Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Eternity Burning: Chapter 13, Part 2


"Knock that off!" Cain said sharply, "No need to torture the poor bastards."

The two Oxen whom Cain had singled out stopped what they were doing. They had been cutting the ears and nose off of one bum, and blinding another. The pathetic drunk victims were powerless to do anything to defend themselves. On Cain's order the two Oxen finished their sadism and simply executed the two homeless people.

"All right. Throw them in the bus," Cain said.

The two Oxen hoisted the dead bums and brought them gingerly on board the SEPTA bus before throwing them roughly into a pile of bodies. They then got underway, with Ben driving the bus. Cain was sitting in the first seat, right behind the driver.

"How much more of this are we going to have to do, Adrian?" Ben asked, because he found that he did not have the stomach for the high quantity of brutality the Fellowship had been administering, he could only take it in small doses.

Some of the other Oxen riding the bus, particularly the ones near the pile of bodies in the back, chimed in their agreement that they were getting tired of the violence.

"I don't know," Cain admitted, "The census is not very good at keeping track of bums. Don't tell me you're losing your nerve for this, Ben. You were the first man I thought of for this job. And the rest of you volunteered for this, after all. I didn’t twist anyone's arm."

It was true that Cain had not forced anyone into this slaughter against their will. He had carefully selected the most hate-filled members of the Philadelphia chapter of the Fellowship and told them about his plan. He had been very careful; the plan would have failed if Victory or one of the other peace-lovers caught wind of it's true intentions. It had required great delicacy on Cain's part to accomplish the murder of every homeless person in Philadelphia.

"I don't know, Adrian. It sounded like a good idea at first. But now that we're actually killing people it seems kind of...evil."

"Evil?" the word struck a nerve in Adrian Cain, "Evil, you say? Is a doctor considered evil for curing a disease? Is a general considered evil for defeating a nation's enemies? Are they?"

"No," Ben admitted.

"Well that's all that we're doing! We are destroying a virulent, monstrous disease. We are battling the enemies of our nation and the world. Yes, we have to do it in secret, but that is only because the American public is so squeamish. We are heroes, I assure you, and in a more enlightened age some years from now, we will be honored for what we are doing tonight. Any of you who wishes to pass up the glory and the righteousness which we are gaining tonight, may leave at any time. I'm not keeping you here."

The bus was quite suddenly very silent. They had all chosen their lots, and now they would have to live with them.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Eternity Burning: Chapter 13, Part 1


Doctor Alexander Tennett looked up as soon as he heard the ruckus going on outside. He dismissed it at first as the rantings of some of his patients (since most of the people he treated were drunken or mad and homeless). But soon the intermittent screaming set off a warning buzzer in his head. Reluctant to leave a patient in surgery, but seeing no other alternative, he gently placed the scalpel on the table and peeled off his gloves.

"Monitor his vitals," he said to the nurse who had been assisting him.

She nodded her acknowledgement as he walked out of the sterile surgical area. He took off his mask as he stepped through the door. The sounds of disturbance were growing nearer and nearer. Finally, he reached the source of the apparent turmoil, the waiting room.

Alexander was stunned to see half a dozen Oxen in his waiting room. (Members of the Fellowship had earned the informal nickname "Oxen" because of their symbol, the blue Ox.) His astonishment quickly turned to fear as he saw what the Oxen were doing. They were all holding weapons and were picking off his patients one by one. There were bodies all over the floor.

One Ox, a huge blond fellow, leveled a Colt .45 at Alexander. He was so dismayed by the gory horror scene around him, he only noticed the weapon trained on him out of the periphery of his vision.

"Wait! Put down your gun!"

The shout brought Alexander's full attention to the blond giant and the man next to him, a smaller, bearded man. The bearded man, who was apparently the leader of the group, had let out the yell. An unswerving loyalty apparently existed between the two, because the blond immediately and without hesitation obeyed the other's order.

The bearded man slowly, purposefully made a circuitous route over to Alexander. His unhurried motions disturbed Alexander more than anything else. Murderers, even sociopaths, tended to be nervous and fidgety after committing a crime, but this man was perfectly calm and collected. The only explanation for it was that he had no conscience.

The man gave Alexander a quick, cursory survey when he finally got near to him. He grabbed Alexander's lab coat and read the pin which contained his name. He then held the lab coat so that he could take a look at the rest of Alexander's clothes. He took particular notice of the quality and apparent expense of his shoes, shirt, and tie. He still seemed indecisive, but had apparently reached a conclusion about Alexander.

"Are you indeed Alexander Tennett, head doctor of this free clinic?" the bearded man asked.

"The only doctor," Alexander said, "So yes."

"So you do make money, although probably only nominal earnings?"

Alexander straightened out his posture into a dignified Hippocratic stance.

“The fact that I am saving lives is more important than any monetary reward.”

“You’re saving useless lives, in fact, lives that are a drain on society,” the man said, without a second’s hesitation.

“All lives have meaning,” Alexander said.

“A very noble sentiment. Well, Doctor, you may be forced to ‘do no harm’ but I have never taken such an oath. I have no scruples about cutting the dead branches off a tree in order to save that tree. In this case, the tree is society, and the branches are your patients here.”

“You’re out of your mind,” Alexander said in a quiet, disturbing voice, which was scarier than if he had screamed in anger.

The bearded man smiled maliciously.

“It’s funny. You probably live in a tiny, one-room hovel, either abandoned by all your loved ones or unable to support them and so they resent you. The reason for that is that you work here, wasting your precious gift on these worthless bums, rather than in a hospital, where you can save decent, hard-working people as well as be able to make good money. You could probably be rich, happy, and prosperous. But no. These bums have dragged you down into their bog.

"It's ironic. You help keep the poor healthy. But you can't keep yourself from being poor," then, filling himself with an actor's melodrama, he quoted the Bible, "'Physician, heal thyself!'”

"You're deluded," Alexander said, "You've convinced yourself that you're righteous. All of you! You're all so ignorant, you've managed to justify for yourselves murder," then he turned on the bearded man to show that he could give as well as he could take and said, "'Forgive them, Lord, they know not what they do.'"

"Someday you'll appreciate the good we've done here," the bearded man said, then he turned to his followers and said, "Come on, let's go."

The Oxen began filing out and the bearded man smiled, pleased with the terror he had wrought. Alexander fell to his knees, and for the first time, lost his composure. He began sobbing, overwhelmed by the sheer loss of life. He lamented how worthless all the work he had done to patch these people together had been when only a few moments later it had all been undone. When all the Oxen except for the blond giant and the bearded leader had left, the leader turned to follow them out the door. The massive hand of the last Ox fell on his shoulder, stopping him in his tracks.

"Adrian," the blond addressed him in a thick German accent, and for the first time Alexander knew the monster's name, "What about him?"

The blond, filled with loathing, jabbed one thumb over his shoulder to indicate Alexander Tennett. Adrian looked over at the broken doctor.

"What about him? He works, so we'll leave him alone. We're not savages."

"Yes!" Tennett suddenly exclaimed furiously, "You're very discriminating in who you murder! You're bigots!"

"Bigots?" Adrian scoffed, "Hardly. We come from all places, all castes, all backgrounds, all persuasions, all religions. We are a perfect rainbow of unity and tolerance."

