Authors: Daniel J. Kirk
THIS ONE IS DEADLY
BY DANIEL J. KIRK
© Copyright 2016 Bride of Chaos/ All Rights Reserved to the Author.
First electronic edition 2016
Edited by A.R. Jesse
Cover by Turtle&Noise
Additional artwork by Daniel J. Kirk
THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION.
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Table of Contents
THIS ONE IS BENJAMIN
There was a knock on the door, followed by a few footsteps, and then the door opened. That’s all I could hear from my bed. I crawled down next to my bedroom door, and placed my ear against the floor.
“Like I said, no one here by that name.”
I missed the pleasantries and the question, but I knew they had come for me. My heart raced when the man started to rattle off my other aliases. He wasn’t just guessing. He was specifically looking for me.
“No,” she said.
He must’ve left one out—the name I gave the woman downstairs. I was getting careless. I used that name just one other time. But I was quite sentimental about it, especially now. If he knew my other names then he must know this one. Why hadn’t the man at the door mentioned it?
“It’s just me and my son here. My husband will be back shortly,” the woman said. She was lying about her husband. He was never home earlier than 6 P.M.
Certainly, the man at the door had surveyed the home long enough to know she was lying. Men of his kind do not simply walk up to a door and start spouting names. These days, their work seemed more and more like a science.
My teeth almost snapped off in anticipation.
I could almost hear the woman’s mind working, ready to provide the man with more details to make him leave.
Don’t say my name! Don’t you dare!
“Your son Benjamin?” There, he said it. The man had been clever. He held it back as if he knew I was listening.
I could already imagine the woman answering proudly, when instead she surprised me. “I don’t know what your business here is, but I would ask that you leave.”
I almost pounded the carpet with glee. But that would’ve been stupid. And I am not stupid.
The way the floorboards creaked beneath the man at the door I knew he had grown frustrated. Perhaps he was even trying to push the doorframe apart, eyes boiling red. Yes, he wants me! Then come! Face me!
“I’m sorry to bother you. Here is my card. If anyone by the names I mentioned happens to show up, you will let us know?” He sounded so pleasant.
“What’s this about?”
“A missing child.”
I could feel the woman gasp, even if I couldn’t hear it with these tiny ears. Her tone withered into pity. She was so weak.
“I hope you find them,” she said.
“Me, too, ma’am,” the man said. The floorboards sighed as he pushed through the screen door and walked off the porch.
A few seconds later, the woman closed the front door. The deadbolt clashed. Then there was silence. I could hear her heavy breathing as she watched from the window. She wanted to make sure that man got into his car and left.
I was almost foolish enough to jump up from the floor and go look out my own bedroom window, but he’d be smart enough. He’d be watching for such a careless error. I kept close to the floor. I could stay here for weeks if I had to, for my patience is my strength.
“Ben!” She called for me. “Oh, Ben!”
I rose up and waited for a moment before I opened the door, lest she assume I was spying.
“Why don’t you come downstairs and help me in the kitchen for a while?”
I didn’t argue. I could hear the protective tone in her voice. She was going to keep me safe if that man returned—
when that man returned
I walked quietly down the stairs, keeping clear of any windows until my head sunk below the kitchen counter and I was next to the woman’s hips.
“Are we going to make cookies?” I played the part. I’d played it so many times before—made it to adulthood more times than most. A few careless mistakes happened early on, but not this run. This run I just needed to make it long enough. Every child is a chance to make it to what they simply call, ‘dying of old age,’ or as we call it, fusion. But this time, I had a plan that didn’t need to last decades to inact. I was only a few years away perhaps. But I certainly didn’t like the idea of feeling rushed, and that’s exactly what the man’s arrival had done today. I hid my anger and said, “Oh please can we make chocolate chip, Mommy?”
“Sure, honey.” She wrestled her fingers through my hair and feigned the kind of smile she imagined herself making months before I was born. It was a smile she loved having. She was also so proud to wear it for all to see. She had a son—a lovely, perfect little son.
One day that smile will hurt her.
And that is the day I long for.
My throat was going to be scratchy the rest of the night. I almost took my anger out on the mother. That would’ve been a lot of paperwork. Maybe the fear in her eyes would be satisfying enough. Though she didn’t seem to like me staring very much.
She buried her face and wept.
I paced until the stinging went out of my chest. My fingers started to feel like they were receiving blood flow again.
A shot of whiskey, double expresso, a kick in the head—I needed something to get me back in the game. If he came back now…
“You should’ve let us explain,” my partner said, holding his blood-soaked leg in the corner of the room. He found some more colorful words to mutter while he shook the feeling back into his arms. He might’ve tried to shake his legs too, but they weren’t going to be much use.
It wasn’t the worst part of this job, but it wasn’t listed under any of the perks.
The best part was knowing we caught one, that we got that bastard off this earthly plane for a few more months. Of course, the best part hadn’t happened just yet. So no victory lap just yet, hold your applause.
Once all the feeling in our bodies returns, that’s when the pain hurts more. Right now, it is more like fuel. It made me want to go back to school and learn the art better so that next time I could catch this brat on the first try.
My father was a farmer. He worked dairy cows. He was a much stronger man than I’ve ever been. Even today, with all my training, I wouldn’t start a fight with my father. He always told me he wasn’t strong enough. He told me, he would settle if he was strong enough to lift a cow in his own two hands and chuck it over a fence, but what he really wanted was the ability to punch a cow square in the face and knock it out cold.
