bed and attempted to sleep the rest of the day away with limited success.

Most of his time in bed was spent lying awake and pondering if he had psychic powers and how to test them. Was it possible to do so without killing anyone? Did he have any other abilities? Or was there another explanation for all this that didn't amount to coincidence and was quite reasonable? The thinking session was interrupted soon after the sun had set and darkness had taken hold. A loud, spirited laugh resounded from within Calvin Iburn's house and much to Cal's fear, it didn't belong to him.

Calvin shot straight up as if he intended to react bravely (or stupidly) to his unwanted guest; however, his courage was lacking and he could do no more than maintain that position out of fear. A raspy, but playful, almost encouraging, masculine-sounding voice resounded from within the bedroom, causing Iburn to frantically gaze around in attempt to place the voice to a body; he did so without success.

“What curious and imaginative thoughts you have! For a rabid man, I mean!”

Iburn, who was shaking and tightly clutching the covers, pushed a response out, bit by bit. “ Wh-Who's th-there? Ar-Are you with the government?”

A laugh that was even louder than the first resounded from within the room and sounded as if it was even nearer than the first had been, perhaps underneath the bed. “With the government, me? How wrong you are, Calvin. You are as wrong about that as the idea of having powers!”

Curiosity and a fear of what the individual in the room knew partially managed to erode Calvin's fear of death and thus his words came out more cleanly. “Who are you and what do you know about what is happening to me?”

The voice boomed without missing a beat. While the voice spoke, the frightened man was able to pinpoint the voice's origin; it was coming from beneath him. Why he couldn't see the intruder now made sense; he was underneath his bed. His eyes darted for the bedroom door. Alas, his legs did not for his curiosity and doubt weighed him down to the bed. He listened intently as the voice spoke, “Both questions you have asked are the same. You only need look toward your gut for the answer. Seriously, lift up your shirt and look.”

The man sat still and silent for a few seconds, uncertain if he'd be attacked while occupied with his shirt. In the end, he relented and hesitantly lifted his shirt above his stomach. A woosh of air escaped his lips as he stared in disbelief at his stomach; his scars, specifically. What should have been a fresh pink color was instead a dark and somehow vibrant black. Ink was the best comparison that his mind could conjure. The etchings were not only irregular in color, but also pulsing.

“Hi, Calvin,” the raspy, playful tone of voice resounded from Calvin Iburn's now blackened scar-maze.

The most feminine scream to ever leave the adult's lips did so in that instant. He recoiled from his bed, hitting his head on the nightstand that sat next to it which caused the lamp atop it to be cast down onto his already sore head. Luckily, the lamp didn't shatter and rolled onto the floor beside him; not even a minute amount of comfort.

“What the hell is going on?!” he shrieked from his newly claimed spot on the floor.

No response came from the oddity that was his scars. The sound of heavy breathing, nearing the point of hyperventilation, played throughout the bedroom.

“What is happening to me,” he muttered dejectedly.

A single worded response was given. “Greatness.”

Tears trailed from the man's eyes as his mental faculties began to break down. “Leave me alone, demon,” he responded in a wailing tone, not dissimilar to that of a punished child.

“Demon? Your likening me to Hellspawn is most insulting.”

Calvin Iburn who was sobbing deeply, replied in a meek voice with long gasps of air in between each word, “Satan? Oh god! Why me?”

The occupier of his scars became most agitated and let it seep into its now authoritative tone, “No! I am Derdrom.”

The thirty two year-old rocked back and forth, cradling the lamp with a somber expression, as he sat on the floor. “Oh geez, my powers are destroying my mind. I'm going insane.”

The self-proclaimed Derdrom's patience had worn thin and it now began to shout in a near primal voice, a tone so deep and guttural that it would likely make any such practitioner's throat raw. “I am not a demon! I am not the Devil! You are not insane or psychic! This is real and happening, get over yourself! You had no problem accepting things as they were when it was convenient to you; ACCEPT ME!”

After the hysterics ended, Iburn spoke again, “What are you and why have you chosen me?”

“I do not know, I simply am.”