"Yes, united in the destruction of a scapegoat!"

His patience waning, Adrian said, "We hold the guns, Doctor, so watch your tongue."

"Sir!" the blond hissed, injecting himself back into the conversation, "I say he's just as bad as any bum. He heals them. He keeps them alive, so they can keep on loafing."

A glimmer came to Adrian's eye because the idea had struck him as brilliant.

"If we want to end homelessness," Adrian said slowly, "We must destroy not just the bums, but the people who perpetuate the bums. Yes, I agree, Duke. Shoot him."

"Gladly, sir."

As the weapon was raised and the trigger pulled, Alexander was swamped with images. He could hear the screams of every patient he had been unable to save. He saw the mangled, bloody bodies of the slaughter which had just occurred. He could see his late wife in her casket, looking so peaceful, so at ease. So much death... But the last thing he saw before he died was his daughter, Sally, who would now be an orphan. He only hoped that she, at least, would live.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Eternity Burning: Chapter 12

Cain was leaning back in a chair, with his feet up on a stool. He listened to what Victory had to say, and then his jaw dropped several inches.

"You're going out of town?" he asked when his jaw became functional again.

"Yup," Victory said.

Cain looked absolutely astonished.

"Tonight?" he said, getting up from his chair, and looking intently at his friend.

The date was October 13. It was also, as it happened, the date on which Victory had been born, many years ago.

"Yes. Come on, Adrian, it’s my birthday and I’m going to do something," Victory said, getting defensive, "What's the problem?"

"Jesus Christ, Vic," Cain said, covering one eye with his palm, "Tonight's the night, man."

"What night?"

"The night," Cain reiterated.

"Adrian," Victory said, his patience slowly dripping away, "Would you tell me what the hell you're talking about?"

"It was supposed to be a surprise, Vic. I'd been planning it for weeks. I even pulled every string I had at city hall to get a curfew set for tonight. Oh, God, Vic, do you have any idea how hard it is to get everyone off the streets?"

"Why do you want everyone off the streets?" Victory asked, a little suspiciously.

"The Fellowship was gonna get ahold of a few SEPTA buses, and prowl the streets looking for vagrants. Then we were gonna offer them all rides out of Philly. It was part of my whole plan to get the homeless out of this city! It was going to be a birthday present to you."

"And you didn't tell me? Cain, you son of a bitch! Do you have any clue just how stupid this idea is? No bum's going to want to ride out of town. And eventually it will just turn violent when the Fellows decide to make the bums get out of town. Oh, Cain, you didn't think this through at all, did you?"

Cain could tell that Victory was pissed. He only called the man by his surname when he was really annoyed with him.

"Au contraire, mon frere," Cain said, with a jolly smile, "I've thought this through very much. I've only chosen the Fellows I trust implicitly, the biggest pacifists in our ranks, to do the scrounging and the bussing. I made certain there would be no fights. And it was supposed to be a birthday present for you. We'd go out on the town, get the bums out of here, and then come back here to celebrate our victory - heh heh - over unemployment with some champagne."

"Well, I really wish you would've told me!" Victory said, "I probably could've talked you out of this crazy scheme before it was too late. And if I'd known, Dina would've known, and she wouldn't have invited me out to the Poconos tonight. And I'm still convinced this crackpot idea is a little less than half-baked."

"Oh, all right! It was just a pipe dream anyway. We'll return all the buses. I'll put it off until you're back. Don't worry your pretty little head," Cain said, and he vigorously rubbed Victory's hair in affection, "Enjoy yourself at the Poconos."

"Don't touch me," Victory said, detaching Cain's hand from his scalp.

Cain smiled.

"You're a complete homophobe, you know that?"

"What?" exclaimed Victory.

"What if I told you I was gay?"

"You're gay?"

"No," Cain said, smiling, "But I saw the way you looked at me just now when you thought I was. You hate gays, I can see it in your eyes. Oh, come on, Victory, homosexuals work just as hard in this world of ours as heterosexuals do. You've got to be more open-minded, old friend, like me!"

Victory gave a derisive snort and walked out. When he was gone, Duke came out from the back room.

“I thought you knew he was going out tonight, Adrian,” the German bodyguard said.

“I did,” Cain confirmed.

“Then why did you just tell him?”

“Forget about it, Duke,” Cain said sharply, “You don’t understand. You don’t need to understand. Stop trying to act like a brain, which you’re not, and act like what you are: a fist.”

Duke nodded subserviently, although his feelings were clearly hurt. With an inward sigh, Cain realized he would have to recement the brutish oaf’s loyalty with a few kind words.

“I’m sorry for saying that,” Cain said, putting as much false sincerity into his voice as he could, “It’s just that Victory doesn’t share my vision. He was a good man for starting the Fellowship, but he’s always thought too small. I’ve got plans in mind which he just wouldn’t understand. So you see why I had to lie to him?”

Duke nodded dumbly.

“Good,” he said, giving Duke a light, friendly punch in the jaw, “Now let’s go. We’ve got a long night’s work ahead of us.”

As they walked outside, Ben and Annie joined them.

“I hope you’ll appreciate the trouble I went through to spring you two from jail,” Cain said as they headed towards the buses, “But I’ll do anything for my loyal followers.”

The two nodded grimly.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Eternity Burning: Chapter 11, Part 3

The memoir ended there, but the story of it did not. The young punk who had written it immediately had it published in as many right-wing newspapers and magazines as he could find. It actually became rather famous in racist and especially skinhead circles, and was compared to Mein Kampf as the hallmark of Fascist literature. There was also much conjecture about who the author was, since he had never signed it.

The author had very appropriately signed it anonymous, because he was no one special, just a nameless face in the crowd, albeit a hate-filled racist. He spent a few months in jail, during which time he wrote the memoir and very soon afterward he was scared straight. He had been beaten brutally on so many occasions that he swore he would give up Nazism and start from scratch. He immediately scratched the tattoo off his arm with a knife. When he was released from jail he began to work as a janitor in a fast food restaurant.

Through years of hard, backbreaking labor he eventually paid his own way through college and earned a doctorate of business law. As a throwback from his earlier days, he became politically active, however, he was now a vocal and intelligent conservative as opposed to a specious radical. He had a small amount of charisma, and found a place in the bureaucracy of the political machine.

From there he gradually won elections on larger and larger scales until finally clawing his way to the position of mayor of Philadelphia. He had managed to bury his past. Until recently, the only time he grew apprehensive was when someone asked him about the peculiar scar on his arm.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Eternity Burning: Chapter 11, Part 1

The mayor shivered uncontrollably in his chair for hours after Cain and Duke had left. He felt debilitating spasms running through his whole body. He had turned out the lights to sit in the dark and wait for them to pass, but they had not yet. His secretary had even left, so he knew it was getting extremely late.

He overcame his shaking and got up. Within his main safe which was hidden under the rug was a small metal box which was supposedly unbreakable. With a key he kept in his sock at all times, the only copy which existed, he opened the supposedly tamper proof lock.

The mayor had been unable to bring himself to destroy the paper, although that was the only way he had felt he would be safe from it. Perversity, perhaps, had forced him to keep a copy. He had buried it as deeply and darkly as he knew how. Now it didn't matter. Somehow that man Cain had gotten a copy of it and somehow, even more inexplicably, he had managed to link it to the mayor's office.

