The Slave Quarters
Chapter 19 – Flickering Lights
By Rock Kitaro
(warning – graphic haunting ensues)
There’s something about a individual who isn’t afraid to admit his mistakes that warrants my respect. I prefer someone like that over those who hide their flaws yet presume to openly criticize the faults others, forgetting that we are all imperfect. We are all marred by error. That is to be human. No one is without sin. Especially me.
I admit it.
Bigots beget bigots and the accusers of hypocrisy are often the biggest hypocrites. To accuse another man of being too judgmental would in turn make me judgmental. I’m aware of this. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one.
The thing about today’s society that drives me wild is the implied expression of what is and isn’t acceptable. If a man slips up and makes an offensive comment, it could spell the end of his career. One sentence is all it takes. Demons behind computer screens will dig into the wounds and rip it open all in the name of justice. They call it social justice.
I don’t condone racism. I deplore it. In fact, I’m quite sure I’ll never understand it. But in this day and age, what seems more prevalent than racism is the backwards ass standards by which other flaws are swept under the rug. The glorification of sex, rudeness, and riches runs rampant. Despicable bullies now use their self-proclaimed victimhood to silence those they disagree with. They walk about with their heads held high, as if hurt feelings aggrandized them moral authority. At some point…all of this has become acceptable.
Shameless is confidence. Ambition is blurred with greed. Protesters embark for the sake of bringing purpose to their own meaningless existence. And those who simply just want to live their lives on the fields of neutrality are guilted into wars they never wanted to fight.
It’s not out of hate that I mention these things. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t waste my breath. I love you but I have no place amongst you. That doesn’t make me cool. It doesn’t mean I’m better. In fact, it’s lonely. I wouldn’t want anyone to have to walk a mile in my shoes. But it is what it is. I am a man from the outside looking in. The guy on the hill overlooking the fog infested city, the one in the bell tower weeping over debauchery below.
That’s me. Cloud Beaudry, the walking contradiction. The man who sees the unseen, who hears secrets from grave. I know at some point I’ll be judged by the same measure. But quite frankly, if one were to peer into my soul right now they’d see over a hundred middle fingers raised in defiance.
This is my creed, my manifesto, if ever I’m caught and made to be held accountable for my actions on this day. Everyone remembers the killers. No one remembers the victims. I’m about to change all that. I’m sorry Det. Mark Griffin. I’m sure you think I’m like everyone else in assuming you’re cool or something to aspire to. But I’m not. I find you detestable. I’m here to hand down your sentence.
Fifteen minutes after our departure, Det. Griffin found himself heading downstairs to the holding cells of police HQ. He’s still dressed in the same attire from when he brought Calvin down an hour earlier. Aside from his suit, Griffin’s nestled in a warm black overcoat to shield him from the brisk forty-two degree draft that seeps into the basement.
The jailer immediately recognizes Griffin and buzzes him in. There’s a loud mechanical click as the metal door unlocks. It’s yellow with a six-inch slot of a window, giving the guard a clear view of the hallway flanked by holding cells all the way back to the wall.
The jailor stays outside of this heavy door while Griffin alone passes through the threshold. The door closes behind him, automatically locking with the same hard mechanical clack.
Griffin’s still on cloud nine, his spirits, elated. He’s expecting to see Calvin as the same puddled mess of disgrace and despair from whence he was first arrested, but something’s different. As he peers into the holding cell of Cell 1-A, he sees nothing.
Calvin’s not here.
Confusion sets in. He turns to the intercom when suddenly the light bulbs in the ceiling start bursting with high-pressurized pops. Shards of shattered glass rain down, causing him to cover up. He flinches, squinting from the sparks and flickering lights.
He looks to the slot in the heavy door. Maybe the jailor noticed. There is no jailor. The lights are off on the other side. Soon, the sparks stop falling. There’s nothing but total darkness and it lasts about five seconds. The emergency lights come on with a pale peach colored tint. Everything appears course and gritty, as if someone just came and shook the dust out of the dirtiest rug.
BOOM BOOM BOOM
“HEY! Deputy, open the door! Deputy! Open the door!” Griffin says, pounding on the door.
He looks up to the camera. “Open the door!”
A huge spark sizzles like lightning at the other end of the hallway. Griffin turns and draws his gun. He’s whispering F-bombs as he struggles to make out anything in the dim emergency lights. But with sparks popping out at random, shadows appear. Faces appear.
Other than Calvin, no one else is supposed to be down here in these holding cells. The protestors from earlier were already released or transported to county for the night. But as Griffin slowly crouches with his heart rate increasing, he begins to question reality as one would…when you see nothing but shadows dancing and scurrying about.
As soon as he focuses on one shadow, it jumps with a quickness making it impossible to stay on one for too long. It’s an optical game of cat and mouse, tiring and futile, but addictive and difficult to stop. Griffin is determined to figure out what’s going on. He’s a man. He’s an officer of the law. This is his world and he’s the master. That’s what he tells himself and for the moment, it’s working. Building up the confidence, even if that confidence is made out of glass.
