Sample Sunday: Gothica

In following with the standard Sample Sunday, I give you chapter five from my upcoming release. Gothica. Release date: July 8, 2011.


The Deep


FREENY SAT on the edge of his bunk attempting to recover from the beating. His mind was bustling with the sounds of the new voices that existed in the space between his own thoughts. They beckoned him. The begged him. His eyes darted wildly. His bald head was covered in sweat. His breath came in ragged jerks.

“Devilman? You okay?” Eek’s voice hissed from the other side of the wall. “You don’ sound right. Make Eek scared.”

Eek went silent, and the only remaining sound was Freeny’s bull-like breathing. The temperature dropped until Eek could see his breath. The hairs on his neck started to stand, and his fingers zipped and zapped as they touched the bars of his cell. Eek bellowed a rat-like squeal and hid behind the toilet in his cell.

It was in the silence of his fear that Eek started hearing the words from Freeny’s cell.

“The bogeymen are coming. You are safe with the bogeymen. We will protect and guard you.” The voices were coming out in different rhythms and different pitches – almost as if they were different voices completely. But, Eek knew it was Freeny, the Devilman.

“Trust your soul to us. Pay no heed to what the others say. They only spread lies and filth and malice. Cover your ears and silence the cries of war until the one true soldier is prepared to attack. The bogeymen will serve and protect you. Be our soldier….the captain of chaos. The bearer of a new world justice. The bogeymen are coming.”

The last sentence faded into silence and was replaced by the same jagged breathing from Freeny’s cell. The silence was nearly unbearable to Eek. It was filled with doubt and the unknown.

“Devilman?” Eek softly called. There was no response. “Devilman there?”

One long and rattled breath was all Eek heard.

“Please don’ kill Eek, Devilman. Eek just an old man wanting to die quiet sleeping. No pain, just fade away. Please don’ hurt Eek.” Eek began weeping softly with his head leaning on the toilet for support.

Freeny remained on the edge of his bunk. The voices were louder still, and he was doing nothing to quiet them. He listened to their promises. He memorized their every sound and syllable. He wanted to know them, befriend them. Freeny wanted to make sure they were welcome in the hollows of his mind.

“I want to know your names.” Freeny’s whisper was ragged.

“We are the bogeymen. You are our soldier.” The voices spoke in harmony. Only now, the only audience was Freeny as the voices bound themselves to the walls of their soldier’s skull.

Freeny liked the sound of that – Soldier. He had no idea what it meant, had no idea what war he would fight, but the thought of battle, any battle, suited him just fine.

Eek was still leaning against the toilet. His tears had subsided and given way to tremors of fear. Eek wanted to yell for the guard, but he knew if he tried, Freeny would steal his very breath.

“I’m going to destroy those that have beaten me down. I’ll march through the halls, and a bloody bath will trail me. Not one soul will remain.” Freeny’s words were replaced by the jagged breathing again.

Eek curled up into a ball on the floor. The old man wanted to die then and there.

“Hey Freeny, shut up over there. I’m trying to get some shut-eye.” A voice bounced off the concrete walls and landed in the killers ears. It was Lem. Lem had been the alpha male of the D Wing for some time. That was going to change. It would all change, soon.

Freeny stood and faced his cell bars. He could feel some sort of power struggling inside of him, wanting to leap out. He started laughing a deep throaty laugh. The laughter rippled through the ward, making everyone restless.

As quickly as it had started, it stopped. And then Freeny started speaking in a harsh, sing-songy tone. “Lem, the bogeymen are coming. They’re going to get you.” It was strange enough that Freeny was actually speaking. But now, Freeny’s voice was odd, as if it wasn’t his at all. There were overtones to the sound. He was singing and harmonizing with himself at the same time.

“Fuck you, Devilman. Them’s child games. Little rhymes to scare your babies into doing what’s right. Well I ain’t no baby and I don’t do what’s right. So, shut up, or I’ll tear off yer fuckin’ head!” Lem’s voice was harsh and full of threat. And everyone on the D Ward knew that Lem could back up any threat he made.

