Chapter 7

The investigation into Baybars’ identity continued but was slowly becoming less important because the police and government had nothing to follow.  He had no discernable identity, no fingerprints, no memory, and no voice.  Aside from the oddity about the fingerprints, to the government Baybars’ was just turning into another John Doe.

As in the past four nights Dr. Brokman began once gain questioning Baybars for about an hour trying to find a way to joggle Baybars’ memory. 

“Son, “he said as they sat in the study, Dr. Ronald Brokman the picture of any wealthy again doctor, “let’s start again.”

Baybars sat back and sighed knowing that he would once again disappoint.  Baybars was a little thrown off that Aisha was here as it was the first time that she was present.  It had become their routine for the doctor to ask questions and Baybars to sit there in negative silence. 

“What is your name?…Where do you live? A house? An apartment?…Who is your father?  How old are you?”

Instead of continuing to ask the questions that he had queried before which had always proved fruitless, he turned to Aisha and said, “Go ahead.”

Startled Baybars turned to her.  She smiled and then began to sing.  It was the same small song she had been singing during the fire when Baybars had appeared at her friend’s house.  Baybars stared enraptured.  

He said aloud,

Kana wah-da fil maadee
Inqata’ ‘ala yud arajel atabe’aee
Alann ashatheat fil tarb
Qull ismuhu liatithakar
Epluri, epluri, epluri”

The other two stared back as he spoke.  A dam cracked, large enough to let the liquid information come through and for his voice to return. 

He said, “I remember…I remember falling, singing, a bright light, and a door.  A door in the sky; it opened…It opened, and I saw night.  The twilight from this door showed that I was in a dead place…and, and there was nothing there.  I felt like I should have gone up into the light.  At least then I would have been able to see, but instead I fell down here.  I remember someone else with me.  He was tall with dreds.”

Aisha stiffened her dream finally coming back to her. 

“His name was Jason Storch,” Baybars finished. 

Further questioning proved ineffective and later when Dr. Brokman talked to his colleague at the psychological institute, a small nervous man who chain smoked and talked fast, he got a professional opinion.

“Yep, you’re looking at a case of amnesia.  What he’s telling you could be a sign of disassociation of reality as well.  If I were you, I would keep an eye on him, but he should be pretty harmless.” 

Right after hanging up the phone with the psych doctor, Dr. Brokman picked it back up and dialed the number the detective had given him.

A phone rang somewhere in the bowels of a sweaty building in the city.  It was humid in the dank office of Detective Trach.

“Yes?”

“This is Ron.  I think I’ve got some information for you.”

Sighing, the detective put his feet up on the desk and said, “Go ahead.”

“A name,” Brokman continued, “Jason Storch.  We were doing a psych session, something triggered it and he blurted out a name: Jason Storch.”

“What did the doc think?”

“Well…he said that it was just a figment of his imagination and that he is possibly delusional.”

“That’s probably what it is then Ron,” Trach’s green eyes looking to the ceiling as if looking for deliverance but getting distracted by the mold in the corner.

“Please, please just check it out.”

“I don’t know.  If he is delusional…My resources were never all that large to begin with,” he said rubbing his hand over his grizzled jaw.”

“Lazarus, please.  I don’t want to play it, but you owe me a favor for your wife.”

“Ron, c’mon,” he continued with another audible sigh, “Okay, I’ll look into it.”

“Thanks,” said a much relieved Brokman.

“Why do you want it?”

“Want what?”

“Want this,” the detective said gesturing to himself wincing as his old scar up his back twinged, “Why the name.  Why the kid in your house.  He is probably just some homeless kid with some problems, obviously mentally troubled, and you are keeping him at your house.”

“I sleep better knowing someone’s taking care-”

“Christ,” Lazarus exploded, “he was naked with your daughter!”

Replying calmly, “You let me worry about him.  I can read people.  This kid has a good heart.”

Sighing again, Lazarus replied, “Okay your call.  See you Thursday next month at Riley’s?”

“See you then.”

They sat watching the young black kid leave the convenience store.

“Let’s do him,” said Bugsby.

“Why?” ask a gruff and furry man know as Duboleski.

