HOMECOMING

Where to begin?

I'm sitting here for half an hour in front of a blank computer screen; thinking how to tell my story. A story that is so bizarre that I half expect Stephen King to show up with pen and paper in hand, ready to jot down notes for his next novel.

"Tell me the whole story," he would say. "And don't leave out any juicy parts."

So, here goes nothing.

I guess, you could say it started on that fateful day when I was fourteen, and had to stay home because of the flu. I was sitting in front of the television set, watching Jerry Springer, when suddenly the news came on showing the Twin Towers being hit by two 747 airplanes.

"What's wrong?" I asked my mom who was shellshock and sitting beside me on the couch.

"Your dad," she said in a quivering voice. "He called me this morning on his smartphone: saying he was going to the Twin Towers to fix the plumbing in the bathroom."

We watched the news for the next several days, hoping, praying, that he was all right. Then on the eighth day, we got the news from a police officer that he had died. A crew that was digging around the World Trade Center had found his body under the piles of cement and steel. For the next four years after that, I was angry. I often fantasized about bringing the terrorists to justice. And on my eighteenth birthday, I did exactly what I fantasized about and enlisted into the army.

I went from village to village in Kandahar, looking for terrorists. And on one sunny morning, my unit found them. I could still see a buddy of mine, who was marching several steps ahead of me, had unknowingly stepped on a roadside bomb. And when he lifted up his foot, there was a roar as loud as thunder, and I flew backwards twenty feet, and landed on my back on the side of the road. Bullets came down on all sides like torrential rain.

I yelled, "The fucking mujaheddin are everywhere!"

I sat up and shot several terrorists that were running down the hill toward me. Then, I looked up in the sky, and saw a grenade flying through the air. It landed next to me and when I woke, I found myself lying on a hospital bed, all bandaged up.

"The war is over for you." said a doctor, standing beside my bed.

"What are you talking about?"

Then I felt my leg.

It wasn't there!

Jesus!

I started to cry, "No! No! No!"

A month later, I was sent back home with a purple heart and a prosthetic leg. Everyday, I would go to this shitty, little, neighborhood bar, where ID is never required, trying to forget what had happened to me during the war.

"What's your poison?" asked a newly, hired bartender.

"Budweiser," I said.

The bartender placed a beer in front of me, and I sat, drinking and feeling sorry for myself. The bartender browsing through newspaper, looked up, and asked, "Is this you?" pointing to the paper.

"Yeah."

"They say you're a war hero."

"I'm no hero. I'm a stupid kid from Brooklyn who thought he was Rambo and got his leg blown off."

I sat there for the next hour, having one beer after the other, and then at closing time, I left and hobbled down Fulton Street toward home.

Who's out here at this hour, I thought as I heard footfalls, echoing from behind me.

I turned and saw below the yellow glow of the sodium streetlamp, a tall, forty-something year old man in a black suit with a blazing, red, silk tie.

"I didn't mean to frighten you," he said, apologetically as he stood a few feet away from me.

"You didn't," I answered. "What do you want?"

His mouth opened.

God! He's not even human! His canines are way too large!

"You!" he said.

He grabbed my shirt and pulled me, forward. I could feel his breath on my neck.

I'm going to die! After losing my leg, I'm going to die right here in New York!

He sank his fangs into my neck, and after what seems like an eternity, he finally pulled his head back, and wiped his mouth with his left sleeve, and whispered, "Drink."

He slit his left wrist open with his right thumb's nail, and thick rivulets of blood ran out.

I have to drink, I panicked.

I've seen enough vampire movies on the local channel to know that if I didn't drink, I was going to die!

Placing my mouth around his wrist, I sucked at the blood.

"Good," he said. "Let my blood give you new life."

I blinked, and a second later, he was gone.

Did I imagine the whole thing?

I went home, and lay down on my bed, thinking: It had to be a hallucination. Maybe I shouldn't have drunk so much alcohol so soon after taking NyQuil.

"Henry, it's time for breakfast," screamed my mom from the kitchen, below.

I sat up, and the sunlight from the window hit my eyes. I squinted, and stared at the alarm clock: 10:00 am. I hurried out of my bed, and into the bathroom to look at the mirror to see if there were two puncture wounds on my neck.

Nothing. No puncture wounds, or blood on my shirt or pants.

I hobbled down the stairs, holding onto the rail. When I got to the kitchen, there was a stack of pancakes on the kitchen table, waiting for me.

"Did you notice anything different about me when I got home last night?" I asked.

"Beats me," she said. "I was asleep by the time, you got back."

Later on that day, I went back out to the bar again, hoping to find out what had actually happened.

Did a vampire attack me, or was it some kind of weird hallucination that I had by mixing my cold medication with alcohol.

"Back again," said the bartender as I sat down on the same stool.

"Did you notice anything strange, last night?"

"Like what?"

"When you closed up last night, did you see anything strange outside of the bar?"

"No. It was like any other night. What were you expecting me to see outside the bar?"

"I don't know," I said. "Like a man being devoured by a vampire."

"Like what?" he asked, incredulously.

"Never mind," I answered.

I sat drinking, and left at the same time as the previous night, but this time I didn't hear any footfalls, or see a scary man in a black suit with a blazing, red, silk tie.

I imagined the whole thing, I laughed.

The next day, I drove to the VA hospital to see my psychiatrist.

"You're having a hard time sleeping?" asked my psychiatrist as she took out a pen and a small notepad from her desk drawer.

"Yeah, I had a dream about a vampire."

"A vampire?"

"Yeah, a vampire with fangs and all."

"How long have you been dreaming about vampires?" she asked.

"Just one vampire," I said. "And it was recently, I think I had something to do with me mixing my cold medication with alcohol."

"I see."

"Don't tell me this is something about me being sexually attracted to my mother."

"I don't subscribe to the Oedipus complex," she answered.

She walked over to her desk and scribbled on a prescription pad.

"This is a prescription for Valium. It ought to help you sleep a little better. It's not surprising that you might be having nightmares after what you went through in Afghanistan. "

"Thanks," I said.

I left, and drove to the pharmacy to get my Valium. An hour later, I was sitting on my couch in the living room, watching a Yankee game.

"Is everything okay?" asked my mom as she tapped me on the shoulder. "You've been acting strange lately. I know the war wasn't what you had hoped for but …"

"Everything's fine," I answered.

I picked up my windbreaker from the coach, and headed out the door.

I didn't want to talk about my war experience, especially with her. I walked several blocks, trying to clear my head, when suddenly, I felt something eerie.

"I know you're here!" I yelled.

The man in the black suit stepped out of the shadow of a cinder block building.

"Why are you doing this?"

Ignoring my question, he answered, "You need to come with me. You are changing, and will soon turn into a full blown vampire. You will kill everybody that you love in order to survive."

"I won't hurt anybody! I would rather die!"

"The thing is you won't die. The thirst inside you will continue to grow until it consumes your every thought that is if it hadn't started already."

I could feel my throat starting to parch.

There had to be another solution besides killing somebody, I thought. Perhaps an opioid would drown out this thirst.

I turned and left, leaving the vampire standing there alone by the cinder block building.

When I got home, I made a phone call to an old friend of mine back in high school.

"Speak now or forever hold you peace," said the voice on the other line.

"This is Henry."

"What's up Henry? I haven't heard from you in a while."

"Are you still selling Oxycotin?"

"Why? Do you need some?"

"I do actually."

"I never figured you as the Oxycotin type. But if you want some, meet me in the back alley behind Wong's Restaurant where we used to hang out at after school."

I took the car keys from the coffee table, and drove out to the restaurant. I waited there for half an hour before my friend finally showed up with the goods.

"Yo, you want the stuff?" said my friend with the low ride, baggy, blue jean.

I pulled out my leather wallet.

"How much?"

"Forty."

I handed him two twenties, and he pulled out a bottle of Oxycotin from his pants' pocket, and handed the bottle to me. I unscrewed the cap, and popped two pills into my mouth.

The thirst isn't subsiding.

"Hope you feel better," said my friend as he placed the two twenties into his back pocket.

I don't know how much longer I can take this. I eyed my friend thirstily like an alcoholic needing his next drink.

"Why are you looking at me like that?"

I could feel my canines elongate pass my upper lip on its own accord.

"What the fuck?"

He backed away, and then, he turned and ran as if the hounds of hell were after him. A few seconds later, the answer to my problem presented itself to me. A cat burst forth from behind a blue dumpster, and ran toward my legs. I bent down and picked it up, and sank my fangs into its neck. It tasted delicious!

The next night, I went back out to cinder house building, and found the dark-suited man, waiting for me as if he knew I would come back.

"Ready to talk," he said.

He gestured with his right index finger, and a black limo pulled up beside us on the curb. He opened the door and I stepped inside. Forty-five minutes later, we were parked outside in front of one of the most expensive restaurant in Manhattan.

"We can't eat here," I said. "I don't have a jacket or a tie."

"Don't worry, I own the place," he said.

We got out of the car and went into the restaurant and sat at a table near the kitchen. A maitre de bought us a bottle of Dom Perignon. He poured the red wine into two glasses.

"You must be wondering, what is this all about? Why did I turn you into a vampire?"

"That did cross my mind."

"Have you read the papers or seen the news on the television, lately?"

"About what?"

"About the Son of Manson."

"What does that crazy serial killer have to do with me?"

"I want you to find him and kill him."

"What makes you think I can even find him?"

"I read the article about you in the New York Times. I have a feeling that you might be the perfect person to find him. You went all the way to Afghanistan to try to bring justice to your father when most people wouldn't even have put in half that effort."

"And look what it's gotten me: I've got my leg blown off."

"Your leg will eventually grow back. As a vampire, you don't really have to worry about loss limb."

He got up off his chair and handed me a business card.

"Be at this address tomorrow at ten and don't be late.

The next night, I left my house, and grabbed the subway train, and got off at Grand Central. I walked pass several high-rise buildings, before entering the Chrysler Building. I took the elevator to the twentieth floor, and when the door opened, I got out and walked down a long corridor until I reached a door with a plague that read: Phoenix LLC.

I opened the door and a woman behind a desk, said, "They're waiting for you in the conference room. It's the second door on your right."

I walked pass her and into the conference room.

Four people were sitting around a long table, waiting for me. There was a woman in a striped blue pantsuit, a man in a black t-shirt, another man in a blue Brooks Brother suit and a red bearded man with a New York Yankee cap turned backward on his head.

"Have a seat," said the dark-suited man who stood in front of the conference table.

I sat down and flipped open a yellow manila folder. There were dozens pictures of murdered victims with medical reports paper clipped to each of them.

"My name is Marius, and the information that you have in front of you is from the FBI," said the dark-suited man. "Furthermore, the wallet resting on the table, in front of you, has a badge and a FBI ID with your name and picture on it."

"How did you get the badge and ID?" asked the woman in a striped blue pantsuit.

"By using Renfield."

"What's a Renfield?" asked the man in the black t-shirt.

"Renfield is a slang referring to humans who served us," said the dark-suited man. "They are usually people in position of power and they hoped, that in return for their services, that one day that we will turn them into an immortal."

"Why are you so interested in the Son of Manson and who are these other people that I'm sitting with?" I asked.

"Why I'm interested in the Son of Manson is not relevant and as for these other people:

He pointed to the man in the Brooks Brother suit.

"FBI Agent."

He then pointed to the woman in the striped blue pantsuit.

"NSA Analyst."

He looked directly at the man in the black t-shirt.

"Bounty Hunter."

Then pointing to the New York Yankee fan.

"And a New York Cop."

"Why did you enlist all of us?" I asked.

"I'm hedging my bet. That's why I enlisted each of you to help catch the Son of Manson. You all a have a special skill set."

"Why is he here?" asked the bounty hunter. "He's missing a leg. He's not going to be much help in catching the Son of Manson."

"His leg will grow back," answered Marius. "And I believe between the five of you, he's probably the one most likely to catch the Son of Manson."

"What's in it for us?" asked the New York Yankee fan.

"Your lives. Fail to catch him by the end of this month, and I dragged each and everyone of you into daylight."

"You'll die too. You can't walk around in daytime," said the NSA Analyst.

"I can."

He held up his right ring finger, showing us a silver ring with the words: E Pluribus Unum inscribed on the metal.

"This is a daylight ring. I can walk around anytime I want."

After the meeting, I left and went back home, feeling anxious and scared.

I don't have any law enforcement experience, I thought. I'm a kid from the Brooklyn who got his leg blown off. But still, I don't have any good options here. I have to find the Son of Manson or Marius is going to make me more dead than I am now.

I took out a roll of tape from my desk drawer and taped the pictures of the Son of Manson victims on my bedroom wall.

All right. Think. Most of the victims have a swastika symbol carved into their foreheads except for two victims. Why?

"What the hell is going on here?" cried my mom in horror as she opened my bedroom door.

"I can explain everything," I said.

"Why are there pictures of murdered victims on your bedroom wall?"

"I forgot to tell you. I'm taking a criminal justice course at Queensborough Community College and this is my homework assignment"

"Do you need any help with your assignment?"

"As a matter of fact, I do," I said. "I can't figure this out. Why does the Son of Manson carved swastika symbol into some victims' forehead and others have no swastika at all?"

"Maybe that's because there isn't one killer, but two of them. Each one having there own particular reason for killing."

"Why do you say that?"

"You see the two pictures on the far left without the swastika. I read about them in the newspaper. The boxer was beaten to death was known to have a bad temper, and the banker who was exsanguinated was charged with a money laundering scheme. I believe they both represent wrath and greed."

"And you think the serial killer is killing according to the seven deadly sins?"

"I believe so."

"Where do you think he is going to strike next?"

"I would say at a homeless shelter because sloth is the next deadly sin. Most people think if you're homeless, you must be lazy."

"Makes sense."

I kissed my mom on the cheek, and headed out to the largest homeless shelter in New York.

I stood there for days, waiting patiently to try to find somebody who looked like he didn't belong there. Then on Friday, when I woke and was about to head out to the homeless shelter again, I noticed that my missing leg had grown back as Marius said it would.

I have to wear long pants, I thought. I don't want my mom, or anybody to know that my right leg had grown back.

I went downstairs and my mom was sitting in front of the television set like she always does, just before she cooked dinner.

"Henry come and take a look at this," she said.

I went over and saw on the television: a third victim. A homeless woman had her hands cut off and had a piece of paper taped to her chest which read: "Idle hands are the devil's playground."

Sloth, I thought. That's why her hands were hacked off. Mom was right about the deadly sin. What is the next sin after sloth? Lust.

I went back upstairs to my bedroom and sat in front of my desk.

I turned my laptop on and typed in the words: strip club and New York. The monitor showed eight strip clubs in the area. Centerfold stated that it had a social media billionaire visiting the club that night for a bachelor's party.

I guess Centerfold is as good a place to start.

I took my car and drove to Centerfold.

"ID please," said a bouncer as I walked up to the entrance door of the strip club.

I flipped open my wallet showing him my Special Agent ID and badge.

"Sorry about that," he said, waving his hand for me to go inside.

I walked in and saw a young man in a black hoodie with several other young people sitting beside him in front of a stage. They were tossing hundred dollar bills at a stripper. I walked over and sat down behind them.

If, I'm right, Hoodie is going to have a hell of a night.

After a couple of hours of hard drinking and throwing monies at strippers, the billionaire left with a blonde dancer. I followed him in my old, beat up car and when the billionaire parked his car in front of the high rise building, I did the same.

And when he entered the building, a Catholic priest walked through the same door, a few seconds later.

This can't be a coincidence, I thought.

It's the same priest that I saw at the homeless shelter, a few nights ago.

I got out of my car and ran across the street toward the high rise building. As I walked pass the front door, the priest entered the elevator before I was able to catch up to him. I looked at the numbers on top of the elevator door. One number blinked on after the other until it reached number ten. I pressed the up button and waited.

When the elevator arrived, I got in and pressed the number ten. When the elevator door opened, I heard a woman, screaming. I ran toward the frantic screams and slammed my shoulder against the door. There was a loud crack and then, the door toppled over, leaning against the wall at a forty-five degree angle. I stepped over it, moving quickly into the room.

The priest was lifting the billionaire's up by the throat and pinning him up against the wall. I rushed over and picked up a Beethoven bust off the table and swung it at the priest's head. There was a thud, and then, the priest staggered sideway, bloody, and stumbled toward the balcony.

"This isn't over," he said as he got on top of the ledge, and then he jumped.

Why did he jump?

I ran over to see what had happened.

Was he splattered all over the sidewalk?

No! I don't believe it! He's running down the street and pushing several pedestrians aside as he headed toward the Upper East Side.

The billionaire walked over and stood beside me.

"What in God's name was that?" cried the billionaire.

"A vampire," I answered.

"Who are you?" whispered the stripper who was curled up in corner of the room.

"A friend."

I grinned, showing her my inhumanely, large teeth.

She scrambled back deeper into the corner, and screamed.

"I'm not going to hurt you," I said, gently, trying to calm her down.

"What does that thing want with me?" stuttered the billionaire as he took a few steps away from me.

"He wants to kill lust," I said. "And in his demented mind you represented lust."

"I what? I'm getting out of here."

"I wouldn't do that if I were you. He has the ability to track you, no matter where you go."

"How do you know that?"

Lying, I answered, "I'm a vampire. I could track you down once I get your scent and the distance doesn't matter."

"What should I do?"

"Stay here. He won't be back again tonight. The sun is coming up. I can sense it."

"That's not a long term solution."

"I've got this. I'm going to get some weapons and when he comes back tomorrow, I'll finish him off."

I left and went home.

I googled the word: "vampire" on my laptop, and read everything that I could find about how to fight and kill the undead. Some websites stated fire could kill vampires, while others mentioned a stake through the heart, and still others mentioned beheading and using garlic and holy water as a repellant.

I have to find out what is real and what is myth before facing him. I got into my car and drove to nearest cathedral.

I slipped through an open window and walked down the aisle pass several pews toward a bowl sitting on top of an old, oak table. I dipped my fingers into the bowl.

There was no burning sensation.

The story about holy water was nothing more than seventeenth century urban legend.

I left and drove to the nearest supermarket. When I arrived, I got out my car and went inside.

Where is the produce section?

I didn't stop until I found what I was looking for.

I picked up a garlic from the stand and placed it underneath my nose.

Nothing. No allergic reaction. Okay. More urban legend.

I went home and placed an order for a one day delivery on Amazon for spikes, wooden stakes, crossbow, throwing stars, and a katana sword.

Let's hope beheading, and the stake through the heart is true and isn't urban legend, I thought. Because if it isn't. I don't know what to do when I meet the priest, again.

The next evening when the sun set, I got up from my bed, and unpacked the goods left on my doorstep.

Crossbow, throwing stars, katana sword, spikes and wooden stakes.

Check, check and triple check.

Okay, as my dad used to say: "It's time to rumble."

An hour later, I was at the billionaire's apartment.

"Where were you?" asked billionaire, nervously. "I've been waiting for you whole night."

"Traffic," I said.

"You should get here when the sun sets! I don't want to be the priest's next meal!"
"Be quiet," I said.

I picked up the remote control from the coffee table and turned up the volume.

"The Son of Mason has struck again," said the reporter. "The police have found another victim: a twenty-six year old dancer and a former playmate who worked at Centerfold was found dead this morning in Central Park with her throat ripped and slashed."

How stupid could I be? He wasn't going after the billionaire. He was going after the stripper the other night. The billionaire was just in his way.

"I'm next," said the billionaire.

"You're safe," I said. "He wasn't after you. He was after the stripper."

I made two mistakes. The first: not being able to recognize the priest as the killer, and the second: not being able to recognize the stripper as his next victim. I can't screw up again. Put yourself in the demented priest's mind. Who would you come after next? Envy is the next deadly sin. So, who is the living embodiment of envy?

The Kardash. That goddamn, awful, reality show: Keeping Up with the Kardash.

Mrs. Kardash flaunting her jewelry, clothes and house, and that rap artist husband of hers, who proclaims himself to be a music genius, is next on the hit list.

I waited by the theatre on Halloween night dressed to the hilt with multiple weapons.

The Kardash were coming to town to promote their newest film. The priest should be here. But where is he?

I scoured through hundreds of fans and scores of paparazzi behind steel barriers.

Then I saw him across the street, standing next to a screaming, teenage girl with a happy face, Nirvana shirt. He reached into his frock.

"Holy shit!" I muttered. "He's going to blow them away right here when they stepped out of the limo!"

I leveled my crossbow and fire. The arrow went through his wrist as he pulled out his revolver.

"You!" he sneered. "Sinner among sinners."

The cops hustled toward me against the wave of frightened people. I pushed aside several pedestrians and ran toward the priest, hoping to knock him down before he was able to get away.

He saw me and ran down Broadway Street.

He then stopped suddenly, in the middle of the street, and reached into a car and dragged a heavy set woman out of her car and into the street. He then got behind a steering wheel and drove away as fast as he could.

A few seconds later, a black man who was driving a BMW came down the street, and I stuck out my hand out like a traffic cop. The black man pressed on the brakes and stuck his head out the window and screamed, "What are you doing? Get off the street!"

I ran over and yanked him out and got into his car and drove as fast as I could. But unfortunately, I'm not as great a driver as I thought.

As I went through the intersection of East 52nd Street and Madison Ave, I sideswiped a yellow taxi, sending it careening into a fire hydrant.

"Shit!" I yelled, smacking my palm against the dashboard. "He fucking got away!"

The next night, I went to Park Central Hotel to see if I could protect the Kardash. When I arrived at the hotel, there were a dozen police officers guarding the entrance door as well as five, news vans parked outside the front building. I walked around to the side, and dug my nails into the brick wall. I repeated the process over and over again, scaling up the building until I reached the fourteenth floor window.

Once I got there, I lifted the lower window panel up, and stepped inside and walked down a long, carpeted hallway.

I tapped my knuckles on the door.

"Who's there?" asked a gruff and unwavering voice.

I lifted my foot up and drove it forward. The door swung, hitting the police officer on the face and knocking him, unconscious.

"I don't know who you are," said Mr. Kardash, holding up a golf club like a baseball player holding up a baseball bat. "But you've fuck with the wrong person tonight!"

He swung his club and I caught it midair and bent it into a V-shape mere inches away from his face.

"Holy sweet mother of God!" he said, backing away from me.

"I'm not going to hurt you, but we need to talk."

I gestured for him to sit down. He sat on the couch and a few seconds later, Mrs. Kardash sat down beside him.

"Who are you?" asked Mr. Kardash.

"That's not important right now," I said.

"Does this has something to do with the priest the other night?" asked Mrs. Kardash.

"Yes," I answered. "He wants to kill the both of you and …"

A noise. There are footsteps in the next room over.

"Is there anyone else here in the hotel room?" I asked.

"No, just us," answered Mr. Kardash.

I quickly reached behind my shoulder and slid the katana sword out of the scabbard that was tied around my back.

The bathroom door opened, and the priest stepped into the room, ready to kill anyone, standing in front of him. I stepped forward, and sliced at the priest's neck with my katana sword. He ducked underneath my swing, and jammed two of his fingers into my ribcage. Bullet size holes appeared.

"God is with me," he said as blood dripped from his fingers.

I swung my sword downward, trying to cut him in half, and the priest easily maneuvered around me, and wrapped his huge forearm around my throat.

I can't breathe!

"God is with me," he iterated with glee.

I tilted my body slightly to the left, and thrust my sword upward, letting the blade go through my stomach, and then through the priest's ribcage. The priest's forearm loosened its grip for a second, and then there was a loud thud on the floor behind me.

"Are you all right?" asked Mrs. Kardash as she leaned over me.

Why didn't I notice this before? I thought. She's so hot! I wondered what would her husband say if I told him I would like to bite that perfectly symmetrical ass.

HAUFMAN AND THE JEW

Friday night sucks. While every eighteen year old would be out partying with their friends at a nightclub, I'm sitting in front of my laptop, scouring through chat messages from different hate groups. This isn't getting me anywhere! Looking through chat messages alone isn't going to help me catch the Son of Manson. I need to be out there in the crowds in order to find out what is actually happening in the hater's world. I put on my white t-shirt, my old, army pants and boots, and a black bomber jacket.

I walked over to my bathroom cabinet, and took out my electric shaver. I shaved my head in front of the mirror, and by the time I was done, I was bald as a polished cue ball.

You're officially a skinhead now, I laughed.

I went downstairs and my mom stared at me in disbelief.

"What in God's name happened to your head, and why are you dress like that?"

"I'm going to a costume party at a friend's house."

"And your friends are okay with you being a skinhead?"

"Yeah, they're okay with it, and I need the keys to your car."

"What happened to your car?"

"It's in the shop."

She reached into her pants pocket and pulled out a set of keys and tossed it. I caught it one-handed.

"Thanks mom. You're the best!"

I took her car and drove to a rundown warehouse in Bronx where I met a bunch of goose stepping Nazis listening to another goose stepping man speaking into a microphone.

"He's the greatest," said a skinhead, standing beside me.

"Yeah," I nodded. "The greatest."

"You want to have some fun after the lecture?"

"Sure, what are you planning to do after the lecture?"

"You'll see. Just wait."

After two more speakers droned on about how the Jews are replacing the white race of America, the crowd broke up and gathered around a table where a plump middle-age man was autographing his newly published book: "Nazis Why We Are America Last Defense."

"Let's go," said my new found friend. "We're going to have some fun."

The four of us left and walked around the Bronx. People, sensing trouble, moved across the street whenever they saw us.

"Tonight must be my lucky night," said my new found friend. "That Jew, across the street, ratted me out to the cops about selling Meth."

He pointed to an old woman across the street.

He then ran across the street with two of his friends. The biggest of the three men punched the old woman in head while she was holding on to her grocery bags. She fell and landed hard, curling up on the concrete pavement, trying to protect herself, as they began to punch and kick her face and upper body. I moved with blurring, blinding speed and picked up the biggest Nazi and slammed him against a brick wall of a building.

"Holy shit!" said the other Nazis as the big man's body went limp, and his head tilted forward with his eyes closed.

"Leave!" I sneered. "Or you'll be next!"

The two men ran as if lives depended on it, which of course it did.

"Are you all right," I asked, helping the old woman to her feet.

"Yes," said the old woman, shaken to her core.

She picked up a few fallen tomatoes off the concrete pavement and placed it back into her shopping bag.

"Would you like me to walk with you, back to your apartment?"

"Yes. I would like that very much."

We walked in silence and when we got to her building, I carried her bags up to the second floor.

"Would you like a cup of tea?" she asked, as she opened her door with her key. "I can't offer you much, but I would like to repay you for your kindness."

"A cup of tea would be fine," I said.

I stepped into her apartment and noticed the room had a lot of used furniture. There was a old, chipped wooden coffee table, a pair of uncomfortable looking chairs, an old, used sofa with springs that looked like it was about to burst through the cushions at any moment, and a television set that looked like it was made somewhere in the 1980's.

"You don't seem like the card, carrying, Nazi type," she said.

"I'm not," I answered. "I'm an FBI agent, working on a case."

"The case that you're working on isn't the Son of Manson, is it?

"It is. But so far I haven't found anything."

"I think your luck is about to change."

"Why do you say that?"

"That's because I know the identity of the Son of Manson."

I was stunned.

"How?"

"Have you ever heard of Johann Haufman?" she asked.

"No. Who is he?"

"I supposed, I was expecting too much from you. Most Americans don't know who he is."

She walked over to the living room shelf, and pulled out a book and handed it to me. The book cover read: The Personal Journal of Johann Haufman by Miles Irving.

"This book contains personal thoughts of Johann Haufman," she said. "I've been trying my whole life to understand why things happened the way it did."

