I: The Nightmare Begins

If there one thing that was always interesting is the fact that humans always need an explanation, though sometimes it may be as outlandish as crystal quartz curing cancer because of some "vibrational frequency", according to Karen from accounting, who refused to vaccinate her child the her other and had nearly died from kidney failure for that very belief, or as something as ridiculous as a sky daddy who watches everything you do and will send you to a place of fire, suffering, pain, agony, torture, misery, temptation, starvation, brimstone, and lava all because you didn't want to get your knees and worship him…but he loves you...IT was these observations that James Oligarch Ransom Jr. noticed so long ago. It was there that he had grown up a cynic throughout his youth, and believed that the rich were getting richer and the poor getting poorer. This memory James held dear, because he had gotten a lesson that he wouldn't forget.

He had arrived at home one day, hyped up by his professor, who had been preaching left wing propaganda, claiming everything should be free, and that they should tax the rich for it was not fair that the professor had to pay for school supplies, and Bill Gates could drop money as he pleased. It was this that fueled James' college freshmen mind to go against his right wing leaning father, who was a proud republican.

James stormed into his office and presented his case. It was ten minutes in before James finally got his point. "We should tax the rich higher so we can help the poor so they can have free college, free health care, and free housing."

"Ok," James Senior looked at his son, his left ankle rested on his right knee. He was reading the newspaper when his son had barged threw the door, and interrupted his reading. James Senior was the CEO of a multi-million-dollar corporation that specialized in software development, specifically cyberweapon. I wouldn't go as far as to say that James Senior was upset with his son; he was more on the lines of disappointment if the truth was told. "So, what do you think gives the right to take the 'riches' money?"

"We wouldn't be taking it, we be taxing it," James Jr. correcting it.

Senior sighed. "Do you know how much I make on a yearly basis?"

"Um, no, I don't?" James had taken a back to the sudden change in topic. "What does that have to do with anything?"

"Well, son, let me explain something to you, using your logic. Comes take a seat next to your old man." Jr. did as bid, and sat with his father on the high back leather chairs. Jr. sat in the seat where his mother would usually sit. "How are you doing in school?"

"Well, I'm getting A's for the most part. I got the occasional B for my programming classes. My GPA is about a 3.8," Jr. responded, starting to become uncomfortable with the sudden turn in conversation.

"Alright, son, and your friend Fisher, how's he doing in class?"

"Well, he's failing a few classes and all."

"What's his GPA?"

"1.7."

"Hmmm. Using your logic, let's go get the dean of the Bleak Park University to take some of your A's and give them to Fisher. Then let's convince him to give you some of Fisher's F's to so by the end of the semester, you both will have a C average. What do you think of that?"

James couldn't believe what his father had just said. How in the hell are they going to take some his hard-earned grades and give them to Fisher?! It wasn't his fault that Fisher didn't pay much attention in school anymore as he did! "What, no! That's no fair!" James nearly screamed at his father. "I earned those grades!"

James' father just smiled, and looked at him through the eyes that he shared with his son. "Welcome to the Republican Party, son." James senior reached out his son to shake his hand.

James was absolutely dumbfounded. "What are you getting at?"

"I'm getting at that we earn our money. In this world, as tough as it is, we earn everything that is in our pockets. Do you know how many employees I have to manage, James?"

"I'm not sure," James admitted.

"I have about 150 employees, each working under my belt, making the company that you grew up watching go from nothing to what it is today. This is because me and the council made the decisions to hire qualified individuals to help make our company successful. These 150 employees are paid fairly for their skills about 5% above current market value as an exchange for the company's benefit. This pay that they earned is what they taken home to feed their families, pay their bills, and spend as they wish to spend with the left-over money that they have left over. They are also given medical, dental, and visual healthcare for about 10% of their monthly income that covers their whole family up to broken limps and they are given bi-monthly checkups for free."

James looked down to his feet. He knew where this was going, and he didn't like it one bit, and even though his discomfort was obvious, James senior continued. "We have set up voluntary money advances for our employees should they need their earned money sooner than expect for bills, etc., or maybe just as a treat to take their children out for earning their high grades, etc. Now, why do you think that we got to where we are as a company?"

"Because the products you give are good?"

"Precisely. In basic economics, the definition of capitalism is defined as two opposing entities each possessing capital which they may obtain through mutual transaction that benefits both entities. Therefore, you own the very clothes on your back and no one can take them away from you, legally, of course." James senior took a sip from his morning coffee and continued. "The definition also states that within capitalism, an open market can bloom, and thus giving the consumer options to choose who to make these benefitting mutual transactions, and that brings competition to the market. With this competition, there is always a sense to make the selling entity's product better than the previous iteration to keep their customers loyal and happy. At my company, we have established this business model throughout its genesis, with customer satisfaction in mind, and we are determined to provide the best product that we can produce for the benefit of our customers."

"Well, I guess, I see where you're coming from."

"I would hope, but you still doubt what I say. Now let me ask you again? How much do think I make gross salary?"

"Uh, I'm not sure, honestly."

"To put things in perspective, son, I have a total yearly salary of $264,422. In Texas, I would bring home a semi-monthly salary of $11,018, before taxes." Senior look another sip from his coffee, the sweetness of the dark chocolate at the bottom of the coffee was now reaching his tongue, and this was what he looked forward to the most when having his morning coffee.

"Uh, I'm not sure."

"I don't expect you to know, it's not your tax bracket." Senior replied, setting his cup down. "After taxes, included Federal, Medicaid, and other State Insurance taxes, have a bring own salary of 70.76%, which I'm plies that about 30.34% of my earnings go into taxes. Mr. Philmore your history professor, has opted to teach at a smaller college where the average salary is about $64,050. He would have a bring home salary of 79.56%, if my math is correct. Now, it appears that I am taxed more for earning more money, and your Mr. Philmore does not. However, I invested my earnings back into the company to keep it up and running to give my employees a job and to help them provide for their families. Now, let me ask you this. How many employees does Mr. Philmore have?"

James started at his feet. "None."

"How many people has he given health care, and financial stability over the course of his career there at Bleak Park University?"

"None."

"So, now let be blunter, and cynical with you now with this: Why should I taxed more to benefit this man who does nothing more than educate the young-ings with left wing propaganda and the information of yesterday? Has he started a charity, non-profit organization to help feed the homeless and help give hungry kids food throughout the year if their parents can't afford to feed them?"

"No."

"Then I rest my case. However, I want you to know that I'm not trying to belittle your opinions, James, but you need to understand there are certain people in the world who are jealous of other people's success. I'd understand if your professor was a former surgeon or something along those lines, however, he is not."

"And how would you know he wasn't ever a surgeon?"

"Because history majors either become teachers or professors depending on their sub-field of choice, James." Senior looked at him attentively. "You know just as much as I that he wasn't any surgeon."

James just looked back down to his feet defeated. His father was right, and he shouldn't have let his emotions get the best of him. It was this lesson that James took to his grave, and it was the lesson that sculpted him into the man he is today. Everything that we want is earned with hard work with blood, sweat, and tears. It was this revelation that made him into the man that he is today, and how he won the heart of his soon to become fiancé, Amanda Cunnings.