“Why not?”

“Shouldn’t it take a little more planning?” he asked as he readjusted his bulk behind the steering wheel, “What if he’s got connections? You know, one of the rich kids.”

“The more money, the merrier.  The girlfriend always says ‘No work, no money.  No money, no honey.’  This is rich work which means I get money AND honey.”

“Yea, but does she know what you do for a living?”

“Shut it and drive.  Let’s just do it.”

Lewis ambled down the street from the convenience store back to his house.  Although there were nicer stores in his neighborhood, he preferred this one a few blocks over in the projects because he had gone to grade school with the owner.  Guy, a college dropout and actively involved in “fixing the community,” had watched out for him with the gangs that existed even in the prep school, and Lewis had helped him get through school.  It was a mutually beneficial relationship that had become something more, though no one in his family knew of it. 

Bugsby and Duboleski’s car rolled into motion cruising silently like a shark after its prey.  Detective Trach picked up the phone.

“Wait until he gets to the alley.  Just like all the others, take him away from family, put him in a hole, and let him rot,” muttered Bugsby somewhat maniacally.

“Yes, its Detective Trach…well she’s fine…The family is happy to have her back.”

“What do you think his name is?”

“Hey Bud, got a name for you.”

“Why the hell do you care?  What’s wrong Duboleski, you going soft?”

“Yea, yea, Jason Storch…Five minutes, no prob.”

“Hell no, it’s just this is the third one this week.”

“Don’t worry.  Kelly’s got it under control.” replied Bugsby.

Trach lit up a cigarette and puffed lazily away sweat pooling on his back.

“Ease over man, here comes an alley.”

Duboleski’s sweaty hand eased the car over to the closer lane as Lewis continued on unawares listening to the newest rap on his Ipod.

“Go! Go! Go!” yelled Bugsby.

The nondescript sedan pulled up to the alley just as Lewis was crossing it.  Bugsby jumped out and stepped in front of him.

“Hey kid, guess who’s going to a party.”

“What?” Lewis replied pulling out his ear buds.

“Get in the car,” Bugsby said flashing the gun in his waistband.

“I don’t think that is such a good idea.”

“Get.  In.  The.  Car.” he said again emphasizing each word in the sentence. 

Gulping Lewis did as he was told.  Bugsby got in after him, removed the gun from his waistband and clocked him across the temple.  Lewis slumped without a sound a small trickle of blood weeping from his temple.

The phone rang.  Trach reached over his rueben sandwich and picked it up. 

After listening for a few minutes he said, “You don’t say.  Good kid studying abroad in Egypt, and he hasn’t checked in.  Hmm, the date matches the other.  Huh, What?…Uh nothing, just talking to myself about a case.  Yep, thanks.”

Hanging up, he picked up the phone again and while dialing Brokman, he said to himself, “Another kid, another family, gone to pieces.”

“Hi, Ron, got some news for you…”

“Garrgheh.”

The poker was jabbed into flesh and withdrawn with a wet sticky sound.  The woman’s arms were held by two male guards.  Algharoob moved in to suck the artery of the dying woman.

One of the guards turned on by the violence and girl and girl action, as gruesome as it was, made an almost indistinct lewd comment to his partner.  Without even stopping what it was doing Algharoob took the same poker and put it in the man’s throat thrusting in and out fiercely.  He fell down dead, one of the relatively new converts who was just being initiated into the feeding. 

Algharoob with gooey blood lips pulled away for a second and asked the other man, “Do you have anything to say?”

The man took a few steps back and stood there in silence clearly uncomfortable.

“Good,” it replied through a mouthful of blood and flesh.

Lewis woke up from a splatter of liquid across his face.  It was warm and sticky.  He rubbed his eyes, felt his throbbing temple, and then looked at his hands.   They were red.   Frantically checking himself over, he patted down his body.  Then he noticed he was not alone.  A man lay in front of him staring listlessly at him with dead eyes.  Dead.  Baybars saw what looked like two people, two women, making out, but something was not right with the picture.  

Instead of kissing her neck as he thought, the one was holding up a limp rag doll of another who was not moaning, mouth open with pleasure.  She was dead, her slack face glaring at him accusingly.  Lewis met the other woman’s eyes—the one feeding. 