He took it out of the metal box now and looked at it. He wiped the dust away from it. Then he sat down and read every word, remembering with a pang that he had written it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Eternity Burning: Chapter 10, Part 2

As they stepped out on the street, Cain said, "You know, I've just realized something, Duke. What went through my head just now was that I could make the Fellowship's cause stronger by working with the mayor. I hadn't even considered the fact that he was a bigot, that he stood for everything which I claim to abhor. I just made a deal with my ideological arch enemy. What do you think of that, Duke?"

"I don't really think much of it at all, sir."

"Oh, you mean you think that sometimes beliefs must give way to practicality?"

"No, I don't mean that, sir. I just mean I hadn't really considered it."

"So you do think I've given up my principles?"

"No, I don't think that either, sir."

Cain sighed.

"I'm afraid that I've strayed, Duke. I think I may have betrayed myself. Have you ever had that feeling, Duke?"

"No, sir."

"Never, Duke?"

"Never, sir."

"How can that be, Duke?"

"Well, sir, I don't serve myself. I serve you. What I value about me doesn't come from any belief of my own, it just comes from my obedience. My honor is my loyalty. The only way I could betray myself is if I betrayed what I served. And I've never betrayed you, sir."

"You're a simple man, Duke. A good, righteous, simple man."

"Thank you, sir."

"You must promise me something, Duke. When I've sold out my belief system because it seemed like it would help my belief system - you must betray me. When I've become totally corrupt, you must betray me to save yourself, Duke. Will you promise me that, Duke?"

"I'll never betray you, sir. I'm sorry."

"Yes. So am I."

They both stood still and the wind blew around them.

"It's a very cold night out," Duke said.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Eternity Burning: Chapter 10, Part 1

"A Mr. Cain and his associate Mr. Schutzstaffel are here to see you," a young girl said over the crackling intercom, badly butchering Duke's name.

Richard Abel pressed the intercom button. He was busy with paperwork, and didn't want to be disturbed.

"Do they have an appointment?"

"Yes, sir."

"Ask them if they'll consider rescheduling."

There was a brief pause. Then the intercom buzzed back into life.

"Mr. Cain says it is exceptionally urgent, sir. He said that you'll just hate yourself if you don't let him in."

Another voice came over from the background, apparently Cain's. It said, "Emphasize the word 'hate'."

"He says you'll just hate yourself, sir."

That got the mayor's attention. It was very odd. Was it possible? No. But still, the mayor began shaking uncontrollably. Could someone possibly have dredged up his past? Could this Cain...

"No," he breathed quietly, calming himself, "It's just a coincidence."

After regaining his composure, his curiosity got the better of him, and he pressed the button again to say, "Send them in."

The door opened and a huge blond man walked in. And although he towered over the next man who entered, the next man was most definitely the alpha male. He had a lean, wise, ancient look to him. And he had the appearance of a very smug, very smarmy bastard. He was smiling like the cat who ate the canary.

"Mr. Cain, I presume?" the mayor said, shaking his hand, "Always a pleasure to meet a constituent."

"Adrian, please, Mr. Mayor."

"Fine, Adrian. What can I do for you?"

"Actually, it's kind of a question of what I can do for you...or, rather, what I can not do for you."

"What are you talking about?" the mayor asked, growing baffled.

"Oh, nothing, nothing. Perhaps I should just explain myself. Oh, this is Duke, by the way."

"Duke," the mayor said coldly, then turned back to Cain.

"You may have heard of my organization," Cain said coolly, and he began to strut around the office like a cat toying with a mouse, "The Fellowship. We have a rather large number of people in our organization. We're kind of a rainbow group, we embrace people of all colors and creeds."

"Yes, yes, fine, very noble," the mayor said, growing impatient, "Are you offering to support me in the next election or are you asking for patronage or recognition, or what?"

"Well, I just wanted to kind of...blow the whistle. You see, not everyone in Philadelphia is as open minded as we Fellows are. In fact, you could say there are a whole lot of people who are in fact very bigoted. Did you know that about our fair city?"

"Oh, rightist radicals, they're no threat," the mayor said mechanically, but he was beginning to feel his heart sink into his stomach.

"Actually, some of these men are in positions of power. They might well be a threat to peace and security in Philadelphia."

"Cain..." the mayor whispered wit ha mouth as dry as cotton.

"Do you like animals, Mr. Mayor?"

He could no longer speak so he nodded.


"Yes," he managed to cough out.


The mayor's eyes bugged wide open.

"What about eagles? Majestic animals, aren't they?

"Our nation's proud symbol," Abel choked out.

"They're also the symbol of Nazi Germany - did you know that? Rather ironic, isn't it, how two such polar opposite nations could both choose the same symbol. But, then, I suppose there were democrats in Nazi Germany, just as there are Nazis here in America. Don't you agree, Mr. Mayor?"

"What do you want, Cain?" the mayor said, and he felt like vomiting.

"You know, Hitler was an animal lover. He was a vegetarian, you know, and a teetotaler - that means he didn't drink. But he loved animals, especially dogs. Why, just look at his girlfriend."

Cain burst out laughing. The mayor gave a hollow chuckle.

"I can never seem to understand why Hitler, who had his choice of any woman in Europe, would choose Eva. There's nothing about it in his memoirs, really. Or any of the other Nazis."

Cain continued to strut, gloating with his eyes and mannerisms. He had the mayor in the palm of his hand. Now he would slowly close his fist, and crush the man. Then, if the whim struck him, he might loosen his fingers - if the whim struck him.

"I actually read a rather interesting Nazi memoir today. Very short, but very offensive. Do you have that with you, Duke?"

Duke pulled a stapled packet of papers out of his tunic. It was dog-eared and marked in red pen - Cain's handwriting.

"Called 'Hate'. Rather a morbid title, don't you think? And it's signed anonymous...hmm, I wonder why someone would write a paper and not take credit for it."

"What is it, Cain?" the mayor said, his eyes daring like a trapped animal, "Money? I'll get you money."

"Is it legitimate? You don't have a slush fund do you, Mr. Mayor?"

"No. Yes. No, no slush fund. It's my family fortune."

"But you're an orphan according to records I found - you grew up on the street. Even spent a little time in jail as I understand it. Well, I'm willing to let bygones be bygones. That's kind of our founding principle - forgiveness, tolerance, unity."

"You want power, Cain? Is that it?"

"Oh I already have the power over you, Mr. Mayor. The question is whether you will accept it, or rebel against it. You know, I think the police would be interested to know about the actions of rightist radicals in Philadelphia. Perhaps I should give them this memoir 'Hate', and the notes I have about who wrote it..."

"Are you blackmailing me, Cain?"

"I'm just trying to make a deal, Mr. Mayor. What do you say? Do we have a deal?"

"Fine. Just destroy that...thing."

"This is really a ghost from your past, isn't it, mayor? I'll bet you never thought it would come back to haunt you. But here it is. I resurrected it. I have the power over life and death, you could say."

"Yes, yes you do," the mayor said like a beaten dog, "What do you want?"

"I want cigars! I don't smoke very often, but I do like a good Cuban when a deal comes through happily. Do you have a Cuban, Mr. Mayor?"

