Jarrod stared out the dingy window of the bar, watching as countless forms drifted by, the occasional one glancing in to momentarily lock eyes with him before moving on. His last three dollars sat before him in the form of whisky, its amber color a serene pool that he drowned in every chance that he had. It was only four in the afternoon, and already he had enough alcohol in him to dull his senses, turn him off from the things he constantly saw.
They could still tell he had the ability, though. That was why they kept looking into the bar, their eyes connecting with his. They knew. They always knew. They always came to him. The alcohol was the only barrier that he was able to erect, the only thing that would dull his mind enough that they would not bother him. Sometimes, just every once in a while, a strong one would still seek him out, despite the alcohol, and hound him until he would finally help.
He hated those days.
Days like today.
Downing the whisky in one gulp, Jarrod slammed the glass against the table, hoping to draw some reaction from the woman seated across from him other than her constant, unblinking starring at him. He was rewarded with a cursing yell from the bartender, the man threatening to throw his ass out if he didn't calm down, and continued stillness from the woman.
"Okay," mumbled Jarrod. "Okay. I give up. What do you want?"
The hint of a smile touched at the corners of the woman's face, and she gingerly reached into her purse to withdraw a piece of yellowed, weathered looking paper. She slid the paper across the table, Jarrod picking it up and turning it over to read the scribbled writing on it. The note was old, that was evident by its condition, and it was easily discernable that it had been written in haste, the penmanship sloppy and wide.
"I'm sorry for all the pain I've caused," muttered Jarrod, reading the note aloud, but in a hushed voice. "Everyone will be better off without me in their lives."
The woman looked at him deeply, the blue swirls of her eyes momentarily drawing him into that final moment. He felt the cold wind that was blowing in through the open door before her, rain drenching his skin as lightning briefly highlighted the sprawling yard barely visible through the doorway.
Fear flowed through him, the same paralyzing fear that she had felt that night, and he nearly convulsed as the images assaulted him, overwhelming his senses. His heart was racing, beating in time with hers, and he broke out in the same cold sweat that she had, every fiber of his being screaming at him to get out of that house.
Something metal and cold pressed against the side of his head, and from the corner of his eye he could see the steel-blue barrel of a shotgun. He started to turn, matching her movements from that night, and he heard the double click of both hammers being pulled back, the shotgun being pressed harder against his head to keep him from turning it, from seeing his killer.
"You just couldn't leave me alone, could you?" came the voice of a man.
Jarrod instinctively knew that it was the voice of her husband, his rage and jealousy seething with each word.
"So what if I was fucking someone on the side," he snarled, the room seeming to grow darker with each passing moment. "You had everything you wanted, bitch. You should have kept your God damn eyes closed."
"Oh, God, Adam," said Jarrod, repeating her words, and drawing looks of curiosity from the other patrons of the bar. "Don't do this. Please don't…"
Jarrod couldn't tell if it was a flash of lightening or the flash of fire from the shotgun, the room suddenly brightening with a tremendous roar. The pain was over quickly, but it had been intense enough to cause him to fly back in his chair, screaming out in denial as to what he was experiencing.
He hit the floor hard, his vision swimming as he was drawn back into his own realm, and he was vaguely aware of the startled gasps from the others in the room. He also heard the bartender swear, again, and come storming around the bar, fed up with the commotion he was causing.
"All right, asshole, I warned you," growled the man, scooping Jarrod up from the floor. "Get your sorry ass out of here."
Jarrod half walked, was half pushed, towards the front door, his senses still trying to sort out what he had just experienced. His shoulder slammed against the door frame as the bartender shoved him outside, the pain pulling him fully back into the world of the living, and he nearly tripped over his own feet as he was spun around by the impact. Stumbling backward, drawing curses from those pedestrians that suddenly found him in their path, Jarrod slowly rubbed the side of his head where the shotgun blast had taken off the top of her skull.
She was there, standing next to him, silently looking at him with eyes that were full of pleading. Jarrod glanced up at her, then quickly looked away as the fatal wound was now visible, her right temple obliterated and showing the inside of her cranium. Blood was splattered across most of her face, along with other bits that Jarrod didn't care to identify, and her beauty was no more. Only the savageness of her death remained, showing him what she had looked like in that very last moment of life.
"Where?" asked Jarrod, not looking up.
She again reached into her purse, pulling out her driver's license, and handed the bit of laminated paper to him. He knew that it had been a while, the fact that her license wasn't plastic was enough to tell him that, but he was still surprised to see the renewal date as being nearly twelve years ago.
"He still lives there?" he asked, though he imagined he shouldn't be too surprised by the fact.
From his peripheral vision he could tell that she nodded.
"Okay," he said, the feeling of her relief washing over him. "Tonight. I'll take care of it tonight."