She smirked and said, “You’re next.”

With that evil stare pushing him back, Lewis scooted crab-like until he bumped into something: a human leg. 

“Oh thank God,” he said craning his head back, but then he was staring into the muzzle of a gun. 

Lewis just gave up then and wet his pants.  It was a nightmare.

“Relax little one, you won’t feel a thing,” cooed Algharoob dropping the carcass.

“Ah! Ah! Ahhh!” yelled Lewis scooting away from her on all fours around the small room. 

Algharoob took a few steps, grabbed him by the leg, and pulled him back until he was hanging upside down in front of her.

“Ready?” it asked.

Please, please don’t hurt me,” Lewis begged, “I don’t want to get eaten.  You, you, you…vampire!”

“Oh really?” it replied, “What do you think everyone else said? Me next?  Join the party!”

“I don’t know anything about him, I swear.  He just showed up.”

“Who?” asked Algharoob intrigued. 

“Baybars.  He spoke his first words last night, some really weird stuff too.  Stuff that didn’t make sense, and he also talked about a door in the sky to a twilight place,” yelled Lewis sweating.

“And who are you?”

“My name is Lewis Brokman,” he replied immediately regretting it.

“Well, looks like your sentence has been commuted,” Algharoob said dropping him to the ground.

“Oh thanks,” he sighed sitting up.

“Knock him out.”

“What?” asked Lewis turning to the only other living human being in the room.

In response Lewis only saw the butt of a gun moving toward his head, and then with a thud Lewis was out for a second time that day.

One half hour after a leisurely feeding and cleaning up of itself, Algharoob met with the group.  As there were more initiated with after every meal, with Algharoob feeding several times a day, the operation was finally coming together.

“Look boss,” said Jerry an aging lawyer from a reputable firm in Baltimore, “I think I speak for a couple of members here when we say that we are happy working for you, but we aren’t comfortable with the number of kidnappings so close to one another in time.”

“Yea,” broke in one of the other few businessmen, “It’s too much.  You’ve got nothing.  We’ve got reputations to worry about.  With this many people being snatched, someone could talk.”

“Yes, talk,” Algharoob sighed, “We have too many people.”

Both businessmen showed visible signs of relief.  They had been nervous about confronting their leader.  These two were the remaining uninitiated.  Everyone had quickly learned not to ask questions, so they did not know the purpose for all the kidnappings.  Their money oriented brains immediately assumed extortion. 

“Stop,” it said as they were sitting down, “Come here.”

Gulping and paling the two came forward.  They were both taller and heavier than Algharoob in its current body, but they knew looks were deceiving.  Sweat began to form on Jerry’s bald dome.

“You are two simple minded fools.  You do not understand anything.  Why we kidnap, why this group exists.  Ejits!  Everyone knows but you,” it continued its small frame going rigid, “We have started this group to feed me.”

“Huh?” asked Jerry.

“To feed me,” it repeated and to emphasize its point it grabbed him and bit a chunk out of his forearm.

Jerry screamed in pain and cradled the wound with the other hand.  Duboleski sitting in the back of the room shifted uncomfortably in his seat. 

“I want a store of bodies ready to feed when we take on the good doctor.  Things will get hairy with the police.”

“Woah, woah, woah.  Police?  And who is this good doctor?” asked Earl stepping from the side of the room. 

“I mean to take what Dr. Ronald Brokman has.”

“But why will you need a ready supply of bodies?” Jerry unwisely asked, “What are you planning on doing and when?”

Sighing Algharoob dismissed them with a nod, “No more questions now.”

Algharoob turned around as they sat down and said to the group, “Kill them both.”

When there was a silence for a second, it looked over its shoulder at Earl and said, “Now.”

“You heard the good lady, kill them,” Earl said.

After a brief scuffle the 9-2 odds not in their favor, the two men were dead. 

“Make it look like an accident somewhere,” Algharoob commanded, “and quickly.  When you get back we move to the business of child snatching.”