"Jamaicans," the mayor said coldly, proffering a box.

"Good enough," Cain said, and lit one, "Now lets talk about a few things. First, what would it take to impose a citywide curfew on a given night?"

Monday, February 16, 2009

Eternity Burning: Chapter 9, Part 2

"Excuse me, sirs," Ronnie coughed out, "Could you spare a bit of change. I just need a little. Whatever you have loose on you, I'd appreciate, if you please, sirs."

The taller man struck him. Hard. It didn't really hurt Ronnie very much (he hardly felt pain at all anymore) but it stunned him. He was quite dumbfounded as a matter of fact. The poor old bum fell backwards onto his rear. He imagined his eyes were as wide as saucers.

"Out of my way, you pathetic little..."

Ronnie clasped his hands over his ears. He rocked back and forth, slowly humming an old tune his mother had sung to him when he was in his cradle. The man was cursing him. He didn't like that. Ronnie understood if they didn't want to give him any change, but they didn't have to insult him, and they certainly didn't have to curse him.

"I'm talking to you, bum!"

The man who had pummeled Ronnie had grabbed him roughly and pulled him up somewhat. He involuntarily dropped his hands from his ears, and stared forward at the tall man. He was paying careful attention, the kind of attention that can only be gained when someone has rudely shattered your thoughts.

"Are you listening to me?"

The man started shaking Ronnie hard. It was uncomfortable. He wriggled a little in a futile attempt to escape the man's grasp, but the man was too forceful. Ronnie noticed that the man was wearing a light blue tunic, as was his friend. It seemed to be a uniform of some sort. Ronnie recognized it a moment later as the uniform of that big new organization, the Fellowship.

Ronnie felt another blow fall down on him. He wondered first if he had been hit with a hammer. Then he realized it was, in fact, divine retribution. A hand from heaven had reached down to smite him.

It had been in fact, neither. It was the taller man. He was enraged like a bull. His counterpart now took to kicking Ronnie, first in the ribs, then in the shins, then in the head. He felt each blow, but not the agony he should have been feeling. The wiring in his brain and nerves were dulled and crossed.

"Why don't you answer him, bum?" the smaller man was yelling in rough cadence with his kicks.

Ronnie didn't answer. He couldn't answer. He was deeply immersed in thought. Today was a special day, for some reason. The date stood out in his mind. But why?

"I'll teach you to show respect for members of the Fellowship, bum!"

Ronnie noticed a flash of light out of the corner of his eye. As the stabbing commenced, it suddenly struck him what day it was. The switchblade wove it's way sickeningly in and out of his chest.

"It's my birthday," Ronnie murmured.

No one heard him. He didn't even hear himself. The two men had taken off like spooked deer. Ronnie could feel himself sinking into darkness. It seemed so nice, so calm, so relaxed. It would be nice to be overcome, overwhelmed, surrounded, with darkness. So he let himself go. What happened to him after that is a matter for theologians and philosophers.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Eternity Burning: Chapter 9, Part 1

“How could you not know about this, Adrian?”

“How would you expect me to know about it, Vic?” Cain asked.

“You’re in charge! You’re the full time leader of the Fellowship. It doesn’t surprise me that I didn’t know, I can only put in time during the weekends. But you, you’re here every day, almost all the time.”

Cain snorted his contempt.

“Maybe once upon a time I could’ve kept track of the actions of every single Fellow, Victory,” Cain said, “Maybe back when we were run out of some guy’s basement, I might have been able to. But do you remember my speech about time? That was broadcast all over the globe. We’ve suddenly doubled, tripled, quadrupled in size, and there are local chapters springing up in every city in America, and a lot internationally. When there are a lot of people in an organization, Vic, some of them are bound to be criminals. The price you pay for success, Victory, is corruption.”

“Ben and Annie were there from the start,” Victory spat out, “They helped to build the Fellowship. I put my trust in them. Hell, Ben got me this uniform I’m wearing.”

Victory tugged disdainfully at his blue jacket. Cain stood up, stretched, and put a fraternal hand on Victory’s shoulder.

“And now they’re in jail. This problem’s taken care of.”

“And what about the other problems, Adrian? What about the ones that are bound to pop up sooner or later? What about the hatred and bigotry which we, despite our aims, have given a home to?”

“There will be no more bigots in this chapter,” Cain said with a finality and conviction that stunned Victory, “I will personally guarantee that. I can’t control every Fellow, but I can at least try to control every Fellow in Philly. Nothing which I don’t approve of will occur here. You have my word.”

“No murders, no beatings, not even jokes?”

“I swear it,” Cain confirmed.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Eternity Burning: Chapter 8

Cain put the phone down in it's cradle. He had a look on his face like the cat that ate the canary.

"I believe a celebration is in order," Cain said.

"White or red?" Victory asked, eyeing his friend strangely but going to the liquor cabinet instead of asking him what had just occurred to warrant his last statement.

"Champagne, nothing less!" Cain exclaimed.

"But of course," Victory said with something less than enthusiasm.

When they were both sitting across from each other with wine glasses in hand, Victory finally asked, "Do you mind telling me why, exactly, we're celebrating?"

"Congratulate me, my boy, we've just gone international!"

"International? Are you kidding?"

"Not at all! I've just given the go ahead to three new chapters of the Fellowship - one in Berlin, one in Rome, and one in Tokyo. We're a global phenomenon!"

"To a world full of Oxen," Victory said, lifting his glass.

"I'll drink to that," Cain said, clinking his glass to Victory's.

After Cain had downed four or five more glasses than Victory, there came a sudden knock on the door. It surprised both of them, despite the fact that they were in Fellowship Headquarters and, as they claimed, "the door is always open". They normally didn't actually have to live up to that promise.

"Come on in!" Vic called out.

The door swung open and a man stepped in. He was tall and built like a brick wall. He had blond hair and blue eyes and immense muscles. He seemed to be a creature of myth, an Aryan giant of ancient India.

"Hello," he said, with a slightly Teutonic intonation, "I hope I am not interrupting anything."

"We always have time for a hard-working citizen," Cain said with a smile, "What can we do for you?"

"You're Adrian Cain, aren't you?" the hulking Aryan asked in astonishment.

"Yes, I am," Cain said, beaming with pleasure at being recognized.

"I saw you speech on television, Mr. Cain. I was very impressed. I wanted to know if I could join your Fellowship."

"You're perfectly welcome to," Victory said, getting up to fetch the official roster.

Victory returned a moment later and sat back down with a grunt. He brandished a fountain pen.

"What's your name?"

"Henry Schutzstaffel," he said trepidaciously, "But everyone calls me Duke."

"How do you spell your last name, Duke?" Vic asked, deeply engrossed in his scribe work.

Duke slowly spelled it out and then said, "But are there no requirements for membership? No dues?"

"The only requirement for membership is to be diligent and gainfully employed," Cain said, beginning to grow slightly giddy from the alcohol.

Duke looked at Victory helplessly.

"He means you have to work," Victory said, realizing that Duke was the kind of person who had more practice using his hands than using his mind and mouth, which was a perfectly noble type of person, "You do work, don't you, Duke?"

"Yes, sir," Duke said, beginning to understand, "I work in the mines."