Freeny just laughed.

“That’s right, mad dog, laugh. Laugh all you want. Just you watch your back, or you’ll find a knife sticking in it.” After this final threat, Lem went silent.

Freeny felt the strange power surging again. It seemed to want to escape, to explode from his center and rip apart anything in its way. It hummed inside his head. The vibrations grew faster and sharper. Without warning, Freeny felt his feet leave the cold concrete floor. His arms were stretched to the side in a crucifixion-type pose. But he knew he was no messiah.

As he was being lifted from the ground, he heard the chorus of whispers chanting his name over and over. His thoughts were spiraling out of control. He had no idea what was happening, and time seemed to come to a halt.

Suddenly, he was dropped to the ground.

The door to D Wing opened and slammed closed angrily.

“What is going on?” the warden bellowed over the cacophony and chaos within the wing. Something had obviously happened. People were screaming and scrambling around in their cells while Freeny lay on the cold, hard floor shaking his head to rid his brain of its own personal chaos.

The warden called the medical team. Something was wrong. The only time the medics were brought into the wing was to clean up a mess…and ‘mess’ generally meant ugly death.

“All right, gentlemen, I will get to the bottom of this one way or another. Would someone like to tell me what happened here so you can all avoid a lot of pain?” The warden smacked his stick on the bars for emphasis. There were no replies. “Anyone care to speak up before it’s too late?”

The only sounds were the faint murmurs spilling from Eek’s cell. The Warden made his way down the hall and banged loudly on his bars. “You have something to share Rat-boy?” He screamed. Eek’s face registered some deeply hidden fear. His eyes were sunken into his too-thin skull, and his mouth was a gaping O – a Munch-ian inspiration.

The Warden stared at Eek. He had seen the man afraid before, but not like this. There was a subtle difference in the drawn gauntness of his face. Then, he saw Eek’s eyes ebb slightly toward the left, toward the cell containing Freeny. The Warden looked to Freeny’s cell and back to Eek; Eek’s eyes grew even larger.

Stepping into view of Freeny, the Warden wasn’t surprised at what he saw. Freeny was lying on the floor asleep. There was no way he had slept through what had just transpired. “Up and at ’em, Devilman!” The Warden called to Freeny. There was no movement. “Come on, Mr. Freeny, don’t waist my time!” His voice rose in pitch and dropped in patience. He banged the bars with his stick. Nothing. He looked closely at Freeny and saw his chest rise and fall. He was breathing.

At that moment, the medics arrived. The Warden turned and indicated Lem’s cell, and then returned his attention to Freeny. Against his better judgment, he pulled out his master cell-key and his revolver and carefully opened the cell. There was not even so much as a twitch from the body on the floor. The Warden pulled the door to but didn’t allow it to latch. Should something happen, he wanted to be able to escape easily.

Freeny was lying on his side. His stomach was moving in and out but otherwise there was no movement. The Warden nudged Freeny with his foot, turning him over. Nothing. He edged up against the body, knelt down, and nudged Freeny with his night stick.

Freeny reached up and grabbed the stick. Then, he spun around and pulled the cell door shut with his foot, as he simultaneously pulled the Warden down to the floor. Freeny flipped over on top of the warden and began methodically cracking his head on the concrete floor.

As the Warden stared up into the eyes of his killer, he saw nothing: no thrill, no hatred, no joy. The look on Freeny’s face was completely bereft of expression.

The Warden attempted to wrestle out of Freeny’s grip, but it was far too tight. He was a monster. Pain was beginning to engulf his entire body. He was becoming hot, then cold, then hot again. The cracking thud of his head was now a sloppy, wet crunch. He was going to die right here. He tried to scream, but the pain of opening his mouth was too great.

His peripheral vision was disappearing. All he could see was a small circle in front of him, and blotting out that circle was Freeny’s blank stare.

Then, all went dark and silent.