For the first time, Calvin grew a pair and snapped back in frustration, “You lie. How could you be so adamant about what you are not, yet not know what you are?”

“What if I am? What could you possibly do about it? I am Derdrom and that is all you need to know. You should be thankful I clued you in on that much, Cal.” If Derdrom had a face, Calvin suspected it would be smiling based upon the smugness that exuded from its response.

Chapter 2.5: Investigation

On the opposite end of Hanover, New Hampshire; Detectives Arthur Pendrake and Monty Bedivere sat sequestered in a back room of the Hanover Police Department analyzing security footage which had captured the two strange deaths of the past week and a half. The scruffy, whisker-adorned Arthur clasped a hand on his long-haired, handsome and charming co-worker's shoulder as he paused the tape and pointed at the screen with his other. “Look at this.”

Monty turned from his screen, followed his partner's finger, and traveled up the screen with his hazels. “What about it?”

“That guy was in line at the store!” Arthur exclaimed enthusiastically as he mashed his index finger against the recording of Calvin Iburn.

The Detective rechecked the footage on his monitor and sure enough, both security tapes did indeed contain the same individual. “Geez, it looks like you might be right about these cases being homicides. I'll be damned if I know how he could have pulled it off though. Any ideas?”

Arthur shook his head. “Not a one. The way I figure it, it is all too perfect to be an actual coincidence. But, it's all circumstantial, so there isn't much we can do. However, we could figure out who he is and...”

“...And just so happen to be in the same area as he is to keep an eye on him!” Bedivere finished.

The two Detectives high-fived each other and set about figuring out their mystery man's identity; starting with the police database and working their way from there.

Chapter 3: Plans

Calvin was uncertain how he managed to fall asleep the night before. His mind kept offering the solution that he mentally exhausted himself to the point of blacking out, but the thought that Derdrom somehow knocked him out also crossed his mind. Despite the whole unpleasantness of his situation, he took solace in the fact that the entity had always killed based upon his private thoughts and appeared to not mean him any harm. Whether his thoughts were delusions or reassurances remained to be seen, yet he had convinced himself to go through with the date.

For someone that was normally calm and collected, the last few days had been hellish, overwhelmingly so, but Calvin gripped his cell phone tightly for not only was he holding on to a phone, but he was also holding on to hope. He relaxed his grasp, poked the buttons, and listened intently to the other line as it rang.

The melodic and enchantingly playful person that he sought spoke one simple word on her end of the receiver, “Hello?”

“Hey, it's Cal...” His mind stalled and lagged behind.

Gwen sensed this and stepped in before an awkward silence filled the line, “Hi, Cal! We still on for tonight?”

“Ye-Yeah! How does five sound?”

“Perfect. Are you going to pick me up or are we going to meet?”

“I can- I'll pick you up.”

“I live at 358 South Carver Street. My house is the second one from the corner and is yellow with brown shutters, not like that color-scheme is my choice, but you know... Gotta obey the landlord. So, Cal, what do you want to do tonight?”

“The same thing we do every night, Pinky – try to take over the world!”

His phone filled up with the sound of Gwen's laughter. Calvin's impression of the Brain was spot on and he was thankful that she got the aged reference. After her laughter subsided, he spoke again, “I was thinking a picnic at the lake.”

“That sounds romantic! Hopefully a hockey-masked maniac doesn't come out of the lake and get me. I'll see you in a couple of hours then. Bye, Cal!”

“Nah, that only happens to teenagers. Be seeing you.”

Soon after, Calvin went to a different grocery store from last time, picked out some favorable picnic foods, and headed to Gwen's. Unbeknownst to him, a copper-colored Buick trailed behind his Mustang from a respectable distance. The two inhabitants had been watching him ever since he first left his house. The detectives parallel parked on the street a few houses down from where Cal parked his vehicle, watched as he rung the doorbell at an ugly, yellow house and observed as Iburn and Evere took off in the red vehicle.

“He seems normal enough,” Monty spoke as he watched Arthur switch the Buick back on and throw it into drive.