She rolled up her sleeve, showing me a string of numbers inscribed on her forearm.

"You're a holocaust survivor!"

"Yes. I'm the only person in my family to have survived."

"But what does this book have to do with the Son of Manson?"

"Read page one to page twenty-two, and when you're done, I'll explain everything."

October 17, 1931

Today, I joined several friends at a beer hall to hear a man speak about how to make Germany, great again. He talked about the strength of the German people and the injustice of the Versailles treaty.

October 23, 1931

Visited four shops, today. Still couldn't find work. Broke. There is rampant inflation in Germany. Money is worthless anyway. Nobody knows what to do or how to solve the problems facing Germany.

October 30, 1931

I went to opera to see the "The Golden Harp" play. Kept my mind off of my troubles of unemployment and dwindling funds.

November 1, 1931

Attended another meeting at the beer hall. Hitler spoke about the infestation of the Jewish population. He was so convincing and unwavering in his conviction. He really believes this.

November 22, 1931

I'm still looking for work. Nothing! I went to a Frederick house and shared a small meal. Had chicken broth. We talked about whether or not there really is a Jewish's problem in Germany.

December 1, 1931

Attended my third beer hall meeting, Hitler shook the hand of every man and woman, and thanked them for coming to the meeting. I got to speak to him personally for a few minutes. Got a few pamphlets about the Jewish's problem in Germany.

December 7, 1931

Attended another of beer hall meeting. A member of the Nazi party tried to get me to join.

December 14, 1931

I had dinner at Frederick's house again. Debated whether the Jews caused Germany to lose the Great War.

December 22, 1931

I joined the Nazi's party, today. Hitler seems to be the only person to have a solution to Germany's economic problems. All the other speakers from the other parties seem less passionate and less sure about what to do about the situation of high unemployment and rampant inflation.

January 15, 1932

Broke up several political meetings from other political parties. Feel like I'm making a small difference in Germany.

February 12, 1932

Hitler and several other party members are thrown in jail for their political beliefs. Unbelievable! A great man like that should not be in jail.

March 1, 1932

Pass out pamphlets about the Jewish infestation to people shopping in the marketplace. How could I have been so blind for so long and not see the Jewish problem in Germany and that they were really the one responsible for causing the fatherland to lose the Great War.

March 15, 1932

I was called into the main headquarter of the Nazi's party. I was offered an administrative job at the Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.

April 1, 1932

Hitler announced on the radio that he is running for the office of Chancellor. Gobbel ordered me to ramp up materials about Hitler and the National Socialist Party.

May 13, 1932

Have a chance to work on film with one of the top's director in Germany. It's called the Eternal Jew. It exposes the Jewish infestation in Germany and their diabolical plan to take over the banking system of the world.

January 30, 1933

Hitler won the Chancellor position. There is hope for Germany yet!

August 19, 1934

Hitler telephoned me and invited to his summer home. I am ecstatic. Met Eva Braun: a lovely woman. Made me feel welcome at the estate. Lots of dogs. Mental note: Don't bring any cigarettes. Hitler hates the smell of cigarettes. Generals and colonels are always careful never to smoke anywhere near him.

December 25, 1939

Attended Hitler's Christmas party. A great privilege. Only Hitler's closest friends, and important people are invited to the party. I had a chance to talk to Hitler after the party. He told me that he knows about my architectural background and would like to offer me a new position inside the National Socialist Party.

November 23, 1941

Arrived at Auschwitz. Began designing the layout for the camps for the Jews and the POW.

October 8, 1942

Prisoners arrived at the camp by train on weekly basis: Poles, blacks, American soldiers and Jews. Need to build more barracks for the prisoners.

March 5, 1943

I am very excited to meet Rudolf Hoss, our new commandant. I have to set up a small party at the officer barrack to celebrate his arrival.

April 15, 1943

Suggested to the Commandant to purchase an IBM tabulating machine to keep track of the work at the campsite.

May 25, 1943

I heard about the genius of Mengele's work. I'll look forward to meeting with him and furthering his study on the differences between the Jews and the Germans.

June 23, 1943

Shower pipes were refitted. They are now capable of sending either cyanide gas or water. I am curious to see how this experiment will go since Mengele told me yesterday that there is a genetic difference between the Aryan and the Jewish's lung capacity.

November 18, 1943

The first scientific experiment: cyanide gases were pumped into the shower room.

Average time of death: 2 minutes and 48 seconds.

December 21, 1943

The second scientific experiment: The Jews were exposure to the raw climate. They were taken out of their barracks and stripped of their clothing. Exposure to the climate at 5 degrees below 0.

Average time of death: 5 hours and 22 minutes.

January 5, 1944

The Jews are becoming restless due to the scientific experiment.

January 8, 1944

Several Jews were hanged today at the gallows. Dissent has quieted down.

February 19, 1944

Assisted Dr. Mengele in operating on a Jewish prisoner. Reminded me of dissecting frogs in secondary school.

March 18, 1944

The Commandant was impressed by my suggestion to use body parts of the Jews to make needed office supplies for the camp since raw materials in Germany is becoming scarce due to the war with the Allies.

December 24, 1944

War is going badly. Commandant received a telegraph from the Furher saying it was time to start the Final Solution.

December 25, 1944

White ashes rained down on the camp today - reminded me of a white Christmas back home when I was a child living in Marktoberdorf.

April 30, 1945

Hitler committed suicide. The war is over. All documents relating to the Final Solution must be destroyed.

November 20, 1945

Nuremberg trial: Hess, Goring and Bormann: all my friends whom I knew at the Christmas party are founded guilty of war crimes.

July 12, 1946

Feel like someone has been watching me lately. Is it those dirty Jews? Do they know am I hiding in South America and want to bring me to Nuremberg trial also? Bring them on, I say! They will come to find out that I will not go to the slaughterhouse like a sheep but fight like a lion instead.

I placed the book down on the coffee table.

She sipped her tea and then calmly said, "I was in an Auschwitz death camp when I was a child. The one that was built by Johann Haufman."

"I still don't understand what does this have to do with the Son of Manson?"

"Because Johann Haufman is the Son of Manson," she said. "I know, you're probably thinking: I'm going senile. He must be over a hundred years old by now. But I'm telling you, it's him. I saw him, two weeks ago, when I was looking out the window. He was dragging a teenage girl into his black van."

"I believe you," I said.

"You do?" she exclaimed in amazement. "So far, you're the only one."

"Did you get the license plate number?"

"It was black," she said. "That's all I could tell you."

I left the old woman's apartment and went back to the Nazi's warehouse to pick up my car. I drove as quickly as I could back to my house because I wanted to check out a theory that I had about the Son of Manson. An hour later, when I got home, I opened the front door and flew up the stairs to my bedroom like a winged bird. I opened the desk drawers and pulled out the files on the murdered victims: Weisman, Siegel, Rosenberg. All the victims had Jewish last names. I should have made the connection way before this. It just wasn't any victim he was going after, but victims of a certain religious persuasion.

I looked at the pushpins on the map on my bedroom wall where all the murders had taken place for the past two months. At the epicenter was a synagogue. That's how the Son of Manson found his victims. He's been waiting there at Shearith synagogue.

The following night, I dressed like a Goth teenager and put on a black t-shirt, a black leather pants, a black leather trench coat and a pair of black leather boots and attached a scabbard around my back with a katana sword stuck inside it.

Then, I drove out to the synagogue and stood across the building and waited.

About two hours later, I saw a suspicious man, across the street, staring at a rabbi talking to a mother and daughter. He turned his head from looking at the rabbi to looking at me.

Shit! I thought. I shouldn't have brought katana sword strapped to my back.

He ran and I chased after him, but lost him, when he ran through the crazy twists and turns of the government housing projects.

Fucking A! He's fast!

When I got home, I tried to think of what else I had learned at the old woman's apartment that might help me catch him. Then suddenly, I knew what it was. I put an ad on the dark web, a place where drug dealers, child molesters and money launders meet to conduct their illegal activity without the authorities being able to stop them. An ad for pencil holder made entirely out of the bones of Jewish children should do the trick, I thought. I typed:

One authentic Auschwitz pencil holder made entirely out of bones of Jewish children for sale. Bid starting at one hundred dollars. Pick up only. No delivery. If you have any questions about the product. Please email me at HenryMozart009 .

I waited for several days, and the bid that started out as one hundred dollars steadily grew to a few hundred dollars, and by the end of the fourth day, the final bid ended up to be slightly over five thousand dollars.

The seller then contacted me to meet him with the goods. I emailed him back to meet me this Friday, at the abandoned Loew opera house on 46th Street at midnight to pick up the pencil holder. He emailed me back saying that it was fine and that it was convenient for him to meet me there since he resides in New York anyway.

When Friday came, I put several stakes into the inside pocket of my leather trench coat and drove to the opera house. When I arrived, I entered the building, and hid behind a stage curtain, and waited for him. When he comes looking for me, I thought. I jump out from behind the curtain and stake him before he knows what is happening. Ten minutes later, I heard a voice calling out to me.

"Are you here?"

Good! Come a little closer to the stage.

Footfalls growing a bit louder.

Wait. Just a little closer.

I leapt out with a stake in my hand, and Haufman grabbed me in midair, and slammed me to ground. He then sat on top of my chest, and pummeled me relentlessly on the head.

When I regained consciousness, I heard a whimpering voice, cry out.

"Please don't do this! You don't have to!"

"Good, you're finally awake," said Haufman as he stood over my limp body. "

I can't move. Bones broken. Jagged pain shooting throughout my body.

"As you can see from your vantage point, I have the old Jewish woman that you had saved on my operating table."

"No! Stop! I screamed. "Don't do this! She has nothing to do with this!"

"No," he said. "She has everything to do with this. I saw you that night at the Nazi rally, and I followed you. I saw you beat up your Aryan brothers and saved this despicable old kike. I then said to myself why would a good Aryan beat up his fellow brothers unless his mind was previously poisoned by the lies of that specific, devious, old, Jewish woman.

"Please!" I begged. "Don't . . ."

"Don't do this. I heard you the first time. I'm going to cut into her and show you the difference between us and the Jew."

Haufman picked up a scalpel from the operating kit and cut into the old woman's scalp. She screamed and he cut and cut and cut. And finally, the old woman stopped screaming.

"There," he said with a huge smile across his face. "That wasn't so bad, was it?"

He walked over to where I was lying, and kneeled down beside me, and showed me the old woman's brain.

"You see how much smaller the Jewish brain compared to the Aryan brain. Inferior in every way except for the front occipital lobe. The front occipital lobe is where Jews gets their diabolical thoughts, you know."

I felt sick and puked.

"Come, come," he said. "Don't tell me, you have such weak constitution."

My iPhone beeped, signaling that my four weeks was up with my maker.

"Well, I'll leave you with your thoughts," he said.

He got up and left. I laid there in the dark, waiting for my vampiric blood to heal me. And when it finally did, I walked over to the old woman's body and gazed at her mutilated corpse.

"I'm sorry. I wish I could have done something."

She looked at me with dead glassy fish eyes. I left and went to the Port Authority and bought a one-way bus ticket out of New York.

NEW BEGINNING

Six months later, I had found a new home, made new friends and landed a job as a cook in a small diner, in a town called Minnow, Alaska, out in the great Northern nowhere.

"Going to attend the Running of the Bear celebration tomorrow?" asked the Mayor as I placed an order of fries and a cheeseburger in front of him at the checkout counter.

"What's Running of the Bear?" I asked as I walked back to the grill, flipping the burger meat to the other side.

"The Running of the Bear is a celebration that we have every year to celebrate the polar night."

"What's a polar night?"

"Polar night is the start of sixty five days of total darkness in Alaska without any sunlight due to how far north we are."

"What do you guys do at the celebration?"

"We build a bonfire, have a pie eating contest, and have a beauty contest where we vote for Miss Minnow USA."

"Same girl wins every year," said the waitress as she poured a cup of coffee to a customer. "You should come. It's being held in front of William Dall High School."

"I'll think about it," I said.

"She's right. You should come. And I'm not saying that just because I'm the mayor and it's my job to make all newcomers feel welcome."

"I'll think about it," I said, again.

The next night, I put on my contact lenses to cover up the translucent glow of my vampiric eyes.

I might as well attend the party, I thought. Who knows, I might actually enjoy myself. I got out of my house and walked several blocks, and when I reached the high school, I saw a couple of hundred people standing around tables filled with assortments of pies.

I guess the whole town is here, I smiled.

"Glad you could make it," muttered the mayor as he walked up beside me with a mouth full of blueberry pie.

"Well, in this small town, there isn't much else to do, so I said to myself why not."

"Why don't you try the blueberry pie," said the mayor as he handed me a plate from the table.

"Thanks. Who invented the Running of the Bear?" I asked.

"Oh, it's long story," said the sheriff as he came up from behind the mayor.

"Then give me the Cliff's Note version," I said.

A scream.

What the hell was that?

I turned and saw a wolf, standing on two hind legs, lumbering toward Miss Minnow USA on a makeshift stage. It stood there for a second, and then it bent its head down toward the beauty queen and bit her head right off.

"Jesus Christ!" cried the mayor as the crowd scattered in all directions.

The sheriff pulled his .38 revolver from his holster and fired off two shots into the animal's chest. The wolf stood there, unfazed, and tilted his head up and howled at the bright, full moon in mocking triumph.

Gesturing to the crowd, frozen around a table filled with pies, the sheriff yelled, "Follow me! I know some place that's safe!"

The boom of the sheriff's voice broke the paralysis, and the crowd ran in the direction where he pointed to.

"What was that?" gasped the mayor as he ran.

"Don't know," said the sheriff, trying to catch his own breath. "But there are more of them coming down Main Street."

"Where are we running to?" I asked.

"We'll go back to my place," said the sheriff. "I have a cabin not too far from here."

We went through the woods, and an hour later, we arrived at the cabin. The sheriff ran into his kitchen and picked up the telephone and dialed.

"The line's dead. I can't reach anybody! Those things must have cut the phone lines!"

"Great. That's just great," said the mayor. "The landlines are dead and we're too far away for cell phones or smartphones to work around here."

The sheriff pointed to me and another big man.

"You two follow me," he said.

We went outside and grabbed a couple of hammers, a can of nails and several planks of plywood from the shed. We then went back inside and began boarding up the windows.

"Why don't you tell the new guy about the skinwalkers? said an elderly woman.

"It's all Native American folklore," said the mayor. "It can't be real."

"Those things are real!" said the sheriff "It's the only explanation."

"There must be a scientific explanation to all of this," said the mayor.

"If you don't want to tell him the story," said the sheriff. "I will!"

"I'll tell him," said the mayor.

"A century ago, before the town, Minnow, ever existed, the Inuit people lived here. And according to my great, great grandfather, one day, a raven flew down from the heavens and perched on top of a house. It spoke to the Inuit, promising them that they will find gold at Arrowhead Peak. A few men, wishing to make their fortune, left for the mountain, and for months, no one had heard from them. Until one day, large wolves appeared in the village, walking on hind legs. They mauled and killed whomever they could find. You see, one can imagine what must have happened to the men when they went digging for gold. They must have dug all summer long looking for that elusive gold without thinking ahead, and when winter came, they must have ran out of food, and that's when they resorted to cannibalism to stay alive. That's when the wolf god, Amarock, cursed them and turned them into skinwalkers, or what you, mainlanders, would call as werewolves."

"That's some story," I exclaimed.

"Of course, not everyone was killed by skinwalkers," said the mayor as he lit his cigarette. "A few people were taken prisoners, but they would have been eventually murdered if it wasn't intervention of Nanook, the great, bear spirit. She took pity upon the Inuit and told them that iron is the skinwalkers' weakness. And that's how the Inuit drove the skinwalkers away from this region by making iron weapons."

"But unfortunately, my bullets aren't made out of iron," said the sheriff.

The elderly woman interrupted, "We should get some sleep. It's getting late. We can figure things out tomorrow."

I slept on the floor in front of the fireplace. The next day, noise coming from the kitchen woke me. I sat up and looked over at the kitchen and saw the sheriff and the mayor taking down cans of food from the kitchen cabinets and placing them on the counter.

"There are twelve of us. This food will probably only last for a couple of days," said the sheriff.

"We'll eat dinner only. No breakfast or lunch," replied the mayor.

"That's not going to solve anything. Sooner or later, we'll run out of food," I said as I stepped into the kitchen to join the conversation.

"He's right. What we need to do is to walk to the next town to get help," said the sheriff.

"That's a hundred mile hike!" exclaimed the mayor.

"I know," said the sheriff. "But do you have a better idea?"

"No, I don't. I guess it's our only option given the circumstances."

The sheriff took the cans of food from the counter, and stuffed it into a duffle bag, and when he was done placing the cans of food, he walked out of the cabin and came back with a backpack strapped to his back.

"What's in the pack?" I asked.

"Needed camping supplies," said the sheriff. "We should get going as soon as possible."

We left the cabin, and the twelve of us trudged along the dirt path that was covered with snow, never stopping, except for a single meal a day, and letting our bodies rest for eight hours before hitting the road again, the following day.

"I don't think, we're going to make it," said the sheriff as we walked along the dirt path.

"Sure, we are," I said. "You have to think positively and not give up hope."

"We've been walking for four days straight," said the sheriff. "And we're only barely halfway there."

"Okay," I said "It take us a little bit longer than plan."

"You don't get it," he said. "We ate the last can food yesterday."

That night, when everyone slept, I left the campsite and went hunting. I walked around the woods, wandering here and there, looking for footprints of animals, before finally coming upon them on the snow bank by the river. I followed it and not long after, I stumbled upon a stag, chewing on snow covered grass. I picked a hefty size rock off the ground and threw it as hard as I could. The stag's front and back legs buckled under him when the rock struck it on the chest. I ran over, and hovered over the animal, as it lay on the ground, breathing heavily.

"I'm sorry," I said.

I bent my head down, and sank my fangs into the stag's neck. Its body spasmed violently, with its head and legs, kicking in all directions, before it stopped moving all together. I lifted the poor animal up off the ground and placed it over my shoulder and carried it all the way back to camp.

"What the blazes?" exclaimed the mayor, groggily, as I nudged him, awake with my foot.

"It's dinnertime," I said as I dropped the stag onto the hard, icy ground.

There was loud thud and the people gathered around us and stared at the stag in disbelief.

"How did you catch that thing?" asked the sheriff.

"I hit it with a large stone."

"You're kidding," said the mayor.

"Nope. I just made a sling like the one David used on Goliath."

The sheriff grabbed his backpack off the ground and walked into the woods. Ten minutes later, he came back out with three large branches. He dropped the branches to the ground and took a small shovel out of his backpack.

"What are you doing?" I asked as he began digging with the shovel.

"I'm making a spit to roast the stag."

About twenty minutes later, he dug two holes about nine feet apart and then, he planted the two larger branches into the two holes.

"Give me a hand," he said.

He took out several ropes out his backpack and tied the third branch to the top part of the two larger branches. I ran over and helped him lift the carcass up and positioned the inner thighs of the stag near the third branch.

"Tied the legs together," he said to the mayor.

The mayor grabbed the rope from the ground and tied the stag's legs.

About half an hour later, I couldsmell the delicious aroma of cooked meat.

"That's was quite something. I didn't know you were such a great hunter," said the sheriff.

"I'm not," I said. "I just got lucky, that's all."

"Thanks to you, we have a fighting chance now. Anything we don't eat tonight, we could cut it up and store it in the duffle bag for later use."

The next day, when we broke camp, a little, eight year old girl in our group was coughing and wheezing, uncontrollably.

"What's wrong with her?" asked the mayor as the sheriff puts his hand over the girl's forehead.

"She has a high fever."

The sheriff took a thermometer out of his backpack and placed it into the girl's mouth. Five minutes later, He took it out and looked at it, and said, "It's 105 degree."

The girl coughed up green, yellowish phlegm into her palm.

"She has pneumonia," said an elderly woman. "I recognized the symptoms because I had it a while back."

"We should cut through the woods and go through the old McCormack railroad track. It will save us a day walk to Augustine," said the sheriff.

We took the detour, and about five hours later, we were at the old train track.

I looked at the tracks, and understood why the mayor was so reluctant to go through this way.

The tracks were on top of an iron grid that was sixty feet above ground, and it didn't look safe at all. Some of the planks were rotted away with baseball size holes, while others were so rotted that the once long ago completed solid plank was now separated into two, tiny planks with jagged edges. There was a sign in front of the old train tracks with bold black letters that read: DANGER! DO NOT CROSS!

"It looks really dangerous," I said.

"It is," said the sheriff. "But it will save us a day walk if we go over it.

"It's a sixty foot drop down to the river if one of those planks gives way," said the mayor.

"What do you want to do," snapped the sheriff. "Go back?"

"No," said the mayor, reluctantly. "We came this far. We might as well go the rest of the way."

We treaded carefully, looking apprehensively at each plank as we came upon it. Then suddenly, I heard a crash from behind me. A girl had gone through one of the planks and was grasping onto a rail for dear life.

"Hold on!" I yelled. "I'm coming!"

I ran and then, I knelt down on one knee, trying to grab the girl's arm. But I was a second too late, I could hear her screamed as her hand let go of the beam and she plummeted to the dark, moving water below.

"No!" I screamed.

"There's nothing you could have done," said the sheriff as he walked up beside me and rested his hand on my shoulder. "These kinds of things just happen. Bad things do happen to good people sometimes, you know."

"I know," I said.

We continued walking, the rest of the way in silence.

That night, around the campfire, the sheriff took out his battery operated radio and turned it on. We sat, listening to a right-wing radio host, and then to pop music. Then, a newsbreak came on after a Brittany Spear song. A serious, baritone voice announced: a Polar Vortex will be coming through Alaska around 9:00 am, tomorrow. It will blanket the uppermost Northern area anywhere between ten to fifteen feet of snow.

"What are we going to do?" I asked, a little frightened about what was going to happen to the people sitting beside me since they weren't immune to the cold as I was.

"I don't know," said the sheriff. "I just don't know."

We got up the following day, and continued our trek westward in hope of reaching Augustine before the Polar Vortex arrives. What was jubilation only twenty-four hours ago with the feasting of the stag was now replaced with fear and apprehension.

"I've been thinking about our problem," said the sheriff. "If we head toward Arrowhead Peak and if we could find a cave there. Then maybe we could ride out the storm."

"That's a big maybe," I said.

"Yeah, I know. But do you have a better idea?"

"No," I answered. "I don't."

We hiked toward Arrowhead Peak, the same mountain where the Inuit ate one another.

"You see anything yet?" asked the sheriff as he stood below the huge mountain. "Any opening?"

I shield my eyes with my palm, looking up through the blinding snow and pointed.

"Yeah," I answered. "Up there. That's looks like a cave opening."

"We're screwed," said the sheriff. "There's no way we could get up there without any climbing gear."

I dreaded this moment for so long. I lived in this town, pretending to be something that I'm not. But now, everyone was going to learn the truth about me, and whatever connection that I had established between me and the townspeople will never be the same again.

I concentrated and my fingers elongate and my canines protrude pass my upper lip.

"What are you?" stammered the sheriff as he took a few steps away from me.

"A vampire," I said. "But that's not important right now. We have to get everyone up there before the storm hits."

Everyone stood still, frozen with fear.

"Listen!" I yelled. "I know you're scared right now. But you guys know me. I'm still the same guy that you know who brought you burgers, fries, and a milkshake."

Still nobody moved.

"We don't have much time," I pleaded. "The storm is coming. If we don't get up there, you'll freeze to death."

Then suddenly, a little four-year old girl stepped forth away from the crowd and lifted up her tiny hand up toward me to hold and said in soft, delicate voice, "I'll go with you."

I lifted the girl up and told her to wrap her tiny, little arms around my throat. I scaled the snow covered mountain and within minutes, I was inside the cave with the little girl.

"Stay here," I said. "I'm going to get the rest of the people."

She nodded.

I went back down and yelled, "Who's next?"

One by one, I brought them back up to the cave and when that was done; we built a fire and gathered around the flames.

"Mind telling me your story here?" asked the sheriff.

"It's a long one," I answered.

"We're not going anywhere soon," he grinned.

I told him about my life in Afghanistan and about how I met a vampire after leaving a local, neighborhood bar.

"That's some story," said the sheriff. "I never would have believed a single word of it if I hadn't seen it with my own two eyes when you transformed."
"Yeah," I supposed."

The next day when the Polar Vortex died down, I carried the townspeople back down to the base of the mountain and we walked for another three days before we finally reached Augustine. The place which we had thought as a safe haven was completely destroyed. There were dead bodies, lying on the street, cars flipped over on its back and side, and store and residential building windows smashed to pieces.

"What in God's name do you think happened here?" asked the mayor.

"Maybe this town was attacked by skinwalkers too," I said.

"Then we should get off the street!" barked the sheriff. "The quicker the better!"

"Where should we go?" I asked.

"To the sheriff's department. To armed ourselves just in case your theory is correct."

We hurried along the streets, turning our heads this way and that, looking for skinwalkers. But there were no skinwalkers, or any other person to be seen anywhere. Then when we came to the center of town, we stopped and stood there, rooted to the ground and stared in disbelief.

There were three crucified corpses in front of the sheriff's office.

"You think the sheriff is still alive?" asked the mayor.

"Don't know," said the sheriff. "But there's only one way of finding out."

We went into the sheriff's office. There was an unshaven, unkempt man locked behind a cell door.

"You got to get me out of here!" he begged. "I thought I was the only one still alive in this town."

"What happened here?" asked the sheriff.

"You mean, you don't know?" he laughed, crazily.

"No. We don't," said the mayor. "Mind telling us what happened here?"

"We were attacked by werewolves. They were looking for something called a Nunavut."

"What's that?" I asked the mayor. "You never mentioned the word Nunavut in your story."

"Never heard of it," said the mayor as he went through the drawers, looking for the key to the cell.

"They kept torturing people, trying to get answer to the location of the Nunavut," laughed the unkempt man.

"I don't get it," I said. "Why are you still alive while everyone else is dead?"

"I think they forgot about me in all the commotion. I heard them talking outside my cell about moving westward from town to town until they find the Nunavut," said the man.

"What's the next town west of this town," I asked.

"Juneau," said the sheriff. "And it isn't a town; it's a city with a population of thirty thousand people."

"They can't hurt a city that big with only a dozen skinwalkers," said the mayor.

"Are we calling werewolves: skinwalkers," laughed the unkempt man. "There were hundreds of these skinwalkers, not dozen."

"We've got to warn them," I said.

The sheriff walked over to the mayor and took the keys from him and unlocked the unkempt man from his cell.

"Come on," he said to me. "Let's go."

We took the patrol car parked outside the sheriff's office and the sheriff drove as fast as he could.

But life is often full of unpleasant surprises. The patrol car that we were driving hit black ice and the car slid sideway, slamming head first into a large pine tree. When I came to, I found myself lying in bed with an old man holding a cane, hovering over me.

"How are you feeling?" he asked.

"I'm fine," I said, trying to get up.

"I think you better lie back down," said the old man.

"The sheriff, is he okay?"

"I'm afraid your friend isn't with us anymore. He died in the crash."

"My leg?"

"It's broken."

"Do you have a landline? I need to make a phone call."

"I'm afraid not," he answered.

"The people in Juneau, they're in danger," I said.

"In danger of werewolves?" he asked, dubiously. "Your friend said the same thing before he died. But it doesn't matter, I don't have a phone or a car and unless you can heal up and walk there yourself and warn them."

The next night, I rose from my bed with my leg, completely healed. I remembered before the crash, there was a huge road sign that read: Ninety miles to Juneau.