“SHOW YOURSELF! RIGHT NOW! COME OUT! OR I WILL FIRE!” Griffin orders.
He takes a step forward and hears heavy breathing in the distance. It gets louder, more frantic. He hears the hard scrapes of jeans rustling against one another. He hears the grunts of men engaged in some strenuous activity. It’s a bunch of them, no more than ten, all panting in a strenuous hustle as if they’re hard at work.
“STOP! PLEASE GET OFF OF ME!”
“Yeah, you like it. Don’t cha, boy!”
“Haha! Hurry up, Lester. It’s my turn!”
Griffin’s eyes become hooded at the horror of what he’s hearing. He wants to move in and break it up but there’s a problem. The gang rape sounds like its coming from everywhere like some massive pagan orgy closing in, approaching to get him involved whether he wants it or not. He hears cheering; it’s loud, spectators rooting the rapists on. Griffin sees the silhouettes of shirts being tossed about, hands gripping the bars, nails clenching the ground as they’re dragged back to the billowy darkness. The slaps of wet flesh, the outcry for help, the laughter, taunts, all of it consumes Griffin until he can no longer hear himself think!
Then, in the midst of the chaos and cries for help, another voice chimes through with a piercing clarity.
“You know what you saw. Don’t you?”
It’s a mocking voice, one made to ridicule. Unlike the others, this voice comes from a girls. It penetrates like a voice from a PA system. And unlike the others, this voice doesn’t sound like it was surrounding him. It emanates from one particular jail cell. Cell 1-A.
Griffin slowly aims his gun at the cell where Calvin Chalmers was supposed to be. Inside 1-A, there sits a petite nineteen-year-old girl with pale white skin and shoulder-length black hair, her bangs reminiscent of Bettie Paige. She’s wearing a school uniform from the 1950s featuring a black pleated skirt that comes down past her knees. Her ankles are crossed as she waits patiently with her overlapping palms resting on her lap.
Griffin stares as one would a mermaid in the middle of a storm.
“What you saw was real,” she tells him.
“Hey! Hey, you! Who are you? Who let you in here?” Griffin shouts.
He turns to the cameras. “Open the door! We got a little girl down here! Is this some kind of sick twisted joke?”
“There is no joke when it comes to fatality.” Maggie grumbles.
Griffin’s heart is tightened by the sound of her amplifying voice. Her elocution is expanded into several layers as if three were talking at once. She stands and pats the front of her skirt as if she were covered in crumbs. Then, her sights land on Griffin with the coldest gaze he’s ever seen. It penetrates and violates him, laying bare everything he’s kept hidden.
“You took the lives of five innocent girls. Who gave you the right?” Maggie snarls.
“What are you talking about? I’m not a fucking killer.” Griffin says.
“LIAR!!!” She roars like thunder. “I saw what you did! You weren’t threatened! Your life wasn’t in danger. You killed them just to save your own skin. So you wouldn’t get in trouble. Despicable!”
“No! I never did any of that!” Griffin cries out.
Her lips curl into a nasty sneer. Suddenly her head jerks back. At once, her entire body is thrown into the cell bars as if she was flung through the windshield of a car. A loud bang echoes as she grips the bars to stop her violent forward momentum. It happens so fast, startling Griffin and sending him back on his ass.
He raises his weapon but his hands are shaking. He watches as Maggie’s small face comes squeezing, scraping between the bars. It gets to a point where the metal bars peels at her cheeks, ripping off her eyelashes and ears.
“Are you calling me a liar? That its all in my head?! That Cloud was wrong!?”
“No! Cloud’s not wrong! He’s never wrong! But I never killed anyone! It was Calvin! He killed them! Not me!” Griffin protests.
“THEN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!! Why am I still alive while the mangled bodies of innocent young girls remain encumbered, reminded day and night of how horrible they suffered, how horrible they died? How can you sit there and do nothing?! Take action! Kill me! Shoot me! Shoot me now!”
Griffin steadies his gun with both hands, his aim directed at the center of Maggie’s forehead as blood trickles down her cheeks and drips from the tip her chin.
“You want me to kill you?” Griffin stutters.
“YES, YOU IDIOT! Kill me! KILL ME! SHOOT ME NOW!”
Electrical sparks fly out as Maggie barks her orders. Griffin opens his mouth to breathe. He can’t believe what he’s seeing. He doesn’t want to believe it. He refuses to believe it. He can’t bring himself to shoot. Gradually, he shakes his head no and Maggie does not like this. Not one bit. She tucks her chin and lets out a harsh guttural growl.
“If you don’t kill me I swear I will haunt you forever. I don’t care about those stupid little girls. Truth be told, I never did! What you’re guilty of is ten times worse than what you did to those girls. You tried to kill Cloud! Not once! But twice! For that, I’ll never forgive you! You’ll never be rid of me! Unless…Unless…Hahaha! Do you want to know how you can get rid of me?”
“Yes,” Griffin whispers.
“Good. Then do as I do.”