“Yeah, 'seems'. Mitchell Nilrem seemed normal enough too, but then we caught him dressed up in priest robes butchering a bat and some frogs while screaming about how he was preventing the second coming of the spirit army.”

“Fair enough. If nothing else, I'm really curious to figure out how a banker is pulling all of this off. These murders are some Houdini level shit. Cripes, you'd think making accounts disappear would be more fitting.”

An amused tone crept into Arthur's voice as he hazarded a momentary look away from the road and shot his partner a bewildered glance. “You think Iburn is killing through sleight of hand; illusions. That's a really interesting theory.”

“Well, why not? We both agreed that something is up with him and that he is more likely responsible than not. He was present for both deaths after all. And God only knows the personal hobbies that everyone has. My theory certainly fills in a lot of blanks.”

“Yeah. Perhaps he somehow rigged the light fixture to fall in advance and had measured the trajectory the glass and coins would take? Well, now that I say that, that sounds downright stupid and improbable. Even supposing he is able to precisely calculate something so impossible, I am at a complete loss for how he could have pulled it off at the hospital.”

Bedivere let out a loud sigh and stretched his arms. “For now we'll just have to keep an eye on him and hope that he slips up. If he does, then we are completely within our rights to ask him about it.”

The detective occupied car purposefully lagged behind Iburn's, never losing their mark despite the various curving paths that the lake road presented. A small peninsula presented itself and was decided to be the perfect picnic spot. The detectives drove on passed the determined picnic spot and parked on a similar peninsula further on down the lake.

“What a view! I haven't been out here in years~” Gwen's words energetically and enthusiastically escaped from her lips in tune as she set a chocolate-colored blanket on the ground.

“Me either. I've never been much of an outdoorsman, not to mention how far out of the way this is,” Calvin replied as he spread out an assortment of food in different bags and bottles: hoagie buns, salami, ham, mayo, Italian dressing, provolone cheese, onions, barbecue-flavored potato chips, celery, buffalo-flavored dip, etc. “Of course, in this instance it isn't out of the way at all.”

“Ooh, it looks like you've spared no expense.”

“Are you setting me up for Jurassic Park impressions?”

“Maybe I am, maybe I ain't~ Hopefully you don't do too good of a T-Rex imitation and eat me, although...”

Calvin Iburn's face flushed red due to the flirtatious innuendo. He was completely naive to it being a strict teasing on Gwen's part. Although her comment was nothing more than a dirty joke meant to tomato that face, her next action, pulling him into a French kiss, was very real. The banker stared wide-eyed at her like a schoolboy with a crush; he had been caught completely and utterly off-guard.

“Best...Picnic...Ever...” Miss Evere praised with a wink, popping a potato chip into her mouth thereafter.

The thirty two year-old could only nod his head as he attempted to piece together a conversation, his mind a happy, scrambled mess. In the end, he put together a sandwich and stuffed his face in an effort to bide more time for topic construction. An opportunity presented itself, but in a very unwanted way. A white, rusty, pick-up truck loaded with fishing gear pulled up close to Iburn's Mustang and out stepped a lone, middle-aged man in muddy overalls and some of the most tangled hair that Calvin had ever seen.

Chapter 4: Together

The newcomer walked to the bed of his truck and grabbed a fishing pole and a fold-up chair without so much as a glance at the formerly relaxing couple. Calvin grudgingly broke the silence. “Hey, do you mind?”

The man unfolded his chair and took a seat before responding. His gruff voice took on a sarcastic tone that was most unfitting for it, “Nah, not at all.”

Having felt slighted, he redoubled his efforts and came from a different angle. “Could you please go fish at a different part of the lake? We are having a picnic and would like some privacy.”

“I could, but I won't. It's a free lake and this is my fishing spot. You should have taken that sweetness to a restaurant or a hotel if you wanted to eat and have some privacy. Why don't you do that? Or are you so cheap?”

A storm began to brew inside of Calvin who clenched his fists as he seethed. He opened his mouth to speak, but a now scowling Gwen beat him to the verbal joust. “As you said, it's a free lake. This isn't a matter of cheapness, but of creativity; something you don't understand seeing how you bind yourself to a single fishing spot.”

