Monday, October 14, 2013


I thought I would take the opportune time that I've been given on this lovely October evening (or 4 AM, whatever) to update you a little on the progress of TND.

Firstly, thanks for all of the wonderful feedback many of you have provided. I have been able to get outside of my own head and see Jared and the story as it appeared to you. It has been a trying experience, but it has been very good to hear responses, and I'm glad to know you took the time to let me know what you thought.

While I have taken a little bit of time off of editing, I am back on the horse! Something that I heard a few times from my beta-readers is that at times it felt as if I were telling you what happened, not letting you see it happen. This has been something that initially was a little frustrating, but I think I figured it out.

Many of you know that I started TND as a way to vent some creative juices. What you may not have known is that I never anticipated or intended to write a 300 page novel. My first idea was to write a short story, which is the way that the first 20 chapters is geared toward being. Once I realized this, it has become pretty easy to thicken up the detail while trimming the fat of excess. I want to throw a little shout out to Keary Taylor for being my sounding board and mentor with this editing game.

The other way I release creative energy is music. I have been working on some killer new songs, including one that I wrote for The Nemesis Diary. It's called 'Fire Away' and I think you will dig it. I will post it up as soon as I can.

I am ready to cruise through and add some more pieces to make this worth the time I've put into it. I will be starting a facebook page soon, and I think I will want to send out a few more beta copies. If you know anyone who might be interested in The Nemesis Diary 2.0, let me know. Thanks again for all of the thoughts!


Saturday, May 18, 2013


In case you missed it, I finished the first draft of TND! I cannot explain how amazing that feels! I am in the process of doing my own editing, but I will be emailing it out shortly for some beta-reading soon. I thought I would take a chance and offer you a peek at what I'm thinking for a synopsis. I will probably add a few tweaks here and there, but these are the two I am kicking around. Let me know what you think!

Option 1:

 When logic fails, a fire burns in the heart of Jared Donovan. Bound by a thirst for vengeance and vindication, Jared descends into darkness to become America's most wanted criminal. Jared gives up a normal life to become Nemesis. As the Red Rose Fever ignites the globe, the American dream is ripped in half. Those with money and means rise to the top of the fold, but can money and the lives of the innocent buy peace? Is Nemesis truly the villain? Or is he the nation's only chance at absolution?

Option  2:

A fever has taken over the Earth. The nation is bankrupt. Democracy is failing. Two saviors have begun a struggle for the power to control the fate of the now ill-fated United States. Caught between the East and West is America’s most wanted; Nemesis. The anarchist, otherwise known as Jared Donovan, is on a path to join a side and sway the balance of power, but which choice is the lesser evil? Driven by his own sense of wrong and right, Jared finds himself trapped between the two messiahs.  One man is a corrupt and blatantly obscene; the other is cold, measured, and calculating. Jared is a pawn in this chess game for the soul of the nation, but on which side should he fight?

I am already quite partial to number 2, but I would love any thoughts and/or votes.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chapter 38

They say that nothing ever goes exactly according to plan; I tend to agree. I’m more than willing to improvise when I have to. Here I was, on the cusp of vengeance, and the only thing left in my way was waiting for the most logical man I’ve ever met to make a rash, emotional decision. I didn’t have any idea how long it would take for Raiden to pull the plug on his experiment with Trystix in Chicago after the destruction of Veritas. It was like waiting on a hurricane to hit the shore.

    I drove to Johnny’s now-orphaned home. A heavy melancholy settled over me as I walked in the front door. My arm was throbbing, blood stained my clothes, and I smelled like smoke. I slowly walked into the bathroom to take a shower. I stayed in for longer than usual. I sat down after a while, letting the water wash the ash and blood from my body. But as long as I waited, I knew that no amount of running water could wash away the darkness that had taken a hold on me. No amount of soap and water could erase the stains from my soul. I was completely alone now.

    Eventually, I got out of the shower, dried off, and started to treat my injured shoulder. I had a nasty hole through my deltoid, and the bullet had glanced off the bone and exited the other side. It was a bloody mess. The tissue was shredded, the muscles mangled, and the pain was staggering. I never paid much attention to my first aid class in high school, but I had received a lot of practice in fixing myself up. Burning things down for fun will give you that kind of real-life experience. I disinfected the wound with alcohol, wrapped it in a tight bandage, swore several hundred times, and made a make-shift sling out of a belt and an old shirt. It ached and throbbed, but at least I had it contained.