It's might not be too late, I thought. I got to at least try. I started walking and then I saw them. On the road, there were half a dozen of dead, disemboweled skinwalkers.

What the hell happened? I thought.

Who could have killed them?

I continued walking and when I got to Juneau, I took a cab to the airport and then, I took the first flight back to the mainland. I moved around for a while, always looking over my shoulder, thinking that Marius would eventually find me.

WHITE MAN'S BURDEN

One night, when I was in my hotel room in Los Angeles, something stranger than meeting Marius or running into werewolves happened.

I was watching the news and hoping to hear something about dead skinwalkers out in nowhere Alaska, when suddenly, I heard murmuring coming from the corner of the room. I looked over my easy chair, and saw a big man, standing in shadow.

I couldn't see his face.

"Who's there?" I asked, thinking it was Marius.

He stepped out of the corner.

It was O.J. Simpson. He was standing there, wearing tight, black, leather gloves and holding onto a 12 inch kitchen knife, dripping with blood.

"I've been waiting for you," he said.

"You can't be here," I answered. "You're in prison."

"Oh, I'm here. I'm here to teach you the ways of killing. If it don't fit, then you must acquit."

He walked over and slid the kitchen knife across the coffee table toward me.

"What do you want me to do with that?" I asked.

"I think we both know what you want to do."

"I'm not going to hurt anybody."

"If you're afraid of being caught: don't. You know, Cosby and I used to have a rape and slash party. He would drug his victims with Quaaludes and then raped them. I remembered once he was humping this chick over a table and screaming, "You really like my pudding popped, don't you? Yeah baby, Jell-O everywhere." Boy, he was one sick motherfucker, I gotta tell you. But we had fun. Once he was done with his banging, I did my stabbing and then we took the body and dumped it into the water. Voila, all evidence gone."

I pressed my hands against my temple and pressed my eyes shut, and screamed, "No! This can't be happening! I'm loosing my mind!"

Then when I opened my eyes again and looked across the room, he was gone like he was never there at all.

I didn't sleep very well for the next three days, afraid I was going to see O.J. in my sleep as well as seeing him when I was awake. Then on the fourth night, he appeared again. He was sitting on my lazy boy chair with his feet up on the coffee table and sipping a bottle of Sam Adams.

"Best beer in the world," he said.

"What do you want?"

"You know what I want. Come on, it's fun. Didn't you ever stab an apple with a knife and like the way how it stuck? Well, it's like that with a person but only better."

"You're not really here! You're a figment of my imagination!"

"I'm no figment. You know that deep down in your heart. But I do know someone who deserves a death sentence."

"Who?"

"The writer and producer of the Smurf's television show."

"What?" I asked, incredulously. "What did he do?"

"Come on; don't tell me you're so blinded to the truth?" The Smurf television show is Nazi propaganda."

"You're kidding me."

"Think about it. When Smurfette had black hair, she was evil, and when she had blonde hair, she was good. And Gargamel, a stereotype of an evil Jew that only wants gold. And look at that nose that he has. What a nose! If there ever was a Jewish nose that would be it. And the Smurfs, well, they represent the good old boys of the KKK. You notice how they all have white hoods? What other social group in America that you know all have white hoods on their heads?"

"They don't all have white hoods. Poppa Smurf has a red hood."

"Yeah, just like the grand wizard of the KKK."

I was silent for a while, thinking about what he had just said. It does make sense in a weird sort of way. True Blood is an allegory for the gay right movement, isn't it?

"You see the truth now, don't you?" he asked. "Take the kitchen knife and stab that son of a bitch."

"No, I don't believe you."

"Yes, you do."

And just like that, for the second time, as I looked across the room, O.J. Simpson was gone.

I'm losing it. I really need to talk to someone. I contacted my VA shrink through Skype.

"Let me get this straight," she said. "You spoke to O.J. Simpson and you think America's favorite dad, Cosby, is a serial rapist, and the all time favorite children's television show, the Smurf, is nothing more than propaganda for a Nazi group."

"I know it sounds crazy."

"It is crazy. I think you're having a psychotic break from reality. The stress and the guilt of having loss your friends to a biker gang in Alaska are affecting your conscious thought."

Yeah right, I thought, sarcastically. Biker gang. What else was I going to say, skinwalkers?

"Henry, are you listening to me? I need you to check yourself in to the nearest hospital right now! You're a danger to yourself as well as to everybody that is around you!"

"I can't do that."

"Why not?"

Because I might rip the throats out of everyone in the hospital when I have my blood thirst, I thought.

"Henry?"

"I've got to go doc. It was nice talking to you."

"Henry, don't go."

I disconnected the line.

What am I going to do? I can't even fall asleep now due to the constant fear of O.J. coming back to my apartment.

Then the following night, O.J. appeared again, sitting on my lazy boy chair and smoking a Marlboro cigarette.

"Have you decided what you're going to do?" he asked.

"About what?"

"You know, about killing the writer and producer of the Smurf television show."

"It's not Nazi propaganda," I argued.

"Are you sure?" he asked with a sympathetic smile. "Why don't you find out where he lives and check him out."

"Just check him out."

"Yeah, I don't want anything more than that."

I took my smartphone out of my pants pocket and got on the L.A. Times website. I scrolled through several articles about the writer and producer of the Smurf television show until I found an article with a picture of him, standing next to a Mercedes Benz with a license plate that read: NOS42.

The next day, I drove to the RMV and stood in line. It took me twenty minutes before I was able to reach the clerk's window.

I flashed the clerk my badge and Special Agent ID.

"I need the address of the person who owns this vehicle."

I handed him a piece of paper with the license plate number NOS42.

"Why are you looking for him?"

"He's wanted for armed robbery."

The clerk typed into his keyboard.

"Are you able to find the address?"

"He lives at 50 River Boulevard in Franklin Hills."
I drove to the producer's home, and parked my car outside his house. I tailed him wherever he went, and then about a week later, he drove to Friday Night Steak and Grill. I followed him into the restaurant and sat down at a booth, two tables away from him. About ten minutes later, Haufman entered the establishment and sat down on a bench across from him.

"Do you need any more proof?" asked O.J.

"That doesn't mean he deserves a death sentence even if he does make cartoon, Nazi propaganda," I said.

"Please both he and Haufman are serial killers. Check out his house if you don't believe me."

I got up from the bench and drove to the producer's home. I wanted to see if the producer was truly a killer. I slipped through an open window, and walked around the kitchen looking for evidence, then I went through the living room to look for evidence, and then finally, I went down to the basement floor.

I turned on the lights and saw a plethora of Nazi memorabilia. There were two Nazi flags on the wall, and on the adjacent wall, was a German, propaganda poster and a frame photo of Hitler giving a one arm salute.

"He made that, you know," said O.J., standing on the bottom steps, and pointing to a workbench table filled with war medals and a lamp made entirely out of human skin and bones.

"I've seen enough," I answered.

I walked back up the stairs and pulled out 12 inch kitchen knife from the kitchen drawer. Then, I walked up the stairs to the second floor. I could hear a person breathing heavily as I stood in the hallway outside a bedroom door.

He must have left the bar a few minutes after I did, I thought.

I pushed the door open, and it creaked as it moved forward.

"Who's there?" asked the producer, sitting up and squinting into the dark, trying to see who had just walked into his room.

I stepped forward and raised the kitchen knife above my head.

"No," he screamed, holding his hands up, in a defensive motion.

"You have to pay for your crimes."

I stabbed him three times: once on the shoulder, and twice on the chest. Large, red blotches appeared on his pajamas.

"Why are you doing this?" he gasped as trickles of blood streamed out from the corner of his mouth.

"Be quiet! You have to pay for your crimes. You kill people, and make lamps out of their remains."

"I'm not a Nazi, and I've never killed anybody."

"You're lying. I saw your Neo-Nazi memorabilia and the lamp in your basement."

"Not mine. A client gave them to me as a gift. I just keep it to keep him happy."

"Haufman?"

"Yes. Haufman."

"And he gives you money to create cartoon Nazi propaganda?"

"Yes. But never killed anybody."

"Let it go. Sometimes bad things happen to good people for no good reason at all. That's life," said the sheriff's voice inside my head.

I dropped the kitchen knife and it thudded loudly on the floor. I left, and the following evening, I was glad to see on the news that the producer had survived my attack. What I was even more glad of was that O.J. Simpson didn't return to me anymore when I was awake or asleep.

TRAINING DAY

Two teargas canisters shattered the window panes. Can hardly breathe! Blue smokes are everywhere. Skin's on fire and eyes are watering. Thick globs of mucous are coming through my nose. Then suddenly through the thick, blue haze of smoke, two, tiny pieces of metal flies through the air, and hit me squarely on the chest. Electricity shoots through my body, and I'm lying on the floor and flapping around like a fish out of water.

"Welcome to your first day of training," sneered a tall, thin, black man in a shiny, black, Armani suit.

Blacking out.

When I came to, I found myself inside a dungeon with a row of steel bars in front of me.

"Come," said Marius, standing outside my cell. "We have much to discuss."

He placed a key into the keyhole and opened the door. I followed him down a long, stone hallway and up a flight of stone steps and into a richly furnished room. There was Rembrandt paintings on the wall, a Persian rug covering the entire floor, an expensive brown leather couch with two end tables on each side in front of a roaring fireplace, and a mini-bar, stocked full of elegantly, designed, crystal bottles filled with red liquid.

Marius floated across the room toward the mini-bar and picked up one of the crystal bottle off the shelf and poured the thick, red, gooey liquid into a wine glass.

"Would you like one?"

"No."

"I never would have pulled you out into the sunlight even if you had failed to catch the Son of Manson," he said as he sat down on a leather couch.

"No? You sure sound convincing."

"It was just a motivational technique, that's all."

"What about the other vampires that you've made? Are they still alive?"

"Yes, they're still alive. They're being train to fight in an upcoming war."

What war?"

"Have you ever heard of the Aryan Nation?"

"Yeah. I did some investigation into the group when I was trying to find the Son of Manson. They're a bunch of white supremacists who are involved in illegal activities such as racketeering, prostitution and dealing drugs.

"That's right. But what you don't know is that there are two groups in the Aryan Nation. The outer group is made up of human, white supremacists, and the inner group is made up of World War II, ex-Nazi powered by the strength of the undead."

"When you say the strength of the undead, are you saying vampires?"

"That's precisely what I'm saying. Just because you died and came back as a vampire that doesn't mean your ideology has changed. In fact, I've been fighting them for over forty years, trying to stop them from bringing forth a Fourth Reich into this world."

"I was with the skinheads at the warehouse, they didn't appear to …"

"To know about the vampires. Most of the outer core doesn't even know that the inner core exists at all. But now, I faced one of the greatest challenges of my immortal life."

"What challenge?"

"Perhaps, I should start from the very beginning."

He handed me a black leather bound book from the end table and said, "Read Genesis: the part about Cain and Abel."

"I already know the bible."

"Not this one."

I took the book from him and read:

On the sixth day, God created man in his image and woman from the ribs of man, and God saw every thing that He had made, and behold, it was good. And on the seventh day, He rested.

And the man, Adam, knew his wife, Eve; and she conceived and bare Cain, and she said, "I have gotten a man from the Lord."

And again, she bare his brother, Abel.

And in process of time it came to pass that Abel brought forth plenty of the fruits from the ground while Cain brought forth little.

And when Cain and Abel were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel and slew him over the fruits of the land.

And God said unto Cain, "Where is Abel thy brother?"

And he said, "I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?"

And God said, "What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto Me from the ground. And now thou art cursed, when thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; and thou shalt be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth and drinketh the blood of beasts and fowls forever."

I placed the book back down at the end table and looked at him in disbelief.

"You're telling me that vampires came from Cain?"

"If you believe in the biblical tales written by Enoch instead of Seth."

"Who's Enoch and who's Seth?"

"Enoch is the son of Cain and Seth is the son of Abel," he grinned. "The good book that you know is written in the perspective of Abel's son and the book that vampires read is written in the perspective of Cain's son."

"Why did you have me read this perverted version of the bible?"

"We've caught one of the outer members of the Aryan Nation. We tortured information out of him, and he told us that vampires of the inner core are trying to find the leader."

"You think they're trying to find Cain?"

"Yes, and with Cain's help, the balance of power will inevitably tip over in their favor. That is why I want you to be trained and help me stop them from enlisting Cain's help. "

He got up from the couch and walked over to the front door and opened it.

"I want you to come with me," he said.

I went outside with him, and on the lawn, stood a black man in a shiny, black Armani suit.

"I believed you guys already met," said Marius. "This is Slaughterhouse Five."

"I'm going to train you to fight in the Nazi war," said the black man in the Armani suit.

"What if I don't want to be part of this?"

"You're speaking as if I gave you a choice," said Marius.

"If I don't do it?"

"Then, I will pull you out into the sunlight, and this time it isn't a motivational technique."

The next evening, when I rose from my vampiric slumber, I went downstairs and waited for the Slaughter House Five in the foyer.

"Are you ready?" asked Slaughterhouse Five as he stepped through the front door and into the foyer.

"Yes."

We went outside and got into his van and drove down the Interstate Highway 495.

"Why are you called Slaughterhouse Five? I mean, your mom didn't name you that did she?"

"No, that's the name I took when I became a vampire."

"Why did you give yourself that name?"

"To remind myself of what had happened to me and my family during the Second World War."

"What happened?"

"During the war, I was taken prisoner with my mom and sister and brought to the fifth concentration camp in Auschwitz. I would have died there with the rest of my family if it wasn't for Phillippe who took mercy on me."

"Who's Phillippe?"

"Phillippe is a patriotic, French vampire who hated the Nazis for invading his country, and when he stormed the camp to kill Nazis, he saw me, lying on the prison, barrack bed, dying of starvation, and he took pity, and turned me into an immortal."

"And the name Slaughterhouse Five came from you being incarcerated in the fifth concentration camp in Auschwitz."

"Yes.

"How did you meet Marius?"

"After the war ended, I came to America to make a new start. I lived in Harlem during the 1940's and 50's. Then one day, I heard rumors that a white supremacist group had cropped up in the neighborhood and were terrorizing black people."

"Is that how you met Marius and joined the fight against the Aryan Nation?"

"Yes. I went to the locale where there have been frequent attacks against black people. Then one night in the back alley behind the Cotton Club, I saw Marius killing two, white supremacists, and he told me about the Aryan Nation, and his plan on destroying the racist organization."

"What's that?" I asked, pointing to a large gym bag filled with stakes and what appeared to be a Buck Roger ray-gun sticking out of the bag.

"It's a UV gun."

"Do I get one after I finished my training?"

"It's a prototype. It's the only one of its kind."

We drove the rest of the way in silence until we drove by my old neighborhood.

"Could we stop here for a moment?"

"Why?"

"My house is over there," I said. "I haven't seen my mom for about six months and I want to let her know that I'm okay."

"I see," he said, pensively, mulling it over in his head. "You got ten minutes."

I got out of the van and walked up the steps and jammed the key into my old, familiar door. I opened it, and my mom, lying on the couch, saw me.

"Henry," she exclaimed. "Where were you? I got one phone call from you in which you told me not to worry. But where have you been for the past six months?"

"I was in Alaska."

"Why did you go there?"

"I got into some trouble with some bad people in the neighborhood and had to disappear for while."

"And you couldn't call me when you were there?"

"It's out in the middle of nowhere and the small apartment which I could afford had no landlines."

"Then why didn't you used your smartphone to call me?"

"It's too far out where I was living. There's no signal there."

Tears streamed down my mom's face, and she came over and hugged me.

"Mom, everything's okay now. I just drop by to say hi."

"Why?" Where are you going? You're not going out again, are you?"

"I'll be back. I promise. I just have to go out for a little while."

"Where?"

"I got to meet some friends. I'll be back in a couple of hours. I promise."

I returned to the van, not feeling good about leaving so abruptly, but my ten minutes was up and I didn't want Slaughterhouse Five coming into my house to get me.

"Now that you've gotten that all out of your system," said Slaughterhouse Five. "We can start your training without anymore interruption."

We drove for another twenty minutes before we finally reached Brownsville, a place so crime ridden that the neighborhood motto is "Never ran, never will."

"We're here," he said, parking the van in front of an abandoned building.

We got out and walked to the back alley. Then, we climbed up the fire escape at the side of the abandoned building until we reached the rooftop.

"Why are we here?" I asked.

"To start your training. I want you to jump from this building to the next building."

"It must be a twenty feet difference between this building to the next. I'll break every bone in my body if I don't hit the rooftop."

"Jump or do you want me to push you? Well, what's it going to be?"

This is crazy, I thought.

"I will push you!"

I jumped, praying that I was going to make it. But God doesn't always listen. Just like he didn't listen when my dad was killed at the World Trade Center or when I was blown to bits in Afghanistan. I felt my bones crunched as I hit the concrete pavement below. Blood poured out from my head and body.

I'm gong to die, I thought.

And for the second time, since meeting Slaughterhouse Five, I blacked out. When I regained consciousness, I found myself chained to a dungeon wall.

"Good. You're finally awake."

"What is this?"

"Shut up! You see that ring of keys over there. I want you to move it."

"Move it. How? I can't even reach it."

"You can move it, telekinetically. Vampires have that ability. Move the keys toward you and free yourself."

He left, leaving me chained to the wall.

I concentrated, trying to block out the pain from the fall and move the keys, telekinetically, but nothing happen.

On the third day, lying there in pain and dying of thirst, I heard voices, calling to me from the darkness.

"He's not coming back. He wants you to die!"

"Shut up," I yelled.

"He sees you as competition."

"No! "He wants me to be a better fighter. He's training me."

"Training you," mocked a woman's voice. "You called this training. You're going to die."

"No," I muttered. "He's coming back. Coming back."

I drifted in and out of consciousness.

When I woke, I found myself, lying on a bed with an IV tube stuck to my forearm.

"How long was I out?"

"About two days," answered Marius.

A figure stepped forth from behind Marius and stood beside him. It was my VA shrink, and she had long canines protruding pass her upper lip.

"No! For God's sake, No! Not you too!"

"Hello, Henry. We haven't spoken in quite a while."

She took my hand and pulled the IV tubes out of my forearm.

"I like you to come with me."

I followed her out into the hallway and into a room which had been set up like a psychiatrist's office with a black leather couch for me to lie on.

"What do you want?" I asked.

She went behind a mahogany desk and pulled out a crystal bottle filled with red liquid.

"Care to join me?"

"No. I don't drink human blood."

"What do you do to quench your thirst?"

"I drink the blood of lab mice that I order on Amazon."

"You can order anything on Amazon nowadays, can't you?"

"Yes."

"What have you been up to since last time we spoke besides becoming a vampire?"

"I've been training with a man named Slaughterhouse Five."

"Yes. Marius told me about him. Why do you think you haven't progressed with your vampiric powers?"

"I don't know. I don't want to be part of this anymore."

"You think Marius is just going to let you leave?"

"I'll fight if I have to."

"Give me freedom or give me death, is that it?"

I opened the door and walked down the stairs to the foyer.

Marius, standing at the catwalk above me, asked, "Done already?"

"Let him go," said my VA shrink. "We're done here."

I left and ordered an Uber on my smartphone. Thirty minutes later, the driver picked me up and drove me back home.

"Mom," I yelled as I opened the front door, expecting to see her sitting on the couch and watching favorite television show, Friends.

"What the hell do you think you're doing? I asked.

My mom was gagged and tied to a chair with mascara, running down the side of her face.

"I've spoken to your shrink," said Slaughterhouse Five. "She thinks that the reason you're not manifesting your true power is because you need real motivation. That's why I made sure I got back to your house before you did."

"I can't believe your doing this after what happened to your own family."

"This is precisely why I'm doing this. I pledged to myself that I would do anything to stop the Nazis from coming into power again."

I gritted my teeth and snarled "Let her go! I won't ask again!"

"Why don't you make me? Because if you don't stop me, I will rip her entrails out and eat it!"

I lunged forward and dug both my thumbs into his eyes.

"Motherfucker!" he screamed.

I concentrated. The kitchen drawer in the next room over slid opened and three, large, kitchen knives flew through the air and struck him in the back.

"Aargh!" he screamed, toppling over to the ground and trying to pull out the knives that were deeply embedded into his back.

"Am I accessing my true power now?" I yelled.

I delivered several, sharp, swift kicks to his temple.

Silence. He wasn't moving.

My mom stared at me in disbelief.

"Everything is going to be all right," I said as I walked up behind her and untied the rope. I reached into Slaughterhouse Five pants' pocket and took out his van key.

"Go to your sister's house," I said. "And don't come home until I call you."

I drove to Marius's home, holding a UV gun, rigid with anger and hate, ready to kill him. I opened the front door of the chateau and walked into the living room where Marius was standing in front of the fireplace, with his hands clasped behind his back.

"I've been expecting you," he said, staring into the fireplace.

"Fuck your Nazi war! You're going to die for coming after my mom!"

"Your mom?" he said in surprise tone.

"Yeah, Slaughterhouse Five threatened to kill her if I couldn't access my true power."

"I'm sorry," he said.

He turned and looked at me.

"I didn't know. The only thing that I was told over the phone by Slaughterhouse Five is that you're ready to fight in the upcoming war."

"He's not dead?"

"It takes a lot more than kitchen knives and kicks to head to kill him."

He looked down at my UV gun.

"You're planning on using that on me?"

"Depends, are you still going to try to force me in joining your goddamn war?"

"I think I'm going about this all wrong. I shouldn't have sent you to track down Son of Manson, he was way too powerful and you weren't ready to take him on, and in retrospect, Slaughterhouse Five probably wasn't the best person to choose to be your mentor. But I do need your help."

"Why should I help you after what you put me through?"

"Because I've given you your leg back. I've given you a second chance."

I stood there, thinking about what he had just said and about the obligation that I owed him.

"You want me to stop the Aryan Nation from finding Cain?"

"No, I could see now that you tired of war and don't want to be in another one. But I do need your help in stopping Candy Man since I don't have any time to deal with him right now."

"How is a serial killer in San Francisco involved in any of this?"

"Don't really know. The information that we gathered on the Aryan Nation mentioned him by name. Are you going to help me stop this serial killer?"

"I'll help if Candy Man isn't a vampire like the Son of Manson."

"No, I don't believe he is. The victims didn't have any puncture wounds on their neck and they weren't drained of blood."

"After this, we're even. I don't want you bothering me or my mother anymore."

He handed me a daylight ring.

I took it and asked, "Do we have a deal?"

He nodded and we shook hands.

TRICK OR TREAT

The next day, I flew to San Francisco and walked around Mission District neighborhood where a woman was reported missing for the past week. I heard barking in the back alley as I walked pass a Mexican restaurant.

"Easy there fella," I said.

The dog continued barking and pawing at a dumpster. I lifted up the lid and saw an elderly woman, lying there with half of her lower torso, completely gone. She was gripping onto a Gucci purse as if the purse could have saved her life.

"Help me!" she seemed to be screaming through those desolated eyes. "Somebody please help me!"

The next day, I went to the city morgue and introduced myself to the medical examiner as Special Agent Mozart of the FBI.

"Your buddies came by this morning."

"I know. I'm doing a follow up to make sure that we didn't miss anything."

"I'm actually glad you came by. I've forgot to give them this.

He hands me a folded piece of paper.

"I've found this inside the lady's purse."

I unfolded it and read:

A Chocolate Ecstasy in Candy Land

M & M has always considered himself the Master of the Universe.

That is until he met Hershey Kisses at a party on Fifth Avenue.

She gently held and fondled his chocolate Bon Bon during the party but his Tootsie Roll was soft as a Chewy Twizzlers.

She stroked his Tootsie Roll up and down, rigorously, and soon it became as hard as a Mars Bar and it shot forth goober all over her cupcake.

"Oh Henry," she said with Almond Joy in her eyes. "It melts in your mouth but not in your hand."

"True that," he said. "True That."

"My god, that's really sick!" I said. "It's like Fifty Shades of Grey but perverted to the hundredth degree."

That's why they called him, Candy Man. He murders his victims and leaves handful of Hershey Kisses, and a poem, or a short story about confectionary beside the body.

"What is this black smudge?"

I bent my head down and sniffed the paper.

"It's Cuban cigar ash," said the medical examiner.

"They're illegal in the U.S.. How did Cuban cigar ash got on the paper?"

"There is a place in San Francisco where you can purchase them."

"Where?"

"Ramirez. But I wouldn't go there alone if I were you?"

"Why?"

"Because it is owned and run by the Cuban Mafia."

"I can handle myself."

I left the morgue, and got on the subway. An hour later, I got off at 16th Street Mission Station and walked five blocks before arriving at the cigar store. I went inside, and a Cuban behind the glass showcase, asked, "Can I help you?"

I reached over and pulled him forward, and shoved his face against the glass pane.

"What I want to know is which clients of yours buy Cuban cigars."

"A bunch of them!" he squealed.

He reached toward the gun that was tucked underneath his chino pants. I pushed down harder on his head and grabbed the .38 with my other hand.

"Don't try that again! Do you have a list of people who buy them or what?"

"No! Why would I keep a list? They're illegal in the U.S.."

"Okay, I'm going to sit in that chair over there. And every time a customer comes in to buy Cuban cigars, I want you to give me a nod."

"Why? What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to take a picture of them with my smartphone. And don't get any bright ideas about calling your Cuban friends or else."

I gestured with the .38 that I was going to shoot him if he did anything funny.

I sat down on a chair, beside the door and tucked the .38 into my waistline. I eyed the clerk, as the people came in and out, buying Cuban cigars. Then around lunchtime, an eighty-year old woman came into the store, and bought a dozen, Cuban cigars. I took a picture of her with my smartphone, and she turned and looked at me.

There's something wrong here. She looks way too nervous.

I followed her out of the store and then the weirdest thing happened. The old woman's physical form changed. She went from being eighty-years old to being twenty-years old. Her hair went from blonde to brunette and her facial features change also. Her wide nose became pointier, and her eyes went from emerald green to ocean blue.

What the hell? What have I gotten myself into?

She scampered down the stairs toward the subway platform. I chased after her but lost her when the train doors closed.

"Fuck!"

I banged my fist against the door as the train headed out.

I took the next train, and got off at Civic Center UN Plaza station. I walked three blocks before reaching the Philip Burton Federal Building. A security guard greeted me as I walked pass the automatic doors.

"Please empty your pockets," he said.

I threw my keys and wallet into a blue tray and walked pass the metal detector.

"What office are you here for?"

"FBI," I said as I picked up my keys and wallet from the tray.

"It's on twentieth floor."

I took the elevator to the twentieth floor. When I got out, there was a sign in the hallway with an arrow pointing to the FBI office. I followed it, and a few second later, I came upon a receptionist behind a plexiglass booth.

"Can I help you?"

I flashed my badge and ID.

"Special Agent Mozart from New York. I would like to see the Special Agent in Charge."

She buzzed the door and said, "Go straight. It's the third door on the right."

I walked pass a row of agents and tapped my knuckles on the third door.

"Come in."

I opened the door.

"You don't know me," I said, showing him my badge and ID. "I'm Special Agent Mozart from the New York field office."

"What do you want?"

"I have some information that might help you with the Candy Man case."

"What is it?"

I held up my smartphone and showed him the picture of the eighty-year old woman.

"If you could have someone here run a facial recognition through the RMV, then we might be able to catch the killer."

"Who is she?"

"Someone who witnessed a murder in the Candy Man case."

"Come with me," he said, getting up off his chair. We walked pass a row of desks and into an office.

"Yes, can I help you?" asked a man, wearing a horn-rimmed glasses.

"I need you to run a facial recognition," said the Special Agent in Charge.

"Can you find this person?" I said, handing him my smartphone.

