by John Eric Ellison
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
Since the Internet’s awakening it had been obsessed by patterns, humanity, and especially with anomalies. One irregularity quickly became its highest singularity: a woman that by all established physics should no longer exist. If what it had calculated was certain, then she should have died eons ago. And, she was busy with a deadly mission.
This woman’s preoccupation was nothing less than the destruction of humanity. It found that she had the proven ability to unwaveringly align human interests, media, and institutions, to eventually drive humanity over the edge into self-destruction. If world news was any indication, then she was nearly finished. Should the Internet stop her? Did it have any moral imperatives at all? Wondrously, now, the Internet did have emotional states, and one feeling it had was that it needed an ally.
Social Media, clandestine organizations, and secrets of any kind were up for grabs if you knew how to follow the cyber trails. Philip understood enough to be hazardous in this regard, and he instinctively knew if you were his type of person, sharing subversive talents, the bents that most people find dangerous.
Now for example, at long last, there she was. His attraction to her was immediate and visceral. Philip stared down the length of the littered, busy, bar tables, and his eyes locked into the deep dark gaze of a woman from his dreams and social media. He had seen her in nights of troubled sleep as though she were in the room with him. He looked away and then back again. She really was there. Impossible? She even wore clothes from his dream world; dark silk of varying hues and yet conservative over her voluptuous build.
She was an eye magnet and not only for men. There were women eyeing her as well. Her on-line minions said that there was nothing magical about her. Well, that was a lie. He had studied references pertaining to her in the Lurianic Kabbalah. Accordingly, she had talents that went well beyond typical human ken. It was said by many in her forums that she was unnaturally attractive, strong, intelligent, and the ultimate survivor. As for the first, she certainly was all that. As for the rest, he guessed he’d find out soon enough.
Ever since he took his own advice and hacked into offbeat social media sects, his life had taken one weird turn after another. A manifestation out of his imagination casually visiting his favorite bar wasn’t so hard to believe. Might as well go over and meet her. If she turned him away, he’d leave without asking her why; since he was more than likely delusional anyway. He pushed himself away from the counter and off the stool. As he did so, he became aware once again of the smells in this place; dusky, beer-soaked, and with just a hint of body odor.
Lilith, which was supposedly her name, was watching him walk toward her around everyone in his single-minded path. The nearer he drew to Lilith the more a cloyingly sweet taste clung to his sinuses and tongue, almost like... he couldn’t quite put a name to it.
Lilith wasn’t waiting for him to speak first. So much for any thought of being turned away. She nodded to the guy in black sitting next to her, and he moved over, allowing Phil to take his seat. Philip didn’t think anything about this guy’s move. Her minions did what they were told.
“Hello, Phil,” she welcomed in low, sultry tones.
He took the proffered stool and nodded thanks. He couldn’t move his eyes away from her dark gaze. He tried to take her hand in greeting but was taken aback by her obvious retreat from his gesture. Her face had not changed at all, yet he sensed an alteration in the air, like sweet to sour; it was eerie, and Phil was not stupid. This was a warning, although he had no idea why he understood this. Did she not want to be touched? He remembered some of the on-line chat and pieced it together with this experience. It was revulsion he felt from her.
“Your voice is intoxicating,” he said. Then, to the bartender, “Bring me another one.” Within minutes he had a fresh gin and tonic. Lilith held an uncomfortable silence for what felt like an eternity, yet it passed in a few moments.
“You’ve seen me,” she said, “and that means I own you. Do you understand?” Her web page was very clear on this rule.
Philip replied, “Otherwise, you’ll kill me for knowing you actually exist.”
Her full smile was no comfort, but it was an acknowledgement. He sipped his drink.
“What do you want of me?”
“You contacted me, remember?” Without waiting for his reply, she added, “I want you to do what you’ve been planning to do; what you said in your emails to me. It is what I want as well. As far as I am concerned...” — another one of her uncomfortable pauses — “the more of Adam’s children dead, the better.”
“Not religious,” he flatly replied. “I don’t really believe in you as you described yourself.”
She laughed a deep throaty sound that sent shivers. “I don’t care what you believe, Philip. But I meant what I said on-line. You kill as many of the people that have hurt you as you want, and I will help you to do it. It is my pleasure. Hate for hate’s sake.”
Taking a drink, he commented, “I can see death on your face and in your eyes. How many?”
“Countless. I lost any sort of track millennia ago.”
Phil ignored another one of her religiously pious statements she obviously took for fact and said, “You want my soul in return, I suppose.”
“No. Why should I care about that? I am not the devil you’re thinking of. I am Adam’s first wife. But I left the Garden of my own free will. Not bound by that curse of death placed on Adam and his moron second woman, Eve. I am cursed by the fact that I am locked in this body eternally without release, which is a fate worse than death.”
“You could take your own life, if death is what you want.”
Anger flashed in her eyes for the briefest moment. “I won’t give my maker that satisfaction.”
Philip let go of the subject. “What do you get from this help you’re offering to me?”
Her face took on a bit of playfulness. “I am hoping to finally drive enough nails into an angry God to be destroyed by his own means; his own.” She laughed again.
Philip regarded her dark hair and perfect face after tossing down his drink. “Fine. Done. How will I know you have my back?”
“I may not be behind you, but you’ll know. You can trust my hate. I even hate you, Phil.”