As Maggie gives instructions, she demonstrates. She pulls her disfigured face back into the cell. Her fingers reach up and coil around the bars closest to the height of her shoulders.
“Grip it tight. Make sure you feel the hard metal pressing against the bone of your fingers.” She says.
“Then what?” Griffin whispers
“Then…” Maggie smiles.
Maggie proceeds to bash her face against the bars of the cell door. She cringes as if she just slammed on the brakes in a head-on collision. She’s slamming her face with all her might, tightening her biceps and jerking forward with frightening momentum. Over and over again, her face batters the bars like a sledgehammer trying to tear down the cell door.
“OH SHIT!!! WHAT THE HELL!!!” Griffin shouts.
Blood and brain matter splatter all over him. Maggie’s still going, still conscious and aware. Like a gleaning sadist, she smiles as she lunges back again and again. Her nose is flattened. Her teeth scatter about and her tongue is splintered as the taste of salty blood and dirty metal enters her throat. Her jaw dangles from single tendon and she’s still banging her face again and again until it becomes something resembling a bubbling pulp.
Griffin finally closes his eyes and covers up from the debris of blood, spit, and mucous until abruptly…everything stops. He no longer hears the graphic hustle of gang rape. He no longer hears the crack and sizzle of electrical damage. The hustle of footsteps and scraping jeans has ceased and all he hears is the drone of the heater just now turning on.
Griffin lowers his shielding arm. He opens his eyes. The overheads are on. They were never busted to begin with. A puzzled expression befalls him as he realizes he’s not even sitting down on the floor. He’s standing up straight, right beside the metal yellow door that he entered. He looks up at the camera. The red recording light is on. Then he looks into the holding cell. Cell 1-A.
“AH!!! HOLY CHRIST! HEEEELP!!!”
What Detective Mark Griffin just witnessed is something I like to call the “Double Entendre of Death”. Don’t worry I’m not settled on the title. This is a tactic Maggie and I developed in which two or more individuals are haunted in the same exact fashion at the same exact time. Both targets hear the same words, the same provocations. In most cases they meet the same fate. However, with Det. Griffin maintaining some semblance of integrity, he didn’t give in to shooting the other target. So in an ironic twist of fate, Maggie improvised and lured Calvin into killing himself in a manner similar to that of KeNedra’s.
What Calvin saw as he sat in his cell pondering over what is real, was a shadowy Maggie entering the hallway through the yellow metal doors as gang rape and popping lights went haywire. Some of Maggie’s dialogue was meant for Griffin, but a majority of her words were directed to an already traumatized Calvin. Maggie instructed Calvin to approach the bars and bang his brains out. Calvin obliged.
The surveillance cameras recorded Griffin entering into the hallway, the door closing behind him. Then, without saying a word, Griffin just stands there, still as a statue with a non-blinking fixation. Griffin and Calvin stared at each other in a daze for close to three minutes before Calvin stood up and approached the bars. Calvin killed himself right in front of Griffin. It wasn’t until brain fragments started hitting Griffin that the detective snapped out of the trance.
All of this was made possible because I slipped Maggie’s necklace into the pocket of Griffin’s black overcoat. He had no idea it was in there this whole time. That’ll teach him to give me a hug.
Griffin screams at the gruesome carnage. Calvin’s face was caved in with his cheekbones still hooked onto the bars. His eyeballs dangled by red sinews. His body hung from the bars like a coat on a hanger. A thick pool of blood spread down and away from Calvin’s feet with blood splatter hitting the bottom of the yellow door at an angle. Some of it got on Griffin’s pant legs and boots.
A buzzer sounds. The yellow metal door opens with three officers rushing in. They’re immediately met by terror. One has to turn away as his dinner comes back up the hatch. The other two examine Griffin with disbelief. Their posterchild, their hero. A grim realization slowly sinks in as Griffin backs away and reduces to a fetal position. His fingers reach for his tingling face, but he’s too afraid to touch himself. He can’t take his eyes off of Calvin’s body. Calvin’s skull looked as if he was just pecked to death by vultures. An image that would forever be burned in Griffin’s psyche.
“Sir. Maybe you should come with us,” A deputy suggests.
The deputy reaches for Griffin but the detective claws away at their hands. He wraps up with the lapels of his overcoat, fearful of his life. Shivering. Kicking at the floor to create distance between himself and deputies. More police enter. Some hurry to get the chief. Everyone’s gawking at Calvin…Between Calvin and the cowering detective, eerie doesn’t begin to describe it.
Griffin had gone mad.
“Don’t touch me! No one touch me! Just go away. You hear me? GO AWAY! LEAVE ME ALONE! DON’T TOUCH ME! GO AWAY! GOOOO!!!!!”
As all this happens, I’m outside. I’ve been waiting. Griffin told me he was going to visit Calvin. If he hadn’t, I would’ve just figured out another way to get to him. It had to be tonight. I walked all this way from my motel just to make sure the deed was done. I don’t expect Maggie to come phasing through the walls. But I hear Griffin screaming like a lunatic. That’s all I needed.