"Did you hear that, Victory? He's a miner! How simply wonderful," Cain said.

"Don't mind him, he's drunk," Victory said in an irked tone of voice.

"I am not," Cain said in a cheerfully inebriated tone of voice, "Now then, Mr. Shungerstibble, about your other question..."

"Did I ask another question?"

"Dues!" Cain said crossly, "We have twenty dollar dues every month. But they're not due until the first of the month, so you have a few weeks."

"Adrian, we don't..."

"Shhh!" Cain said loudly and drunkenly, "I'm just telling this gentleman what's what. Now then...welcome aboard."

"Thank you, Mr. Cain."

"Call me Adrian," Cain said, his natural charisma beginning to shine through even his intoxicated state, "Now, before you go, Mr. Shamsizzle, how to like to avoid paying dues, and get a somewhat better paying job in the process?"

"I don't think I understand, sir,"

"I'd like to offer you a job as my personal assistant. The work would involve mostly being my bodyguard and doing certain small tasks for me. I will guarantee you a pay increase on whatever your mining salary is, and full benefits, and you will be exempt from our membership dues. What do you say?"

"That sounds excellent, Adrian," Duke said, clearly reveling in his new status, "When can I begin?"

"Tomorrow," Adrian said, "Or as soon as you can escape the drudgery of your mines."

"Absolutely, tomorrow, sir," Duke said, smiling, "When can I show up?"

"Nine AM."

"I'll be here, sir."

"Good night, Duke."

"Good night, Adrian. Good night, sir," he said, nodding absently at Victory.

"You know, I believe that's a step in the right direction," Cain said when Duke had left, "I believe he's the first person who has sought us out for membership, instead of us seeking him."

"Do you mind telling me what the hell that was about?" Victory asked angrily.

"What? Well, I've been meaning to get a bodyguard. Believe me, I can pay him out of my own pocket, I won't put undue stress on the treasury..."

"I mean that bullshit about dues, Cain!" Victory exclaimed, and his use of Cain's surname was a clear indicator of how angry he was, "It's not twenty dollars every month. It's a hundred dollars for life."

"Well, I think we need to change our policy, Victory, and I intend to. We can't accomplish anything in this free-enterprise society without money in our treasury. My God, we can barely pay my salary. I've been taking just enough to live so that I wouldn't be an undue strain on our financial situation. One all-encompassing fee isn't going to cover our expenses, Vic. If we want to really do good in this world, we've got to change our financial policy."

"So that's it. You just change a major policy without consulting me. We're partners, Cain. You're not a dictator here."

"My God, Vic, would you just settle down! I haven't changed anything yet. And if you like we can discuss it, but I think you'll see I'm right. The fine details may need ironing out, but in the end, this is what's best for the Fellowship."

Victory smashed his wineglass to the floor and leapt from his seat. He pointed a damning finger at his partner.

"You'd better learn to get your power hunger under control, Cain. I don't want this kind of crap to happen again."

As Victory stormed angrily out of the headquarters, Cain called after him, "Good night!"

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Eternity Burning: Chapter 7

Cain reached into his jacket pocket and slowly retrieved his pocket watch. After exposing it to the air, he gave it a cursory brushing with his hand to get off all of the lint that had collected on it.

He took a good look at it. It was a very fine watch. It was gold, but it was tarnished with age and no longer bright and sparkling. It seemed to be a very dull, gloomy color. It had been carved with an intricate network of flowery furrows and trenches. Cain then opened it, revealing the face of the watch. It was very, very old, even older than Cain could remember. Some distant ancestor in the Cain family tree had passed it down until finally reaching him. Being so old, the watch was primitive, but it was as reliable that the watch told that right time as it was that all men will die, or that the sun will come up every day. It seemed to groan and complain under the stress of it’s gears. Just ticking seemed to be a burden to it. It was like an old workhorse, no longer fit for it’s labors, but, having known nothing else, unable to stop it’s drudgery.

Cain was thinking hard about the watch. Then he noticed the time. He took a glance at it’s analog face and then clicked it shut. He didn’t put the pocket watch away, though. He held it out and shook it at his audience. The audience which stood before him live was huge. He had taken the stage in Veterans Stadium, which the Fellowship had booked for a giant show. There had been fireworks and a concert to promote the Fellowship, and now, as the conclusion for the night, Cain was to give a speech. It would also be broadcast nationwide, he had seen to that.

"Some men say that there is not enough time in the day to get things done. 'I haven't got enough time.' 'There wasn't enough time.' "You didn't give me enough time!' These are the battle cries and the slogans of the lazy slackers and lollygaggers who drag this world down from it's pedestal to a slothful quagmire of bureaucracy. They smash this world and this country's greatness with the hammers of their apathy, with the bulldozers of their incompetence, and with the wrecking balls of their stupidity! They've made America into a place where every action has to be confirmed by ten miles of paperwork, where men and women actually waste time, instead of seizing that precious God-given gift, and using it for all that it is worth!

"It wasn't always this way. There was a time when everyone had to give their all, and work their damnedest just to stay afloat, and most people worked even harder so that they could make things better for themselves, their families, and their countries. Every single second was spent with a purpose, and that is the way things should be, now, then, and forever! There were once great men and women, people of action, people who actually got things done, rather than complaining about how things weren't getting done! That breed died out long ago, and our country sank into an abysmal state of mediocrity.

"Well, I am here to change things! I am the resurrection of those great men and women who did things, I am the child of hard work, the follower of a doctrine which people have ceased to care about as existence became steadily more and more comfortable. I am a man who seizes hold of opportunity, I grapple with reality, and I squeeze all that I can out of potential. I turn potential into spectacular results. You know why? Because I recognize the enemies of progress, the foes of change, the hate-filled gnawing evil that is weakening the foundation of our society. Those people are the homeless, the bums, the poor, the welfare takers. They are leeches sucking away at America's very lifeblood!

"I hate them because they do nothing with their time. They sit and wait for someone else to feed them. Decent people take advantage of time, they have a chance to do something, and they don't just frivolously piffle it away because they know they'll live, they turn that chance into something concrete. Bums throw time away. As for me, I take the most I can from my opportunities.

"Time is mine to command. Time is my plaything! To hell with history. I make history. I am history. My dreams are the future, my memories are the past, and my will is the present. I pour sweat and blood into some goal, and I accomplish it. My goal now is to change the world! To cut out the fat, and leave only the greatness. Who will help me?"

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Battlestar Potemkin

I'd like to be serious for a moment. Last Friday, a number of people died in a very important struggle. Amongst them were our beloved leaders, Commander Felix Gaeta and President Tom Zarek. The battle against the bourgeouis Adama-Roslyn fascist regime is not over, though, and it will never be over. As long as the glorious workers and people of the fleet are oppressed under the foot of the capitalist Cylon-sympathizers, the dialectic demands that the struggle continues. Commander Gaeta and President Zarek will live on. The revolution will live on.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Eternity Burning: Chapter 6, Part 3

Well, there it was. It had happened. Ben and Annie had given an old stewbum a good thrashing. It was a potential disaster that could shake the very foundations of what Victory was trying to do. He would begin taking matters back into his own hands.