James had been sitting on his looking over into the neighborhood having his coffee that morning, remember that memory. It's one of his most valuable ones. He changed after that day, and honestly, he'd thank his father if he wasn't always away. He remembered how Mr. Philmore glared at him when James had confronted him with the same logic that his father presented. Long story short, James was forced to "voluntarily resign the class", which father didn't mind helping him pay off.

The leaves were beginning to turn their fall colors, the reds and browns more prominent over the fading green. That signaled the coming of mid-terms at Bleak Park University, and that was something that James wasn't looking forward too, especially for his Computer Programming Fundamentals. He would more than likely have to program some game, or some txt based adventure on Python, a high-level programming language, and as easy as that was, designing a text based game, wasn't something that he looked forward too.

As James watched the leaves swoosh through the wind, he was distracted by something darker in the swirling mass. There were black leaves throughout the swirling mass, and as they seemed to be following the twisting dance of the leaves in the wind. James squinted his eyes to try and get a better look, but couldn't make out much of them. They were blurred by their flight speed. James leaned closer to the glass, and just as he did, the swirling mass of leaves shifted and headed directly towards his home, and when they were close enough, what he saw took him off guard. They were butterflies.

Black butterflies? What are butterflies doing this far north? They should be far into Mexico by now? James pondered.

Just as James was about to try and see if he could get a better look, his cell phone rang. "Fisher", the Caller ID read. "Hey, Fisher, how's it going?"

"Hey, James, you got a minute to talk?" Fisher responded over the phone, his low voice sounded a bit down today.

"Yeah, man, what's going on?" James took a sip from his coffee.

"Well, I got pulled into a case after we put those sickos behind bars," Fisher began, and we had a client call us to do some private investigating. I happily took the opportunity, because I needed some more experience."

"Ok."

"And I was with the P.I. taking notes for the case when he wanted to find the murderer of his family member, and I'm going to give out any names per say, but I'm going to send you a picture, and I want you to be perfectly honest with me." James' phone beeped in his ear signaling that the picture had come in. "Should I be involved?"

"Holy shit!" James nearly dropped his phone, after seeing the picture that he sent.

"Hello?" Fisher asked concernedly. "Hello, are you there?"

"Y-yeah," James responded, making sure that he didn't spill any coffee on the carpet. "What the hell did you just sent me?"

"Well, meet our latest victim."

Latest victim? James glanced at the picture one more it. It was a dead body alright. It was clearly male. If one didn't know any better, James would've said that Fisher had just sent a picture of a freshly dried mummy. He man had no eyes in its skull. The easiest way that James could describe him is that he looked like a prune that had been left out to dry in the sun, as if a giant mosquito sucked the blood out of this person. There were no puncture wounds from what James could make out, and the corpse's mangled body was twisted in such an odd manner that one might question if he was a contortionist as his main job.

"Jesus fuck, dude," James nearly gagged. "That's disgusting."

"Yup, family wants us to look in to it because the police can't do much because of their limited budget, so they called us."

"Damn, man that's pretty gnarly."

"So, what do you think?"

"Well, I'm not sure to be honest. If it was me, I wouldn't take it. I don't think I'll like what I find at the end of that road. What do you think?"

"I want to take the case, but I feel a little uneasy about this one. It's some pretty gruesome stuff that we found. The picture I sent you was just a little bit of what we have on our hands."

"Well, it's up to you, man. I'd ask for a raise or something like that."

"Yeah," Fisher sighed. "I'll probably take it just to try and see where it leads." Fisher suddenly laughed. "Imagine I get eaten and torn to pieces by some pyscho cannibal dude!"

James couldn't help, but laugh at the sudden randomness, most of it was filled with joy, however there were few chuckles filled with mild stutters one can mistake for anxiety. And that mistake…would've been right. James thought to himself. "That would nice!" James' laugh settled down, followed by Fishers. As James' laughter slowly faded away, he suddenly began to feel uneasy about the whole situation. Why would Fisher want to take on this case? It wasn't even his job, and he wants to go out there and investigate? It was very strange indeed.

II: To Frank's

It was about a few hours later, after Fisher's call that James received another call from Fisher inviting go to the shooting range with him. James could bring Amanda if he wanted to.

"You know Mandy doesn't like guns," James laughed. "I'd love to though."

"Alrighty then!" Fisher exclaimed. "I'll meet you at Frank's."

If you wanted to compete to test your skills, or just unload a couple of rounds to blow off some steam, then Frank's was the place to go. After you've blow off your steam and got some good shots in, then you can simply hang out in the back with the rest of the gunrunners and enjoy some of Frank's Franks (his idea of a clever marketing campaign to sell hotdogs wrapped in bacon (which honestly doesn't sound bad right now, honestly)) and have a cold drink of your choosing.

James arrived at Frank's Rootin' Tootin' Cowboy Shootin' Range (yes, that was Frank's idea of a catch name) just shortly after Fisher's phone called. It was a small wooden building that was all Texas theme. Frank had figured that it would attract more tourists to Bleak Park. The building was in the stereotypical saloon style architecture. When you'd enter, the rag time piano music was playing softly from the small radio above Frank's very impressive certificates and trophies for his many shooting competitions.

"James!" Frank announced as James entered the room. He was a scruffy man with a thick beard that made him look like a wizard. His hair he wore long and combed back under his skull cap. Frank was the type of man who liked to wear jean, and leather, there was no in between. "Holy shit, is that you?!"

James smiled at his friend. It's must've been two or three months. "Hey, Frank, how ya been?" James walked up to his friend at the bar and reached out to shake his hand.

"Man, you look good. Have you been eating right?" Frank was an older gentleman in his late 40's and was always ask if James was eating right. He always said. "A full belly is a healthy belly," James mocked in a cheerful manner. Instead of getting a hand shake, James got pulled in nearly across the table and given a big bear hug from Frank "Boomstick" Williams.

As James' spine began to pop in every location, James tried to squirm away from the large man. "Ok, Ok, you're killing me!"

"Sorry, son," Frank said. "I haven't seen you in half a year!"

"Damn, has it really been half a year!"

"Yezzir, it has." Frank pointed with his thumb behind him and pointed at the picture of Frank and James holding up the trophy that James had won at the newbie shooting competition, earlier this year. "You were such a good shot for a newbie, why'd you stop coming."

"Oh, I'm sorry, Frank," James apologized. He didn't realize that the time had gotten to him. "School has been keeping me business. Summer classes and the upcoming semester has had my hands in a bunch."

"Naw, don't stress over it, bud," Frank laughed. "I knew you'd be back. They always come back to good ol' Frank." Frank pointed at himself with his thumb, a large grin plastered on his face.

James laughed. "I'm not one of your lady friends, Frank!"

"Nope, but you might as well be with that hair of your growing to the length it is," Frank joked, commenting on James' hair. James had always wore his hair short with a combover like haircut, but it had grown a little longer than usual, and James was due for a haircut soon anyway.

"Ha, you're funny, Frank," James laughed with the joke.

"So, you looking to shoot today? Or are you looking to have one of my Franks," Frank began as he turned around fired up the grill.