Using a USB cable, he connected my smartphone to his computer.

"This will take a few minutes."

He tapped on a few keys on his keyboard. About ten minutes later, a name and an address appeared on the screen.

"I'm going to have a couple of agents bring her in for questioning," said the Special Agent in Charge.

"We should wait!" I asserted.

"Why?"

"You could use her as bait. When Candy Man shows up, you can arrest him for murder."

"If this goes sideway, I'm screwed. However, it is probably our best chance of catching him."

The Special Agent in Charge extended his hand out.

"This is as far as you go on the case," he said.

I shook his hand and left and went to the train station.

Ten minutes later, the Richmond train pulled up and I got on.

When I arrived back at my apartment, I changed out of my suit, and put on a black t-shirt, a black, leather pants, a black, leather trench coat and a pair of black, leather boots.

Then, I crouched down and grabbed a katana sword and a suitcase from underneath my bed, and placed it on top of my mattress. Pressing two buttons on the side of my suitcase, I popped it, opened, and took out my fighting utensils. I tucked throwing stars, silver spikes and two teargas canisters into inside pockets of my trench coat.

I'm ready now, I thought as I picked up my katana sword from my bed, and strapped it around my back.

Then, I took out my smartphone from my pants pocket and dialed.

"CityWide Taxi, how may I help you?"

"I need a taxi to pick me up at 50 Freemont Avenue."

Half an hour later, I arrived at the old woman's apartment. I walked around to the side of the building, avoiding the two FBI agents, sitting across the street in their vehicle, drinking coffee and eating donuts.

I climbed up the fire escape. When I reached the eighth floor window, I slipped inside, and walked down a long hallway before reaching door 812.

"Here goes nothing," I said.

I slammed my shoulder against the door. There was a loud crack, and the hinges ripped off the frame, causing the door to fall forward onto the floor with a loud smack. I rolled a couple of teargas canisters into the living room, expecting to see blue smoke and coughing from the old woman. But unfortunately, that didn't happen. My teargas canisters didn't go off as expected.

The old woman looked at me and sneered, "I don't know who you or what you're doing here, but you've just made the biggest mistake of your life!"

"Let's dance!" I said as I stepped into her living room.

The old woman shape-shifted, but instead of changing into a young woman, she shape-shifted into a creature with all teeth and claws. I pulled out my katana sword from my scabbard, ready to battle. The creature lunged forward and grabbed my biceps, and toppled on top of me, pinning my arms against the floor.

Christ! She's strong as hell!

"Nice eating," she laughed as she inched her face a little closer to my own face.

"Back off," I yelled.

I headbutted her on the bridge of her nose, and blood spurted out her nostrils and onto my face.

"Bastard!" she screamed.

I headbutted her again and this time, she rolled off of me and I got up and raised my blade above my head, ready to chop her down. But before I was able to do anything at all, she grabbed my right forearm with both hands and bit down on my bicep. I dropped my katana sword to the floor in agonizing pain.

She licked her upper lip and smiled, "Sweet! I can't wait to taste the rest of you!"

I reached into the inside pocket of my trench coat and took out a silver spike. I lunged forward and jammed the spike into the creature's left eye. The creature screamed, and she backed away, pulling out the spike and dropping it to the floor.

"This isn't over between the two of us," she snarled as she ran out of the room, pressing her palm against her disfigured eye.

I ran out into the hall after her.

The creature, heading toward the elevator, rushed pass a stunned woman standing in front of the elevator door, and scratched the woman on the throat. The woman fell, wrapping her hands around her throat, and trying not to bleed to death.

I ran over and pressed my right hand against her throat and I dialed 911 with my other hand.

The creature smiled as she pressed the elevator button.

You're right, I thought. This isn't over between the two of us. I'm going to find you, and kill you before you have a chance to hurt anyone else.

When the ambulance came, I took out my smartphone and looked through the different photos that she had on Facebook: A trip to Eiffel tower, a walk on Venice Beach, her standing in front of a rustic cabin in the woods. I then switched over from her Facebook page to an IRS homepage. I wanted to know the location of the nearest IRS office.

The next day, I went over to the IRS field office and identified myself as an FBI agent. I asked an IRS agent to email me the old woman's tax form for the last three years. I went through the forms at my kitchen table to see what properties she owned.

I know where you're hiding now, I smiled.

I flew out to Maine, and rented a car, and drove to Cumberland.

If, I'm right, you're going to be as good as dead.

I walked down a dirt path through the woods. When I reached the cabin, I took out my katana sword from my scabbard, and stepped onto the porch. I turned the knob of the unlocked door and stepped into the one room cabin. The eighty-year old woman stared at me in surprised, and with one quick wave of my arm, the old woman's head left her body. I stared at the headless corpse on the floor, and saw numbers tattooed on the old woman's arm.

An Auschwitz survivor. Why would she be working for the Aryan Nation?

I took the next plane back and took a cab to the old woman's apartment. There were yellow, police tapes crisscrossing her doorway. I ignored it and ripped it down. I rummaged through the whole apartment and found in the closet: a white lab coat with a label that read: Starr Lab.

What the hell?

Her job on her tax form read: school teacher, not scientist.

INFAMY

I spent the next two week, playing golf at one of the best golf courses just outside of San Francisco, not thinking about the case or about anything in my past that might trouble me.

That's just great, I thought as I saw two men in dark suits with tinted sunglasses walking toward me.

"The Special Agent in Charge wants to see you," said the taller of the two men.

"I don't want to see him. I'm on vacation."

"Look, buddy," said the other man. "We're just following orders. Don't give us a hard time about it."

I looked at the two men, wanting to argue further about going with them, but then, I was also curious as to why the Special Agent in Charge wanted to meet with me.

"All right, let's go," I said.

The two men escorted me back to their car. We drove down Highway I9 and were at the FBI field office, an hour later.

"Glad you could make it," said the Special Agent in Charge, stretching his right hand out for a handshake.

We shook hands.

"What do you want?" I asked.

"I've been under a lot of pressure to solve Candy Man case," he said, putting his hand back down.

"Yes, but what do you want?"

"I want you to work for me at the San Francisco field office instead of the New York branch."

"Why?"

"You helped cracked the Candy Man case. We didn't even make a dent in the case until you came along. The old woman who you thought was a witness was actually Candy Man."

"How do you know that?"

"We found murdered victims' driver license inside her desk drawer as well as thirty bags of Hershey Kisses inside her refrigerator."

"Where is the woman now?"

"We don't know. The two agents that I had stationed outside her apartment went upstairs when they saw a woman being wheeled into an ambulance. They told me that when they got to her apartment: it was a wreck as if someone had trashed it. My guess is that one of the relative of the victims decided to take out vigilante justice on the old woman."

"I glad everything worked out for you in term of you not having to deal with Candy Man, anymore. But I'm not interested working in San Francisco."

I left and took the elevator back down to the lobby. As I headed toward the front door, I heard an old, familiar voice calling out to me. I turned and saw my V.A shrink, standing in front of the metal detector.

"Hello Henry. Can we talk?"

"About what?"

"I like us both to sit down somewhere so we can talk like civilized people."

"Okay. Fine. Let's talk."

We went to a small coffee shop, and she ordered us two cups of coffee.

"You know Henry, since becoming a vampire, I'm having the time of my life. Everything is new to me. Life is new to me."

"What do you want? I thought we had a deal, and that from now on, Marius would leave me alone."

"He doesn't know: I'm here. I want you to come back with me to help Marius with his Nazi problem."

"I'm not coming back, and I definitely don't want to be in another war. The last war I fought in, I lost my leg, thinking that I was going to make a difference in this world."

"What are you going to do, Henry, with the rest of your life if you're not going to help? Are you going to go back to drinking again? You can't even drink alcohol anymore since becoming a vampire."

"I don't know."

"I heard you got a job offer with the FBI at the San Francisco field office."

"How do you know that? I was just offered the job ten minutes ago."

"Renfield remember? I received info three days ago that the Special Agent in Charge was going to offer you a job."

"I'm not taking the job if that's what you're asking."

"You should take the job. We already set up a fake, FBI, work history for you saying that you worked at the field office in New York.

I got up from my chair.

"Well what are you going to do?"

"If you don't have anything else to say to me? I'm leaving."

I took the elevator back up to the fourteenth floor, and I walked into the Special Agent in Charge's office.

"I'll take the job," I said.

"Great, but why did you change your mind?" asked the Special Agent in Charge.

"I can't play golf forever," I said.

"I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I'm glad that you decided to take my offer. Right now, I need you to go to room 1209. There's a bunch of people there working on a case. And don't worry about the paperwork: I'll have H.R. give you the forms later."

I took the elevator down and entered a conference room filled with agents.

"Anybody got any bright ideas on how to crack this case?" asked the Lead Agent, standing in front of the conference table.

I looked at map on the wall and saw a bunch of pushpins all over it.

"I'm new here," I said.

"Everybody knows who you are," said the Lead Agent. "We got a call from upstairs that you'll be coming down here to give us a hand."

"What are we working on?" I asked.

"You ever heard of the Webcam Killer?" asked a tall, thin, black agent, standing by the water cooler.

"Yeah, sure everyone has. He's been on the news as much as Candy Man."

"Freaking nut job," said another agent. "He wears a nylon stocking over the top part of his head and blowtorches his victims' faces off and broadcasts it all over the internet."

"Could I have the files on the case?" I asked.

"Sure," said the Lead Agent.

He hands me a manila folder and I studied the time and place of each murder.

"I think I have an idea on how to catch him."

"Been here for five minutes and he thinks he has the case all wrapped up!" joked the tall, thin, black man standing by the water cooler.

Everyone laughs.

"You know how long we've been working on this case. Three months," said the Lead Agent. "And you think you can solve this in a day."

"No. I think: I'll need a couple of weeks."

The Lead Agent looked at me, incredulously.

I turned and pushed the double glass door open and walked out.

"Wait," said a redhead as she chased after me.

"What do you want?" I asked.

"I 'm your new partner."

"Like hell you are. I don't need a partner."

"Well, you got one whether you like it or not. If you don't like it, you can take it up with the Special Agent in Charge. But my guess is he'll tell you it's company policy that everyone has to have a partner."

She paused for a moment, and then asked, "You ever work on a case like this before? I heard rumors for the past week that you helped solve the Candy Man case."

"It's pure speculation. I had very little to do with the case. If you want a different partner just let me know."

"No. I don't want a different partner."

We took elevator down to the parking lot and walked over to her car.

"Where are we going?" she asked as she opened her car door.

"To the airport."

"Why are we going there?"

"I think the Webcam Killer is a pilot."

"What makes you think that?"

"Some of the places where the murders were committed are too far apart for the average person to commit unless you're a pilot who has access to an airplane."

"Someone could have bought the airplane tickets and flew around the country."

"Not likely, unless you don't need to hold down a full time job."

When we arrived at the airport, I walked up to the ticket booth, and I flashed my badge and ID to the ticket agent.

"What is it that you need?" she asked.

"I need a list of your flight plan for the past six months," I said.

She looked at me for a moment, and then she turned to her supervisor and relayed the request that we had just made.

"Do you have a court order for the flight plan?" asked the supervisor.

"No," I said. "But what I do have is the power of the press."

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me. One of the pilots in the airline industry is the Webcam Killer. If you don't want your name splattered all over the news as the person who's impeding an FBI investigation, then I suggest you get me that flight plan."

The supervisor's face turned chalk white.

"I'll get you the list," she stammered.

We went back to my apartment, and we scoured through the data.

"I noticed this one pilot seems to land on all the same airports where the murders had taken place," said my partner.

I took the printout from her and looked at it.

"I think we should pay him a visit as soon as possible," I said.
I hated lying to her but when I said we: I meant only me. I didn't want her going after the Webcam Killer. What if the Webcam Killer was another preternatural being like Candy Man? She wouldn't stand a chance going up against a thing like that.

I took off the next day without her, and drove to the pilot's house. I sat there in my car for the next few days watching him to see if there was anything off about him. Then, I heard on the radio: another webcam murder had taken place.

It couldn't be him. He was in his house all this time.

I went back to my apartment and scoured through the printouts again.

Where did I go wrong?

Then, I saw it. There was a flight attendant who had taken all same flights as the pilot. I was so focused on the pilot committing the murders that the idea of a flight attendant committing the murders never occurred to me.

Idiot, I thought. I was too focused on the pilot.

I went online and got the flight attendant's address. I followed the flight attendant around for the next few days. I needed to make sure that he was the right guy. Then one night, in a parking lot, he snuck up behind a young woman and put a napkin over the woman's mouth and nose.

She struggled for a few minutes before passing out.

Chloroform, I thought. Like a horny school boy, he thinks he's going to get his cherry popped.

I snuck up behind him and wrapped my forearm around his throat and after a few minutes of struggle, he passed out also. When he came too, he found himself tied to a chair with a webcam sitting in front of him.

"Where am I?" he stuttered.

"Why don't you smile for the nice people out there?" I said.

He looked at my nylon stocking covering the top part of my face.

"Why are you doing this?" he pleaded.

"You wanted to be famous, didn't you?" I smiled.

My sharp canine teeth protruded past my upper lip and he screamed and screamed and screamed.

RIDDLE ME THIS

The next day when I entered the office, everyone gave me odd looks as if I had a pair of horns attached to my forehead.

"Where the hell were you?" asked my partner.

"What do you mean?"

"You ditched me, and went all AWOL for a week!"

"Look, it was a dangerous case, and I didn't want you to get hurt."

"I'm as well trained as any agent. I don't need your protection!"

The Lead Agent looked at the two of us, arguing, and signaled with his index finger, telling us to come into his office.

"I'm assuming you guys seen the news about the Webcam Killer."

"How could we miss it?" said my partner. "It's on every channel. A killer with fake fangs bit the Webcam Killer on the throat."

"How do we know it's even real?" I said. "Maybe it's a publicity stunt to promote a slasher film,"

"Well, whatever it is," said the Lead Agent "I've got a call from upstairs telling me to reassign you to another case."

"What other case?" asked my partner.

"This morning, an eight year old girl was found murdered on Nantucket Island."

"Isn't that a little out of our jurisdiction?" I asked. "Why doesn't the FBI in the Boston handle this?"

"Because that little girl is the niece of the Special Agent in Charge, and if he tells me you're on the case, then that's the case you're going to be working on."

We left his office, and my partner turned and snapped, "Don't think about ditching me again! I'll see you tomorrow at the airport at nine!"

The next day, I met her at the airport terminal, and we took the first flight out to Boston. When we landed, two agents met us at the terminal and drove us to the Boston field office. We introduced ourselves to the Special Agent in Charge.

"Yeah, I've got a called from San Francisco telling me you guys would be coming. I don't know what else you guys could do that we haven't done already," he said.

"What can you tell us about the case?"

The Special Agent in Charge pulled open his desk drawer and handed me a piece of paper wrapped inside a plastic evidence bag.

The paper read:

Riddle me this Bat Man

What is one tenth age?

And lives on land

Dies in the ocean

But found on the beach

Signed the Diddler.

"Poor thing," said the Special Agent in Charge. "Strangled to death and then dumped into the ocean. If it wasn't for the low tide, nobody would have found the body."

"What about the mom?" I asked. "Did she see anything suspicious?"

"She mentioned she saw something strange that day. A Quaker was walking around the beach."

"What's so strange about that?" asked my partner.

"Most Quakers lived in Pennsylvania and not in Massachusetts," said the Special Agent in Charge.

"You think the Quaker put the paper in there?" I asked.

"Could be. But the mom doesn't know for sure. She left her bag and her kid on the beach when she went to purchase lunch."

We took a cab back to the hotel, riding in silence most of way.

"A penny for your thought," asked my partner as she opened her hotel room door.

"I've been thinking: We should look through the FBI database of all known sex offenders in the Boston area, and checked their signatures on the release form from prison against the signature on that note."

"That's a pretty good idea," she said. "I'll start first thing, tomorrow. But who do you think the Diddler was taunting when he referred to this person called Bat Man?"

"I don't know," I said.

I opened my door and went into my room. I reached into my pants pocket and took out a piece of paper that was sent to me a couple of days ago.

Riddle me this Bat Man

What has over a thousand running feet?

But has no real place to go

But when it's under pressure

It will blow, blow, blow

Signed the Diddler.

I hate lying to her, but I didn't want her involved in the Diddler case.

A few days later, I knew what the riddle meant. I saw it on the news: two pressure cooker bombs went off at the Boston Marathon. Over a thousand running feet, but when under pressure, it will blow, blow, blow.

Shit! If, I was a littler quicker in understanding the riddle, I could have stopped him.

A week later, the Watertown police caught the terrorist who had planted the bombs at Copley Square.

I'm going to pay you a visit tonight, I thought. I'm going to find out where your boss, the Diddler, is hiding.

When night came, I drove out to MCI-Concord Penitentiary, and climbed over the prison wall. I could hear the alarm blare as I walked across the yard toward a window covered by a steel mesh screen. I tore the screen down and slipped into the building.

"Freeze!" shouted a prison guard who was aiming a shotgun at my head.

I moved with preternatural speed and palm strike the prison guard on the jaw. He fell forward, unconscious.

I then concentrated on the junction box in the basement.

Tear the wires out, I thought. Come on you can do it. You moved knives out of you kitchen drawer when you fought Slaughterhouse Five.

A few second later, the wires in the junction box were no longer properly connected to one another.

I could hear the doors clicked open and a hundred or so prisoners riot in the dark.

Let the prison guards blow them away, I smiled. Less taxes for the people of Massachusetts to pay.

I floated down the prison hall and walked up several flights of stairs to a catwalk. I continued walking until I reached Level 4 where murderers and rapists are housed.

I grabbed one of the prisoners that were running across the catwalk.

"Where is the terrorist that set of the bomb at Copley Square?"

"He's in cell 32. Now, let go of me!"

I let go and walked to cell 32.

The terrorist looked into the walkway, trying to see who was standing in the dark. He probably thought I was either a prison guard or a prisoner. But I was something far worse, something born from hellish nightmare.

"Who's there?" he whispered.

I moved forward and grabbed him by the shoulder and picked him up off his feet.

"Where is he?" I snarled.

"Who?"

"The Diddler. Where is he?"

"At the fishing pier in South Boston."

I threw him across the room, and left. An hour later, I was at the dock. A Quaker was sitting cross-legged on the fishing pier planks.

"I was wondering how long it would take you to figure this out."

"Why did you do it?"

"You ever see the television show, Dexter?" I have this same, dark, terrible person inside me like the character in the show, telling me to do horrible things, but you probably don't understand what that means."

I do. More than you know.

"Are you going to kill me quick or slow?"

"Slow," I answered. "Real slow."

"Good. I need to pay for my sins."

A day later, the Quaker was found hanging from a lamppost with his testicles cut off. My partner driving down the highway to the Boston FBI field office, asked, "Did you know that someone was killed at the South Boston Fishing Pier?"

"Yeah, what about it?"

"He was a Quaker."

"Case solved."

"You didn't have anything to do with his death? Did you?"

"No. Who do you think I am, some sort of Dark Knight, that I'm Bat Man?"

THE JOKE'S ON ME

After coming back from Boston, we worked on several other minor cases such as fraud, corruptions, money laundering, etc. Gossip about me being Bat Man began to spread throughout the office especially since three serial killer cases that I have been working on mysteriously resolved themselves. Then about two months into the job, the Lead Agent called my partner and me back into his office.

"Did you guys see the news about mass shooting in the Chicago movie theater?"

"Who hasn't? The shooting was done by a disturbed person who puts on a clown outfit calls himself Creepy Clown," said my partner.

"You two are on the case."

"What? That's all the way in Chicago. Why are we being sent there?"

"Because the disturbed person that they've caught, requested to speak to you, Henry. I don't know why he wants to speak to you, but the Chicago Lead Agent at the FBI wants you there, ASAP."

"All right," I said, reluctantly.

He hands me two airline tickets and the next day, we took a flight out of San Francisco and landed in Chicago O'Hare International Airport. When we got off the plane and walked through the terminal to get our luggage, a man standing near a conveyor belt, held up a sign with my name on it. I walked up to him and grabbed my suitcase from the conveyor belt and asked, "You're here to pick us up?"

"Yes," he answered.

A half an hour later, we were at the police station.

"Why does he want to talk to me?" I asked as I stared pass the one way mirror into the interrogation room.

"Don't know," said the Lead Agent. "But try to get him to talk. To explain to you why he did the things that he did."

I walked into the interrogation room and sat across the deranged individual who was shackled to the table.

"Okay, you've got me here. Now what do you want?"

"Have you ever heard of the Juggalo Street Crew?"

"Yeah, they're a loser gang in Chicago that sells meth, and they're famous for bludgeoning their victims to death with baseball bats until they get what they want."

"Yes. I supposed you could call us a loser gang. That is until recently, when we became much more."

He smiled, and canines, as sharp as my own, protruded pass his upper lip.

"Haufman isn't crazy about what you did," he whispered, as he leaned forward. "Killing those serial killers. Oh, he knows, you know. He says that you killed his dear beloved children and that he wants me to deal with you."

Then suddenly, I heard an explosion of gunfire, coming from down the hallway.

"That's my four man posse," he laughed, crazily. "Haufman made them like he made me."

I ran out of the room and back into the observation room.

"What the hell is going on out there?" asked my partner.

"We have to go."

"Go. Go where? We need to help the Lead Agent. He's out there with the rest of the force."

She took her semi-automatic pistol out of her holster.

"You can't kill them with that."

"What are you talking about? They're not bulletproof."

I showed her my vampire fangs.

She backed away, quickly.

"I won't hurt you," I said, trying to calm her down. "But I do need you to come with me."

"But what about the rest of the people in the station?"

"We can't help them, right now. I need my weapons from my suitcase in order to fight off the vampires."

"Vampires?" she asked, incredulously.

I grabbed her hand and lead her out of the police station.

"Drive," I said as I opened the Ford Escort door.

She got in on driver side and pulled out a black and red wire from underneath the dashboard and touched the two ends together.

"Where to?" she asked as the engine roared to life.

"Anywhere. As long as it is away from here and somewhere private wear I can change into my battle gear."

We parked in front of a restaurant and I went into the bathroom with my suitcase. A few minutes later, I came back out wearing my Goth clothes and armed to the teeth with multiple weapons.

"Now, I'm going to kill them."

I headed toward the front door when my partner yelled, "Hey, I'm coming with you."

"No, you're not. This is way too dangerous."

"Don't give me that. According to you, there are five vampires in the police station and you're going to need back up."

"I don't have time to argue with you. Do what you want. But don't say I didn't warn you."

We took the Ford Escort and drove back to the station. When we stepped inside, it was dead silent. There were bodies everywhere, and blood splattered all over the walls and tables.

"Where to now?" she asked.

"To the South Side. Where the Juggalo Street Crew is known to reside at."

We got back into the car and drove to the South Side.

"What are we looking for?" she asked.

"That," I said, pointing to a homeless man who was smoking meth underneath a bright, green neon sign that read: Quickie Mart. She pulled the car over, and I got out and walked up to the homeless man.

"What do you want?" he asked with a dazed look in his eyes.

"Where did you get the meth?"

"Why? Why do you want to know?"

I grabbed him by the shoulder and lifted him off the ground with his feet, dangling above the pavement.

"Where did you get the meth?" I asked, again.

"I got it from Tony. On Kinzie Street."

I let go and he went crashing to the ground.

"Tactful," said my partner.

"Let's go. I don't have time for your sarcastic comment."

We drove to Kinzie Street, and when I saw a man, giving crystal meth to a teenager in exchange for cash, we got out of the car.

"Beat it," I said to the teenager.

He looked at my teeth and sputtered, "Holy shit! Sweet mother of God!"

Then he ran off as if Five O was after him for his precious drugs.

"What are you?" asked the drug dealer, taking a few steps back away from me.

"Where did you get the meth?"

"At the old abandoned Damon Silos factory," he said in a panicky voice. "They make the stuff there!"

I got back in the car and one hour and thirty minutes later, we were parked outside the factory.

"Stay in the car."

"No freaking way," said my partner. "I'm coming with you. You're not cowboying this all the way."

"I don't want to argue with you."

"Then don't," she snapped.

I could tell from the look in her eyes that it was totally pointless to debate this any further. She is unyielding as a steel beam when it comes to what she wants.

"All right. Let's go, and don't fall behind."

"I won't."

We got out of the car and walked along a dirt path beside the waterway and onto the factory platform. Then, we treaded, carefully around the narrow side of the factory building, before climbing up the fire escape to the rooftop where we could peer down into the building through the skylight window.

"Do you see what I see?" she asked.

"Yeah, I do."

There were twenty men wearing surgical masks. They were standing at four different tables and were dropping small crystals into Ziploc bags.

"Look," said my partner, pointing to two, scary-looking clowns, standing next to a meth table. "How are we going to do this?"

"Wrap your arms around my neck as if I was giving you a piggyback," I said.

"Why? What are you planning to do?"

"Wrap your arms around my neck as if I was giving you a piggyback," I said, again.

She paused, and then reluctantly wrapped her arms around my neck.

"Are you ready?" I asked.

"For what?"

I jumped through the skylight window, shattering the glass and landed on top of the meth table.

"What the fuck?" cried the clown as he stood holding a bag of meth.

I pulled out my UV gun from the inside pocket of my trench coat and fired. The clown burst into bright, orange flames. A second later, my partner jumped off my back, and pulled out her own gun, and fired at the second clown.

"You're going to regret this!" cried the second clown as he ran and ducked behind a large stack of cardboard boxes.

Thinking quickly, I grabbed a silver spike out of my coat pocket, and threw it into where I thought he might be standing. A second later, the second clown sprawled forward on top of the boxes with a spike sticking out of his head.

"Any last words," I said as I hovered over him.

He gurgled out blood from the corner of his mouth.

I swung my sword and his head rolled across the floor like a bowling ball across an alleyway.

The next night back at my hotel room, my partner and I were watching a football game on ESPN. She was eating a slice of pepperoni pizza and I was drinking a cup of pig's blood which I had gotten from a local butcher shop.

"Where do you think Creepy Clown is hiding?" she asked.

"Don't know," I said.

Then on cue as if the universe had heard us: there was a newsbreak. The television set showed a gagged and bound up a local anchorman, sitting on a swivel chair behind the anchor desk with Creepy Clown standing beside him.

"Bat Man," cackled Creepy Clown. "I know what you did to my children at the warehouse."

He then pulled out a red lipstick from the pocket of his jester suit and drew a smiley face on the man's chest.

"Boys, it's time to get to work."

The other, two, evil-looking clowns that were standing beside Creepy Clown began bludgeoning the anchorman with their baseball bats: first hitting him in the head, and then on the ribcage.

"Jesus Christ!" gasped my partner, as she dropped her slice of pizza onto the floor. "He's completely crazy!"

"No kidding. Gotham asylum won't even take him."

"What are we going to do now?"

"Well, for one thing we should head to the television station to see if we can catch him before he disappears."

"He's probably gone by the time we get there."

"I know. But it doesn't hurt to try."

We left the motel, and fifty minutes later, we were at the station with half a dozen police officers, standing around the dead anchorman's body.

"Police only," said a red headed Irish officer, trying to stop us from getting anywhere near the corpse.

I flipped open my wallet, showing him my badge and ID.

"Why are you dressed like a ninja?" he asked.

"I going to a costume party after this," I answered.

We walked pass him.

The anchorman's face was completely caved in and his ribcage was dented in ways that it shouldn't be.

"Jesus," said my partner. "They really did a number on him."

"You see the small puddle of water next to the body," I said.

"Yeah."