Again the woman nodded, but she did not leave his side, remaining silently with him as he thought of what to say next. He hated it when they stayed this close to him, wanting to see the matter through to the end, but he had learned a long time ago not try and dissuade them.
It only made them angry.
"Fine," he muttered, turning to shuffle down the street. "I've got to sober up a little, before the drive."
She followed him the three blocks to his apartment, standing quietly in the corner of the small, two room space as he made himself a pot of coffee. She remained nearly motionless, her eyes never leaving him as he quickly drank the entire pot, using the last cup of it to wash down a handful of caffeine pills. He suppressed the shudder that always accompanied his opening up, the full sight of what the world truly was almost more than he could stomach.
Even after twenty-four years of seeing, he still had trouble dealing with all of it, a dozen child psychologists and two years in a sanitarium doing nothing to help him find a way to turn it off. Most of the drugs they had prescribed had had zero affect on his vision, some of them actually enhancing it to the point where even closing his eyes hadn't shut it out. That time had been the worse, two years in a sanitarium the end result of his supposedly psychotic-episode, and it had taught him not to trust the truth to anyone.
He still had the occasional nightmare of that time. The things he had seen while a patient there had been the most terrifying, and he couldn't imagine how anyone ever received the help they needed while confined there. He avoided hospitals for much the same reason, too much death flowing about the places, almost as if they were seething with the blackness that accompanied it.
The woman looked at him questioningly, noting how he avoided looking over to the small window that was the only highlight of the apartment, and she finally took her eyes off of him to see what he was avoiding. A brief bit of sadness flashed over her face as she realized why he didn't look that way, the vision of a two year old boy setting on the floor, poking a key at the electric socket shimmering darkly under the window.
"At least he's too young to hate anyone over it," said Jarrod, noting where she was looking. "And as long as I don't look at him, he doesn't pay me any attention."
The woman nodded in understanding.
"Okay, let's do this," said Jarrod, pulling a brown, paper sack out from under the cabinet of his sink. He unraveled the sack, which was smudged with oil stains, to reveal that it contained a snub nosed revolver, its black plating gleaming dully in the light.
The woman watched as he checked the gun over, ensuring that it was in perfect working order, and smiled slightly when he locked the cylinder into place, spinning it like some mobster out of a movie. Tucking the gun into the back of his pants, Jarrod slipped on a jean jacket to cover it from casual observation, then grabbed up his keys from the only table in the room.
The drive was made in silence, naturally, Jarrod wishing to God that the damn radio worked, and he kept his eyes to the road, ignoring the things that passed on the side, just out of his line of vision. He could feel them starring at him as he passed, most of them just as aware of him as he was of them, and it was a feeling that he still could not get comfortable with, even after all of this time.
The city gave way to suburbs, and the suburbs gave way to mostly open space, the houses in this area both well off, and very far apart. It wasn't an upper class area, but it wasn't far below it, and the houses were just short of being called estates. Only an hour away from where he lived, Jarrod briefly wondered why the woman hadn't found him sooner, but quickly let the thought fade away, instead concentrating on the upcoming confrontation.
Even from the main road, Jarrod could tell that the house was infested by darkness, the structure oozing with a blackness that was neither alive nor dead, but simply was. Turning into the drive way, Jarrod felt a chill run through him as his perception of color faded, everything seeping into black and white and grey. The house was mostly grey, thick patches of blackness clinging to it, pulsing with an energy of their own, and he knew that more evil had been done here than just the killing of the woman seated next to him.
Jarrod left the car idling, slipping out of it and stalking towards the front door with determination. He didn't feel anything as he walked up the steps of the front porch, having learned it better to let himself be detached as he carried out his acts, finding solstice in the fact that what he was doing was delivering justice.
He knocked on the door, waiting paitently for someone to answer, and felt his stomach twisting in knots, tightening with trepidation. He knew that what he was doing was right, that it was deserved, but that didn't always make it easier. He pushed those thoughts from his head, letting himself go numb as he heard the thudding of heavy footfalls from within the house.
The door opened to reveal Adam, though he appeared much older than he had in Jarrod's vision, and he looked at Jarrod with expectation. Age wasn't the only thing that Jarrod saw of the man, the slithering patches of blackness withering around the man like parasites that lived off of, and gave life to, the man they were a part of.
Blanching slightly, never having seen a human with so much darkness about them, it was all that Jarrod could do to make himself hold his ground. Each patch of squirming blackness had its own story, its own tale of how Adam had slipped deeper into the darkness, and of the innocent ones he had destroyed…or worse.
"What the fuck do you want?" demanded Adam, snapping Jarrod out of his stupor.
"Uh, sorry," started Jarrod, fear trying to overtake him. "Are you Adam Lowe?"