"I'll take a Frank in the meantime," James sat at the bar stool and rested on his forearms.

"Yeah, I bet you would," Frank whispered to himself, chuckling under his breath.

"I'm waiting on Fisher; he's looking to shoot a few targets today." James continued. "Not sure why he wanted to come randomly, but I'm here and he's on his way."

"Fisher's on his way too!?" Frank nearly beamed at that thought. "Man, today keeps getting better and better. I wasn't expecting any body for at least another couple of hours, you know." Frank got a clean glass from under the bar and served James some Dr. Pepper.

Frank always said that nothing went better with a bacon wrapped hotdog than the sweet liquid candy that is Dr. Pepper. James smiled at that.

Frank was right. The day was still early, and the rest of the building had been completely empty when James walked in. James did expect maybe one or two people to be there, maybe Davis, or Kim, but nope, not today. James was proven wrong on that notion. He was greeted by nothing but the sight of empty tables, the sound of generic saloon music, Texas styled welding ornaments designed by your local welder, and patriotic Texan, and Frank and his Franks. It wasn't an unwelcoming sight, but a little more life would've been nice for 10 past noon.

"Yeah, I figure as much, but we were free and Fisher invited, so I'm waiting on that," James mouth began to water as the bacon wrapped hotdogs hit the grill and began sizzling.

"Well, he should be here soon. I ever remember Fisher to be one to let shooting pass his mind." Frank pressed his Franks against the grill to make sure the bacon gets a nice char. "So, how's life been treating you, Jim?"

"Well, it's going. I'm about half way in my degree, so that's just about it. Studying is all I really do nowadays," James took a drink of the sizzling Dr. Pepper.

"Well, that's the way to do it. I'm toss down a few more Franks for Fisher. That boy sure loves to eat." Frank dropped some more Franks on the grill.

Just as they dropped onto the grill, Fisher burst through the door. A somber vibe radiating off his body, and slowly filled the room. In his hand was a briefcase that contained a few things: his Colt 1991, a collection of small vanilla folders containing the pictures of the most recent murder victims and other associated documents, the couple of bottles of medication, and a thin ultrabook for documenting.

"Fisher!" Frank announced over his shoulder. "Come take a take a seat. I'm making us some Franks."

"No, thanks, Frank," Fisher walked up to the bar and took his seat next to James. James immediately noticed that Fisher looked exhausted. It had only been a few hours since the phone call they had, and Fisher wasn't looking too good. His long sleeve button down shirt was undone at the top, and his sleeves were rolled up. There were chunks of dirt, and other scuff that were labeled all over his pants. His always neatly combed hair was now a bristle of spikes that looked like an uncut shrub. "I'm just looking to shoot today." Fisher looked across the bar. "Hey, Frank, hate to ask, but you wouldn't happen to have something a little stronger than beer?"

Frank looked back at him. "Something stronger?"

"Yeah, I'm whiskey, or something that isn't beer."

Frank looked concerned for a moment, and with good reason. Frank never allowed anyone to drink before going on to shoot, not on his watch, at least. He's had hard headed people try to shoot each other, having taken a drink and then a disagreement about some generic first world problem. "I won't lie to you, Fisher, you look like you've seen a damn ghost, but you know the rules."

"Yeah, I'm sorry," Fisher recoiled.

"Yeah, dude, what's going on?" James asked looking at his friend. He saw that Fisher was tapping away on the bar, his fingers making ta-ta-ta-tap sound on against the freshly polished wood.

Fisher sighed deeply. "You're not going to believe it if I told you, man."

Frank came up with his freshly cooked Franks, served with a deep-fried batch of salt and peppered waffle fries and a side of chili. "You boys eat up." Frank smiled and reached down under the park and pulled out a small shot glass. He then turned around and got a small bottle that he keeps hidden under clothes and other assortments for quick stress release. It was a thick, cherry moonshine that he brewed himself, and for Fisher's case, he looked like he really needed it. "As for you Fisher, I'm making an exception for you because I happen to actually like you, but I will warn you" – Frank served the small shot of cherry moonshine into the shot glass – "you better behave yourself."

Fisher smiled warmly. "Thanks, Frank, I really do appreciate it. How much do I owe you?"

Fisher was digging into his pockets to get the money for the shot when Frank stopped him. "It's on the house, bud. Don't you worry about it. You and James are alright in my book." Frank then chuckled. "Besides, that's from my personal stash, so just take it and enjoy."

Fisher thanked Frank and took the shot. It was warm and stung going down his throat, the flavor was more like rubbing alcohol with a cherry medicine flavor, the type that lingers in the back of your mouth. Fisher began coughing immediately, and nearly threw up trying to hold down the strong alcohol.

Frank burst out laughing. "Not used to it, huh? Not ready for the big boy drinks are ya?"

"Hey, I wasn't expecting it, that's all," Fisher retorted.

James couldn't help, but laughed out himself. Fisher was always the tough guy of the group (honestly, he was a big softy, as well) and would always take pride in his drinking abilities. Seeing Fisher be taken by surprise by a small shot of moonshine and watching his eyes nearly explode out of his sockets, because of the sudden cough was almost unbearable for James.

"Sure, bud, would you like a Smirnoff instead?"

"No," Fisher sulked and sat back in his chair and started eating his Franks. "You wouldn't happen to have some honey mustard?"

"I had a feeling you'd ask," Frank replied. "Here ya are." Frank handed him a small container from under the bar that contained the yellow honey mustard.

"So, what's the plan for today Fisher," James ask, wondering why the plot hasn't gone forward.

"Well, I wanted eat and shoot a couple of rounds," Fisher responded because of the will of the narrator (me). "But before we do, I kinda wanted to talk to you about that case."

"Again?" James was taken aback.

"Yeah, I know we've already discussed it, and I got the files that I still need to file on the server with me, but there was just something about it all that took me by surprised. Even Jack was confused by the whole ordeal, because of how rare it is. The police are involved, even the FBI, but they're keeping it really down low. There was no press release, there was no flyers handed out, they aren't even driving around in black cars and all, if our sources are are correct."

"So from what I'm piecing together, there is some sort of government conspiracy here in our little town of Bleak Park?" Frank Boomstick asked. "See, I told you boys that they'd be here soon. They've come to take our damn brains and steal our memories to sell ads to our offspring with genetic ad matching!" Frank slammed his hand down on the bar for dramatic purposes.

James and Fisher looked at him confused. "Uh, no," Fisher responded. "It's nothing that extreme, but has its questionable parts," Fisher spoke.

James wondered why Fisher was acting so strange. He was never one to slack at work. He would've been done with all his work by 2 P.M., and down by Frank's for his afternoon shooting practice, so to see Fisher acting out of routine, and wanting to come too early to Frank's was rather odd. What had happened to Fisher just moments before he entered Frank's? Well, let's take a little trip down memory lane, and probe Fisher's mind for the sake of exposition and plot progression.