The fisher cast his line and turned his head slightly to regard Gwen while he spoke, “Men are talking, hun.”

The rage inside boiled over and his thoughts of death could be contained no longer. The thought had been uttered, Go die.

The fishing line shot out of the water and wrapped itself around the asshole fisherman's throat. He attempted to let out a gasp as he desperately clawed at the line. Big mistake. The line loosened slightly, but enough so that the worm-impaled hook could go down his open gullet and that it did. Down it went, worm and all. The hook stabbed cleanly through the worm, causing it to tear apart and for part of it to fall off the hook just enough where the hook was now scraping the man's insides. It began by tearing against the back of his tongue, then it ripped the wall of his throat, before coming to rest in a shredded esophagus. The crushing outer pain was dominated by what had started out as gross, texture-filled irritation and had then evolved into a burning sensation that was akin in feeling to being stabbed with a hot poker iron.

As the internal bleeding poured down the man's esophagus, the stranglehold around his neck intensified. The rod of the fishing pole edged into the lake, dragging the would-be victim with it. The former fisherman's struggle ceased soon after he submerged into the lake. Whether he died of internal bleeding, choking, drowning, indigestion born of a worm, or some combination of all of the above can only be speculated.

When Calvin returned his gaze to Gwen he had expected to find her closer to him. Instead she clamped a hand over her mouth and slowly backed away from him. Confusion registered on both of their faces, one born of innocence and the other of being found out. Had he really been found out, and if so, how? Calvin followed Gwen's gaze to his stomach and understood. His scars had a beat, a beat more lively than that of a human heart. The palpitations were of such a strength that the nest of scars bulged, but only ever so briefly. They shifted slightly and receded inward again, going back into a state of slumber. The abnormality may have ceased, but the damage was done; for the first time it had been observed in all of its glory.


He edged closer with an arm extended, non-threateningly, to place a hand on her shoulder. She kept backing away as he moved forward. “It's not my fault.”

Droplets of water dripped down her cheeks. Gwen mustered a steely, near defiant, gaze. “Whose is it then?”

Calvin opened his mouth to speak, but the words didn't come out; they were not allowed to. An acute buzzing rattled his brain. The noise prompted him to fall to his knees and place his hands on his head, not helping his case with Gwen. She took advantage and ran.

After a considerable distance was between the two, Derdrom spoke, “No, no, no. These circumstances are between you and I. It is no one else's business to know.” The entity abruptly ended the unpleasant echoing buzz in its host's brain. “You better not let her get away or she'll go to the police and end you. What a gal! She's not even willing to hear you out.”

The man remained on his knees, tears streamed from his eyes as his heart-ached. “No,” he softly said.

“She'll never accept you for what you've done. We can move pass this together, find you someone else, but I need you to think it.”


The Buick pulled up a short distance away from Gwen and one of the detectives, Arthur, rushed toward her. The detectives had seen the fisherman's fate, but were still uncertain of the cause. Both were certain of Calvin's guilt, however. Iburn raised his head slightly and through blurry eyes he observed a glint of steel on the man, a holstered pistol.

“Look! She's already brought someone to kill you.”

“No!” It came out as a scream and then was followed by a thought, one so dark that immense regret shook the screaming man. “No! I didn't mean it!” He choked the words out as he rose to his feet, stretched out his arms, and ran for Gwen Evere.

“Only now when it is inconvenient for you do you attempt to back out. Based on that, it's only fair that I take her too.”

The Buick fishtailed, using its front-end to hit Arthur before accelerating for Gwen. Arthur was hit with such force that he flew into a nearby Oak tree, spine first. Bedivere stomped down on the brake – what should have been the brake, he felt a solid above the brake, but saw nothing abnormal – to no avail. He placed a hand on the stick and tried to throw the car into park with no success, although, much to his confusion he found himself forcibly thrown from the speeding vehicle. The freshly ejected detective watched the woman helplessly, hitting the ground back first with enough speed to have the wind knocked out of him.

