Excerpt from my book, ‘Fragments of Fear, Collection‘.
Smoke poured from the superheated barrels of his powerful handguns. Brass casings covered the floor, laying in pools of blood. Dead bodies lay here and there, littering the room like trash at a rock concert. The man slowly lowered the empty weapons, sighed deeply, and calmly walked out the door.
One down. He thought with a twisted grin, as he reloaded. He stepped over bodies, and headed toward the main hallway, but found the door locked.
“Hmmm … ” He turned back into the room, searching for something, leaned down and took the keys from a guard’s lifeless body.
“Thanks, Leonard,” he said to the corpse.
He unlocked the door, and glanced into the hallway, first shooting out the security cameras as he had done before. Walking down the hallway, he unlocked another door, into a room full of people in orange clothes. The guns opened up, time slowed, bodies fell. The thump of bullets slamming into flesh and bone, and the horrified screaming, satisfied him immensely.
He went diligently from cell to cell, making sure he didn’t miss anyone, even checking under bunks. When he was sure that no living person remained, he reloaded and moved on to the next room. On he went with his possessed rampage, leaving a bloody trail behind him.
Finally satisfied with his macabre tour de force, he holstered his weapons and climbed up to the escape hatch. He slipped into the shadows, leaving behind him no reason for the carnage. His thoughts now were only on escape. He stood at the edge of the roof, trying to find a way down, when one policeman saw him, then another. They pointed their guns at him and started yelling. Then, with a flash, he was jolted awake.
Larry Brahm opened his eyes in shock. He was momentarily disoriented, and couldn’t recall where he was. Remembering his bedroom, and the dream he’d just had, he thought,
Wow! That seemed so real!
Looking over at the clock, he realized he had overslept. It was time to get ready for work.
“Back to the grind again,” he said, almost disappointed that his grim fantasy had been only that.
The people he had to deal with at his job had become his main source of stress. Try as he might, it just wouldn’t go away. His counselor had told him not to let the job bother him, but how could he? The incredibly vile things those people had done? They deserved to be punished, and not the justice system ‘punishment’, but something more real, more permanent.
As he drove to work, he turned up his favorite song ‘Jeremy’ by Pearl Jam and screamed the lyrics at the top of his lungs as the CD played.
He rounded the corner to the main entrance and was met by a sight that he would never have guessed.
No! No, this can’t be!
Ambulances lined the front walkway. Police cars surrounded the building. The prison itself was alive with activity, with emergency workers going in and out like bees in a hive.
As he pulled into his parking spot, he could see bodies laying on the ground, neatly placed in rows, like they were being set out for spring cleaning. Each one was covered head to toe by a black plastic bag, but a few had an arm or a leg sticking out enough to see a blood stained orange inmate uniform or a gray officer’s uniform.
He walked up to a policeman.
“Excuse me, I work here, what happened?” but the officer was too busy, and just ignored him.
He noticed some Corrections Officers from another shift standing, watching it all go on. He tried to talk to them, but they were in shock and didn’t say anything.
“Hey, you!” a tall, good looking officer yelled to him. “The Boss wanted me to get somebody, and go inside to see how bad the cops are messing things up.”
“All right,” Larry said slowly.
They made their way inside. It was beyond his worst nightmare. Everywhere he looked were shell casings, bodies, bloody floors, and bullet holes.
“Wow! What a mess!” the officer said.
The crime lab photographer, who was still taking pictures of everything, aimed right at him and snapped a picture.
“Hey! What was that for?” he said, as he started after her.
The officer grabbed his arm, “Don’t worry about it, she’s just doing her job.”
He looked suspiciously at her, but walked away, as she continued taking pictures as though he wasn’t there. They walked into the control unit, where blood and bullet holes littered the control panels. Suddenly he had a vision of his hand holding the gun, blasting the holes in the panels, and the officer that had been posted there.
He blinked his eyes and the vision passed, but he was now breathing hard.
“Sometimes a scene like this will do that to you,” said the officer.
“Knock the wind out of you, from the shock.”
Larry eyed the officer with suspicion.
“I don’t think I ever got your name, and I don’t recognize you.”