III: Hard Lines, Sunken Cheeks

Fisher was normally a strong-minded person. No matter what life threw at him, he would always attack it with a positive attitude by making sure he saw his situation as a learning opportunity and chance to grow. This is what his parents taught him, and it is what he planned on teach his children, that was if Ellie was willing to marry him and want to have the children that is, but that is a story for another time, and not one suited for today's tale, dear reader.

Fisher had just gotten off the phone with James. He figured that maybe they'd go out to Frank's today since they haven't seen the "old geezer" in a while, and Fisher could use some of Frank's Franks dipped in honey mustard. Now that's a dog! No need for chili in my book! Fisher would always keep this thought with him, and he kept it close. He didn't despise chili, but he felt that it didn't go on top of hot dogs.

Fisher was the Baker's home where they had just been contracted to do some Private Investigation work about the murder of three people. The son, Danny Baker had been waiting in the drive way with his aunt, Carly Baker, as him and Jake approached the Baker's home. According to the police report that Jack, his boss, had provided to him and Jake, the private investigator of the Jack Mitchell's Law Firm, the report claimed that three people were murdered and, for lack of a better word, sucked dry if what the medical examiners said was true.

The thoughts of seeing some mummified bodies wasn't on Fisher's bucket list, but it would present some experience if what Jack said was to be believed.

The baker's home was along the outskirts of Bleak Park towards the edge of the city limits. The was a rundown little wooden ranch home that was built in the earlier 40's and showed its age. Fisher tried to be judgmental of the place, but he had a thing about houses that weren't taken care of. It was your home, the place you lay your head down at night, and Fisher believed that you should take care of it, no matter the size. When they entered the property on the large truck, it must've been a good 5 minutes before they actually saw the house itself. The property was surrounded by old trees and other various plant life that formed a dirt road heading into the far end of the property where the house resided.

Fisher and Jake got off the truck and approached the Baker's home, dull yellow wooden home. Their boots thudding softly on the dry hard dirt. Little Danny Baker sat there on the sets of the porch, tears in his eyes, and his aunt, Molly Jameson, sitting in the rocking chair where her sister, Julie Baker, would've been sitting this very morning.

"Morning, Ma'am," Jake responded, tipping his hat towards Molly. "Morning, son."

"Good morning, gentlemen." Molly responded, her hands held together in the folds on her dress. "I assume you found the trip here pleasant?"

"It was enjoyable enough, Ms. Molly," Jake responded. "We had a little trouble locating the road here, but we managed to find it after a good survey of the area."

"Good, gentlemen," Molly lowered her head slightly. "Would you like to come in to discuss the details?"

"More than happy to, Ma'am," Jake pulled off his hat.

Fisher had been watching the boy, Danny, scratch circles into the dirt. As Fisher stepped over the boy to be taken inside by his aunt, he could only image what he boy had been going through. Jake had informed him that there had been a brutal murder, but to see how Danny just ignore everything around him and just draw the same circle in the dirt, over and over and over again, was mildly unsettling. When Fisher passed Danny, he ruffled his hair a little bit. Danny looked up, his eyes a glassy haze. "Hang in there, son," Fisher gave out a slight smile to try and comfort the boy to little avail.

Inside the Baker's home was much homier than the outside. The yellowed, flower wallpaper was starting to peel from the top however, and though the wood floor probably needed to be replaced under the face linoleum flooring. As dust that lingered in the air, and the dim yellow lights flickered slightly, Fisher and Jake entered the Baker's home. They sat at a small wooden table and waited as Milly served Julie Baker's left over iced, sweet tea.

"I understand that you're new, Mr. Smith." Molly said as she served Fisher his glass.

Fisher nodded accordingly. "Yes, ma'am, you understand correctly. I'm an intern working for Jack, and he thought that private investigating might be a little more exciting than pushing papers."

Molly laughed sullenly. "A charmer, aren't you? Well, I'm sure this case will be suitable for you."

"So, what is it that you want looked into, ma'am?" Jake asked, taking a sip from his ice tea. He flinched at the bitterness.

Molly's pleasant tone, suddenly dropped. She remained quiet as she sat in front of Fisher and Jack. "I want you to find the bastards that murdered my sister, and her husband."

That was rather blunt. Fisher thought to himself. He immediately pulled out a pad and paper. "Alright," Jake responded as he put down the glass of bitter sweet tea. God damn tea will be the death of me. "So, I always like to start off with asking my clients what they know about the murders. So, what do you know about the murders? What details did the police disclose to you?"

"Only that it was gruesome. Apparently, they were sucked dry, for lack of a better term," Molly shivered. "They told me that that someone had drained the bodies of their fluids and left them to rot in a ditch."

Pretty vulgar stuff for her to be spitting on in front of the child. Fisher scowled at the pad that he had been writing notes on. Fisher didn't like this woman one bit. She came off as pretentious and snobby, even though she clearly didn't have the income to back up that attitude.

"Were your relatives involved with any drug related activity or anything of that matter?" Jake continued as he scribbled down more notes.

"Oh, heaven's no! They were honest folk, who worked to the brim to start bringing this small home from the ground up. As far as I'm aware, they were always working."

"Ok ma'am," Jake wrote. "Fisher, please go ask the boy a couple of questions. See what he knows, and then I'll meet you at the truck. I'm going to continue to ask a few more questions and have a look around."

"Alright," Fisher muttered to himself. He got up and walked outside again, where Fisher found Danny hugging his knees and staring at the circle that he had been drawing, which was now a small, waterless moat for a flag that had been constructed out of a stick and leaf. Poor boy. I can't imagine what he's going through right now.

Fisher sat near the boy. "Hey, how's it going, kid?"

"It's going," he responded lifelessly. "You can call me Danny. It's more proper like that."

"Well, OK, Danny," Fisher smiled. "You always make moats for your flags?"

"Yeah, keeps the bad guys out. At least, that's what my dad sad about it."

"Your father knew best."

"Are you going to take me away?"

Fisher was taken aback. "And why would I do that?"

"Because Mom and Dad are dead, and I have no one to stay with." Danny looked on to the end of the road, the overcast dimming everything and making the atmosphere of this situation rather depressing.

"Well, you have your aunt. I don't see a reason for you to be taken away. And besides I don't take away kids from their families." Fisher smiled and patted the boy on his back.

"I don't like my aunt." Danny grimaced. "Something about her just doesn't seem right."

"Maybe because she talks like this?" Fisher waked for the boy to look at him. Just as he did, Fisher pushed his nose up, so his nostrils were flaring and open. "I say, I bid you a fair day, good sir."

Danny smiled, and nearly laughed. "Yeah. Just like that."

Fisher gave Danny a warm grin and patted the boy's back again. "Don't you worry, Danny. We're going to find them. One way or another."

"Thank you, sir. It'll mean a lot to me if you do."

Fisher had a good feeling about this. Even though that Danny was going through a tough time, Fisher knew that with the time the boy would heal, and make something of himself.

Just as Fisher was thinking those thoughts, Jake screamed from inside. "FISHER GET THE BOY AWAY FROM THE HOUSE!"

Without thinking, Fisher bolted up, and grabbed Danny, and ran away from the house, the heels of his boots ripping up chunks of the loose soil. Danny was snugged under his arm, and just as they reached the truck, there was a large BANG! that erupted from behind them.