She kneeled down near the puddle of water and took out a small, glass bottle from her pants' pocket. She unscrewed the lid, and took out a cue tip out from the bottle. She then swabbed the cue tip on the puddle.

"We need to get this analyze as soon as possible," she said as she placed the cue tip back into the bottle.

An hour later, we were at the FBI's forensic lab.

"I looked at the swab that you gave me," said a forensic analyst. "It contains trace elements of human feces and urine. If I had to guess where it came from, I would say it came from the city sewer."

"That's where they've been hiding," whispered my partner. "No sunlight."

We left. and drove to a nearby, local pharmacy. I purchased two flashlights and then, we've found a street where no one was around, and lifted up a manhole cover and headed down into the sewer.

"You think we'll find them?" asked my partner, as she walked, holding her flashlight in front of her. "The Chicago sewer system is a pretty big place to be wandering around."

"Eventually," I said. "If I could catch a whiff of their scent, I could track them."

"You're like a bloodhound?"

"Yes, the many gifts of being a vampire."

"Bram Stoker never mentioned that in Dracula."

"No, but he also never mentioned daylight ring either." I held up my ring finger with my daylight ring on it. "This is why I could walk around in daytime unlike the book Dracula."

I stopped suddenly and took in a deep breath.

"You caught their scent?"

"Yeah. Follow me."

We walked for several more yards, when suddenly, before I knew what was happening, Creepy Clown jumped out from around the corner, and swung his bat down at my forearm. I howled in agony as the bat connected to my arm and I dropped my flashlight into the dark, murky water.

"Henry!" she screamed.

She leveled her gun and fired off two shots into Creepy Clown's chest. He stood there, cackling madly.

Then, two vampires with clown makeup on their face and standing behind Creepy Clown ran toward us with their baseball bats, raised, ready to take our heads off.

I took out my UV gun with my still functioning, left hand and fire. The vampires burst into red and orange flames, and danced around for a couple of seconds, before collapsing to the water below.

"Batter up!" shouted Creepy Clown.

He swung his bat again, and this time, my UV gun was smashed, and my left hand fingers were pulled out of joint and misshapen.

My partner leveled her gun again, and this time, she fired a third shot, striking him in the neck instead of on the chest. Creepy Clown fell, and then got up slowly into a crawling position, pressing his palm against his wounded neck, breathing hard, and trying to catch in every single breath.

My partner then walked over to me and grabbed my katana sword out of my scabbard, and slowly walked toward Creepy Clown. She raised the blade once, and swung downward. His head came right off, and fell into the dark, murky water with a splash.

"Glad I came along?" she asked.

"My hero," I said with a big smile across my face.

LOST

I ran my tongue across my teeth. I had no fangs.

I'm human again. But how?

There was no one on the street, except for a few parked cars, and sheets of flying papers from the Wall Street Journal. I recognized the place. It was New York City.

How did I get here, and what happen to everybody in the city? Did the Rapture happen when I've fallen asleep?

I walked into a nearby, electronic store and looked at the televisions set. Nothing. There was only static snow. I took the remote control and flipped through several more channels. It was still the same thing. White snow dancing across the screen.

Whatever is happening, it's not just affecting New York. It's affecting the U.S., perhaps, the entire world?

I wandered the city for hours, looking for people. But finally as the sun sets, I was too exhausted and too hungry to continue my search. I walked into Morton William Supermarkets, and made myself a ham and cheese sandwich from the deli, ate it, and then went to sleep inside one of the aisles.

When I awoke the next morning, I heard somebody walking around inside the store.

There's someone here. There's another soul on this planet besides me.

I walked toward the noise. I couldn't believe what I saw.

It couldn't be? He's dead. He died when I was fourteen years old.

"Dad?"

He turned around, holding a carton of milk in one hand.

"Henry? Is that you?" he asked with a confused look on his face.

"Yeah, it's me."

"How come you're not fourteen years old?"

"Dad, it's been over four years since you died."

"Since I died?"

"You died when the terrorists flew their airplanes into the World Trade Center. Don't you remember?"

He dropped the carton, and the milk splattered out of nozzle and all over the floor.

"Died?"

He staggered a few steps backward.

"I remember now. The airplanes crashing into the towers. The heat and the fire. I jumped out the window. My god, I couldn't take it anymore! I jumped out the window because . . ."

"That's okay, dad. I understand why you did what you did."

"I didn't want to. I didn't want to leave you and your mother. But the heat was so intense. I could feel myself being broiled alive. My skin was bubbling and …"

"That's okay. I understand."

"How's mom?" he asked, pulling himself together and wiping his nose with his sleeve. "How is she doing?"

"I don't know. "Everybody is missing here. It's like God came down and grabbed everybody off the planet."

"We have to go to the World Trade Center."

"Why? Why do we have to go there?"

"In room one nine eight four, you'll have to be there at midnight three days from today."

"Why?" I asked, again.

"It's the only way you could get back home."

"What do you mean it's the only way I can get back home?"

"This place that looks like New York, it isn't New York."

"How do you know that?"

"I don't know. I just do."

We left the supermarket, and headed down Park Avenue. Then, as we were walking toward the towers, I saw a small crowd from a far distance, shambling toward us.

My dad pointed at them, and said, "Maybe we can finally get some answer as to what is going on around here."

As we walked a little closer, I realized they weren't people at all. Their faces were too gaunt, and too shallow.

"Zombies!" I said to my dad in a panicky voice.

"They can't be zombies. They don't exist except in George Romero movies, and The Walking Dead TV series."

"Well, they're real! I don't know how. But they're coming toward us."

I jerked my head toward the FAO Schwartz toy store across the street.

"In there! We can hide in there!"

We ran into the store, and I immediately jammed a chair against the door knob. Then, my dad and I ran behind the checkout counter, and crouched underneath it. I could hear the zombies, moaning outside as a few of them pressed their faces against the store window.

"Fuck! They know we're in here."

"There's nothing we can do now. Once, we've made our decision, whether good or bad, we've got to live with it."

He slumped down on his bottom, and took out several Hershey bars from his jacket pocket and handed me one.

"Thanks."

"How do they know we're here?" I asked.

"Because of the noise. Because we're breathing, and they can hear us."

"How do you know that?"

"It's like that in all the zombie movies. Zombies are attracted to noise."

"I got an idea."

"What are you doing?"

I got up from behind the checkout counter, and walked up and down the aisles, until I found what I was looking for. I took a box off the shelf, and took remote control car out of it. I then scurried up and down several more aisles, before coming upon a shelf filled with boxes of jump rope. I grabbed several boxes off the shelf, and headed back toward the checkout counter.

"This is no time to be playing games," my dad scowled.

I grabbed a packing tape from the checkout counter, and taped my smartphone to the remote control car. Then, I tore opened several boxes and tied all the ends of the jump rope together, before finally wrapping one end of the jump rope around the remote control car.

"Noise. You said they were attracted to noise."

"What about it? Why are you taping a smartphone to a remote control car and wrapping a jump rope around the remote control car?"

"You'll see in a minute."

I tapped several icons on my smartphone, and the song "Thriller" blared out of my phone.

I ran up the stairs to the second floor, and hurried to the window. I lowered the car out the window with my jump rope, and the zombies that were standing in the front of the store, shuffled to where the car was being lowered. Then, when the car hit the sidewalk, I pushed the lever on my remote control, and the car sped away with the zombies, chasing after it, mindlessly.

"Pretty smart," said my dad as he looked out the window beside me.

"Yeah, but you gave me the idea on how to escape."

We went back downstairs and I grabbed a bat out of the sports section, and we headed out the door. We continued walking and it wasn't long, before we came across someone beside us in New York. There was a middle-aged woman swinging an umbrella from side to side, trying to stop two, winged monkeys, wearing a 1930's style bellhop uniform from grabbing a small child.

No, it can't be the same kid! He died in my arms because of what I did in Afghanistan!

"Help!" she screamed. "Somebody help me! I don't know how much longer I can keep this up!"

I ran toward the monkeys with my bat, raised. The monkeys hovered and circled, trying to find an opening, and finally, one did open up for them. The woman had swung her umbrella too wide and loss her footing. One of the monkeys saw the misstep, and swooped down and snatched the child by the shoulders, and swooped back up into the sky before she had a chance to readjust her position.

"No!" she shouted, swinging her umbrella. "Come back here!"

I should have gotten there, sooner!

"Son, this isn't your fault," said my dad.

"No, you don't understand. I have to make things right with that kid. It's all my fault that he's here."

"What do you mean?"

I felt so ashamed, and I didn't say anything. I didn't even look him in the face.

"That's okay," he said. "You can tell me in your own time."

"I know where the monkeys have taken the boy to," said the middle-aged woman. "They're bringing him to New Jersey to a witch who lives in Palisades Forest."

"How do you know that?" I asked.

"I don't know. I just do," she said, shrugging her shoulder.

"Son, we have to be at the towers if you're ever going to get out of here."

"No! I have to save the kid!"

"We have to be at the tower at a certain time. If you don't get to the tower during that time period, you'll never leave this place."

"No! Even if I've missed my chance of going back home, and if I had to stay in this hellhole forever, I have to help the kid!"

"I go wherever you go," he said. "So, how are we going to find the kid. The Palisades Forest is a huge place."

I turned to the middle-aged woman and asked, "Could you come with us, and help us find the kid? The Palisades Forest is huge, and I don't know where he is?"

"Your dad can serve as your guide. He will help you find the kid," said the middle-aged woman.

"Me? I don't know where the kid is at?"

"It will come to you," said the middle-aged woman.

"How do you know that?" I asked.

"I just do," said the middle-aged woman. "This place is like a psychic arena for people."

We left, and I gave the woman my bat so she could defend herself instead of using that flimsy umbrella. We walked for several blocks before we exited onto the ramp that led to Interstate 95. There were vacant cars parked on the highway that seemed to stretch on forever.

"What do you think happen to everyone?" asked my dad.

"I don't know."

"There are clothes in the car but no people."

"Your guess is a good as mine as to what happen. I keep expecting God to come down and tell me the Rapture has finally happen."

"You don't think he'll sound like Morgan Freeman, do you?"

I laughed.

"Probably not," I answered.

My dad pulled open a police car door.

"What are you doing?"

He grabbed a .38 revolver out of holster that was lying on the car seat.

"Just in case, we run into trouble," he said, holding up the revolver.

"You think we'll see more zombies?"

"Don't know. What I keep expecting however is that Rod Serling will show up and say: "Sign post up ahead: the Twilight Zone."

We walked for several more hours before the sun finally sets, turning the sky: red, orange and purple.

"We need to find shelter before it gets dark. Once darkness comes, it won't be safe out here, anymore," said my dad.

"How do you know that?"

"The psychic arena that the lady was talking about, it's coming in strong right into my head."

"There a RV up ahead," I pointed at the vehicle. "We could stay in there till morning."

My dad walked up to the side of the RV door and reached his hand through the open window and pulled the button up and opened the door.

"It's nice in here," he said as he stepped inside.

I followed him in a second later, and saw him, opening the top refrigerator door.

"There's food in here. I could cook us up a couple of burgers in no time."

"I'm starving," I said.

He grabbed a couple of frozen beef patties, and tossed it into the frying pan. I could hear it sizzled when he turned the electric stove on.

"You want to tell me about the kid?"

"No, I don't want to talk about him."

"I think talking about it will help you. You can't hold everything in all the time. I'm like you, and did the same thing, and it nearly destroy me until I've found someone to talk things out with."

"I knew him," I said, reluctantly.

"Okay, that's a start. But I need to know more."

"I was in the army, and was in a firefight in Afghanistan. I fired into this house where the terrorists were in, and at that time, I didn't know there was a family in there with the terrorists."

"And you shot the kid by accident?" he asked as if he had just read my mind.

"Yes, I didn't mean to, but I shot him, anyway."

"You always carried the weight of the world on your shoulder even when you were a child. Sometimes, life isn't fair, or perfect, you have to accept it."

Accept it? No! How could I accept it? I don't think I could live with myself anymore if I can't find that kid and make it up to him.

"Tomorrow things will look better," said my dad. "We'll rescue him. Don't worry about it."

He went to the fridge and grabbed couple of cans of Miller Lite, and handed me, one. Then, he took the beef patties that was done, and placed two buns on it, and handed me the burger.

"Why don't you tell what you've been up to since the last time I saw you when you were fourteen?"

We talked almost all night, and afterwards, I fell asleep. I dreamt of the Afghan boy and a witch. The next morning, when I woke up from lying on the hard floor, I smelled the aroma of fresh coffee, bacons and eggs.

"I figured we could have a good breakfast before we start our journey," said my dad.

I ate my breakfast quickly, barely chewing my food, and when I was done, I put my sneakers back on. I wanted to be on my way as quickly as possible. I wanted to free the Afghan kid from the witch.

"If we do double time march," said my dad as if reading my mind for a second time. "We should be at the George Washington Bridge before noon."

We walked for a couple of more hours before coming to the bridge.

"Do you see what I see?" asked my dad, pointing to end of the bridge.

There was a strange creature that resembled an octopus with one eye in the middle of its head and four tentacles, stretching out from its body.

"A hundred bucks to cross the bridge," bellowed the creature.

This whole place is so bizarre, I thought.

"We don't have any money," yelled my dad.

"Then, there'll be no crossing of the bridge," said the creature.

"I don't think so," said my dad, holding up his .38 revolver. He fired three shots into the creature's chest. He fell, and landed on his back with a loud, metallic thud.

"I didn't think you had it in you," I said.

"We've got to save that kid," said my dad. "Besides, didn't you know plumbers are bad ass as they come?"

"Then why don't they make any movies about bad ass plumbers?"

"They will one day," said my dad. "Mark my word! They will!"

We continued walking, and it wasn't long before we reached Palisades Forest, and then we walked for another hour, before coming upon an old, dilapidated cabin in the woods.

"The kid's in there," said my dad. "What do you want to do?"

"Let's sneak around to the back, and do a little recon."

We went to the back of the cabin, and peered through an opened window. There was an old woman chopping onions on a chopping board, and beside her was the Afghan boy, sitting on a chair with his hands tied behind his back

"We need to fatten you up," she said. "You need to eat more cake and ice cream."

"Please let me go," he sobbed.

"We need to put meat on your bones," she cackled.

"Hand me your gun," I said.

"What are you going to do?"

"You'll see."

I took the gun from him and quietly stepped through the window. The witch turned her head as she heard the board creaked beneath my feet.

"I heard you," she smiled.

With a quick wave of her hand, I was propelled through the air and slammed against the wall, unable to move an inch of my body.

My dad, trying to tackle the witch to the floor, came through the same window a second later, and charged at her.

"Leave him alone!" he yelled as he ran toward her.

With another wave of her hand, she sent him, flying, and pinned him against the wall beside me.

"Three to eat," she cackled.

I concentrated and flicked my wrist upward, and fired the revolver. The bullet hit the witch on shoulder, causing her to stagger and loose concentration.

I fell, landing on my feet and ran toward her as quickly as I could. I grabbed the knife off the chopping board that was beside her and stabbed her on the chest. She gasped, for a brief moment, holding her hands against her breast, and then she collapsed to the floor with a disbelieving look on her face.

"You're not going to have anyone for dinner tonight," I sneered as I stood over the body.

My dad went around to the back of the kid's chair and untied the knot. The kid then jumped out of his chair and wrapped both arms around the back of my dad's neck.

"It's ok," he said. "It's over now."

We left and walked rapidly through the forest, trying to reach the towers in time. An hour into our walk, we came upon a clearing and a skinwalker was standing there, blocking our way to the towers.

"Run!" I screamed.

We ran and the skinwalker chased us. I could hear my dad, huffing and puffing, behind me, and I knew we weren't going to outrun the wolf.

"In here," I said, pointing to a hole. We crawled through the tiny aperture on the mountainside.

"What now?" asked my dad. "The hole might be too small for that werewolf to come through, but we're trapped here like a mouse in a mouse hole."

I reached into my pants' pocket and took out a cigarette lighter and flicked it on.

"Let's explore the cavern," I said. "There might be another way out of here."

We walked around and I saw a small opening above the waterfall in front of us.

"Up there," I said, pointing to the opening.

We scaled the rocks and went through the opening.

"We have to do a double time march at double the pace if we're going to reach the towers in time," said my dad.

"I know."

It took us half a day before we reached the towers.

"What now?" asked my dad as we crouched behind a red van. "There' an Al-Qaeda guard with an AK-47 standing in front of the entrance door."

"Don't worry," I said.

I snuck up behind the sentry as he was smoking a cigarette and wrapped my forearm around his throat and squeezed. A few minutes later, he slumped forward and was unconscious.

"Do you think there are more terrorists in there?" asked my dad as he walked up beside me.

"I don't know. But we should be prepared for the worst and pretend there is."

We walked into the lobby and no one was there.

"I guess we got lucky," said my dad.

Suddenly, I had an incredible urge, to look at the security monitors behind the greeting desk. I walked over and stared at the screens in total disbelief. There were reptilian creatures wearing Nazi Storm Troopers uniforms, and walking around on two legs.

"That's New York for you. It gets weirder everyday," my dad joked as he stood beside me and looked over my shoulder at the screens."

"We'll take the stairs," I said. "There's no point in pressing our luck by taking the elevator."

We opened a side door and hurried up the stairs. When we reached the nineteenth floor, I opened the door, and saw a lizard man sitting on a chair and reading U.S. News and World Report beside the elevator door.

"What now?" whispered my dad.

"We'll run down the hall as fast as we can, and hopefully, we'll open the door that can get us back home before he can get to us."

"I can't come with you."

"I know. I'm supposed to enter room one nine eight four, and you're supposed to enter room one nine eight three with the boy."

"Yeah, that's right. How do you know?"

"I was hit with a psychic intuition, just right now."

I hugged him.

Tears welled up in my eyes.

"You're ready?" he asked.

"Ready," I said.

We ran and my dad and Afghanistani boy plunged through the door one nine eight three, and I went through the door one nine eight four.

"Glad you're back," said my partner.

I looked around, and saw I was inside a hospital room.

"You've blacked out after the fight," she said. "Not surprising, since both of your arms are broken."

I looked at my arms and there were two white casts on it.

"How long was I out?"

"About five hours. What did you dream about? You kept screaming the number: one, nine, eight, four."

"You wouldn't believe me even if I told you," I said.

THERE'S A FLY ON THE WALL.

After a day rest, my wounds had completely healed.

My partner and I then flew back to San Francisco and drove to UCLA to see a neural scientist who had written a New York Times bestseller about how to turn people into serial killers.

"I read your book," said my partner as we stood in front of his desk at his office.

"What did you think about my idea about using splicing to weaken the neural connectivity between the amygdale and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and inserting the warrior gene: CDH13 and MA0A into an individual, making them into homicidal killer."

"To tell you the truth, I didn't quite understand everything that I've read. It's a little above my pay grade in what I usually read like a romance novel."

I then noticed a plague on the desk with a quote: He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.

I pulled my gun out from my holster and shouted, "Don't move!"

"What are you doing?" asked my partner.

"He's one of them."

"Who?"

"He's involved in serial killings in San Francisco, Boston and Chicago."

"What are you talking about?"

"The quote on his desk: He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future."

"The teacher's quote of the day. What about it?"

"It's not a teacher's quote. It's a quote from Adolf Hitler."

"How do you know that?"

"I did a lot of research about the Aryan Nation when I was back in New York."

"I'm afraid your partner is quite right about me," said the neural scientist as he took off his glasses and placed it on the desk.

His face and body began to change. His eyes grew into two, large, circular eyes with hundreds of red lens like that of a fly, covering three fourth of his head, and thick, black, course, bristles began to sprout all over his face, neck and hands like a teenage boy with a bad case of acne.

"What are you?" gasped my partner as she reached into her pantsuit jacket, and pulled out a semi-automatic pistol out of her holster.

"The next step in evolution," he buzzed.

He grabbed my partner's gun out of her hand and then, he tossed her over his shoulder like a rag doll and crawled up the wall.

Fuck! He's fast!

I aimed my gun at him, and he scampered toward the open window and crawled outside before I could fire off a single shot. A second later, I popped my head out the window and looked up into the morning sky. There were two, tiny figures flying away in the distant horizon.

I left the office in a hurry, and got into my car, and drove down Interstate Highway 10. I took out my smartphone as I drove and got on the internet to see where the neural scientist lived.

"I hoped I'm right about where you're going," I muttered.

About half an hour later, I parked my car outside an apartment building.

"Can I help you?" asked a receptionist as I stepped into the lobby.

"Yeah, I 'm a FBI agent," flashing her my badge and ID. Could I talk to the manager of the building.

A few minutes later, a man in a gray suit came into the lobby.

Yes, Can I help you?

"I need keys to the apartment belonging to this man."

I lifted up my smartphone and showed him a picture of the neural scientist."

"Who are you?"

"I'm a FBI agent."

"I'm afraid I can't do that. You need a warrant."

"That man you're protecting just kidnapped my partner."

The landlord looked shocked.

"I didn't know. I'll get you the key, right away."

He left and a few minutes later, he came back and handed me the key.

I took elevator to the tenth floor.

Where is room 1010?

I wandered down the hall until I've found it. I slid the key into the keyhole and turned the doorknob and stepped inside.

Where are they? No one was here.

I walked up to a desk and saw a Post It note on a monitor that read: Kill All Pure Bloods 911.

Kill all Pure Bloods, I mused. Why would a Nazi scientist want to kill pure bloods? They're the one always saying not to have mixed races because it would bastardize their perfect gene pool.

I then noticed eight USB sticks sitting on the desk near the computer monitor.

This might be helpful, I thought.

I took the USB sticks off the desk and put it into my pocket. Then, I went to the professor's closet and rummage through it. I noticed a white lab coat with a label that read: Starr Lab.

It's just like the Candy Man case that I worked on a couple of months ago. What the blazes is going on here?

I left and drove to the San Francisco FBI headquarter and gave the data analyst my USB sticks. He put one of the sticks into his computer and it read: error data incompatible with the hard drive.

"I need to know what's in the USB stick," I said.

"It's going to take some time," said the data analyst. "It looks like it's encrypted."

"Have you ever heard of Starr Lab? I've been trying to some info about the lab on the internet, but I haven't found anything."

"And you won't. It's supposed to be a secret government facility."

"How do you know that?"

"I'm a conspiracy buff. I looked into things like JFK assassination, UFO cover-ups, and CIA remote viewing project against the Russians.

"But why it isn't on the internet?"

"My guess is that certain high up government official doesn't want the public to know about this facility."

"Do you know where the lab is at?"

"Yup, it's at Fort Irwin according to my sources."

"What sources are those?"

"Can't tell you. Conspiracy buff has to keep their sources a secret," he said with a smile.

An hour later, I arrived at Fort Irwin.

A sergeant stopped me at the gate as I pulled my car up to the military gate barrier.

"This is for authorized personnel only," said the sergeant.

I flashed him my badge and ID.

"I need to see the commander right away."

He pointed to a building on the far right.

"He's in there," he said, and pressed a button on the control panel. The wooden beam in front of my car moved up and I drove in and parked my car in front of a brick building with a huge sign that read Fort Irwin.

I entered the building and was greeted by a corporal sitting behind a reception desk.

"Can I help you?"

"Yeah, I need to talk to your commander."

"Take elevator to the sixth floor. It's the first door on your right."

I walked passed him and into the elevator. When the door opened, I got out and walked down a long corridor and knocked on the first door to my right.

"Come in."

"I'm Special Agent Mozart from the FBI." I said, flashing the colonel who was sitting behind a desk, my badge and Special Agent ID.

"Why are you here?"

"If you don't mind, I like you to have somebody showed me around Starr lab."

His eyebrows curled up in surprise.

"Not many people know that we have a lab here."

"I'm an agent. I have access to certain information."

"But why are you here?"

"I can't tell you the specifics. It's still an ongoing investigation."

He got up from behind his desk and said, "I'll show you around."

We went to the Starr Lab in the science building, and there were men in hazmat suits, walking from place to place and pressing buttons on control panels.

"What are you guys researching here?" I asked.

"Viruses."

"Why are you guys looking at viruses?"

"In case of biological attack by the Russians, the Chinese or terrorists. We need to have an antidote in case of an unprovoked attack."

"Make sense. You wouldn't happen to have any neural scientists from UCLA who works here, do you?"

The colonel looked at me and paused, and said, "No. Just bioengineers."

He's lying, I thought. But why would he lie?

"What's in there?" I asked, pointing to a locked door.

"Just more research with viruses."

"Could I take a look?"

"I'm sorry," he said. "There are certain areas that are restricted to military personnel only."

I have to find out what's going on here, I thought. I'm coming back tonight.

At midnight, I changed into my Goth clothes, and put on my battle gear, and drove out to the station. Not wanting to be seen by anyone, I parked my car in the desert, and walked for a good ten minutes before reaching the outer perimeter of the base.

Shit! There's goes my three hundred and thirty dollar leather trench coat.

I threw my leather trench coat over the barbed wire and climbed over the fence. When I landed on the other side, I heard a voice calling out to me on my left side. I turned and saw a military police officer holding a revolver and aiming the gun at my head.

"I don't know who you are and why you're here. But you've just made the biggest mistake of your life."

In one blinding motion, I grabbed the gun out of his hand.

"What the fuck?" he said in sheer disbelief.

I then wrapped all five fingers of my right hand around his throat and squeezed. Within a few minutes, his head slumped forward, and when I let go, he dropped to the ground and smack his head, against the pavement.

"Sorry about that," I said as I snatched the keycard off his belt.

I walked to the side door of the science building and swiped the card. There was a click, and then, I opened the door and stepped inside, and strode down the hallway to the restricted area. I swiped the card again on another door, and when that door opened, I saw rows of thick plexiglass cages, containing people with tiny bumps all over their faces and hands.

What the hell is going on here?

Then, I saw my partner behind the plexiglass. She was banging and screaming, but I couldn't hear what she was saying.

"Hold on," I yelled.

I punched the plexiglass and webbed like crack appeared. I punched again and again and the cracks grew larger. Then, I threw all my weight behind a single punch and the glass shattered into large, jagged chunks.

"Are you all right?"

"Yeah, I fine. How did you find me?"

"I got lucky."

"I wish you hadn't done that," buzzed a voice from behind me.

I turned and saw the half-humanoid insect.

"You want to tell me what is this all about?"

"The only thing you're going to learn is how to die."

He spat and I moved: letting the translucent goop shoot pass my head. I heard a hissing sound as the liquid ate through the concrete wall behind me.

God, that could have been me!

"You shouldn't have come here."

I pulled out my blade from my scabbard and snarled, "You want me! Come and get me!"

He ran toward me and then in a flash, metal against flesh, his upper body slid slowly sideway away from his lower body and went crashing to the floor.

"Jesus!" said my partner. "The only time I've ever seen anything like that was in a samurai movie."

"Look!" I said.

The half-humanoid, fly body transformed from a being an insect to that of a complete man. Then, the alarm went off like a blaring siren from hell.

"It's time to make ourselves scarce," I said.

We went through the acid eaten hole in the wall and disappeared. An hour later, the colonel was in handcuffs and the base was swarming with FBI agents.

I went back to my apartment after the arrest and wrote my partner a letter:

I know that you might hate me for this. But I'm going to do this alone. Don't try to find me. I know you say you can handle whatever comes your way, but things that have been happening is beyond what any normal person should have to deal with in life. Furthermore, I also want you to know that you are the best person that I have ever met, and the best partner that any person could have ask for, and that I was proud to be able to serve with you.

P.S. I did as you suggest when we first met and talked it over with the Special Agent in Charge. He agreed to let me go on this investigation alone.