He hated cows.
At least cows become burgers and steaks, and provide milk.
He would’ve hated the bastards I have to wrangle more. They provide nothing of value.
Then again, I never tried milking one.
“I-I-I don’t understand.” The mother was in that awful sobbing stage when her voice pops and squeaks and her nose growls with snot. All the duped mothers were the same
. It can’t be
not my child! My perfect child!
Cue the waterfalls.
Not her fault. We had guys in the hospitals these days. There were ways of predicting a birth—rerouting it. Of course that wasn’t my expertise. But when those guys messed up, it became my job. And while they might need mathematics and science to do their business, I only needed one skill. My expertise was taking pain.
Of course, I don’t really like taking pain. So I was on the mother’s side with this one—why didn’t those bastards take care of this back in the hospital, six damn years ago?
I almost got through my next spiel without coughing three times.
“We will provide a cover story. We have several to choose from that will make this situation easier for friends and families.”
I was going by the book now. I could’ve dipped back out to my car and gotten her a couple of pamphlets so that she could understand her options better. I was all out of DVDs, but that stuff was produced in the 80s and usually just caused more crying. And besides, nothing said what I really wanted to say. If I didn’t know to keep my mouth shut, I would tell her that evil seed of destruction she thought was her perfect little son is still on the loose and his refusal to come easily means we kill on sight.
That means a mess.
That means his funeral wasn’t going to be open casket. So her real list of cover stories was much smaller, and being a residential neighborhood, she might as well tell people he ran out into the street and was turned to pancake. But neighbors are nosy and none of them would remember hearing the ambulances. So maybe they go off on vacation for a week or two and come back with a tragic accident that happened outside the states… shark ate him whole. I like that one, it’s not even in the pamphlet yet. They should hire me to update those things.
Then, the mother just had to look at me through the tears that could very well be drowning her. She asked, “W-W-What is he?”
“Ma’am, they found a way to be born. For centuries they have snuck into our world for more than just mischief. They are the destroyers of kingdoms and the rapists of dreams. Shakespeare spoke pleasantly about one, named him Puck. Another you might’ve heard of by the name of Rumpelstiltskin, or if you want to stretch into fiction a bit more, Damien is also another good example. The grooms of chaos.”
I needed a glass of water followed by some rum. That would clear this cough up. She blinked waiting for me to continue, waiting for me to say something less fantastic like ‘it’s all a dream.’
“He used you like a way station. Just biding time for when he was older and his powers could do more to harm mankind. I’m sure he was the perfect child, the child every mother wished she could have. You’re not the only one this has happened to.”
Every cough pierced my mind, sharp wretched daggers like thunder. If I can collect my thoughts, remember what I saw then it would make all of this easier. I will be able to stop crying. I will be able to get up and help these two men who broke into my house and battled my son.
Not my son—they said.
I can’t hold it together and he has the nerve to keep answering my sobs. Just stop speaking…leave me alone.
“And I can guarantee he would’ve continued to be a sweet young boy for a few years more. But the day would come. It’s better now. Your body is still young. You could have another child. There’s still hope for you. I’ve seen parents who’ve killed themselves when they learned what their ‘child’ was…” he put such a strong emphasis on the word as if he meant solely to mock my failure to see the evil in my own son.
He coughed and almost doubled over this time. I think he was coughing up blood. My son did that to him.
No, not my son.
Benjamin did that to him.
And the other one in the corner cursed my name. He blamed me for this. It was my fault. I let him inside of me.
What will I tell Michael?
He only ever wanted a son. I gave him that. I gave him Benjamin.
I birthed him.
“Another team is on their way, Ma’am. Don’t worry. They’ll take care of him.”
He was talking about his partner bleeding to death on my carpet. I wanted him dead. He didn’t matter to me. I wanted Benjamin to be my son again.
My perfect little angel.
I said his name out loud.
“It was the name he gave you. It wasn’t one you or your husband picked out. These guys are very particular. Sentimental even. I’m sure there’s some significance to the name and who you are or what he was planning if we take a look at your family history… We’ll need to, of course, during your debriefing.”
That wasn’t true. I knew that wasn’t true. Wasn’t it? Why was I questioning everything? These men didn’t know me, they didn’t know my son. They barged into my house.
The cookies burned.
Who will clean that mess?
The man helped himself to a glass of water, and started to look through my cabinets for what? Something to eat? Or did he just want to find something else to judge my parenting skills on?
“You got any of the hard stuff for my partner there. Just so he can hold on until the other team gets here? You can bill us for it. It talks about it in the pamphlets—anything we break. It’s covered.”
Had I not heard his partner wailing in the corner? Had my sobs drowned out the entire world around me? Excuse me for being inhospitable! This should be Mardi Gras! Merry Christmas!
“Behind the potatoes in the pantry,” I said like it was nothing. It was nothing. Nothing mattered anymore.
I pushed the last bit of liquid from my eyes and slammed them shut.
We only ever drank on special occasions.
This was a special occasion—wasn’t it?
I thought of the day he was born.
His face was being wiped clean by the nurse as I begged to hold him.
I could still feel how I knew his name. It was in my bones.
The second I saw him I knew it.
It was not the name we had picked months before.
I held him up for my husband to see and said, “This one is Benjamin.”