Fisher fell to down on his stomach, bring Danny down with him. Fisher looked back to the house. The bottom half of the wall had sent out large shards of of wood that were ejected and impaled themselves into a nearby tree.

Jake had thrown himself off the porch, but was struggling with his leg from what Fisher was able to make out. There was a shard of wood stuck into his calf. As Jake screamed, trying to get the spike out of his leg, Fisher began to hear small moaning noises, the moaning noises of a boy. DANNY! Fisher looked down and saw the boy was lying face down next to him, and in his back was a 6 inch wood spike sticking out of Danny's back. "W-what happened?"

"Don't move, Danny," Fisher said pulling out his phone immediately dialed 911. Fisher had informed them what happened, and next thing that he knew, they were being rushed over Bleak Park Hospital.

Once again Fisher sat in between the confides of a hospital in little under a week. How could such a beautiful Saturday turn into such a horrible mess. Danny was in the surgery right now getting that spike removed from his back. From what he overheard nurses say, it nearly punctured his lung. Jake was much luckier. He was able to get away with a couple of stitches on his leg. He was limping, but was requested to stay the night to let the would rest and monitored in case of injection.

And Fisher? Well, that's the thing. Fisher was completely unharmed. How? Time, physics, probably the authors dues ex Machina to protect the characters he cares about? Who knows? Maybe in a future interview; we will never know. Sarcasm aside though, Fisher had had a few cuts here and there, but nothing as severe. Molly Baker wasn't so lucky. She had been killed in the blast. From what the medical examiners had found out, she was missing a jaw when they pulled her out of the wreckage and discovered her, and her neck had been twisted in an awkward manner.

Fisher was sitting in the waiting room an hour later watching the time go by. He waited patiently to hear word from his co-worker.

"Fisher last name?" a voice came to Fisher as he counted the cracks on the ground.

Fisher looked up to find a doctor standing in her white lab coat and scrubs in front of him. She looked at him through thin, almond understanding eyes. She's done this before. Fisher stood up and looked down at the doctor. "What is it doctor?"

"Well, I do have some good news for you. Your friend, Jake, is doing just fine. He did ask me to give you this." Fisher was given Jake's notepad and large envelope that contained the documents pertaining to the Baker case.

"And the boy?"

"Well, he's still in surgery, sir. Are you a relative of his?"

"No," Fisher informed her. "Just someone who happened to be there. I managed to get him out of the blast radius before any real damage could be done."

"Then, thank you, sir." The doctor placed her hand on Fisher's shoulders. "You may have saved his life."

"It was nothing," Fisher reassured. "How long before Jake will be walking again."

"Well, it will be a while. The gash was deep. He keeps insisting that he could walk, but that's far from the truth."

Fisher nearly felt faint at the thought of that, but it was what it was. "So did he say anything about this?" Fisher held up the folder.

"All he said was just to hold unto it and take it back to Jack later tonight. He claims that he has some important notes that could help out the case."

Fisher nodded. "Alright, I'll make sure to do that."

IV: The Sightings

"Damn, Fisher," Frank muttered to himself. He had been stroking his beard throughout Fisher's story. It was a bit over the top, Frank had to admit, but the sincerity that Fisher had in his voice made it difficult to dismiss such a tale. "What do you think caused the explosion?"

"They don't know yet," Fisher responded, finishing up the last of his bacon wrapped Franks. They really did hit the spot and the comfort food was rather comforting for Fisher. "Fire department is out there right now looking into it as we speak."

James, on the other hand, was wide-eyed and baffled. How in the hell did he not get hurt?! There must've been hundreds of shards flying everywhere, and yet none of them touched him? Jesus that's insane! James looked at Fisher, examining his every move. Something that just didn't happen in Bleak Park. James understood that every small town had its share of murder and drug gang related activity just as much as the next, but in Bleak Park, those things are practically unheard of.

"So, what are you going to do?" James ask, breaking his long silence during 20 minutes of tale.

"Well, nothing much I can do at this point. All I can do is just get back to Jack and give him the vanilla folder and see what happens from there." Fisher was eyeing the shot glass. I could use another drink… Fisher looked up towards Frank and was about to ask for another shot when Fisher saw something rather strange. He saw a small bug on Frank's shoulder, a butterfly with black silver like wings that flickered gently on unto the color of Frank's shirt.

"You gonna say something, or you're just going to let the flies fill your mouth," Frank joked.

"Yeah, yeah, can I have another shot?" Fisher kept his eyes on butterfly.

"Well, the best I can do for you is half a shot, bud," Frank served up half a shot for Fisher. "I don't want you getting too crazy!"

"No of course, how much do I owe you?"

"Don't worry about it." Frank watched the drink be served into the tall shot glass.

James wondered what could've possibly be in those documents, but best push it aside, and not worry about it. He was more than sure some form of out of word exposition would bring forth said information by form of newspaper or TV show. And as the day drew out and Fisher was looking more and more nervous, James new that something was terribly wrong. Things like this didn't happen in Bleak Park. This town was supposed to be a primarily small, quiet retirement one, but James' predetermined sense of forbidding was obviously foreshadowing that something much more sinister was heading in the direction of little, old Bleak Park.

Later that day, after the shots have been fired, and more Franks had been devoured, James had met up with Amanda at Bleak Falls University. Amanda had been still considering a career path that she'll be interested in. And as Amanda stood there, in the lobby of the career advisors' office, surrounded by pamphlets and other various assortments for advertising possible degrees that one could take within the confines of Bleak Falls University. Amanda read the different titles on the pamphlets.

It's been so long since I've been out of school. I wonder if I'll be ok starting again. Amanda had ordinally left school to start working in her freshmen year of college. It's been about two years, and now that life has settled down, she was ready to take on school and finish. She managed to complete most of her basics, but up unto this point Amanda had been pretty indecisive about where she saw herself in the next ten years. Of course, anything would be better than working 10 hour shifts at the Carly Sanders Deli dealing with Bonny Tyler and her repulsive attitude.

"Architecture sounds pretty fun," Amanda muttered to herself. "but Graphics Design would be awesome too. No, but, then again, there was Writing."

Just as Amanda had been muttering to herself, a figure had appeared from behind. It stood hovering over her, lingering like a chandelier over the dining room table of dining rooms. It approached in its humanoid form, slowly emerging from the hallway and into the Career Advisors' offices. It approached slowly and attentively, hands clawed and heading towards the curves of Amanda's waist.

"Well, there was always Drama. I wouldn't mind learning how to act," She continued to mutter. "I do have the body for it. Maybe, I can be a…hey, what!?"

Amanda was picked up and nearly tossed up into the air. "AMANDA!" It was James who had approached her from behind, and toss her up in her little figure. She was so light ever since she started that fad diet.

"Jesus Christ! Don't do that to me! Put me down," Amanda swung around and saw that it was, according to her assumption, James. She was about to give him a well-placed kick in the chest, before James set her down.

Amanda looked up at James. "What in God's name is wrong with you?" Her arms were placed on her hips as Amanda scowled at James.