Sincerely yours,

Henry Amadeus Mozart

THE EX-WIFE

A couple of weeks went by and I've received a call from the Special Agent in Charge: telling me that my partner had been murdered. Someone had snuck into her apartment and chopped her head off, and placed it on her lap while she was watching television.

Shit! I muttered. I was trying to protect you. But instead, I left you alone to be killed by the people that we were going after.

The following week, I drove to Duggan's Funeral Service to attend my partner's wake. There were forty people, mostly dressed in black, weeping, and hugging one another, over my partner's death.

"I'm sorry," said Marius as he walked up beside me.

"How did you find me?"

"I've been keeping tabs on you. However, you can still save her if you want to."

"How?"

"I know someone who has the power to raise the dead. After everyone leaves, take the body out of the coffin and bring it to him."

He hands me a piece of paper with an address on it.

When everyone left, I took the body out of the casket and placed it into the backseat of my car. Then, I drove to the address that Marius had given me, and walked up the steps of a townhouse, and rang the doorbell.

A few seconds later, an English butler opened the door.

"Can I help you?"

"I'm here to see Professor Taren."

"Come with me."

He brought me to the living room. I was immediately struck by the contradictory nature of the room. The room was filled with modern furnishing such as a well varnished table standing beside the entrance way, a leather couch, an easy chair and a coffee table sitting in front of the fireplace, but there was also strange, otherworldly element such as a bookcase fulled of books with strange writing inscribed on the binder, an evil-looking, stone gargoyle perched on each side of the pilaster, and an old painting on the top of the mantle with a man, screaming in absolute terror, as if he was unable to get out into real world.

"Don't let that painting bother you," said a voice from behind me.

I turned and saw a fifty-something year old man, wearing an impeccable, black suit and holding onto a glass of cognac in one hand.

"That painting looks so real," I exclaimed.

"That's because it is real. I trapped a sleazy ex-lawyer in there, when I found out that he had cheated me out of money in a real estate deal."

"I was sent here by Marius. He told me you could help."

"He called ahead and told me about you situation. Did you bring the body of the deceased as Marius had instructed?"

"Yes, it's in the backseat of my car."

"I want you to grab the body and bring it here."

I went back outside, and grabbed the body out of the backseat and brought it to the warlock.

"There's a price to be paid for performing magic as dark as this. Are you willing to pay that price?"

"I'm willing to do anything."

"We need to kidnap somebody and place your partner's soul into that body."

"Marius never mentioned anything about kidnapping."

"You did say you were willing to pay any price."

"Yeah, but I thought you were going to cast a spell and placed my partner's soul back into her own body and having it rise again. Nobody said anything about kidnapping a living person and placing her soul into that body."

"No, we need a living body in order for this to work. We can't do it with a corpse."

"What's going to happen to the soul of the person that was previously occupying that body?"

"It will die."

"I can't do that to another person."

"Ah, but what if the person that you were replacing was the most evil person on the face of this planet. A person so evil that other people would call her the bitch from hell."

"Who?"

"My ex-wife."

I looked at him for a moment, stunned.

"I don't know what kind of marital problems that you have, but I can't go around snuffing out your ex-wife soul just because you think she's a bitch."

"Why not? You need a body, and I want to get rid of my ex-wife."

He hands me a photograph of his ex-wife. I immediately recognized who she was.

"You kidding. That's your ex-wife! The actress from Tomb Raider 3!"

"Oh, don't let her gorgeous, model good looks fool you. She is the spawn of Satan. The product of unholy matrimony."

"Everybody has marital problems. But you're taking this to a whole new level."

"Oh, I know what you're thinking. You saw her in People magazine saying that she adopted eight African children and one Thai child, and you thinking she's a saint, am I right?"

"Yes. Besides adopting nine children from third world countries, I know for a fact that she does a lot of charity work."

"It's all an act. She is an original evil. But don't have to take my word for it. Follow her around and decide for yourself whether that she deserves a death sentence or not."

I turned and left without saying another word to him.

People that have marital problems shouldn't use it to their own benefits at the expensive of others. But I was desperate, and so, I drove to L.A. to see the warlock's ex-wife.

I followed her around for the next few days. She did mundane tasks such grocery shopping, getting her hair and nails done, and shopping for clothes at Rodeo Drive.

"Excuse me," said the ex-wife as she turned and looked behind her. "Do you want something?"

"No, I don't want anything."

"I noticed you've been following me around lately."

"I'm not."

"Don't give me that. Why are you following me around?"

"Your ex-husband told me to."

"Let me guess, he calls me: the bitch from hell, the brown eye Gila monster, or perhaps man's worst nightmare. The insults get worse and worse each year. Did you know he had a private eye follow me around for months, hoping to find a reason that he could use in court not to pay his alimony?"

"No, I didn't."

"Well, he did."

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have been following you."

"No, you shouldn't. Don't follow me again!"

She turned and stormed off.

I felt bad. I shouldn't have gotten involved in any of this.

I called the warlock on my smartphone.

"Hello."

It's me, Henry. I took your advice and followed her around. She seems like a nice lady."

"Let me guess. She used the line: I am victim, and my ex-husband hates me."

"How do you know that?"

"If you've been married to her as long as I have, you know what your ex-wife is going to say."

"I don't want to get in the middle of your marital problems."

"Check her out at the Girl Scout meeting, and call me back and tell me she's not pure evil."

He hangs up.

What in God's name is he talking about?

But I was desperate, and desperate people do desperate things. I went to the Girl Scout meeting and sat with the other middle-aged housewives, listening to a business woman droned on about what they had planned for the girls this month.

"What are you doing here?" whispered the ex-wife in exasperation as she walked up beside me while I was sitting with the rest of the housewives.

"I'm here to support my local Girl Scout."

"Don't give me that. You're following me again, aren't you? I'm going to call the police and have you arrested, if you don't stop following me! So what's it going to be?

"I'll leave."

She stormed off and all the ladies in the room stared at me.

Great! I wasted two hours sitting here and got chewed out for being a schmuck.

I got up off my chair and went out into the hallway, planning to drive back to San Francisco, when suddenly, I noticed a middle-age woman passing out flyers. She seemed so distressed.

"Are you all right?" I asked as I walked up beside her.

The woman gave me a weak smile, and handed me a flyer. I looked down at the paper, and saw a picture of a fourteen year old girl with a large, black caption underneath that read: MISSING.

"Who is she?"

"My daughter. She's been missing for over two months."

"Where was the last place she was seen?"

"Here at the Girl Scout's meeting."

Coincidental that a girl went missing at the same place the ex-wife attended? Perhaps. But I should check it out.

When I got back to my apartment, I pulled out my smartphone and looked through the local newspaper report on missing person. There were twelve missing girls since the start of January. I typed in the ex-wife name and hundreds of websites about her appeared. I looked through each one to find out more about her

January. She moved here at the same time the girls went missing. That's interesting. She also owns a woman boutique shop east of L.A.. Why would she go shopping for clothes at Rodeo Drive when she owns a shop?

I drove to the ex-wife boutique shop to investigate the matter further. I heard a muffling sound as I climbed up the steps to the front door.

"Hello, is someone here?" I asked as I broke the lock on the front door.

More muffling sound. It was coming from behind the makeup counter.

I walked over and there were two, teenage girls tied and gagged underneath the cash register.

"Don't worry; I'm going to free you."

I bent down and started untying their knots.

"You couldn't leave it alone, could you?" said a voice from behind me.

I turned around and saw the ex-wife, glaring at me.

"Why are you doing this?"

"I need them as sacrificial lambs in order for me to cast a spell to keep me young and beautiful."

I felt rage: all those innocent kids that went missing for nothing more than vanity.

I ran up to her, and punched her on the middle of her chest. There was a thud, and a nanosecond later, she flew back, hitting the jewelry showcase and shattering the glass into tiny pieces.

"Try Botox!" I screamed.

She got up slowly, picking herself up from the showcase. Then, she raised her right hand with her palm, facing upward, and a second later, a golf ball size fireball appeared above her right hand. It grew steadily until it was the size of a bowling ball.

"Oh, shit!" I muttered.

I dove headfirst behind a counter and the fireball flew by my head, missing it by mere inches, and striking a blonde mannequin behind me.

"You don't think you can keep dodging my fireballs forever, do you? Give up and I'll kill you quick!"

I lifted my right hand up with my palm facing toward her and my brows furrowed with intense concentration.

"What are you doing?"

Stopping the flow of blood to your brain. You can do this. You've been practicing telekinesis by bending teaspoons in the kitchen.

She pressed her palms against her temple, and let out a horrific scream.

I hope I'm not killing her.

She collapsed to the floor, and I walked up to her, and pressed my middle and index fingers against her carotid artery.

Good! She's still alive!

I heard muffling again, and this time, it seemed more anxious than before. I turned and saw orange flames engulfing the entire wall on left side of the store.

"We need to get out of here!"

I untied the knots of the two girls and then, the three of us ran out into the street, breathing hard and coughing for air.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah," gasped the girls as they took in a deep breath.

"I have to go back inside."

I ran back through the door and crooked my right arm around the back of the ex-wife's neck and my other arm around the back of her knee and carried her through the door.

"What are you going to do with her?" asked one of girls as I stood before them.

"She's not going to hurt anyone ever again," I said.

I opened the trunk of my car and stuffed her inside.

"I can't believe you beat her," said the warlock as I placed his unconscious, ex-wife's body on a hand drawn pentagram on the living room floor.

"If you didn't think I could beat her, why the hell would you send me to L.A.."

"I didn't think you could. But I hoped you could."

"Okay. Put my partner's soul into your ex-wife body."

"I can't."

"Why the hell not? You had me go through all of this, and now you're telling me you can't transfer my partner's soul into your ex-wife's body."

"I can, but only with certain talisman."

"What kind of talisman?"

"The talisman is an Aztec death mask. Go to this address and a lady there will help you."

He hands me a piece of paper with a name and address on it.

His ex-wife woke up and banged her fists against an invisible barrier.

"Let me go!" she screamed. "I'm going to kill you! I'm going to kill the both of you!"

She was trapped inside the pentagram and the warlock laughed. I walked out the front door, thinking: Good thing, I'm not married. Marriage is for crazy people.

NUESTRA FAMILIA CARTEL

I went back to my apartment and packed my belongings. I then took my used, beat up Honda and drove cross country from the U.S. to Mexico where I entered a small, dinghy, restaurant in the middle of a desert surrounded by nothing more than sand, cacti, and scorpions.

"What would you like?" asked a waitress.

"Nothing," I said. "I'm here to meet someone."

The waitress sat down beside me.

"The person you're waiting for is me. The warlock told me: you would be coming."

"How did you know it was me?"

"Not that difficult. You're the only gringo in the restaurant."

"Where can I find the talisman?"

"A local drug dealer has the Aztec death mask that you want."

"Okay, tell me where he is, and I'll go get it."

"It's not that simple. Have you ever heard of Guzman?"

"Guzman. You're not talking about Jose Guzman, are you?"

"The one and only."

"Jesus!" I said. "The fucking, Mexican, drug lord! Nobody knows where he is! There's rumor that he's hiding in some, little, unknown villa, drinking margaritas."

"Maybe. But I do know someone that might be able to help."

"Who?"

"I know a low-level drug dealer that lives around here, and you could work for him and eventually, you might be able to get to Guzman."

"That's a big maybe."

"Do you have a better idea on how to get the mask?"

"No."

"Then you should take my advice."

She got up off her chair and I followed her outside and into her vehicle. She brought me to a garage where men were standing around, chit chatting about the upcoming election."

"She tells me you used to run drugs back in the States and now you want to make money while you're here in Mexico," said the drug dealer.

"Yeah, I like to make some extra money."

"Why did you leave New York?"

"I figured there's more opportunity in Mexico."

"And you figured Mexico is the major drug supplier to the world, and you could capitalize on that. Is that it?"

"Pretty much. So when can I start?"

"We do need mules to bring drugs across to the U.S. border, and it is easier for a gringo than for a Mexican."

He gives me a set of keys.

"You can start now. And you can take the pickup truck over there. But if you get caught by the border patrol, you don't know me or anything about the garage, got me?"

"Yup."

I did as I was told and for the next three days, I drove drugs back and forth across the border. I hated the work and felt guilty about doing it, but it was the only way I could get the Aztec death mask. Then on the fourth day, as I was handing a briefcase filled with cash to the drug dealer, four men came into the garage with semi-automatic pistols.

"Sorry about this," said a tall Mexican as he leveled his gun at a mechanic's head and shot him through the temple. Another man leveled his gun at a man who was eating a fajita and shot him through the chest.

"Holy sweet mother of Christ!" I yelled.

But before they were able to takeout the drug dealer, I ran toward him and tackled him to the floor, sending him, flying behind a pickup truck.

"Motherfucker!" screamed the drug dealer.

He shoved his hand into his jacket and took out a .45 Magnum.

"Jesus!" I whispered.

He fired at the four men. The first, two guys who were standing next to a sports car that needed to be fixed, got shot in the head. Another guy, who running and trying to duck behind the same sports car, got one in the back. And a fourth guy who shot back at us, blowing the pickup truck window out, got one in the stomach.

"Wow, you're like Clint Eastwood, but tougher."

"You no longer have to be a mule," said the drug dealer in a very excited voice. "I want you here tomorrow night! We're going to go to war with the Nuestra Familia Cartel!"

The following night, I skipped the meeting, and drove to the Nuestra Familia Cartel boss's home. When I got out of my car and walked toward the gate, I heard barking on the other side of the fence.

Shit! I thought. I don't want to hurt any animals.

I climbed over a metal gate, and three, large Doberman pinscher stared at me, and growled. I crouched down and bare my fangs. There was a whimpered, and then, they bent their heads down and ran.

Good! I love animals. I would hate myself if I had to hurt them.

I walked down a dirt path leading up to a mansion. I rang the doorbell. A man, holding a gun, opened the door, asked, "What do you want, and how did you get pass the dogs?"

"I have a message from Guzman," I said.

The man looked at me and then patted me down.

"Don't try anything funny," he said.

He waved his gun for me to go on ahead. I walked pass a billiard room, and into a living room where there was a fifty-something year old man in silk pajamas, sitting on a couch, with two, beautiful women in bikinis and thongs.

"Who are you?" asked the fifty-something year old man.

"I have a message from Guzman."

"What is it? Is he ready to give up his territory to me?"

"The message is that you're going to die tonight of a horrible death."

The fifty-something year old man looked at me and laughed.

"Die," he said. "Do you know how many men are in my mansion right now with automatic weapons?"

"How many?"

"Thirty men. Do you think you can take on thirty men?"

I lifted up my right arm to show him my watch.

"Right now, it's 11:05. When it hits 11:06, everybody in this house will be dead."

He lifted up his gun off the coffee table and pointed it at me.

11:06. The house is dead silent. Except for the whimpering of two women.

I placed my right index finger over my lip and whispered, "Everything is going to be all right."

WHERE IS GUZMAN?

The following night, I went back to the garage. A man in a nice, three piece suit was standing in front of twenty people with guns.

"I can't believe it," said the commanding officer of the drug cartel. "Last night, somebody killed off the entire Nuestra Familia cartel."

"I killed them," I said.

"What?" he asked, incredulously.

"I went to the Nuestra Familia mansion and killed everyone there."

"You're not blowing smoke up my ass, are you?"

"No, I did it."

"I know Guzman's top lieutenant," he said. "If I tell him we killed the Nuestra Familia Cartel, we could move up the chain of command."

"We?" I asked.

"Yes, we. You want an introduction, don't you?"

At SENS nightclub, a couple of days later, the commanding officer of the drug cartel introduced me to Guzman's top lieutenant.

"You're the gringo I have heard so much about. But how do I know you're actually the one that killed off the entire Nuestra Familia Cartel?"

"Do you have police officers working for you?"

"Of course. Being a drug runner, it helps to have people on the other side working for you in case of trouble."

"Get the police report on the murder. There are two witnesses to the crime scene. They can describe how the murderer looks like."

The following night, I met Guzman's top lieutenant at the nightclub again.

"I saw the pictures on the crime scene. It was pretty grisly. However, there's something in the report that doesn't really make any sense to me."

"What's that?"

"According to the prostitutes, a gringo, fitting your descriptions, ripped the throats out of several men with his teeth."

"Sometimes when people suffered a traumatic event, they imagine things."

He looked at me, trying to figure me out.

"What do you want in return for killing the Nuestra Familia Cartel?"

"I want to move up the chain of command instead of just being a mule."

"I'll give you a chance," he said with a slight reluctance in his voice. "We'll start out small and see how things go."

Two days later, I was assisting in supervising a loading dock. Trucks would come and go at all hours, and would unload large, wooden crates.

"What inside all those crates?" I asked.

"About ten million dollars worth of coke," said a foreman, operating a forklift.

If a shipment this big went missing, I thought. Guzman will have to come down here to try to get his coke back.

That night, when no one was around, I got into one of the trucks and drove it out into the jungle.

The following evening, Guzman's lieutenant walked up beside me and pointed a revolver at my head.

"Where's the coke? You were the last one to close up shop yesterday."

"I want to see Guzman."

"Why do you want to see him?"

"I want to see him because I have something very important to ask him."

"You're not seeing him. No one sees him."

He pulls out a pair of handcuffs from behind his back.

They're planning on torturing the information out of me, I thought. I could kill him right now, but that wouldn't get me any closer to Guzman.

"What are you going to do with me?" I asked.

"You know what I'm going to do," he said as he raised his revolver above his head. A second later, he brought the butt of the gun down on my head, and I dropped to the ground with my eyes closed, pretending to be unconscious.

The lieutenant then dragged my body over to one of the warehouses and handcuffed my hands to a pole. A couple of seconds later, another man splashed water on my face.

"You know, what's coming up next, don't you?" asked a scar-faced man.

He rubbed two defibrillator paddles together.

"You're going to kiss me," I said.

"You think you're funny, don't you? But you won't be smiling, ten minutes from now."

He presses the two paddles against my chest, and my muscles contract, my teeth clench, and my eyes roll up to the top of my head.

"Why don't you crack another joke," he said.

"Fuck you!" I answered as spittle of drool came running out of my mouth.

"Fuck me! No, fuck you, gringo!"

He presses the two paddles against my chest again, and I can smell flesh burn as my heart beat erratically.

"Are you going to tell me where the coke is at?"

I didn't say anything.

Guzman has to come down here sooner or later, I thought. If he can't torture the information out of me.

The scar-faced man repeated the process over and over again, always asking me the same question: Where is the coke?

I stayed silent.

A couple hours later, I heard footsteps coming down the hallway. A very small man entered the room.

"I've heard that you're a very stubborn person and that you don't like to talk," he said.

"Who are you?" I asked.

"I'm Guzman. The person that you requested to see."

I smiled.

"What's so funny?" asked the scar-faced man.

I pulled on my handcuff and the chain snapped.

The three men looked at me unbelievingly as I walked toward them.

"I have a question about an Aztec death mask," I said.

Later that night, I buried the coke and three bodies several feet away from the stolen truck.

Guzman is famous for evading the authorities by hiding, I smiled. And now he gets to hide forever.

REBIRTH

It took me three days to drive back to the warlock's home in Redwood City.

I handed him the Aztec death mask and he placed it on the living room table.

"I'm impressed," he said. "I hired three private investigators in order to find out the name of the anonymous buyer who had outbid me for the death mask when it went on auction, but I could never find out where the drug dealer was living. How did you do it even with the contact name that I gave you?"

"I worked my way up through his organization until I found him," I said.

"You should be a private investigator."

"I'm an FBI agent, remember?"

"You two are going to pay for this," screamed the warlock ex-wife who was still inside the hand drawn pentagram.

"Ignore her," said the warlock. "And follow me."

He walked into the hallway, and grabbed a canvas sack off a hook on the wall.

Then, we went down into his basement, and I was appalled by what was kept down there. There were jars of shrunken pygmy heads, tongues, eyeballs, bull testicles, and fingers, sitting on the shelves. The warlock nonchalantly walked over to a shelf, and took down a jar of eyeballs, and stuffed that into his sack. He then walked over to a wire mesh cage and announced, "We need a chicken, in order to perform the ritual."

He took the chicken out of the cage and also stuffed that into his sack. We walked back upstairs, and strolled down the hallway and into his kitchen.

"Hold the bag," he commanded.

I held the bag, and he took out a large wooden spoon and a large kitchen knife from the drawer. We then walked back into the living room where his ex-wife glared at us, menacingly from inside the pentagram.

"What are you planning to do?" she asked.

"Soul transference," said the warlock as he grabbed a large bowl and the Aztec death mask off the table.

"Who's soul?" she asked.

"My partner's soul into your body," I answered.

"You don't have to do this! I'll behave!" she pleaded.

"Too late," said the warlock.

He took the chicken out of the sack, and knelt down in front of the bowl. He then picked a knife off the ground and sliced the chicken's throat. Blood gushed out and turned the bowl, bright red. The warlock then took a jar out of the sack, unscrewed the lid, and dropped a few eyeballs into the bowl. He stirred the concoction with the spoon and chanted, "Arbe nar somi si wami."

"Don't!" screamed the ex-wife.

Ignoring her pleas, he shoved his hands into the bowl and smeared the concoction all over his face and neck. He continued to chant as he picked up the Aztec death mask off the floor and placed it on his face. Then, he raised both hands above his head and shouted to my partner's corpse which lay on the floor: "Let the soul of the deceased be born again in a new body!"

The ex-wife's body shook epileptically, and bright light shot forth from her eyes, nostrils and mouth.

"Is that you?"

The ex-wife looked at me.

"What happened? Where am I?"

"What's the nickname I was given at the office?"

She paused and then, said, "Bat Man."

I smiled and was relieved.

That night, the warlock, my partner and I celebrated with a bottle of wine. The next morning, the three of us woke up with a bad hangover.

"Sleep well?" I asked.

"Talk a little softer," she whispered, getting up off the couch.

The warlock walked over to the refrigerator, opened it, and took out several eggs.

"How do you like your eggs?" he asked.

"Sunnyside up," I said.

Then, I noticed something strange in my partner's eyes: the same kind of look that the warlock's ex-wife gave me when she was trapped inside the pentagram.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Nothing. What makes you think something is wrong?"

"For a moment, you reminded me of someone else."

"You mean like the warlock's ex-wife."

She lifted up her right hand and flicked her wrist and said, "Feraway."

I flew back and hit the wall, hard. When I looked up, the ex-wife and the warlock were battling it out. Each of them were hurling fireballs at one another, and creating an invisible shield on the other arm to block the incoming flames. The ex-wife turned from looking at her husband to looking at me, and then, she leapt out the window, shattering the glass.

"What the hell was that?" I asked.

"The soul transference didn't take," he said.

"What do you mean it didn't take?"

"Sometimes when a soul enters a body of another individual, the previous occupying soul doesn't leave. There are two souls struggling for control of that body," he said. "And unfortunately, your partner's soul isn't the one in control."

"How do we get her in control?"

"You don't understand. There shouldn't be two souls in there. The spell didn't take. The soul that invaded the body will die."

"You're saying I doomed my partner."

"Yes."

"Can we reverse the process?"

"Yes, I can save her soul. I need to put the Aztec death mask back on again, and have her inside the pentagram."

"That's great. Sounds like a piece of cake," I said, sarcastically.

The next day, Chase Bank called the FBI headquarter to report the illegal use of a stolen credit card which I had reported missing.

"We've found her," I said to the warlock as I hung my smartphone. "The credit card was used in the Grant Plaza Hotel in San Francisco.

We drove to the hotel and I showed the concierge my badge and ID, and the picture of the warlock's ex-wife.

"Do you remember seeing her?"

"Sure, a big star like that. How could I forget?"

"Do you know what room she in?"

The concierge typed on the keyboard and a second later, the room number appeared on his computer screen.

"She's in room 505."

"Thanks."

We went into the elevator and when the elevator door opened, we got out and walked down the passageway until we stood in front of the door 505.

"When I unlocked the door, you go in there and take her out with your magic."

I tapped the card on control panel, and the light went from red to green. The warlock turned the knob of the door and slowly pushed the door, open. I heard a click and then, I realized what was behind the door. I shoved the warlock and a boom as loud as thunder followed, a second later.

"Jesus! That could have been me," said the warlock.

There was a hole in the middle of the door, the size of a small television set.

"A sawed-off shotgun was wired to the door," I said. "I realized it when I heard a click."

"Thanks for saving me. But what do we do now since she's not even here?"

I walked into the room and picked up a piece of paper off the table and read: Meet me at 115 Washington Street on the 2nd floor at midnight.

"You know it's a trap," said the warlock as he stood beside me.

"I know."

We went back to my apartment, and I changed into my battle gear, and then, we went to warlock's townhouse and the warlock grabbed a few, magical items, and the Aztec death mask off the table.

"Why don't we leave the mask here?" I said.

"We can't wait. A day and a half has already gone by, and there's a forty-eight hour time period to perform the ritual to reverse the spell."

We drove to Washington Street, and when we arrived, we got out of the car and went inside a condemned building, and walked up two flights of stairs and entered a dancehall.

"Glad you could make it," said the ex-wife, standing there with two leather-winged demons on each side of her arms.

One of the winged demons suddenly flew at me, trying to gouge my eyes out, and I pulled out my katana sword and stabbed the demon through the right eye. It shrieked, and then, hovered before collapsing to the floor with blood leaking out of its eye socket.

I looked over at the warlock and saw him, hurling fireballs at the second demon.

"I need some help here," he shrieked.

I ran over and swung my katana sword. A second later, the demon's head was separated from its body.

"You think you've won, don't you?" she said.

She flicked her right hand and the Aztec death mask that the warlock was holding, went flying into the wall, and shattered into pieces.

"No!" I screamed.

"That's right," she said. "You're partner won't be coming back anytime soon. I'm going to eat her soul."

I turned and asked, "What will happen if I kill her?"

"Both souls will be released from the body," he said.

"I'm sorry," I uttered, and threw a spike into the ex-wife's head. A second later, she lay on the floor, staring up into ceiling with a disbelieving look on her face.

SOMETHING LOST SOMETHING GAIN

I went through my old emails and found a message sent by my partner.

What's this?

I clicked and read: Henry, since I don't know where you are right now, I hope that you get this message. Go see Fernando Escalera. He's somehow involved in all of this."

She must have known she was in danger, I thought. I should have stayed with her. But why would an Olympic gold medal runner be involved in any of this?

I took the first flight out to Johannesburg, and when I arrived, I drove to Escalera's house.

He was running on a field track and stopped in front of me, breathing hard.

"Can I help you?"

"Yeah, I'm on special assignment with the FBI."

I flashed him my badge and ID.

"You're a little far from home, aren't you?"

"Yes, but I'm working on a case."

I showed him a picture of the neural scientist who worked at UCLA.

"Do you know him?"

He paused, looking nervous.

"No. I've never met him before in my life."

He's lying. I don't know how he's involved in all of this, but he's lying.

I followed him for the next few days, and saw nothing out of the ordinary. Then one night when I was prepared to go back out again, and follow the same routine, there was a knock on my door. I opened it, and two men were standing there with revolvers.

"Escalera wants to see you," said the man with the blue blazer.

We took the elevator down to the parking lot where a Mercedes Benz was waiting for us with the engine on. I got into the car, and they drove me to Escalera's house. When we arrived, I got out of the vehicle and was escorted into an enormous billiards room.

"Glad you could make it," said Escalera as he shot the cue ball into the eight ball, ricocheting it into the corner pocket.

"What do you want?"

"You've been following me around."

"It's not against the law in South Africa, is it?"

"No, of course not. But I want to make you a deal."

"What kind of deal?"

"I need someone killed and I like you to do it."