"Yeah," replied the man, one of the bits of blackness twisting around his head like a snake to stop and stare at Jarrod. "Who the hell are you?"
"I'm, uh, an acquaintance of Anna's," replied Jarrod, being truthful.
"Your late wife."
"She killed herself over ten years ago," stated Adam, his brow furrowed in anger. "And I don't remember her hanging out with any teeny bobbers back then."
"Actually, I just met her this afternoon."
"Get the fuck out of here," growled Adam, pushing Jarrod backwards. "Get the fuck out of here before I…"
"Kill me too?" asked Jarrod, bringing the man up short.
Jarrod slipped his hand behind him, intending to bring his gun out while Adam hesitated, but the man's indecision was short lived. Adam suddenly lashed out, catching Jarrod in the gut with a solid punch that doubled him over and drove the air from his lungs. Adam followed through on the assault by bringing his knee up into Jarrod's face, breaking his nose, and sending the young man hurling backwards off of the porch.
His head barely missed the edge of the concrete walk, but the ground was solid enough that it sent stars streaming through Jarrod's vision, his mind reeling as it was buffeted by waves of pain from all over his body. Through the racing bits of white, Jarrod saw Adam launch himself from the porch, his face a mask of murderous rage and his intent clear.
Jarrod rolled out of the way, Adam hitting the ground awkwardly and pitching forward as his intended target had unexpectedly moved out of his path. Adam rolled over and clamored to his feet, halting his attack as he saw Jarrod kneeling before him, his hand outstretched and holding a revolver.
"You son of a bitch," growled Adam. "Who the hell are you?"
"Does it matter?" asked Jarrod, slowly rising. Blood was streaming down his face, feeling wet and sticky, and his vision was still blurry, but he had regained control of the situation. "You killed her."
"She killed herself," Adam snarled. "Even the fucking cops will tell you that."
"That's not her story," replied Jarrod, his voice barely a whisper.
Adam held his ground, his breath coming in angry heaves, his face covered in sweat, though Jarrod couldn't tell if it was from exertion or fear. His eyes were wide, his pupils tiny brown dots that barely registered the man before him, and his heart was racing with a thunderous beat that Jarrod thought he could actually hear.
Anna was at Adam's side, her eyes narrow with contempt as she seethed with the revenge she so desired. Jarrod briefly glimpsed in her direction, a small gasp escaping his lips as he saw that she was not alone. Another figure stood beside her, a petite blonde who was purplish in color, with rope burns around her neck and wrists. Next to them was a red head, standing nude, her torso dotted with innumerable stab wounds, and her entire chest coated red with blood.
It did not end there.
Jarrod counted twelve of them in all, attractive, well proportioned woman that had each died a violent and horrible death. Shot, stabbed, hung, poisoned, burnt, and one that was so horribly mangled that Jarrod had no idea how she had died. They all stood in a semi-circle around Adam, all of them filled with rage towards the man that had coldly ended their lives.
"Oh, my, God," whispered Jarrod, realizing just how psychotic the man before him was. "You killed them all."
"What?" asked Adam, his voice quivering, nearly hysterical.
"You killed all twelve of them," said Jarrod, plaintively.
Adam lunged at Jarrod.
The bang of the revolver really wasn't that loud, it just sounded that way in the emptiness of the area. One shot was all Jarrod fired, the bullet catching Adam in the face and knocking him backwards to the ground, blood spewing into the air from the wound in the side of his head.
Adam wasn't dead, not yet, but it wouldn't be long. Jarrod left him lay there as Anna motioned for him to follow, all of the deceased women turning and drifting up into the house, passing through its walls to vanish inside.
Jarrod jogged up the front steps and entered the house, barely catching sight of Anna as she sank down into the floor. Moving over to the area that she had vanished into, Jarrod pulled back a heavy rug to reveal a large trap door. There was a lock of some type, set into the floor, sealing the trap door, and Jarrod shattered it with two shots from the revolver.
Steeling himself, knowing what he was going to find, Jarrod planted himself firmly and pulled the door open to let other-worldly light pour up from the area down below. The spiritual apparitions of the women drifted upwards in the column of light, spinning and twisting like swimmers in water, each of them continually casting him looks of appreciation.
Anna was the last to drift by, smiling at him, and she quickly passed through the ceiling of the room, vanishing from his perception. As the light from below faded, casting the room back into the darkness that was forever bound to it, Jarrod turned to call the police.
There would be questions that he couldn't answer or, more rightly, that they didn't want to know the answers to, and he would probably be held for a while, but that was a small price to pay for what he had accomplished. Considering the distance, it would also more than likely be little while before they arrived, allowing him some time to see if Adam had some loose change laying about.
He might not be one of the bad guys, but he had to live, and alcohol didn't come that cheap.