James couldn't help but smile. He found her angry face rather cute and adorable. I mean, she's only 5 ft., and I'm 5'9". She's like a little Chihuahua! James couldn't help, but laugh at that thought.

"What?" Amanda looked confused. "WHAT?!"

James kept laughing at Amanda. She was absolutely adorable. Her chubby cheeks, and small posture, didn't make her look any more threatening. "You know, love, you'd be intimidating if…you know…you were actually…intimidating!" James burst out laughing.

Amanda gave him a straight kick on the shin. "Hmm!"

"OOHH! OW!" James began hopping on his left leg, his shin a throbbing pain.

"Services you right!" Amanda scowled at him.

"Well, hello there, how can I be of assistance?" a voice came from behind Amanda. She turned to find a tall woman in a blue suit and broad shoulders. She was a beautiful woman indeed. Long luxurious hair, with full volume. Amanda blush at her sight. The woman's smile was warm and somber like a light breeze in the summer morning while you watched the wind massage the branches of the trees, the leaves swinging back and forth softly.

Jesus, she's so beautiful. She must be some sort of model! Amanda couldn't help, but notice how precise the make up on the woman's face was. "Oh, yes, hi ma'am, I'd like to pick a career path."

"Of course, of course, please come on in. Your friend could wait out here."

Amanda looked back at James, who only smiled and assured her. "It's ok, you've got this! I'll be waiting out here." James took his seat watched as the two women walk into the back office of the tall woman. Damn, that lady was almost my height. Definitely, not adorable. James pulled out his phone and began scrolling through FriendFinder. He passed the occasional funny picture and updates of what his friends were doing. Apparently, Jonathan was studying abroad in Morocco, and Stacy had become a stripper. Funny, how life takes some dramatic turns just a few years after high school.

Amanda walked into the office of the tall woman, who had introduced herself as Becky Callahan as they walked in. "So, what did you have in mind, darling?"

"Well, ma'am, I, uh," Amanda began before she was interrupted by Becky.

"Please, please, call me Becky, no need for the formalities, darling. We're in the city, not the country," Becky laughed. "And your name?" Becky pulled up a document for her current visitor.

"It's Amanda Jennings, ma'am," Amanda responded.

"Such a pretty name; my daughter's name is Amanda," Becky laughed. "Cute little tike!" Becky scribbled as Amanda played with her hands in the chair where she took her seat.

"So what do you like to do in your spare time?" Becky asked. She was had at work scribbling away on the paper. Beck has written the headers "hobbies", "interests", and "extracurricular activities" at least a hundred times a day.

"Well, I like to hang out with my friends." Amanda responded.

"Alright," Becky wrote. "And what are…" I'm pretty sure you get the picture, dear reader, and I don't believe in death by exposition. So, what I'm going to do is condense down everything into a neat little paragraph for your convenience. It was your standard interview between a career advisor and a student.

Amanda did the back and forth dance with Becky, explaining that she loved to write in her spare time when she aren't with friends, and enjoyed watching foreign movies because the culture had always intrigued her. Amanda went on to explain that she participated in the local Feast of Sharing every Thanksgiving holiday to help those who aren't in good of a situation as she was in. This makes her grateful she wasn't living in the slums, if my inner cynicism makes it into this novel, and if the truth was to be told about Amanda, but that's just me, dear reader, and I'm not one to judge (even though I just did) those that are participating in my game of lives, I simply close my eyes, and write what I see, playing the role of Puppet Master.

Amanda was just about done, having settled on a psychology degree after the whole situation. It was about 45 minutes and James had been drooling over the palm of his hand when Amanda finally came out of Becky's office. She held a paper that had all the classes that she has.

"Hey, wake up, you lump!" Amanda kicked James gently along the shin, where a nice bruise had been developing in his slumber. The sudden jolt of pain, made him spring up and nearly started swinging his arms, in a lame attempt to defend himself.

Amanda jumped back before she could get hit, and just stood back and enjoyed James' attempt to fend off his attacker. "Are you done yet?" she ask with a large grin carved on her face.

"Wait, what?" James was exiting a dream state and couldn't make out what was going on. "Mandy?"

"The one and only," Amanda accounted proudly waving the career path sheet in James' face. "Check it out. I finally decided."

"Oh, no way, huh?" James smiled and looked at the paper. "Psychology, huh? You want to be a social worker or counsler?"

"It would be nice to help out the children in the system." Amanda agreed. "But I want to focus more on helping out with children with depression, anxiety, and childhood trauma." Amanda began walking out of the office.

James frowned and followed her. "The trauma I can understand, but depression and anxiety among children?"

"Yeah, it's starting to become more prevalent in our time now." They walked out the building together into the well-kept parking lot.

"Trauma, I would say so, but depression among teenagers and young adults has honestly become a fad now with the self-diagnosed movement."

"I know that, but some of these kids really do have troubles, and I want to help them." Amanda smiled as they approached James' car.

"I get that, but 90% of the United States having these disorders is kind of suspicious if you ask me." James unlocked the car, and jumped in.

"Here we go again with your crazy theories." Amanda rolled her eyes. "Have you been hanging out with Frank again?"

"Well, yeah, I just came from there after shooting a couple of targets with Fisher."

Amanda laughs. "That explains that crazy conspiracy theory."

"It's not conspiracy theory, Mandy," James reassured her, a little more firm in tone so she can know he was serious. "It's fact. This generation is too sensitive. Even part of our generation is too sensitive. I don't understand how a generation raised on North Garden, and Clan Lady, be so offended by every damn thing that is presented to them."

Amanda couldn't help, but laugh at that statement. "I'm not going to lie; that's pretty funny." The car's engine had begun roaring as James turned the ignition.

"It's true. Everyone and their mother get's their panties in a bunch because someone made some dark humored joke. It's honestly straight up retarded."

"Retarded?!" Amanda busted out into laughed now. "You never use that damn word! You have been hanging out with Frank after all! Next thing you know you're going to start having aluminum on your head."

"Ok, you know I think that's just plain stupid." James couldn't help, but laugh. "The government can't capture 'alpha waves' or whatever the conspiracy theorists are saying!"

Just as James was backing up, he saw a flash towards the back of his car. Fearing the worst, James slammed on his breaks, making their necks whip back. He immediately put the car on park and ran outside to see if he almost hit someone. Standing behind the car was a small little 8-year-old girl. She was wearing a small white gown, and held a red dodge ball in her hands. She looked up at James confusedly as he approached her. "Miss, are you ok?"

The little girl looked up confused. "Yes, sir, I'm OK?"

"Oh, my god, Teresa," a voice came from behind. "Are you ok?!" It belonged to a woman with long black hair, who was wearing a similar white gown that flailed in the soft breeze.

"Yes, Angelina," little girl responded.

"Good, good," She picked her up and held her in her arms. "I wouldn't know what I would've done if something happened to you. Thank you, sir, for stopping in time."

"No need to thank me, ma'am," James responded, who held Amanda by his side. Amanda had followed James, and nearly screamed at the thought of James hitting a child. "I'm just glad that she wasn't hurt in any way."

"Yeah, thank you so much!" woman and her sister walked back to the basketball court where they had been playing catch.