Victory had been shadowing them all day, and was just preparing to give up when it had occurred. They had been walking down the street in plainclothes. The stewbum had been lying, asleep, on a vent. They had helped him to his feet and then taken him down an alley. Ben held him down while Annie punched him. When he went down they both started kicking him in the head. Victory had immediately rushed in and stopped them, nostrils flaring and anger welling up in him.

“What are you two doing!” he screamed, “This is wrong! It’s cruel. Not only that, you’re also hurting your own members. Don’t you realize you’re hurting the whole Fellowship? You’re dragging our good name through the mud.”

They both made irresolute apologies. Their only sorrow seemed to be in the fact that they had been caught.

“What were you thinking?” exclaimed Victory.

“Do you really want to know?” Annie asked.

“Yes,” came Vic’s low, angry, growling response.

“It’s like you always say, the bums are what’s wrong with America. It’s just as easy as getting rid of the bums to get rid of America’s problems.”

“That’s not what it means,” Victory stated, “It means we’ve got to work to eliminate homelessness, not the homeless. Christ, what is wrong with you two? Actually, I should have had more forethought. You two always had such hatred for the homeless. Always making jokes. That set off a warning buzzer in my head, but I ignored it.”

Ben shrugged non-committaly.

“You two grab this poor man,” Victory said, jabbing a finger at the unconscious bum lying on the street, “And let’s bring him somewhere to get care. I think there’s a free clinic nearby.”

As they shouldered their victim, Ben and Annie trudged along contemplating what their punishments might be. Ironically, Victory was contemplating the same exact thing. Finally they reached the clinic, but not before attracting a great deal of attention.

“This man needs immediate help,” Victory said to the receptionist on duty.

“I’ll get Dr. Tennett,” she replied.

The physician, Alexander Tennett, appeared from a backroom. He seemed agitated upon seeing the little group hauling the homeless man.

“Put him down on the floor, for the love of god, put him down. You may already have caused irreparable damage to his spine and neck. What happened to him?”

“My companions here beat him up," Victory said.

Alexander looked up at the two. He gave them each a scrutinizing look.

"You two have been giving me an awful lot of work these past few weeks. It's a shame most of it is in there."

Alexander pointed towards the door marked MORGUE.

"Will he be all right?" Victory asked when Alexander had finished his First Aid work on the man.

"He'll survive. He's got a concussion, a few broken ribs, and some other damage. But I'll take care of him."

"Thank you," Victory said.

"What about them? Do you want me to call the police."

"If you like. That's your choice. But as for my choice…"

Victory turned and looked at each of his once loyal followers in turn. They looked angry, but not at all regretful. Victory had no doubt they would do it again. But they would not ever do it under the auspices of the Fellowship.

"You two are out of the Fellowship," he said with supernatural calm, "The law can do what it wants with you, but I'll have nothing else to do with either of you. You disgust me."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Eternity Burning: Chapter 6, Part 2

“Who the hell is kicking my ass?” Victory demanded angrily, storming into the HQ.

He had resolutely decided not to let the Fellowship slip from his vision. He would not let Cain corrupt it, no matter what. Now that Cain was in a position of more power than Victory, Victory would have to start being harsh.

“Pardon me?” Cain asked with as much dignity as he could muster.

Victory gestured condescendingly for Cain to get up from his desk. Holding onto his pencil he circled around the corner of the desk to join his friend. Victory led Cain to the club room and the television contained within. With an angry flick of his wrist, Vic turned on the television.

“…tragedy today. Apparently several homeless people have been harshly beaten in Center City today,” the Channel 6 anchor was saying, “Police suspect possible Fellowship involvement. We turn now live to the action cam outside Fellowship headquarters and our live coverage with…”

“Listen to this,” Victory hissed angrily, interrupting the television, “He’s right outside.”

“I’m trying to,” Cain said with a shrug.

“…Whose noble intentions may not be all they seem,” the reporter said, “It is possible that the Fellowship has put aside their peaceful policies for change in favor of more vicious techniques. Rather than trying to help poor and homeless people, as they often claim, it would appear that several Oxen have decided to eliminate the homeless through violence. Live from Fellowship Headquarters, I’m…”

Victory snapped the TV off with a single furious motion.

“Now, I see one of two possibilities. Either someone in the Fellowship is really beating up bums, or else someone’s feeding the news false accusations to make us look bad. Either way – I want to know who’s kicking us in the ass!”

“Perhaps you mean ‘stabbing us in the back’…” Cain said calmly.

“No, at least backstabbing is dignified and private. This is public and humiliating. This is a poke at us, it’s a kick in the ass. And I demand to find the person responsible!”

“Well what do you want from me?” Cain said in exasperation, “I only just saw this, too.”

“You’re in charge of day-to-day operations for the Fellowship. Now are these accusations true?”

“I don’t think so.”

“That’s not good enough! I want certainty!”

“Well,” Cain said, scratching his cheek, “There are two of our guys who I’ve given a little weekend work to. I got them to go without uniforms around the city and find out what the general impression is of us. They’d be the only Oxen likely to have done such a thing, because they were the only ones on the street for so long.”

“Who?” Victory demanded.

“Ben Goldberg and Annie Martinez,” Cain said.

“The two stooges,” Victory muttered, “Well, I’m going to shadow them next time they go out, and see what’s going on.”

“Good luck,” Cain said genuinely.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Eternity Burning: Chapter 6, Part 1

“Hey stranger!” Dina exclaimed as Victory entered her apartment.

She flipped closed the book she had been studying and threw it casually off onto the coffee table. It was the Communist Manifesto. Before Victory had met Dina, he would have been stunned to see her reading that. But she was, after all, a psychological historian. Right next to Marx’s masterpiece was a copy of the American Constitution, Plato’s The Republic, the Magna Carta, and The Koran. None of it was translated either; she was fluent in German, Ancient Greek, and Arabic.

“Preparing to defeat the petty bourgeoisie and raise the awareness of all peace-loving workers to Bolshevism?” he asked playfully.

“Da, tovarishch,” she replied, in the same spirit.

Then she noticed that he was bothered. It wouldn’t have been easy for anyone else to notice but she’d known him for long enough that she could almost always read what was going on in his soul.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

He made a poor attempt to smile nonchalantly.

"Nothing," he said remotely.

"Come on. I know you better than that," she chastised him.

Sighing, he flung himself down on the couch.

"For months now I've been working to build this Fellowship. Under my leadership we've prospered and grown. It's been slow and mild, but it's happened. Now I feel like it's slipping from my fingers."

"Well, I can't pretend to know how you feel," she said, "You made something and now you're losing it. It's like having a baby, and that's something I've never done."

Victory caught the little "suggestion" and rebuke.

"Hey, you want to get married, Dina?" he asked.

"Eh," she said nonchalantly, "It doesn't matter to me."

"Do you love me?"

"I'm ambivalent towards you," she continued the vicious charade.

"Most marriages don't even have that," he said, "By jingo, let's do it tomorrow!"

"Sure, whatever," she said apathetically.

Victory sighed in dejectedly. He laid down and put his head in Dina's lap. She began rubbing his temples.

"I'm scared that I may have lost everything," he said quietly.

"I know," she replied.

"I've really been ignoring you these past few months, haven't I?"


"And it may all be for nothing now."