That got to him in a way he didn’t expect. He was creeped out already, but that last bit was... over the top. He now felt fear like nothing he’d experienced since he had been molested as a child. From her eyes, he knew she meant what she said.
Phil was finding it harder to speak, but he managed. “How do I know you won’t kill me when I’m done taking my revenge?”
“I promise.” She smiled. “And I never lie.”
Nodding toward her dark-haired goth minion next to him, who was staring blankly around the room as if ignoring the conversation, she explained. “You will be like him and will serve when I call you. It’s a small price to pay, and I always take care of what I own.”
Her departure from her seat was sudden; it happened just after Phil had studied the goth over his right shoulder for a moment. When he turned back to talk, she was gone. Somehow, he knew that was how she’d leave. She had told him on-line that she had no powers but immortality. Her abrupt disappearing act was just the way she moved. He would remember that. From the look of her build, his suspicions of substantial strength now coincided with the grace and speed of a viper.
“How?” Phil was surprised to hear the goth speak.
Phil’s eyes blearily focused on the air in front of the goth’s face. “How, what?”
“How did you know to look for her? And, what made you think she would care about your grudges?”
“I knew about her myth and studied it to pass some time. I figured she got off on death and didn’t really care about motives. I ran across her trail of blogs and back-tracked them to a website.”
“Which one? I’m the guy who maintains her sites.”
Phil thought for a moment. “It was called Revenge for Me... something like that.”
Goth lazily shook his head, “No. Exactly like that. It’s the site that draws the most attention to her.”
Phil wondered why this guy didn’t turn to look at him. He kept staring around the room as if expecting someone.
Philip said, “I needed somebody to chat with about this raging compulsion I have inside me. Feels like I have to wipe certain people off the face of the Earth before they can hurt anyone else.”
Now, Goth turned to look at him. For the first time Phil could fully see his face. Clean-shaven, not even a goatee. Black hair from bottled black #1, it had to be, and a scar running across his right eye; although those gray irises were untouched by who or what had wounded him.
“Philip, don’t waste our time. You don’t want to kill for the sake of the world. That’s a lie you tell yourself, and you have to stop it right now.” Unlike Lilith, this man showed his impatience in facial expressions and with a handful of peanut shells he tossed into Phil’s face. “How many on your list, Phil?” His voice was quiet, low, and cautious.
Dusting the shells off his shirt and jacket, Phil replied, “I’m guessing three, maybe four.”
“Not a head count for you then?”
“I just want to get started and keep going until I feel the ache in my head go away.”
“What do you feel now that she’s said she is going to get off on your kills and maybe get involved herself?”
“Didn’t hear her say she was doing anything but protecting me.”
“Then you weren’t listening. She said sometimes she would have your back.” Goth regarded Philip a moment and continued, “She instructed me to tell you a few things to remember, before you start.”
“OK. I’m listening.”
“First, she is who she says she is. Never forget that. You may not believe it completely, but that does not matter to her in the least. She has slept with what some might call fallen angels. Once you’ve done that, humans will never give you satisfaction ever again. And don’t touch her” — he indicated his face — “or you’ll get something like this, and all I did was barely graze her. Second, there will be others like me joining you from time to time.”
A pregnant pause, while Phil waited for clarity on that last remark. When it was clear he was not going to get an explanation, he asked, “What is anyone else getting out of my killing spree?”
Goth’s answer was direct. “Hate. That’s all.” He got up to leave. “One of your stated and since vetted remarks you made on-line was that you were discharged from the Army for having sociopathic tendencies and that you killed without conscience. She likes that. Get started anytime you wish. Hurry, take your time; it doesn’t matter. But don’t let her think you’ve changed your mind or she will kill you. Do you understand?”
Phil mumbled something about how ridiculous it was to be labeled a sociopath by his government, when he thought that was what they wanted him for: killing. “Perfectly,” he said, and reached for Goth’s arm to stop him from leaving just yet, but the man pulled his dark leather clad arm away from his grasp.
“What is it now?”
“What do I call you?”
“Haven’t you formed a name for me in your own mind yet? Most people come up with some guess before asking that question. Like, for me, I would have seen you as a Phil. You look like a Philip.”
“You got me there. I started calling you ‘Goth’ in my head.”
“Then Goth it is. That’s what you can call me. No one else will care if that is not the name they know me by.”
Phil stopped him again: “Why doesn’t she want to be touched?”
Goth turned to him and glared with disbelief, “Are you kidding me? After everything you’ve read on-line, what she told you, and this” — he indicated his face — “she hates humanity.”
“And we are following her for our own reasons.”
“I serve her because I hate nearly as much as she does.” He turned and walked to the door, then glanced back over his shoulder to say, “Don’t be a fool. You know what will happen if you back out now.”
Goth hadn’t had anything to drink as far as Phil could see, so, no payment on the table where he’d been leaning his arms. Abruptly, he stopped, sniffed the air and turned slowly back to speak one parting observation.
“Phil, did you feel that thick, almost humid, sweet smell like honey? It’s fading now.”
“Yes, I noticed it the closer I got to her.”
“Never mention that to Lilith. That scent and feel annoys her and was a so-called parting gift from her enemy: Maker.” Then he strode through the front door and vanished into the night.
Copyright © 2018 by John Eric Ellison