James watched as the woman entered the basketball court and began playing again, and, to James' amazement, there they were again. Those black butterflies, only this time there were only a few. Where are they coming from? "Got an eye full of her yet?" Amanda joked.

"Naw, just a little longer," James turned around and got back into the car.

"James, are you ok?" Amanda got back into the car as well.

"Yeah, I think so. There was just something oddly familiar about that girl, and her sister."

"Maybe you've seen them around here before." Amanda reached out and putt her hand on James' shoulder.

"Yeah, you may be right." James double checked to make sure that the ball didn't come flying behind his car again. He glanced over to basketball court and James' eyes widen. He almost had to take a second look, because there wasn't anyone at the basketball court. It was out in the open, surrounded by fence. How were they gone? There was no way they could've disappeared a few seconds. If there was one thing that scared James even more…the bouncing, red ball that the little girl had been playing with.

RRRRRRRRRRIIIIIINNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGG! James' phone cried through the speakers of the car. It had connected via Bluetooth and screamed through the car's system. James nearly jumped through the roof as he tried to get the phone and take the phone call. After several seconds of fighting with the phone, James finally managed to get it and answer. "Hello?!" James panted into the receiver of the phone.

Expecting Antonio to speak, James and Amanda were surprised to hear Maria's voice emerge from the car speakers. "JAMES, PLEASE COME! OH GOD! NO-NO-NO-NO-NO-NO!"

"Whoa, what's going?" James announced into the phone.

"GET AMANDA PLEASE COME TO THE HOSPITAL! IT'S WILL!?"

A flood of cold shivers radiated all throughout James' body. Dear god, please no…

V: The Death of William Peterson

So…it's finally happening, after about 30 thousand words, the plot finally begins to thicken, huh? (insert sinister chuckle here) There is a strange sensation watching the stories that you crafted unfold in front of you. They say that authors see their characters play out their lives, that they are beings of their own that originated from the consciousness of the literary engineer. I, however, am the literary engineer of my craft, the alpha and the omega, and as I will it, so it shall be. They may rise to their feet if they so please, etc., etc. by my command. However, this case has been strange. This case, as I play the game of lives, is rather strange.

William was not meant to die. In reality, he was supposed to grow up to be someone rather important, however, as he lays here in bed, staring up at the ceiling, fading in an out of reality, wondering when will be the last time that he faded away. The doctors had come in a couple of minutes ago to tell Maria and Antonio that he might not make it, as if his life was slowly draining away. The doctors had informed them that they couldn't understand why he was fading away. He felt absolutely fine yesterday, but today…today was a completely different story.

William had watched the nurses come and go and reassure him that he was getting better. Hell, in no time, he was suppose to be up and about going to the bathroom himself instead of having some underpaid nurse's assistant come and wipe his ass and attend to his waste. Like a damn filthy animal, this feels like. William concluded in his dull state. I'm dying like damn filthy animal.

Maria had burst into tears from the cries that echoed throughout William's fading consciousness. Antonio ran out the room when the beeps started speeding up, probably to go get the doctors, or something so that William could be zapped back to life. That was when Maria started screaming. "JA – COME QUICK—" was all that Will was able to make out from Maria's voice before everything faded black.

When William opened his eyes again, he suddenly felt a rush of cold shoot through his back, and realized that he was standing again. He was standing in a large open field, where the wheat grass grew and the clearing was surrounded by trees. There had been snow fall, turning the white wheat grass a dim yellow as it swayed in the heavy wind. William stood there, looking straight on forward, where the lady in the white dress stood. She was standing there, her long black hair flowing in the wind, her cheek a torn mess revealing the jaw and teeth below, her eyes an empty black abyss, and her throat was a slit of milky, puss filled blood clot.

"No…" Will muttered. "This can't be. Where are the clouds? Where are the angels?"

The woman looked at him, and smiled. Fear…the mind is fear… She began approaching him, crossing the snow, her bare feet now a black, frost bitten char.

"NO!" William turned to run, and as soon as he looked behind away from the woman, she stood there, right in front of him, those black pits of despair glaring directly through him. William jumped back and fell unto his ass. He scrambled desperately to get away. "No…no…you're not real! This is a dream!" William declared! "AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!" William had punctured his hand on a thick thorn. It pierced the skin, and causing him to lose his balance and fall to the snow-covered ground. It seeped deep into his clothes and began eating away the remaining warmth that he once felt in the comfort of his bed in the hospital.

Will turned around, and watched as the woman walked over him and squatted down. She looked at him curiously from between her knees. "You are not like the rest," she whispered. The woman in the dress wiped away William's hair from his face. She looked at the sand colored hair, and noticed the piece of white. "So, it is true," the woman said to herself. "I am one of them." William could only stare deeply into her eyes, those black pits of coal. "Pity…I really hoped I was better than them."

William could only lay there with her sitting on his stomach. As the woman stroked his hair, he noticed that she had a silver outline, and her figure began to wither into nothingness. William was able to see right through her.

She picked up her hand and watched as it faded into nothingness. The woman's expression turned into one of concentration and then the hand reappeared where it was left, as if was never gone to begin with. The woman sighed. "Dios de la muerte concédeme la fuerza destruye a todo el hombre!"

What did she say? Suddenly, William felt his throat be shut off. No air was coming into his lungs. William began squirming and squirming, trying to push the small woman off him, but no matter how strong his struggles, he couldn't break her grip on him. The woman's head tilted, her eyes began to water.

As William's struggle began to weaken, a surge of energy was transferred from him to the lady of wight. She was crying, balling her eyes out all over William's decaying body. She bent down towards him, and kisses him on the cheek…one last time before the light of William faded into nothingness and the consciousness that was given to him, slowly faded into the void where creation began.

James and Amanda hadn't been that far from University Hospital. In fact, they were only 5 minutes away, but due to James' panic, and fear, they had managed to make it to University Hospital in about two minutes. Amanda and James ran inside, and checked into the front desk as fast as they could. No use getting into trouble, James figured. They ran up the stairs and unto the fourth floor, nearly tripping over the stairs several times, attempting to get around nurses, and other characters trying to get down to the first floor.

As James and Amanda approached William's room, there was screaming and what sounded like uncontrollable crying. There was a doctor that was running from the opposite end of the hall, heading towards one can only assume was William's room. Dear God, no…James thought to himself.

James arrived at the door before the doctor did, and what he saw…would stay with him for the rest of his life.

"Oh, my god," Amanda stopped dead in her tracks and nearly gasped at the sight. She covered her mouth to keep herself form screaming.

Maria had been on her knees balling her eyes out, her hands pressed firmly on her ears attempted to drown out William's horrid screams. He had began convulsing in his sleep, slamming his fists on the bed, and springing up uncomfortably, almost falling out. Maria at first thought that he was having a nightmare, and then suddenly, the heart rate monitor started beating faster and faster.

"DIOS DE LA MUERTE CONCÉDEME LA FUERZA DESTRUYE A TODO EL HOMBRE!" William shouted into the ceiling.