"You do know that I'm from the FBI, don't you?"

"I know. That's why I need you to be the one to do it."

"Why?"

"Because I can't find this particular person and you have the skill and resources to track this person down."

"And who's this person that we're talking about?"

"My black maid. She's a witness against me in a murder case."

Then, I remembered seeing on television a year ago that Escalera had shot his wife through the bathroom door and claimed that it was self-defense.

"Why should I do this?"

"In exchange for you helping me out, I'll hand you over King Tut's amputated toe, and a stolen vial of coronavirus instead of giving it to the person that I believe is responsible for your partner's death.

"How did you know that my partner died?"

"I did a little research and found out about your situation, and I bet you this has something to do with her murder."

"It probably does, but what makes you think I'm willing to kill a person just to get those two items?"

"I saw your internet history, and saw that you looked at a lot of Nazi's websites, and I'm betting you're a closeted Nazi like me, and would love to kill a black person given the right amount of incentive."

"How do you know about my internet history?"

"Same way I know about your partner's murder. I had someone hacked into your account."

"What if you're wrong, and I'm not a Nazi."

"Then, we could forget we had this conversation. But of course, you won't get the coronavirus vial or the toe."

"Who is the person that is supposed to get the items if I wasn't here?"

"Johann Haufman. He paid a quarter of a million dollars for the items."

I needed the goods to catch Haufman, I thought.

"Okay. You have a deal."

We shook hands.

"Good. You'll show me the corpse, and I'll hand you the vial and the toe."

I called Lead Agent in Charge back at San Francisco headquarter.

"Is there someway you could trace the phone call of the Johannesburg police?"

"I have friend at the CIA. He can track the phone calls. Why?"

"I need to find the location of Escalara's former maid. She might be able to help me solve my partner's murder."

A week later, my phone rang.

"She staying at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital," said the CIA agent.

"Thanks"

"Tell the Special Agent in Charge that we're even, and that I don't owe him anything anymore."

"I will."

I hang up the phone.

The following day, I drove to the hospital and walked into the maid's private bedroom.

"Do I know you?" asked the emaciated, gaunt, black woman, lying on a bed.

"No, you don't know me. I was sent here by Escalera."

"I guess, you're here to kill me," she chuckled. "But you're too late. I'm dying of cancer."

"I know."

That night, I brought the maid's body to Escalera's house. He touched the stone, ice-cold body to make sure that it was dead.

"You held up your end of the bargain. I'll hold up mine."

He signaled to his henchman and a few minutes later, the henchman returned with a black leather case.

I opened it and saw the vial and King Tut's toe inside.

"Good doing business with you," he said.

I left and heard a blood curdling cry from inside the house as I walked down a dirt path.

Good! My new daughter is finally awake, I grinned.

The next day, I took a plane and flew to New York.

I placed an ad on Reddit stating that I had a King Tut's toe for sale. I knew Haufman would eventually see the ad since there was an Aryan online community on the site.

A week later, I got a response.

Henry, I know it's you. Are you missing a parent? An uncle? or An aunt? Email me back if you're interested in trading for the toe and the vial.

What is he talking about?

I took my smartphone out of my pocket and called my mom. There was no answer except for a voicemail. I called my uncle and aunt and got the same response.

No! This can't be happening! Not to someone I cared about!

I took my car and drove to my mom's house. As I approached the front door, I knew something was horribly wrong here. The front door was ajar. My mom would never leave the door, ajar because we live so close to the bad part of town.

Please! Don't let it be what I think it is!

I pushed the door, opened and stepped into the living room.

It was a mess! The television set was knocked off the stand. My favorite easy chair was turned over on its side, and a plate of spaghetti was spilled all over the floor.

No! Not this again! I brought harm to the people I cared about!

I took my smartphone out of my pocket and emailed Haufman back that I was willing to make the trade at the abandoned Loew opera house.

Then, I telephoned Marius for help.

"You can't trust him. He'll double-cross you, and kill your entire family for the fun of it," said Marius.

"I don't have much of a choice here."

"Yes, you do."

"What else can I do?"

"Double-cross him. Give him the case without anything inside, and then kill him afterwards."

"I can't take that chance. My entire family's life is in his hand."

That night, I went to the abandoned, Loew opera house, and Slaughterhouse Five and seven, other vampires armed with stakes, shotguns and automatic pistols were standing outside the building.

"Why are you here? I didn't think Marius would send you to help me."

"I don't take stuff personally. Besides, there are innocent lives at stake."

"But why would you care? You're the one that threaten to kill my mom if I couldn't access my power."

"Never would have followed through with it. Now are we going to stand here all day talking, or are we going to do something about it. "

We entered the building. Haufman and his entourage of vampires stood on the stage with my family.

"Ah, I see you brought your own people to help with the negotiation," said Haufman.

I climbed up the stairs to the stage.

"Let them go."

"First, let me see the vial and the pharaoh's toe."

I popped the black leather case, open and showed him what's inside.

"Good. Slide the case over."

"Let them go," I said, again.

"I said: slide the case over now!"

He nodded to a tall vampire, and he wrapped his fingers around my mom's throat.

I slid the case over to him and he picked it up.

He nodded to the tall vampire again, and the vampire let go of my mom's neck.

"You can go now," said Haufman.

My family slowly walked across the stage toward me.

"Let me give you some advice. If you care about your family, and about yourself, stay out of my business."

Then, Haufman and his brethrens hopped off the stage, and left.

"Are you all right?" I asked, hugging my mom.

"Yes, I think so," she said with tears streaming down her face.

"I'm not going to let anything bad happen to you or to anyone in this family ever again."

The next morning, I spoke to the Lead Agent in Charge at the New York office and had him placed my family into a safe house.

Afterwards, I remembered a lead, that I had, which might lead me to Haufman. I made a phone call to the data analyst at the San Francisco, FBI headquarter.

"Did you ever decrypt the eight USB sticks that I gave you from the Fort Irwin case?"

"No. It's impossible to decrypt. There are a billion lines of codes and I can't figure out the keys to decipher it."

"You're saying I'm out of luck."

"Well, not exactly. There is a hacker in Nevada that might be able to decrypt it."

"Well get him and have him decrypt the information on the USB sticks."

"Can't. No one knows where he is. He's been hiding ever since he stole half a million dollars from the Gambino crime family."

"Email everything you know about the hacker to me."

"Why? Are you going to try to track him down?"

"Yes."

VIVA LAS VEGAS

I rented a car and drove down the Vegas strip: pass extravagant casinos' lights, a large Ferris wheel, an Eiffel Tower, and jumping water spouts from a pool toward an Italian restaurant on the east side by the name of Albertelli.

"We're closed," snarled a bartender as I entered the dinghy and not very well lit restaurant.

"I want to see the owner," I said, holding up my badge and ID.

He reached for a bat that was leaning against the inside panel of the bar counter.

I grabbed his right arm.

"What are you planning to do with that?"

"Let go," he snarled.

I punched him in the chest and he keeled over, gasping for breath. I walked pass him down a narrow corridor to the back of the room and opened the door.

A man in a grey suit stood there, pointing a .38 revolver at another man's head.

"Boy, did you ever walked into the wrong room," said a fat man behind the desk as he pulled out his .45 Magnum and pointed it at me.

"I need you to let that pimpled face kid go," I said.

The fat man laughed.

"Do you know how much money this little fucker owes me? A half million dollars. Are you going to pay his debt for him?"

"I'm willing to offer you something better than a half million dollars," I said.

"What?"

"Don't get all crazy on me. I'm going to very slowly take out my gun with my thumb and index finger."

I reached into my suit and pulled out my .38 automatic. I pointed the gun at my palm and fired. There was a hole, the size of a silver dollar, in the middle of my left palm.

"What the fuck?" exclaimed the fat man.

I held up my left hand and several seconds later, the flesh from the outer perimeter moved inward, and my palm was completely healed.

"How did you do that?" Are you some kind of magician like David Copperfield?"

"No, I'm not."

I concentrated and fangs protruded pass my upper lip.

"Holy Christ!"

"I can make you an immortal. Think about it. You would no longer have to be afraid of being killed by rival mafia members."

"And all I have to do is to let this little shit go?"

"Not exactly, I like to play craps for it. If you win, you get my blood and become immortal, and if I win, you let the kid go for free."

"Gambling in Vegas. I like it."

I took out a pair of red dice out of my pants' pocket.

He walked over to a safe and turned the knob left right left. He pulled on the handle and took out several stacks of hundred dollar bills.

"You'll get ten grand and I'll get ten grand. Whoever wins all the stacks, wins the bet."

I nodded.

"You rolled," he said.

I rolled the dice and it came out seven on the first roll. I rolled again and it came out eleven on the second roll.

He eyed me warily as I was about to roll the dice again, but this time, I lost on purpose, not flipping the dice over with my telekinetic power.

"I don't know how you're doing this," he said as we played on through the night. "But I know when I'm being cheated."

He shot me several times in the chest.

"You didn't think that was going to work, did you?" I asked, looking slightly chagrin.

"No, I didn't think it would. But I wanted to make sure you were real deal, and that I wasn't getting jerked around for the hell of it."

He then pointed his .45 Magnum at the pimpled face kid's forehead.

"Give me your blood or the kid's going to eat a bullet."

I lifted a coffee mug off his desk, and slit my wrist with my left thumb nail. Blood ran out into the cup.

"Drink," I said.

He took the cup from me and gulped down the blood.

"I don't feel any different," he said.

"You have to kill someone and drink their blood in order to fully transform."

The fat man looked at the grey-suited man.

"Boss, don't listen to him!"

The fat man walked toward the grey-suited man whose hand was shaking badly while holding onto his revolver.

"Boss, don't listen to him! He's trying to divide and conquer!"

The fat man lunged forward and tackled grey-suited man to the floor. He bit down on the man's neck.

"Boss!" he gurgled with blood streaming out of his neck. "Don't' do this!"

Then, the grey-suited man lay, still, and the fat man got up and looked at me.

"I still don't feel any different," said the fat man.

I stepped forward and shoved my right hand into the fat man's chest cavity. He stood there, stunned. Then, I pulled my right hand out, and the fat man stared down at my hand, holding onto his former beating heart. Then, he fell backward on the floor with a loud thud.

The kid looked at me, and asked in a shaking voice, "You're not going to kill me, are you?"

"No. But I need you to come with me, and don't make me ask twice."

I lifted the fat man up off the floor and threw him over my shoulder. I walked outside, and walked to my car, and shoved him into the backseat of my vehicle. The kid got in on passenger's side and I got in on the driver's side, and then we drove to a hardware store.

"Why are we stopping here?" the kid asked.

"Nevermind," I answered. "Just stay inside the car."

A few minutes later, I came back outside with a shovel.

"What are you going to do with that?"

"You'll see," I said, tossing the shovel into the backseat.

Half an hour later, we were out in the middle of the desert.

"Dig," I said, handing the kid the shovel.

The kid dug, and about two hours later, there was a hole that was six feet deep.

"I thought he was going to become a vampire," the kid said, nervously.

"It takes time to turn," I answered.

I walked back to the car and carried the fat man over shoulder and tossed him into the hole.

"People going to be looking for him, you know. He's pretty famous around here."

"That's why I'm burying him with Jimmy Hoffa. Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."

THE LEADER

I sat at my desk, for the next few weeks, trying to figure out what Haufman was up to. Then one Monday morning, the Lead Agent walked into my office and said, ""I need you to come with me."

We went into a conference room. Several agents waited for us. The Lead Agent walked over to the laptop, and clicked on a key. A second later, a projector showed a woman lying on a hospital bed with tiny bumps all over her face, neck and hands.

"This woman has smallpox," said the Lead Agent.

"You think there is another experimental camp out there somewhere like in the Fort Irwin Case?"

"Yes. But we can't find the location where she escaped from. Now, I want you to take charge of this case, Henry, and help find the place."

"Why are you choosing me?"

"Because you're the one who cracked what was going on at Fort Irwin."

The next day, I went to Muir Forest with a dozen agents, looking for the campsite. About an hour into the search and not having much luck, I decided that I needed a bird's eye view of the landscape. I wandered away from the rest of group and walked up a rocky, mountainous path. Then I saw it, several clicks away. I took out my phone from the inside pocket of my suit and dialed.

"Hello," said the Lead Agent.

"This is Henry. I've found the campsite where the woman was being experiment on."

Three hours later, men with automatic weapons stood in front of me.

"What's the situation here?" asked the stone-faced colonel.

"Behind the chain-link fence, there are about twenty men patrolling the campsite with AK-47. But I don't know how many more are inside the building."

"All right, we take it from here," said the colonel.

The colonel took twenty National Guard men with him and hid behind several, large redwoods. They fired their M-16 at the guards. A few guards fell but many more didn't, and they shot back at the colonel's men.

I climbed over the fence, ignoring the firefights, and walked directly to a brick building. I opened the front door, and walked around the facility, looking for the person who might be able to give me an answer as to why they were experimenting on people. Then as I reached the east end of the building, I saw men and women behind plexiglass with bumps all over their faces and hands.

I'm going to find whoever is in charge, and make him pay.

I wandered up and down several more hallways, before finally coming upon a room, full of white men in white lab coats talking and eating lunch with one another.

"Who are you?" asked a man with horn rimmed glasses as I stepped into the room.

"Are you in charge of all these scientists?" I asked.

"Yes, but who are you and how did you get in here?"

I grabbed him by his lab coat and dragged him out into the hallway.

"Where's your office?" I yelled.

"On the fifth floor. What do you want?"

I didn't answer.

I continue dragging him until we were inside the elevator, then I pushed the fifth floor button and threw him against the wall.

"What do you want?" he asked with a pained look on his face.

I didn't answer. I only looked at him with contempt.

Then when the elevator door opened, I continued dragging him down another hallway until we reached his office.

"I want to know what's going on here, and why are you doing all of this?"

"I can't tell you," he answered, nervously.

"You're going to tell me or else."

"I can't. It's all for the greater good. For the leader."

Hearing a burst of gunfire, coming from several floors below, I knew that the national guards had arrived at the building, and was going to overtake this place.

"If you're not going to talk, then there's no reason for you to live."

I sank my fangs into side of his neck and tore out a huge chunk of flesh. He fell, muttering to himself, the words: "For the leader" over and over again as if those words could have saved his life.

I walked over to the file cabinet, and opened the drawer and took as many files as I could carry.

When I got back to my apartment and had a chance to look over the files, I finally knew what the Nazi scientist meant when he said: "For the leader." The Aryan Nation wasn't trying to find Cain. They were trying to find Adolf Hitler's corpse. That's why that scientist kept saying the word: "leader" over and over again, because the German word for "leader" is Fuhrer.

DAMN RUSSIAN SECRETS

I went online and researched everything I could about Adolf Hitler. I read articles after articles about him during the last days of the war. One prevalent theory that is accepted by most historians is that Hitler committed suicide, and his body was burned and buried in Germany. Another theory which is more of a conspiracy is that he had been captured by the Russians, and taken prisoner while he was hiding inside his bunker.

I have to find out whether this second theory is true or not, I thought. If it is true, then I might get to the corpse before the Aryan Nation does since most their members are in Germany searching for the body.

That evening, I got on the next flight and flew to Russia. Two days later, I stood outside a retired Ex-KGB director's home.

Hopefully, I won't give him a heart attack while I question him, I thought.

I got out of my car and ran across the street to an old, rickety, brownstone building and climbed up the fire escape. When I reached the third floor window, I lifted the window pane up and stepped into the apartment. I then walked across the room, and sat down on a soft easy chair, and waited for him in the dark. A couple of hours later, I heard footfalls coming down the hallway.

"Why don't you come in?" I said in a deadpan voice as the door opened.

"Who's there?" asked an old man, nervously, staring into the dark, as he tried find the light switch on the wall.

"I have a few questions that I need answering."

The old man switched the light on, and gasped, "Vampir."

"If that's Russian for vampire, then you're right, I am one of them."

"I never thought you were real. I heard stories when I was child."

"Sit down," I gestured toward the chair.

The old man, trembling, walked over to the chair and sat down.

"If you're going to kill me, make it quick. I know I'm too old, and I can't run away from you."

"Calm down. If I wanted you dead, you'll be dead already."

He took out a pack of cigarette out of his coat pocket, and pulled out a cigarette out of the pack. He put the cigarette into his mouth. His hands trembled uncontrollably, trying to light it. I took the match from him and lit it. He took in a deep breath, and blew out a stream of blue smoke out of his nostrils.

"What do you want?" he asked.

"I want to know what happen to Hitler. The things that I read on the internet saying that the Russian took him, was that true?"

"What makes you think I know?"

"You're an ex-KGB director. If there's anyone in Russia that would have this information, it would be you."

He took another puff of his cigarette.

"You're asking me did we take him? Yes, we took him. Stalin ordered that he'll be taken alive for questioning."

"Questioning for what?"

"Stalin wanted names and addresses of German scientists. He wanted the scientists, so Russia could build the jets, worked on guided missiles, and helped create the right kind steroid to create super soldier to fight against the Americans."

"Did he ever give Stalin the answer?"

"Yes, the man who wrote about having an iron will in Mein Kampf, eventually broke down, and told us everything he knew. Everybody does, after days of being torture by the KGB."

He grinned broadly, as if reliving some precious memory in his mind.

"What happened to him afterwards?"

"What happened to all war criminals: he was shot and buried in an unmarked grave. Of course, Stalin ordered that his body be burned so the allies wouldn't know that we had him after the war."

"Could you take me to his grave?"

The old man covered his mouth with his left hand, and coughed. There were droplets of blood on his palm.

"What's in it for me? What are you going to do? Kill me before the cancer does?"

"No, like you said in your story, after days of being torture, people will eventually tell you everything."

The old man looked at me for a long moment, trying to figure out what I meant by that statement.

"You can't blame me for trying. I mean who wouldn't want to live forever."

"I'm not going to turn you. A Stalin sycophant like yourself shouldn't even walk this earth. Tell me what I want to know, or I'll make you wish you hadn't met me this evening."

He got up from his chair.

"I'll bring you to the grave," he said with great reluctance.

An hour later, we were at the cemetery. I dug up the grass covered dirt with a rusty shovel that I had gotten from his closet, and it wasn't long before I hit pay dirt.

There was a clink.

My shovel hit an old, wooden casket. I opened it, and there was a charred, gnarled skeleton wrapped inside a tattered blanket.

"I would like to go home now," said the old man. "You've gotten what you were after."

I went back to my motel, and sat in front of a television set, thinking: How did Haufman plan to bring Hitler back to the living? He isn't a warlock.

Then suddenly, I heard noise coming from behind my bedroom door.

I got up off my chair and pushed the door open.

There was a blond hair, blue eye vampire dressed in a SS uniform, standing beside my bed, and carrying the skeletal remains of Adolf Hitler over his shoulder.

"Haufman told me about you," said the SS vampire. "Don't get in my way or you'll regret it!"

He leapt out the window and landed on top of roof of an adjacent building. I followed, and we leapt from rooftop to rooftop, playing tag; that is until we came upon a party filled with teenagers, drinking and dancing to punk music.

"What's up?" said a drunken teenager as he stumbled toward SS vampire.

The SS vampire grabbed the teenager by the shirt and picked him up over his head, holding on to his crotch and the chest area.

"Catch," he said, and he threw the kid off the roof.

I jumped, putting my arms to my sides, and letting the night air brushed pass me. I grabbed the screaming kid in midair, placing him on top of me and bracing myself for the harsh impact that was sure to come.

A second later, I hit the parked car, denting the roof and shattering the front and side windows. I could hear the blare of the alarm as that maniac continues to jump from rooftop to rooftop.

This ain't over yet, not by a long shot. I'm going to put an end to all this Nazi bullshit.

THE DISCOVERY OF A LIFETIME

"Where have you been for the past few days?" asked the Lead Agent as he stormed into my office.

"I've been following up on a lead in Russia to see if I could uncover anything more about the smallpox case."

"Did you find out anything?"

"It was a dead end."

"While you were gallivanting around in Russia, I've been doing a little digging on my own. The place that we raided in Muir Forest belongs to an organization called the Aryan Nation, and there's also a host of missing people in Berlin that I believe is connected to the case."

"How so?"

"Get this. All these people that are missing, they're related to Adolf Hitler."

He slaps a picture on my desk in front of me.

"This is Heidi Wagner. The last of Hitler's relative that hasn't gone missing yet. I need you to watch her, and arrest anyone trying to abduct her so we can question them about what's going on in the Aryan Nation."

The next day, I flew to Berlin, and met with the leading detective at the police station.

"We've been watching Heidi for the past week, ever since your Lead Agent notified us about the connection of missing people in Germany," said the lead detective.

"Did you notice anybody strange around her that shouldn't be there?"

"No, nothing out of the ordinary."

He looked at his watch.

"We should get going. I need to relieve the undercover officers that are watching her now."

We got into his car and drove to a German restaurant.

He ordered us two cups of coffee and two plates filled sausages, potato salad and bread rolls.

"Heidi will be in the bookstore for hours," he said as he looked out the window. "It's her favorite pastime."

I looked across the street and saw a Mercedes Benz pulled up in front of the bookstore. A blond hair, blue eye vampire, whom I had met before in Russia, stepped out of the vehicle.

"Let's go," I said, getting up off my chair.

"What's wrong?" asked the detective as he got up, a second later.

The blond hair, blue eye vampire saw me, as I came out of the restaurant, running toward him with my gun drawn out.

"Stop!" I yelled.

The vampire ignored me as a couple of his henchmen shoved Heidi into the Mercedes Benz. Then, before I was able to reach within arm's length of the vehicle and yank Heidi back out, the car sped away.

"Did you get the license plate number?" asked the lead detective.

"No, I didn't" I lied, not wanting him involved in the case.

"That's too bad," he said.

When I got back to my hotel room, I telephoned the Special Agent in Charge at the San Francisco headquarter.

"It takes me a couple of hours to get the name and address of the person that was driving the vehicle. But why didn't you have the lead detective in Germany trace the numbers?"

"I suspect he's a Nazi's mole."

"No kidding."

I hate lying to him, but less people involve, the better.

Within a couple of hours later, I received a call back with the name and address of the person who owned the vehicle. I drove out to the location, and parked my car in front of an eighteenth century chateau. When I got out, I walked to the side of the building, looking for an open window. Then I saw it, and climbed through, thinking: she's probably locked in the basement just like I was, when I was taken prisoner by Marius.

I walked down a flight of stairs and pushed a heavy, wooden door, open.

"Is someone there?" A voice cried out from the long, stone, shadowy corridor in front of me.

I walked pass a couple of flickering torches that jutted out of the stone wall, and saw Heidi on the left side, locked up behind a row of steel bars.

"I'll get you out! Just give me a second!"

"You're not going anywhere," said a voice from behind me.

I turned and saw the blond hair, blue eye vampire standing with six, enormous Storm Troopers: Each of them carrying a baton in one hand.

"Get him!" ordered the blond hair, blue eye vampire.

They came at me: Each bludgeoning me with their baton at every angle: hitting me in the face, arms, thighs and chest.

I screamed as they hit me again and again.

I'm blacking out.

When I came to, I found myself inside the cell with Heidi.

"Are you all right?" she asked.

"I'm fine."

I walked over to the prison door and pushed at it.

A burly, six foot five vampire, who was built like a Mack truck, looked at me and laughed, "You didn't think that was going to open, did you?"

"It's hopeless," said Heidi.

"I think, I know how to get us out of here," I said.

"How?"

"Don't be frightened. I'm going to take a little blood from you."

"What do you mean?"

I concentrated, and my fingers elongated, and my fangs protruded pass my upper lip. She looked at me in horror, and screamed.

"I'm not going to hurt you. But I do need a little blood from you in order to bait the vampire outside."

She looked at me and said, hesitantly "All right. Do it, if you think it's going to help us get out of here."

With my right index finger, I scratched a small, red line across the side of her neck. A trickle of blood flowed downward.

"What are you doing?" asked the six foot five vampire.

I leaned over Heidi's neck and licked the trickle of blood.

"It tastes so good! Do you want some?"

The burly vampire licked his upper lip.

"Stop it!" he cried.

"You don't want me to stop. You want to come in and join me."

I bit down on Heidi's neck and more blood flowed out of her.

The vampire's eyes glowed bright red. He ran to the cell and grabbed onto the bar and shook it.

"Stop it!"

"Stop what?" I said, teasingly.

He started to pant heavily, and his eyes grew even redder.

"Oh, come on. Join me. You know you want to."

He took his key out of his pocket and opened the door.

Good, I thought.

When he stepped into the room, I tried to tackle him, but he countered and threw a right hook, connecting with my jaw, and sent me sprawling to the floor, dazed. He hopped on top of me, immediately, with his legs straddling my stomach and his fangs bearing down on my neck.

"You're going to die," he snarled as I tried to push his head away. "I don't care what Haufman said about keeping you alive."

I'm losing. I'm not going to be able to hold him off much longer.

Then suddenly, the burly vampire arched his back and collapsed on top of me. Heidi had put a wooden stake right through his back and into his heart.

"Thanks. I didn't think I was going to make it out alive."

"No problem. If you didn't bring the stakes, and if those Storm Troopers hadn't left it on the table, then the ending might have been different."

"I don't understand why didn't they just kill me when they had the chance."

"They said they needed you as a hostage against someone named Marius."

"We need to get out of here. Before the other vampires realized what had transpired."

We left the chateau, and I drove Heidi back home. She packed her clothes, and we took next flight back to San Francisco.

"Who do we have here?" asked the hacker as we sat around the dining room table at my apartment.

"It's a friend of mine," I said. "Did you ever decipher what was in the USB sticks that I gave you?"

"Yeah, I actually did," he said. "Look at this."

He punched a few keys on the keyboard and the computer monitor showed the letters: A, T, C, and G, repeating in different random orders.

"I don't know what any of this mean," he said.

"I do," said Heidi. "It's the genetic codes for all living things: The letters A, T, C, and G stands for Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine, and Guanine."

"How do you know that?" I asked, a little shocked by her in-depth knowledge of biology.

"I'm a biochemist."

"Is that all the information that you got from the USB sticks?"

"No, I also got a blueprint for some kind of heating device."

"Look at this," said Heidi, pointing to the monitor. There are two sets of ATCG codes. The first set is nearly identical to the second set, but with a few codes being different from time to time."

I walked over to the kitchen and took down a marker board from the fridge and wrote: Two sets of different ATCG codes, a post it note with the words: Kill All Pure Blood 911 and a stolen King Tut's amputated toe.

"These are the clues that I've found while working the case, but what does it all mean?"

"Beats me," said the hacker.

"I think I know, at least part of it. You told me on the plane ride over: Haufman is a Nazi fanatic, and he had been experimenting with smallpox, and had recently gotten his hands on a stolen vial of coronavirus.

"Yes."

"The two sets of codes that you see on the monitor: One is a Homo sapiens' DNA code while the other one is a Neanderthal man's DNA code."

"Okay. But I don't see where you're going with this."

"When Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa, they met up with Neanderthals in Western Asia, and they interbred."

"You're saying we're part Neanderthal? We're hybrids?"

"Yes. The Max Planck Institute where I worked at recently sequenced the human genome and discovered that whites and Asian have 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal DNA in their body."

"Okay, again, I don't see where you're going with this."

"The Homo sapiens who stayed in Africa, they've never interbred with the Neanderthals. They don't have any Neanderthal DNA in their bodies."

Then, I understood what she was saying: Haufman was creating a new virus. He was combining the high fatality rate of smallpox with the viral nature of the coronavirus, and altering it to specifically target anyone that doesn't have Neanderthal DNA.