"What am I going to do, Dina?" he asked pathetically.

"Just don't let it slip from your grip. Strengthen your grip. Crush it, if that's what it takes to hold it. But don't let a madman take it from you. You made a deal with the devil, Vic. Now you're just going to have to make sure the devil doesn't stick his pitchfork in your ass when you're not looking."

Friday, February 6, 2009

First EVER Manuscripts Burn Bimedia Event!

Ok, so, maybe I may have set the bar too high in the past with multimedia events by combining too many different kinds of media: words, pictures, music, video, and so on. But, technically speaking, a picture with words is still a multimedia event, just, it's only two forms of media, so I guess it's kind of a bimedia event. Anyway, this was one of my first ideas for this blog and one of the last to come to fruition thanks to you, the readers, keeping me busy honoring you. So, in honor of the completion of Chapter 5, here is my proposed unpublishable dustjacket for this unpublishable novella:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Eternity Burning: Chapter 5, Part 2

Victory looked around himself distastefully. Cain caught his look and realized what he was thinking.

“It’s not much, but it’s ours,” Cain said, then added, thoughtfully, “Partner.”

Victory sighed. His meeting with Cain had produced several rather unexpected results. First of all, they had come to an agreement. Cain had become almost as fervent about the cause as Victory, and they both readily accepted that he was the better speaker of the two. With that in mind, they had formed a diumvirate, for lack of a better word. They were now equal partners in leadership of the Fellowship. That bothered Victory. Cain had not even met any of the other Fellows yet.

Another result of their first talk had been Cain’s proposal for a headquarters location. Cain had apparently had a rather prismatic career as a construction foreman. One of the places he had been employed at was a warehouse that had gone under. It was small, for sale at a very reasonable price, and relatively stripped of equipment, and so was fairly acceptable as a headquarters.

“Now, you realize I’ve dropped my whole life savings into this place as a headquarters,” Cain said.

Victory nodded.

“I’m not asking for thanks or anything, but I just want you to understand that I’ve invested myself wholly and fully into this order.”

The final result of their conclave had been that Cain had decided to take on leadership of the Fellowship as a full-time occupation. It meant that in the future Cain would have considerably more control in terms of policy than Victory would because he would simply be in charge more often. Victory would have to continue with his regular job. It was, Victory feared, perhaps another mistake.

As a matter of fact, Victory had a vague nagging tickling in the back of his head which told him that everything which had occurred was just a little bit off. He wondered if maybe Cain had been so persuasive in their conversation that he had not only gotten into the Fellowship, but he had forcibly knocked Victory out.

Whether or not Victory really turned out to be a lame duck or a figurehead was not clear yet. All that was clear was that the Fellowship would be undergoing a series of revolutionary changes very soon. And what would happen next, well, only time would tell.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Eternity Burning: Chapter 5, Part 1

Vic stepped up onto the gangplank of the ship, but his way onto the vessel proper was blocked by a passing worker.

"What do you want?" the man demanded with a loud crude voice.

"Can I speak to Adrian Cain?" Victory asked.

"The foreman's down in the hold. He said not to be disturbed."

"Well, can you just let him know I want to see him?"

"He said he didn't want to be disturbed!" the worker said, as though it was obvious to any idiot that Cain's word was the law.

"Well..." Victory wracked his brain for a moment, "Can I see...Greg Barlow?"

The worker glared, but he seemed to approve of the request in some small capacity. He left muttering for Victory not to come aboard, and returned a moment later with Barlow in tow. The black man's face seemed to light up the moment he saw Victory.

"Mr. Halov! It's a damned pleasure to see you again."

Barlow grabbed Vic by both hands and shook vigorously. He led Victory onto the ship.

"You're here to see Mr. Cain I guess," Greg said.

"Yeah, I'm having a little trouble getting to see him."

"Well, you're lucky you showed up here today. This is the last day of work on this ship."

"But what about Cain?"

"Well, he should be surfacing fairly soon, we're supposed to have a party before we stop construction for..."

A twinge went through both of them.

"...Ever." Barlow finished, and turned around.

As though struck by the invisible glare of an angry god, every worker on the ship fell dead silent. Up from the hold there arose an apparition, and some of them covered their eyes to protect themselves from the non-existent glare.

Standing there roiling with power was a spectacular figure. He was imposingly tall, and he was lean and angry looking. A shock of graying hair extended from his head with a ferocious almost electrical appearance. He had a well-kept beard, which was strangely contradictory to the rest of his fiery, spontaneous appearance. Streaks of gray in his hair and furrows of age in his face gave him a certain spectral dignity. He appeared almost as Victory had imagined Moses had, all those millennia ago when he had stepped down from Mount Sinai firmly gripping a piece of heaven in his strong hands. There was no doubt in his mind that this was Adrian Cain.

As Cain opened his mouth, many in the congregation gasped, as though saying, "He's about to speak". And this he did with a voice that echoed through every part of the ship. His voice was so loud and forceful it seemed as though the world stood still when he spoke.

"This is the end," Cain pronounced, "This is the end of an era. What we are all standing upon now is the product of years of labor. There was nothing before this ship, and there will be nothing after this ship. You have all labored on her, left your indelible mark, a signature saying 'I was here'. In putting so much of your lives into this project over the past years, you have lost a little bit of yourself. I know that to me this ship has become such a part of my everyday consciousness, that when it is no longer here, I will feel as though a chunk of my soul has been torn out!

"Tomorrow some fat disgustingly rich gentleman or lady will break a bottle of champagne which cost more than our collective salaries against this vessel. And when they do that, they will have snatched it away from us. That baptism in wine will signal the death of this ship as the product of years of labor, and the birth of it as nothing more than a rich man's toy. Then it will no longer be the property of we who have worked on it, as it is now, it will be the property of them who can buy anything they want.

"I am proud of every one of you. I have seen you all work your damnedest to get this boat ready. This fine example of quality craftsmanship will stand as something to be envied by people of all corners of the Earth. And you will be able to say that you made it with your blood and sweat. No, this ship is no longer ours. But in working on it we have been given something even greater than the ship itself: pride.

"It's always the way of things. Workers make something and then rich men keep it. But don't be distressed. Be proud. Never forget what you have accomplished here today. Go forth into the world and work on other things, and work just as hard on them, and be just as proud of them. For there is nothing sweeter than the fruits of labor. Now, let's celebrate, before this slips from our grasp, and all we have are memories."

The work crew burst out into riotous applause. Cain stepped down from his invisible stage and became somewhat human again. Victory realized that this man gained an ineffable power over people when he was speaking, but when he wasn’t he was just an ordinary, albeit charismatic, human being. It seemed as though someone had flipped a switch and turned off his aura of command.

“Let’s get you over to him so you can speak,” Greg said, dragging Victory out of his woolgathering.

“Yes. Thank you.”

Greg began to drag Vic through the crowd until finally they reached the energetic speaker.

“Mr. Cain?” Greg said.

Cain looked up. He was standing in a dignified manner with a full wineglass in his hand.

“Yes, Greg, what is it?” he asked.

“I wanted to introduce you to this man, sir. His name is Victory Halov. Victory, this is Adrian Cain.”

As Cain somewhat distastefully shook Vic’s hand he said, not quite rudely, “Who are you?”