Suddenly William was on his back staring into the roof. James couldn't believe what he was seeing. William began to…wither…fucking wither. His skin began to lose its color, slowly starting from the finger and toe tips to the rest of his body. Then he began to thin…and he just…kept getting thinner, and thinner as a mosquito had been sucking out the blood out of someone. His skin went from pale to a dark milky, blueish gray. He was gagging now. By the time, the doctor reached the door, William had been gagging convulsing in his bed, reaching up at something, as if something were…holding him down…

James watched as the doctor tried to put William's flaying arms in restraints, but that did little avail when the doctor got slammed across the face. Williams gagging was beginning to get worse and worse, the pitch of said gags increasing as the wind pipe was slowly closed shut, then…just like that…it stopped.

James was panting, all he could do was think… What the fuck is going on?

VI: The Funeral of William Peterson

Three days later…

Thunder rumbled in the belly of the large super cells that had been developing over the last couple of days. Now, one might say that I've set this up for dramatization, however, if you've ever lived in the heart of Texas, where this wonderful tale of love is occurring, you'd understand that the weather in Texas, especially around the fall area, is rather chaotic, and varies from winter in the morning, fall in the afternoon, with increased chance of thunderstorms, summer in the late evening, and back to winter. There was the occasional nice fall whether, that hovered over the high 60's that was perfect for a barbecue. This however, was no planned, just mere coincidence. And as James thought on this strange cliché as well, watching his friend, who had been reduced to nothing but a raisin, be lowered into the hole where he will remain for the rest of eternity.

Maria had been across the hole with William's parents, Sherry, and Connor. The group of people who surrounded William's grave, dressed in their mourning suits and gowns reminded James at one of those lame abstract art pieces that represented "sorrow". You know, the ones where the artist only developed the slightest amount of form in their painting and then drop thin, black paint over the top to represent tears as it smeared down the developed form. James never understood why black and grey were common place for sorrow. If anything, he found them to be quite pleasant colors, almost his favorite, in fact.

The crying sobs of the most caring were drowned out by the call of the thunder that raided this party. The rain began to drizzle slightly, and like clockwork, everyone pulled out their umbrellas.

James watched as they all worked in a unique controlled fashion. It was funny how people acted in such a cellular function, almost as they were their own super organism.

Amanda had been observing James. He had been rather distant after William's death. He had watched the whole thing, of course, while she had hidden her face in his back. Amanda could only image what looking at William's convulsing body would do to one of their friend's mind. Amanda had been leaning on his arm, her right hand playing the soft cotton of her black gown. William had never been a close friend of hers, but she did enjoy his company at their get-togethers. Man, I could only imagine what James is feeling, let alone, Fisher. Oh God, when he found out…where is he?

Amanda looked around and didn't see Fisher among the crowd. In fact, come to think of it, she hadn't seen him all day. I wonder where he is…

The end of the funeral came, and everyone placed their flowers on the casket after the preacher had announced William's achieves and praise. Amanda and James followed mindlessly in the line, and headed back towards the car. James sighed half way down the walk of the well-maintained grass, pass the graves of other loved ones.

"It's ok sweetheart," Amanda said, holding unto him and rubbing his back. "There was nothing we can do."

James grunted.

"He's in a better place now," Amanda continued.

James grunted again.

"Look, I'm sorry," Amanda tried again to try and make James feel better, but was interrupted by him.

"Amanda…please…just stop." James bit his lip, his voice beginning to shake.

Amanda almost took that statement personal, but then…she could understand why. James was a strong man, one of the strongest that she's met. After her father died, she never thought that anyone could meet those standard, but towards the end of her first semester during junior year high school, James came and changed her whole life. However, when it comes to losing a friend, someone who was a bro, a buddy, not a school friend, someone you actually hung out with after school and enjoyed getting into trouble with, it was honestly one of the most difficult things you can experience.

Fisher had been there at the funeral. He was playing the role of the dramatic distraught friend who couldn't handle being around people with the lose of his friend. Fisher had been leaning against a tree on cliché's behalf. He wore a leather jacket and jeans instead of the suit that his parents had nearly begged him to wear. He watched as Amanda and James approached him. He took a puff on his cigarette and said. "Wonderful day is it?"

It was ironic and sarcastic, but well understood. "Yeah, wonderful," James responded, coldly. "You going on home?"

"Naw, I'm heading to Frank's for a drink," Fisher's eyes were baggy and tired. "You?"

"Naw, man, I'm heading home. I just need some time to get my head clear. I'm drop off Amanda, and head home."

"Yeah, I hear you on that one." Fisher sighed. "How you holding up, Mandy?"

"Well, I'm a little shocked, but I'll live, I guess," Amanda responded.

"Yeah, and he won't," Fisher laughed maniacally.

James and Amanda just stared.

Fisher realized the insensitivity of the joke. "I'm sorry," he recoiled. "I'm just…having a hard…hard time." Fisher's lip began quivering, and his eyes began to water. He began crying, tear streaming down his cheeks. James and Amanda immediately reached out and hugged him. Fisher just…broke down. He was gasping in between sobs. "I shouldn't have let him go that night, man! I knew something was wrong, but I let him go. Its…fuck…my fault!"

"Hey, hey, don't be like that, man," James held him. "It's not your fault man. We all knew something was bothering Will; I just didn't think he'd get into an accident about it."

"Yeah, Fisher," Amanda spoke up. "It isn't your fault."

Fisher just cried and cried into his friends. It was true, Fisher did feel like absolute shit and blamed him for William's death, but what Fisher wasn't aware of was that this had been plaguing William for the longest time. Over the last several weeks, William had experienced constant torment by the woman in the white dress, seeing her constantly over the last week or so, but before I get off topic, dear reader, I will save that tale for another time, because right now, James and his friends' sorrows are more important.

When James got home that night, he had tossed himself unto the bed, his thoughts on memories of him and William and Fisher blowing stuff up in the country, and setting cowpies on fire for entertainment were some of his most found memories. James understood that he was a "city boy", but ever since he began hanging out with Fisher and William, who owned, he understood that getting some fresh air out in the woods was always a nice experience. Hell, one time, William even showed him how to attend to horses one summer. He was taught how to change the shoes on their hooves, and how to saddle them properly, how to groom them, etc. William had shown him how to attend to cows, how to castrate a bull (man that was an experience), and all sorts of other things.

As James' tears flowed down his cheeks, his face buried into the pillow. Man, I wonder how Maria feels about all of this. I didn't even get to talk to her… James was aware of Maria and William's friendship. If truth were to be told, James believed that they would get married someday, but I'm not sure who did what, or what was said, but William and Maria didn't get together. Life's funny like that. It isn't like a well-documented and scripted novel where everything is at the authors disposal. Life is stranger than fiction, because fiction must make sense. This was real life, and real life acts in strange ways. There isn't an escape like in an excellent forged novel.

Just as those thoughts were flowing through James' mind, and as the thoughts lulled him into sleep, the little girl sat up his desk, her legs kicking back and forth watching curiously, and attentively. This one is different. She thought, a small grin forming. He has such a strange heart. There is darkness there, but a small flame as well. How strange is the dichotomy of man's emotion, I wonder? Emotion…such a beautiful thing…