“Oh, I’ve been here for a while,” the officer said with a cryptic smile. “You just didn’t notice me until recently. My name isn‘t important right now.”
They walked down a long hallway, with the occasional blood splatter and chipped concrete from a bullet ricochet. Everywhere Larry looked, he got the feeling of déjà vu. Each room he entered, seemed like he a picture in his mind of exactly what it would look like, down to the position of the shell casings on the floor.
Twice he caught the officer looking at him with an expression he would best describe as amusement. But the look would quickly disappear as soon as Larry spotted it.
There was so much blood on the floors that the investigators, EMTs, and police had to be very careful where they stepped. In these rooms, they had laid down several plastic tarps to use as walkways, so they didn’t slip or track the blood all over the building.
They entered a cell and Larry looked at the broken body of a young man he knew from the street, who was only in jail for a misdemeanor and nearly broke down.
“What kind of person does this sort of thing?” Larry asked.
“Lots of people think about doing it. Correcting the world’s injustices is usually how they see it. Most of them lack the conviction, the final push over the edge, to make them act on it,” the officer said.
“You almost sound like you admire this monster.”
The officer looked at Larry with a gleam on his eye.
“You find monsters in the strangest places. Sometimes they don’t even know they’re doing anything wrong, almost like it’s a dream.”
Larry’s face went pale.
“I need to get some air,” he said.
“Sure,” said the officer, “let’s go up on the roof.”
There were two sentries posted near the roof hatch. They just ignored the officers coming out of the hatch. Larry and the officer walked to the far end of the roof. Larry hesitated when he saw yet another body. For some reason this one was different. The officer called to him.
“Come on over. You have to see this.”
“I’ve seen enough,” Larry said.
The officer’s voice changed, it lowered and became menacing.
“No, you must see this!”
Without realizing he was doing it, Larry walked over and looked down at the body. His own lifeless eyes stared up at him. Larry stumbled back.
“No! This can’t be … ”
The officer smiled a mirthless smile.
“Can’t be what? Real?” His maniacal laugh sounded like many voices at once.
“You so-called ‘Good Citizens’ are all alike. You love denial. You can deny anything. You denied the truth of this place the whole time we were walking through it. Did any of it seem the least bit familiar to you? Like … oh, I don’t know… maybe a dream?”
Larry’s eyes grew wide with realization. The officer laughed again.
“You don’t seem to realize that you made this happen. You, ‘Mr. Good Citizen’, who should have shown these people compassion at a time in their lives when they needed it most. Instead, you treated them with disdain and hatred,” he smiled. “I am so proud of you. You held on to your hate so tightly that it drove you to this.”
“I didn’t … I couldn’t … It was just a dream,” Larry stammered.
“There’s that wonderful denial again. Have you even thought about guessing my name?”
“I don’t know who you are, I’ve never seen you before.”
“I have had many names, some better known than the others. One of my favorites that you might recognize is ‘Lucifer.’”
The name hung in the air like an acrid smoke on a calm night. Larry’s eyes and mouth grew wide with fear.
He stammered, not being able to form any coherent sound. Slowly he worked until his mind forced his mouth to utter a single word.
“Don‘t ask me, you made it happen. Your hate, rage, and contempt for these people was felt and returned. That made it grow like a weed in your mind until you just couldn’t contain it. I live off of hate, so I didn’t mind it one bit, maybe even gave a little nudge here and there, to keep it going. Had you been a real ‘Good Citizen‘, you might have seen what your actions were heading toward and stopped. But your ’high and mighty’ attitude only made people hate you, which made you hate them.”
“A vicious cycle,” Larry said, finally realizing the truth. “So what happens now?”
“Now?” Lucifer said. “A few of your friends are going to take you on a little trip.”
Instantly, every one of the inmates and officers that Larry had brutally murdered, appeared and grabbed him. He tried to get away, but there were too many.
Larry felt as though the roof of the prison had turned to quicksand, as they dragged him further and further down. He looked up through a long tunnel, as he continued his rapid descent. Lucifer was looking down at him, laughing.
“Enjoy the company!” he shouted. “You’re going to be together for a very long time.”