“Well, Mr. Cain…” Victory began.

“He’s a brilliant activist for worker’s rights, sir,” Greg said.

“Really?” Cain asked, absently stroking his lower lip, “I was always a Union man, myself. What have you done, Mr. Haelbop?”

“Halov, sir,” Victory corrected, “Well, I formed a little organization called the Fellowship of Labor…”

“Business and Merchantry,” Cain finished, “Yes, I’ve heard of you.”

“Really?” Victory was somewhat impressed.

“Oh, yes. A small, almost perfect microcosm of equality. I’m rather awed by what you’ve created, Halov, and believe me, I am not awed easily.”

“Of course not. But how did you hear about my little group, Mr. Cain,” Victory said.

“All endeavors with potential are of interest to me. But please, call me Adrian.”

“Oh, thank you. The same goes for you, of course. Well, I mean, don’t call me Adrian, call me Victory. Or Vic.”

The sides of Cain’s mouth turned up ever so slightly in amusement. He nodded.

“What’s this thing you’re talking about?” Greg asked, and suddenly the two of them remembered he was there.

“The Fellowship of Working and Mining, or some such thing,” Cain said.

“Labor, Business, and Merchantry,” Victory corrected.

Cain grunted non-commitally.

“Well what is it?” Greg asked.

“Oh, um…” Victory paused to mull it over, “It’s a bit of a super-union. It’s open to anyone who works. We’re trying to end all the problems caused by unemployment and so forth.”

“Super-union, eh?” Greg said, rubbing his chin.

“Well, it’s not exactly very ‘super’ right now,” Victory admitted, “But we’re growing.”

“This is just what I had in mind the first time we met, Mr. Halov,” Greg said, wagging a finger at the man, “You two putting your heads together. Mr. Cain, you could maybe help rocket this Fellowship thing to big heights.”

Cain seemed engrossed in thought. After a moment he seemed to come to some sort of conclusion.

“Where is your headquarters, Victory?” he asked, strangely grave.

“Headquarters?” Victory asked, seeming a bit confused.

“Your base of operations,” Cain clarified, but his clarification was only met with a blank look, so he explained further, “Where do you meet?”

“Well, we only met once,” Victory said, squinting as he thought back, “That was in Ganyu Yovkov’s basement. But he died just a short time ago.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Cain said, utterly without sincerity, “I was going to say I’d meet you tomorrow at your headquarters, but that is, apparently, impossible out of a lack of a headquarters. Rather a gaping absence, I must say, but, in any case, I still want to meet. Give me your home address.”

Victory did, reluctantly. He didn’t, as a rule, give out his address to strangers, but this was a strange circumstance. Suddenly something struck him.

“Why not speak right now?” he asked.

“Why, I’m right in the middle of a party,” Cain said, gesturing to the merry-making around him, “I’ll see you tomorrow evening. Good day to you.”

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

Eternity Burning: Chapter 4

It was a dreary, cold, gray day. It was the sort of day that always seemed to accompany death. There was a light drizzle that seemed to slick and coat every surface with a heavy wetness. Nature was mourning. The animals were silent, the sky was brooding, the trees wore black. A low, haunting dirge filled the air. The funeral procession marched to a grimly slow beat. No one and nothing dared to be quick or jolly on that day.

Victory felt each of his steps slap the wet ground with a heavy heart. He had known Ganyu for less than a month. Somehow it seemed a greater tragedy to Victory to lose someone you hardly knew. It seemed worse to have someone die before you could get to know them than long after you'd gotten to know them intimately.

The funeral procession began to flow into the church as they reached it. The rain pitter-pattered on Victory's head as he stood outside the hearse. Along with the other five pallbearers he hoisted Ganyu's coffin out of the black vehicle and struggled to walk it up the steps of the church with dignity.

The old Bulgarian had been a widower. Before his wife had died, however, they had conceived five children together, and every one had married and had at least two children. The size of Ganyu's family was very impressive, but despite the dozens of children, grandchildren, cousins, nieces, nephews, and so on, Victory had insisted that the Fellowship take care of his funeral. Victory had paid for most of it himself, but the other Fellows had chipped in as much as they could.

The small assemblage of Fellows stood out in stark contrast from the rest of the drably clothed funeral party because of their light blue tunics. A black armband was tied around the right arm of every Fellow. They had discussed in a small committee what to wear to the funeral, and had come to the conclusion that the blue jackets would signify their respect for Ganyu's contributions to the Fellowship, and the black armbands would signify their respect for his death.

Though Victory hadn't wanted the funeral to turn into a promotional ploy for the Fellowship, he knew it would be giving his group exposure. The hundreds of family members, friends, and well-wishers which had showed up would now know about the existence of the Fellowship.

As the priest’s sermon wound down, the first eulogy began. It came from Ganyu’s oldest son. It was brief and sad, and he lost his composure about halfway through and had to stop.

“Mr. Halov?” the son managed to choke out between sobs, when he was finished.

As they crossed paths while the son was coming down from the pulpit and Victory was going up to it, Victory stopped to shake hands with the man.

“I’m very sorry,” Vic said sincerely.

“Thank you.”

And Victory took his place by the altar.

“I, uh…” Victory said, and then he coughed, “I only knew Ganyu Yovkov for a short time. In that time he deeply affected my life. He helped me to open my eyes. He helped me to see the world as it really was, not the way I wanted it to be.

“Ganyu was, first and foremost, I think, an intellectual. He brought valuable knowledge and experience into the Fellowship that I don’t think anyone else really could have. He was…a good man.

“I don’t know,” Victory said, and then he scratched his head, “I couldn’t really think of a good way to show my appreciation to Ganyu. He’s dead now, so it’s too late to thank him. I just wish I could have had the, uh…forethought to thank him while he was still with us.

“I want to offer my condolences to Ganyu’s family especially, but his friends as well. He was really a very…good man. The world will be a bit of a sadder place without him. So, goodbye Ganyu.”

After that brief hesitant speech, Victory sat back down. He thought back to the last time that they had spoken together. Ganyu had said, “A leader needs to be an orator.”

Sheepishly, he stuck his hands in his pockets. It was something he rarely did because he usually didn't carry a wallet. He was surprised to find a small wad in the bottom of one of the pockets.

"What the...?"

He removed the wad and found it was a ball of paper. Undoubtedly this pair of pants had been through the wash several times since he had first put the paper in his pocket and forgotten about it. He carefully uncrumpled it and was struck again as he realized that it was a faded grocery receipt. It was from some little market he had never heard of, and had certainly never been to.

It is a strange trait of human beings that when they are puzzled by something they look around in a most futile manner. Usually it's pointless to turn a piece of paper around, or upside-down. Victory did this, however, and found that it paid off.

There was an old and nearly indistinguishable address on the back of the receipt. Somewhat more visible, because it had been penned in with a firmer grip, was a name. The first half had been obscured by so many times through the washing machine, but the surname was very clearly written, and underlined. Victory nodded, and came to a resolution.

That name was Cain.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Multimedia Event the Third


In honor of the first person to comment on the blog I have created this photo:

Yeah, better luck next time I guess. Chapter 4 is a single post, so if you miss the multimedia interludes, don't worry, there will be another one Tuesday, probably equally as lame as this one.
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