Harvey lay swathed in the glory of sleep, his face serene.  The new lines on Harvey’s face as a result of the past few days worry were smoothed blissfully away.  Even in the moon light though, Harvey’s skin appeared darker.  The growth had spread from his knuckles and shoulders.  It was now mushrooming from his knees, elbows, and even chin.  It was a dramatic change but seemed to have slowed and only after much tossing and turning each night was he able to get to sleep.

Two days had passed since he first broke through his fence.  In that time he had grown stronger, not only on his body but within his body.  His plating did something to his muscles which made them bigger as well. 

Suddenly the bliss disappeared, and Harvey frowned still sleeping.  The worry lines crept back like creepers in the night.

“Harvey.  Harvey, wake up,” said a disembodied voice.

“What?  Who’s there?” he grunted.

“”Wake up Hamee.”

Harvey did, except his solid body was still sleeping.  He stared sitting up at the person in his room.  The man was old, so old.  He had stringy white hair to his shoulders and was dressed in a wraparound robe.  Sunken eyes stared out at him containing horrible secrets that only come from having access to the depth of knowledge contained within the library of collective human unconsciousness.  The only thing out of place about him was the green pencil tucked behind his fuzzy ears.  He carried a sheaf of papers with him bound in a faded oil skin several hundred pages thick which was tied with a bright red rope.

“Who are you?” Harvey asked, “Why do you call me Hamee?”

“It is who you have become, look in the mirror.  My name is Kaatib,” replied the patient old man.

Harvey turned and faced his mirror.  He stood slack jawed which looked quite comical as a plated face of black bone with burning red eyes designed to inspire fear in his enemies looked surprised.  Bang, bang.  Harvey, now Hamee, hit himself on his chest.  The black plating which had grown under his skin in small places now covered his entire body head to toe.  There was no flesh on the outside and it was very much like a bug’s exoskeleton.  He looked like a knight made of living black armor plating.

“This is who you are.  Come with me,” said Kaatib gesturing to a dark corner which flared with bright light in the shape of a swirling portal.

Without hesitation Hamee stepped into the portal after Kaatib, and they entered a white room

“Where are we?” gasped Hamee.

“In the library,” replied Kaatib.

“But there is nothing here!”

“Yes there is,” the old man replied chuckling at Hamee’s race’s renowned temper, “Picture it and step into your identity.  Remember.”

Hamee blinked and found himself in the Enoch Pratt Free Library except there were no walls because the shelves of books went on forever.  A small reading desk sat patiently in front of Hamee waiting for him.

“Good enough.  We all choose something familiar which lets us organize what we want to see.  As you do not remember your history from before the last time you were killed, you choose something that Harvey knows.”

“Wait, the last time I was killed?  What do you mean?”

“It was the Uprising.  You won’t remember, I think.  It was a pretty horrible death.  Thankfully, I wasn’t there to witness any of it, but I know you were protecting the one from many.”

“Why?”

“It’s your job.”

“Why don’t I remember?”

“Well you’ve obviously forgotten, and it was a long time ago.  Your soul passed from one being here on Earth to another waiting to be awakened.  Each time it didn’t, it just moved to another when that mortal passed away.”

“How come I didn’t die?”

“Because,” said Kaatib, “you’re immortal, just like the rest of them.  You can be killed, but you will be reborn eventually.  If you are consumed or annihilated, however, then that is it.”

“How does that happen?”

“Very powerful violence to destroy a soul… Now you must read about your enemy.  Sit.”

“Throwing a dusty tome onto the desk Kaatib opened it to a section towards the back. 

“Hmmph,” said Hamee after a few minutes of looking at pictures, “So this is it?”

“Well, no.  This is the beginning, just look at the shelves.  You have this to cover,” he said as he snapped his fingers.

Two shelves full appeared on topics about ether and vampires.”

“Oh.” 

“Tomorrow, we will cover more.”

Several hundred hours later in the library, Hamee flickered out of sight, and Harvey woke up to dawns’ morning rays. 

Kaatib looked up, “We are coming the one from many.”

3 Comments

  1. sorry for posting a couple hours later than normal. around 3k words. its a beast

  2. Sufficiently creepy.

  3. ejits! love it. certainly don’t want to be walking down the street of balto by myself


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