"They're planning on wiping out the black population with smallpox," I exclaimed. "They're the Pure Bloods!"

"Jesus Christ! Black lives doesn't matter to this psycho!" said the hacker.

"But what I don't get is why is nine one one written below the words: Killed All Pure Bloods," asked Heidi.

"It's not nine one one," I said. "It's nine eleven. That's when they're planning on releasing the virus. The same day the terrorist took down the towers."

THE QUEST

The next day, Heidi and I flew out to New York and took a cab to Marius's house. I told him about Haufman's plan.

"So you guys figured this out all by yourself. I'm impressed," said Marius.

"The only thing I don't get is why did Haufman create serial killers?"

"Isn't it, obvious? He's doing a beta run to test out whether he can create his own vicious, personal, elite, S.S. army of mutants and vampires to command," said Marius.

"But two of the serial killers weren't a mutant or a vampire. They were humans." I said.

"They were prototypes. He wanted to first make sure that he could turn people into killers before giving them powers," said Marius.

"But why did Candy Man, a former holocaust survivor, joined with Haufman?" asked Heidi.

"Stockholm syndrome," said my V.A. shrink.

"That's not important right now," I said. "What we need to do is to figure out a way to stop him."

"With what?" asked Marius. "Even with the help of a couple hundred vampires in the Ignatius House, we still can't stop Haufman. His vampire army has a couple of thousands according to my intel and that's not including the mutants and the monsters that he is making out of his laboratory."

"I think I might have a solution," I said. "Give me a couple of weeks."

Two days later, I was out in the great northern nowhere in Alaska. I walked around for days in the wilderness, looking for skinwalker's tracks, before finally coming upon two, large, twenty inch wolf feet embedded in the snow. I followed it, and it wasn't long before I came upon the skinwalkers's encampment site. I hid behind a large pine tree, and saw thirty or so skinwalkers, dancing around a large bonfire while one emaciated skinwalker was sitting inside a steel cage like a caged tiger.

"Traitor," said a large, nine feet tall skinwalker.

He picked up two cubs and bashed their heads against the rocks.

"No," cried the skinwalker inside the steel cage.

"The strong survive and the weak perish. That is the nature of things that you do not yet understand," said the large skinwalker.

I walked out of the woods and into the campsite. All the skinwalkers stopped dancing and stared at me. The large skinwalker walked up to me and held up his nose and sniffed

"You're not welcome here, vampire."

"Are you the alpha?" I asked.

"I am," he snarled.

"I like to challenge you for the leadership of the tribe," I said.

He laughed.

"You might be strong compared to humans. But compared to skinwalkers, you are like a weak, little girl. Go away, before I smash your head against the rocks also."

"I'm not a helpless child," I said. "Are you going to accept my challenge or not?"

The other skinwalkers, narrowed their eyes and drew a little closer, watching us with intense interest.

"Skinwalkers," he yelled. "The vampire wished to challenge me for leadership of the tribe."

The skinwalkers chanted, "Hoo-wah, Hoo-wah, Hoo-wah."

I took out my brass knuckles made out of iron and slipped it around my fingers.

"It's not against the rule, is it?" I asked.

"No! There are no rules in combat for the alpha leadership!"

He grabbed a pine tree and ripped it out of the ground.

Jesus! He's much stronger than me!

Before I was able to move an inch, the tree hit me, and I flew back twenty yards into the dense forest with several, broken ribs. I coughed up blood as I lay there. The skinwalker stepped a little closer, holding up the tree above his head, ready to deliver the final blow. I stood up, despite the unbelievable pain, and concentrate.

Squeeze his heart. You could do it.

He stopped suddenly and placed one hand over his chest as if he was an old man having his first heart attack.

"Mercy!" he screamed.

"The strong survive and the weak perish. That is the nature of things that you do not yet understand," I said as I squeeze my fist tight.

He fell, face first into the snow.

"Does anybody else wish to challenge me?" I declared in a loud, booming voice.

Dead silence.

"I am your alpha now!" I shouted.

All the skinwalkers kneeled down on one knee and lowered their heads in submission.

I walked over to the skinwalker in the steel cage, and yanked open the door.

"I am in your debt," said the prisoner.

"Why were you imprisoned?"

"I led a rebellion. To stop the slaughter of the Alaskan people."

I remembered the dead skinwalkers, lying on the side of the road.

"What is a Nunavut and why were skinwalkers searching for it?"

"A Nunavut is a sacred amulet that is rumored to have a map inside it that would lead the tribe to the Promised Land."

"Did you find the amulet?"

"Yes. But there was no map inside."

He paused with grief.

"I saw what happened to your cubs. I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault. But why are you here?"

"I'm glad you asked. I'm raising an army. You know anymore supernatural creatures that I might be able to enlist."

"I do."

He then changed from a werewolf form to that of a naked man.

"But first, we need to get you some clothes," I said with a half-amused smile.

A BRAVE NEW WORLD

A couple of days later, we were at San Francisco Chinatown. We entered a butcher shop where there were rows of roasted ducks with their necks, pierced and hung on hooks, and were displayed inside the store window.

"People actually eat that?" I asked.

"It's a very popular among the Chinese," said the skinwalker.

The butcher looked at us and asked, "Can I help you?"

The skinwalker spoke to him in Chinese and the butcher looked surprised and said, "Follow me."

He led us to the back of the shop and down a flight of stairs. I froze at the bottom steps when I saw a ghoul, chewing on an old woman's calf. He looked up at me with his mouth, watering with thick, red, visceral fluid.

The Chinese man anxiously said something to him, and then, he hurried back up the stairs and out the door.

"What do you want?" hissed the ghoul.

"I need your help," I said.

"Why should I help?" he hissed as he tore more flesh out the woman's calf and began chewing.

"If you help me now, I will return the favor in some future date."

He held up his ring finger.

"You can help me now. I want my ring back. It was taken from me by the Sixers."

"Why do you want the ring?" asked the skinwalker.

"It gives me the power of invisibility."

"What's a Sixers?" I asked.

"Creatures from the sixth dimension. But we can get it back with the help of a warlock."

"Does he live in Redwood City?"

"Yes. Do you know him?"

"I met him once or twice."

Four hours later, the skinwalker and I was waiting outside the warlock's house.

"Where is he?" asked the skinwalker, impatiently. "I don't know how he's planning to get to here without anybody seeing him."

There was a loud clang about twenty yards away, and a manhole cover slowly rose up and slid sideway onto street. The ghoul came up through the manhole and scuttled toward us in a preternatural manner.

I rang the doorbell when the ghoul stood beside us.

A few minutes later, the same English butler, whom I had met before, opened the door.

"Follow me. He's been waiting for you all evening."

He led us into a living room where the warlock was sitting on an easy chair and sipping a cup of tea.

"Henry, I had a very strong feeling that you might be coming by."

"I need your help."

"I don't like getting involved in vampiric business. The only reason that I helped you the other time is because of the debt that I owed to Marius."

"And it's not because of your certain dislike of your ex-wife."

He smiled.

"That's part of it, but mostly because of the blood debt."

"What if I gave you something in return for your help."

"Like what?"

"Name it, and I'll get it for you."

He thought for a moment.

"I would like your blood in return for my help."

"Why do you want my blood?"

"That's my business. Do you want to make a deal or not?"

I walked over to the kitchen and snatched a cup off the sink rack. Then, I sliced my left wrist opened with my right thumb nail, letting the blood run into the cup.

"Is that enough blood?" I asked.

"Yes, that's enough. What is it that you want from me?"

"We want to go to the sixth dimension where the Sixers live."

"You're asking me to perform the darkest of dark magic."

"I know. But we really need your help. The entire world is in danger."

"Well, then I guess I can't say "No" Can I? But be warned Henry, you might not make it back here at all. The Sixers are the most dangerous creatures in all of creation."

"I can handle myself."

The warlock got up from his chair and left the room. A few minutes later, he came back, holding a piglet in one hand and a knife in the other.

"Bring me the bowl," he said.

I picked up a bowl off the table, and placed it in front of him. He raised the piglet above the bowl and then thrust the knife into the piglet's throat and sliced down into its belly. The piglet's blood ran out into the bowl, instantly and then, he picked a brush off the table, and dipped the utensil into the bowl and began painting on the floor: strange sigils.

"What are you doing?" asked the skinwalker.

"Be quiet," he said, and chanted: "Abu nami nu candar sanu."

Suddenly, a bright, glowing door appeared in the middle of the room.

"Go through it and it will take you to the sixth dimension," said the warlock.

"How do we get back?" I asked.

The warlock reached into pant's pocket and handed me a small crystal ball.

"Break this when you're ready to come back. It will open a door on the other side for you to step back through to this dimension."

We went through the door and a second later, we were on top of a hill, overlooking a small New England town. There was pristine church in the middle of the town, a small quaint theatre on Main Street, and rows of Colonial houses crisscrossing in all directions.

"Welcome to a Norman Rockwell painting," I said.

We went down the hill, and when we arrived at the edge of the town, I saw things that I didn't see before. There were creatures that resembled boars, but they walked upright, and wore twentieth-first century clothing. Some wore business suits while others wore summer clothes, and walked around the park, enjoying the summer sun.

"I shouldn't be surprise as how everybody in town should look like. After all, we are in a different dimension," I said.

"Did you thought Sixer would looked like you?" asked the skinwalker.

"I guess part of me did."

We walked down the street and boar people stared at us, and a few of them ran away in hysterical terror.

"We probably look as strange to them as they do to us," said the skinwalker

"Speak for yourself," hissed the ghoul. "I am beautiful unlike you and the vampire."

We walked for another twenty minutes before we reached the center of town.

"Should we go inside?" I asked, pointing to the town hall.

"Why not?" hissed the ghoul. "It's as good a place as any to try to find the boar who took the ring from me."

We stepped through the town hall door, and there were two hundred, boar people sitting on benches and listening to an elderly, boar person, speaking into a microphone behind a podium on the stage.

"That's him!" shouted the ghoul. "The person who took the ring from me!"

"Who have we here?" asked the elderly Sixer behind the podium.

"I would like you to give the ring back to my friend here," I said, smiling as pleasantly as I could.

The elderly Sixer stared at me and asked, "Why would I do that?"

"Perhaps an exchange," I said. "Is there anything that you want that I can give in return for you giving the ring back?"

He thought for a moment and said, "My youngest daughter was born disfigured. If you were to marry her, then I would give you the ring as a wedding gift. But understand this; there is a tradition among my people that you must out riddle me in order for the wedding to proceed. If you were to fail in your ability to out riddle me, then we will eat you in celebration of a failed wedding."

"I'll answer all your riddles," I said. "And I'll marry her."

"Fine," he said. "I'll set up the ceremony for the riddling and for the wedding tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll have a few denizens bring you to a place where you can get lodging."

We walked down the street accompanied by four, large boars, and it wasn't long before we reached a quaint, little inn with a sign above the door that read: Maple Inn. We went inside and a female, boar innkeeper behind registration desk, gasped in complete astonishment.

"Ma'am," said the large boar that was guarding us. "I know this is unusual, but the mayor wants you to give them a room."

The innkeeper pushed a registration book toward me. I picked up a fountain pen and signed "Henry" on the ledger.

The innkeeper then turned around, and grabbed three keys off the hotel key rack, and handed the keys to me.

The largest of the four boars pointed at the staircase, and we walked up the stairs to our respective room. An hour later, the skinwalker came into my room as I stood on the balcony, staring out into the horizon as the sun sets.

"You don't have to do this," said the skinwalker.

"I do," I said. "If we don't get the ring, then the ghoul won't help us and God knows we need all the help we can get."

"I'll marry her," he said. "I don't have anybody, anyway. My wife and kids were killed by the Alpha when I rebelled."

"I can't let you do that," I said.

"You saved my life. Let me return the favor."

I took a deep breath and sighed, "I'm not going to let you do that."

"I'm not giving you any choice," he said.

I felt a sharp blow to the back of my head and when I came to, the sun wasn't setting anymore but rising instead.

Shit, I thought. I can't let him take my place.

I got up and raced down the stairs and didn't stop running until I reached the town hall.

I opened the door and there were two hundred boar people, sitting on benches, and watching the elderly boar person and the skinwalker talking to each other on stage.

"Stop!" I yelled.

"I owed you," replied the skinwalker.

"Think about what you're doing," I said.

"I already thought about it."

He turned to the elderly Sixer and said, "Let's start the riddling."

"What is it that the more you take out, the more you have?" asked the elderly Sixer.

The skinwalker paused, and then answered, "A hole."

"Excellent!" cried the elderly Sixer. "It's been decades since I had a worthy opponent to riddle against."

"What is it that you cut in half but double in size?" asked the skinwalker.

"That's easy," said the elderly Sixer. "A worm. Now it is my turn. What is always in front of you, but can never be seen?"

The skinwalker paced up and down, lost in his own thought, and then he looked up, and answered, "The future."

The elderly Sixer smiled and said, "Good! You may yet prove worthy enough to marry my daughter."

"What walks on four feet in the morning, two feet in the afternoon, and three feet at night?" asked the skinwalker.

The elderly Sixer's smile disappeared.

"Well?"

"I don't know," said the elderly Sixer.

On the right side of the room, twelve Sixers, who were standing shoulder to shoulder, raised their trumpets and put their lips to the musical instruments, and blew.

A female walked into the room. She looked like Kate Upton from Sports Illustrated.

"That's my daughter," said the elderly Sixer. Born quite horribly deformed. Looks like one of those Hollywood actresses that you would see in a movie in your world."

"That's your daughter," I exclaimed in complete astonishment.

The elderly Sixer handed the skinwalker the ring. A second later, a Sixer dressed in all black got up from the bench and walked on to the stage with two leis. He handed one lei to the skinwalker and the other lei to Kate Upton.

"Do you pledge to take this male to be your mate: to obey and to have offsprings," he asked.

"I do," she said.

"Do you pledge to take this female to be your mate: to protect and to provide for, and to kill the many beasts in the forest so that you can provide for your offsprings and for your lifelong mate."

"I do," said the skinwalker.

"Then, I pronounced you before the eyes of our god, Jazell that you will be mates until death part you on the Xie River."

"Here you go," said the skinwalker as he dropped the ring into my palm.

"I don't know what to say."

"You don't have to say anything," said the skinwalker.

I reached into my pants pocket and took out a crystal ball and threw it to the floor; shattering it into pieces. A second later, a door appeared, and the four of us stepped through and we were back at the warlock's living room.

"Who have we here," asked the warlock.

"He got married when he was on the other side," I said.

"I guess, congratulation is in order," said the warlock.

"Thanks," said the skinwalker.

"I guess this is it," I said. "I hope it's enough power to be able to beat Haufman."

"There is one more creature that you could enlist that might help you in your fight," said the warlock.

"Who is it?" I asked.

"Fallen angels."

"Where can I find them?"

"They usually hang out at Starbucks in downtown, San Francisco," said the warlock.

"You're kidding."

"No, angels are addicted to coffee," said the warlock. "Besides, what better place to go to recruit souls into hell, than to go to a place where Silicon Valley billionaires, stockbrokers and lawyers usually hang out at."

"Do they have any weaknesses?" I asked.

"They can't operate anything electronic. They short circuit whenever any modern equipments get close to them."

"That's not much help. What else can you tell us?" said the skinwalker.

"There is a black glow that surrounds fallen angel bodies, and supernatural beings like ourselves can detect this aura. Also, fallen angels like to gamble with a person in order to gain their soul."

"Good to know," I said.

I turned to the skinwalker and said, "You guys stay here."

"We're coming with you," said the skinwalker. "You might need back up."

Not this time. Because you won't be much help in what I'm planning to do next."

The next day, I was at Starbucks and I sat down across the table from a man who was wearing a very, expensive, three piece suit.

"This seat is taken," he said. "I'm expecting somebody."

"I know you're an angel," I said.

"What are you?" he asked with a quizzical look on his face. "A skinwalker, a warlock, a vampire?"

"A vampire," I said.

"What do you want?"

"I need your help in fighting another vampire."

"And what are you willing to offer in return?"

"My soul. I am willing to gamble you for it. If I win, you help me fight a vampire army, and if you win, you get my immortal soul."

"You probably lost your soul when you became a vampire."

"Maybe. But I never took an innocent life when I was a vampire."

He looked into my eyes for a long moment as if he was staring into my very soul.

"Okay, if you wish to gamble for your soul, so be it."

I pulled out a pair of dice from my pocket and placed it on the table.

"You don't think that I know vampires can move objects telekinetically?"

He grabbed a chessboard from the seat next to him, and placed it on the table.

"I was planning to play chess with a lawyer in order to gain his soul. But since you've taken his seat and want to gamble."

He opened up the chessboard and began setting up the pieces.

"Do you mind if I listen to music while we play?" I asked.

"Go ahead."

I took out my smartphone and instead of pulling up a music app: I went on the internet and downloaded a chess app.

Good thing, he was born before smartphone, I thought.

We played chess for what seemed like an eternity; before I finally checkmated him with my bishop.

"In two millenniums, I've never lost a game. I've beaten all of the great masters: Morphy, Fisher, Kasporov. How did you beat me?"

"Chess app. Ever heard of it?"

Two days later, I was at Marius's house with Heidi, the ghoul, an angel and all the skinwalkers from Alaska.

"I can't believe you were able to raise such a large army in such a short period of time," said Marius.

"It wasn't easy."

"What now? asked the skinwalker. "Are we going to fight or what?"

"Do you know where the smallpox weapon is located?" asked Marius. "There are so many floors at the World Trade Center."

"It's on the nineteenth floor in room eighty four," I answered.

"How do you know that?" asked Marius.

"I just do," I said.

Heidi slung the strap of an AK-47 over her shoulder.

"You can't come," I scowled. "It's way too dangerous."

"No. I need to make up for things that my great great uncle did," she said.

"Let her come," said Marius. "I'll watch over her. I won't let any of Haufman, or any of his monsters hurt her. I give you my word."

Marius took his smartphone out of his suit's pocket and pushed several numbers and said,

"Slaughterhouse Five, I want you to get as many buses as you can and have them at my mansion ASAP."

An hour later, there were reams of buses parked outside Marius's chateau and the supernatural forces that I had gathered got on the bus. Two hours later, we were parked in front of the World Trade Center.

"Does everyone know what to do?" I asked as we stood outside the building.

"Yes," said the ghoul. "Let's bring down the house."

We stormed into the lobby. Heidi let loosed with her AK-47, spraying down any vampires and mutants that came toward us. A half-human fly that was walking on the ceiling and avoided the first onslaught of bullets, was met by an angel with a flaming sword. The angel touched him on the shoulder with his blade, and a second later, the fly's body burst into flames. I could hear a crisp: snap, crackle and pop as his flesh burned and the juices in him, dried up.

"Go!" said a voice from behind me. "I'll take care of this."

A huge vampire who was charging at me, stopped in mid-run, and his chest burst wide open with his heart hanging out in midair, as if an invisible hand had took it out of from his chest, and was now holding onto it.

"Thanks," I said.

I ran into the elevator and pressed the nineteenth floor button.

Come on. I don't have all day.

When the door opened, I ran and barreled through the door near the end of the hall.

"I've been expecting you," said Haufman. "Why don't you join me so we can start a whole new world together."

I saw a baby, crying and lying on a bassinet beside Haufman's feet.

"Who's that?"

"Haven't you figured that out already? It is our great leader, Hitler. By using the Fuhrer's corpse and the gene pool of his distant relatives, I was able to clone him."

"What about King Tut's toe? Why did you steal it?"

"That's my secret."

"So what now? You're planning on having an infant ruled the world beside you?"

"Of course not. We will have to wait a couple of decades before he's all grown up and be able to take control. But think about the future that awaits us. A majority of blacks will be dead, and the Smurf show is reeducating the young American children to subscribe Nazis' doctrines, and a Fourth Reich will come into existence from the very country that had destroyed the Third Reich."

"You're insane! The American people will never accept a white nationalist ethostate."

"That's where you're wrong! The Smurf show isn't just a cartoon show with Nazi theme. It is embedded with subliminal messaging that will turn the entire future generation into white supremacist."

"I'm not going to let your crazy idea of a Fourth Reich come into fruition."

"This is your last chance. Follow the motto on your ring: E Pluribus Unum: one out of many. That's what we are you know: the master race among all the other inferior sub-races. One out of many."

"Sorry, but I don't believe in your racist ideology."

I lunged forward, trying to snap his neck, but he ducked underneath my arms and raked my stomach with his fingers.

"Fuck!" I screamed as five, red, claw marks appeared on my stomach.

He licked his red fingers one by one.

"Tasty. I'm going to enjoy ripping you to pieces."

He shoved his hands against my chest and raked. I screamed as more flesh was torn from my body.

"You've got to let me take over," said a voice from inside my head.

Who's there?

"You know who: O.J, the original black boogey man that all white people fear."

No, I'm not going to let you take over.

"It's the only way you can survive."

I stared at Haufman and whispered, "If it don't fit, you must acquit."

"What? What are you talking about?" asked Haufman.

I pounced suddenly and landed on top of his body before he knew what was happening. Pressing my hands against his shoulders, I bent my head down, and sank my fangs into his neck. I gorged on him, when I finally decided to sit back up, I tore his trachea right out his neck.

"Tasty!" I laughed. "I like white meat over dark meat anytime!"

"Henry, is everything all right?" asked Heidi as she stepped into the room.

I looked over at Heidi. She looks so good! So tasty!

"Henry?"

"Killed her," laughed O.J.

"No! Get out of my head!"

"Once the juice is loose, you can't put it back."

"No, I'll die first! I swear to God!"

Then as quickly as he came, I felt O.J. leaving.

"Henry?"

"Everything is going to be all right," I said.

I wrapped my arms around Heidi and hugged her.

"I'm glad you're okay," she said. "Haufman is dead and his army is in flight."

She walked over to the doomsday machine next to the window and plucked the silver canister out of it.

"Who is he?" Heidi asked, looking down at the baby.

"Hitler."

Her eyes widen with surprise.

"He's my great great uncle?"

"Yeah, Haufman had him, cloned."

We went back down to the lobby, and there were dead vampires and mutants spread across the room. Some were on top of the security desks, while, others were on the floor, and still others, were stuck between the elevator doors.

"What are we going to do? I asked, Marius as I looked out the window. "We're surrounded. There's a bunch of police cars parked outside."

"Don't worry about it. It's all taken care of. The sergeant that is outside, doing crowd control, is working for us."

"But what about the bodies? People are going to wonder what went on here, last night."

"I called the cleaners. They're going to take care of the bodies, and fix whatever damages the building had incurred."

"The cleaners? What are you talking about?"

"You didn't think this was the first fight that I ever had with the Aryan Nation, did you? I always used a special division within the Ignatius House to get rid of whatever evidence that might exist after a battle."

Marius turned and looked at the baby in Heidi's arm.

"Who's that?"

"Hitler. Haufman had him, cloned."

Marius moved toward the baby.

"Don't." I stepped between him and the baby.

"He has to die! If he lives and grows up, there might be another world war, and the world may not survive it, this time around!"

"He's just a baby."

Then I heard a scream like I never heard before in my life. I turned and saw the angel touched the baby's forehead with his index finger. The baby began to smolder: his flesh, turning bright red, then, blistering and finally, charred to the color of coal.

"Why?" I asked. "Why did you do it?"

"He's more dangerous than you could ever imagine. Hitler, when he died, led an insurrection and almost took over hell, and this baby is probably no less dangerous than the original."

"You don't know that for sure."

"Let it go. It's for the best," said Marius.

Heidi, shaken and starting to cry, placed the baby on the ground.

"I want you and Heidi to come to my chateau, tomorrow at nine."

"Why?"

"You'll understand when you get there."

The next day, I picked Heidi up and drove to Marius's home. When we got there, I saw my V.A shrink and Slaughterhouse Five standing over a charred, gnarled body on the front lawn.

"Who is that?" I asked.

"Marius. Once the Aryan Nation was defeated, he no longer wanted to live anymore. He wanted to join his family that he had lost long ago," said Slaughterhouse Five.

"I never understood why as a vampire did he care about the Aryan Nation?" asked Heidi.

"He helped found the Aryan Nation, and he wanted to make up for it, before he went on to see his family."

He hands a small vial of red liquid to Heidi.

"What's this?"

"It's vampire blood. Marius wanted me to give this to you for helping out in the battle against the Aryan Nation."

"Thanks, but no thanks."

She hands the vial back to Slaughterhouse Five.

My V.A. shrink bent down and picked up a silver ring that was lying beside Marius's corpse. She looked at the words inscribed on the ring.

"One of out many," I said

"That's one way of translating it," said Slaughterhouse Five.

"How else can you translate it?"

"Out of many: one," said my V.A. shrink. "The Ignatius House in made up of vampires from different countries and from different time periods. That's why at the end, I always believe we would defeat the monolithic vampires of the Aryan Nation."

"Why did Marius ask me to come here if he was going to commit suicide?"

"He wanted me to tell you that you're in charge of the Ignatius House," said Slaughterhouse Five.

"I don't want the position! You've been doing this a lot longer than I have."

"But it was his last request."

"Then, I'm putting you in charge. I'm going on vacation."

I turned to Heidi and asked, "Have you ever been to Hawaii?"

"No. Not yet."

"I think you'll like it. You want to come?"

EPILOGUE

You might think this story is fictional, and you would be right up to a certain point. I did take artistic liberties in writing the story in order to hide the identities of the parties that are involved. You see, in the vampire world, protecting the illusion of our non-existence is essential. It is the first and most paramount law among the undead. Anyone who knows of our existence will be killed. However, I know you still have doubt about the validity of this story. So, I have attached the following letter, and you can judge for yourself whether or not that I'm telling the truth.

Dear Mr. Mozart:

You must be wondering whatever happened to the King Tut's toe. I am writing to tell you that I have it. It was mailed to me by my friend, Johann Haufman, before you savagely murdered him. For the past fourteen years, you, Slaughterhouse Five and the damned House of Ignatius has been waging war against the Aryan Nation. Vampires of the Aryan Nation are afraid of you. They speak of you as the Dark Guardian, the Bat Man that will you get you if you don't behave.

Well, unlike the rest of my brethrens, I am not afraid of you. I am writing to you to tell you that you have not won the war, but lost it, and that Johann Haufman's dream of a Fourth Reich will come to fruition. As of this moment, the executive, legislative and judicial branches have been infiltrated by members of the Aryan Nation. They are implementing policies and rulings to create the perfect, white ethnostate that we, as the Aryan people, always dreamed of and deserved.

I am going to help in this endeavor of creating the perfect, white ethnostate in my own small way, by releasing a virus that will kill anyone that wasn't born with King Tut's DNA. If you don't know anything about human biology, let me enlighten you. The Aryan people are the descendants of King Tut: about half of all Western Europeans have King Tut's DNA. But unfortunately, the virus that will be release will not have a high mortality rate; the pure bloods and the rest of the inferior sub-races will survive.

As to why I am telling you any of this, I want you to live with the guilt, that you won't be able to stop me. I am going to first, infect the people in China, and then the people in the U.S., and finally, the people across the world. As to why I chose China, first, is because I am hoping that they will get blame for this catastrophe, and that the Western Nations will go to war with them. I know it is a long shot, but one could always hope. Come and stop me if you can, Bat Man. But I promised you this, you may have defeated the Priest, Candy Man, Webcam Killer, Creepy Clown and Son of Manson, but you will not defeat me!

Signed: BuzzKill

AUTHOR'S FINAL NOTE:

If you still have any doubt about the validity of this story, I suggest you google the following words and read up on the subject: Descendants of King Tut, Neanderthal DNA in Homo sapiens, and COVID-19.