Realizing that the motorized machine of death would follow her wherever she went, Gwen changed her course for the lake and, sure enough, the car swerved to follow. It inched closer and closer, but before all hope for Gwen was lost, three spectacular sounds rung out on that peninsula. The first was a gunshot, second was the Buick's rear right tire popping and third was another gunshot. The winded, lying Bedivere turned his head to face the source of the commotion and saw Arthur, still crumpled against the tree, leaking blood from his lips, yet somehow keeping his arm raised and steady with a firm grip on his pistol.

The second bullet had gone through Calvin Iburn's chest with an ease comparable to a knife through warm butter. The mortally wounded banker collapsed onto the ground spending the last bit of life within him tilting his head to gaze at the fleeing Gwen Evere. His vision fading and his eyes glazing over, the last words he heard, although uncertain whether or not they had actually been spoke, were, “You insipid failure, I was so close. I just needed one more! Saving you from that wreck was nothing but a waste of time and energy. I hope there is a Hell and that it swallows you and all your kin whole.”

Calvin expired and whatever lurked within his scars released its hold on the Gwen-seeking car. Little did that or the shot tire matter. The car traveled just fast enough that it plowed into Gwen. All she could do was throw her arms into the air reflexively as the car carried her into the lake and submerged itself and victim, likely forever.

A stunned beyond belief Monty Bedivere rose to his feet and briefly stared at the lake before rushing over to his now gasping partner. Arthur Pendrake dropped his pistol and let out a series of ragged breaths before extending an arm to Monty, a gesture which was returned in kind until both men had an awkward grasp on each other's hand.

A coughing, and dying, Arthur spoke in between bouts of blood that poured forth from his mouth, “Bedivere, this would never hold up. You must hide the evidence of what has occurred or you'll be charged with murder and sent to prison.”

“What should I do?”

“The way I see it, most of the evidence is already in the lake. If a single piece of what has occurred here is found, then you'll likely be screwed. You might as well go all in and keep it all hidden together. Put Calvin Iburn in the trunk of his car and push it into the lake.”


Arthur shut his eyes for a few moments, not opening them until his friend and figurative partner in crime returned. “Did you put it in the lake?” he asked, already knowing the answer just by reading his friend's shifting gaze.

“Yes,” came the reply. The reply was given with a moment's hesitance and without eye contact.

Arthur attempted a smile, but the pain he felt gave him a contorted grimace at best. He spoke softly, “For someone that has spent a lot of time in the interrogation room, you ought to be a better liar than that. Why do you hesitate?”

Monty placed a hand on his partner's shoulder and managed, “Hiding it feels wrong. We've spent years uncovering evidence so that justice may be served.”

A pained grunt was uttered followed by a nugget of wisdom. “Justice is out of everyone's hands now. If this is not hidden, then justice shall be sought for that which cannot be explained. A far greater evil than unserved justice will likely result, false justice, and you its victim. You must put it in the lake.”

Bedivere gave a nod and headed back to the car; Arthur rested his eyes again. More time elapsed before the detective returned and when he did so, Arthur opened his eyes once more. Again he asked despite already knowing the answer beforehand and the answer was the same, “Did you put it in the lake?”

“Yes,” came the lie.

More blood dripped onto Arthur's dress shirt (formerly white, but quickly reddening) and during the pause in the seepage he calmly questioned, “What troubles you? Why do you hesitate?”

Tear drops fell from Bedivere's eyes and onto Pendrake's shirt as he spoke. “If I do it, then you'll stop fighting and let yourself pass on.”

The internally crushed man attempted his best grin and came up a bit short once more. “Do not worry. I have no intention of passing on. Hurry, go put that in the lake and we can get me the help we need.”

For the third time Bedivere left and Arthur shut his eyes. During his comrade's absence, he listened intently and finally heard the splash that he had been waiting for. This time he was certain that Monty had thrown the car into neutral and pushed it into the lake. A short time later, a doggedly tired Bedivere returned to his partner that was slumped against the Oak. Bedivere had lied twice, Arthur once.


Written by Doom Vroom
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