    I sat down on Johnny’s couch, reminiscing about that night just a week before. I remembered the look on Johnny’s face, the pain that I gave him, as I revealed my plan to him. I remembered him begging me to put him out of his misery once the job was done. It was a little ironic that I was glad I hadn’t had to do it, even though Johnny was still gone. I sighed deeply, feeling the pain of losing my friend mix with the pain in my shoulder. The mental anguish greatly outweighed the pain in my shoulder. I had just lost the last person on the planet I gave a damn about. I sighed again and flipped on the TV.

    It had only been a few hours since the destruction of Veritas Chicago, but the news was on top of it already. Each channel was talking about the “Nemesis” of the people, calling out for blood. They had just found a few bodies, but they hadn’t identified them yet. I hoped they wouldn’t be able to, at least not for a while. I really needed a place to crash and heal up a bit, not to mention a place to watch the fireworks whenever they started.

“…And now we will hear from Mr. Micah Raiden, the owner of the Veritas company…” The reporter was saying.

Maybe I didn't have to wait that long after all.

The picture changed to a live press conference in Seattle, watching as the White King made his way to the podium. He was wearing a black suit accentuated with a red tie, looking as trim and lean as ever. He had a grave expression on his face, jaw set. His hands were clenched, and he moved with a rigid seriousness. He looked as angry as I had ever seen him. The room fell to a hush. The tension and anxiety in the room was palpable, even through the television.

“There was a day in December of 1941 that Franklin D. Roosevelt said would ‘live in infamy.’ We recognize this as the day Japan attacked the United States and forced us to enter World War II. Though we are many years removed from this infamous and tragic day, the citizens of this great nation have never forgotten it. In 2001, a terrorist group attacked our nation again, destroying the World Trade Center Towers in New York City. Again, we have never forgotten. Now, on this very day, in the heart of our country, another enemy has struck us to the core. The largest supplier of the Red Rose Fever treatment drugs, Veritas Chicago, has been destroyed. The building is a total loss, and at least two men have lost their lives. I have reviewed my live-feed security cameras, and I can confirm with no uncertainty that the Nemesis arsonist has struck again. This heinous attack was unexpected; each of this heartless man’s targets have previously had little to no effect on the community, other than terror. But this evil man has taken something from each of us; hope. He has robbed our children of this hope, of faith, of security in knowing there was a treatment for this horrific fever that is running rampant through our dear nation. The East has no reserve of fever drugs left. I am sending what we can, but the West has need of them as well. People will die because of the actions of this Nemesis. Because of this attack on our security and a lack of means to repair the damage, I am pulling my shipments away from the East to protect them, at least until the Nemesis is caught.  This is by no means a severance of relations with Trysticorp. It is merely a security measure to make sure we can help everyone we can. I have spoken with Mr. Trystix in Chicago, who is even more stricken by this attack than myself. His concern is solely on the people of his city and the East. He too will be doing a press release, immediately following my own. He will address your questions regarding the attack today in Chicago. I have no further statement, aside from one single request. I want this Nemesis found. I want him caught, tried, and convicted of crimes against this nation. And then, I want to see him punished for his sins. I am offering a reward of one million dollars to the man who brings him in. Thank you for your time, and God bless America.”

    Raiden barely paused before walking away from the podium. The local reporters fired question after question at him as he left, but he stalked away with just a small, sad smile. He looked pale, tired even. I was impressed by his formal death sentence for me. That was definitely more direct than I had ever seen him. I had struck the right nerve, forcing him to pull his resources. I had hoped for a rash decision, but his move seemed rational enough. It didn’t matter to me, really. As long as he retreated back, my needs were met. Trystix would be cut off.

    The cameras cut to Chicago, with a red-faced, seething Trystix approaching the podium. He looked as angry as I’d ever seen him. He walked, if you can call him lumbering forward in a relatively duck-like motion a “walk,” up to the microphone. He looked like a really pissed-off penguin.

“Although Mr. Raiden, has addressed this already, I too am angry. I am angry that someone could do these things to his own countrymen. I’m angry that someone could be this callous and cold; evil enough to unleash this kind of devastation. I’m disappointed that the ‘land of the free and home of the brave’ has fallen to this point. I cannot believe that the value of life means so little to this man. We needn’t have another villain; this Nemesis is bad enough.” He paused, letting his words sink in.

    Wait…what? He hadn’t been talking about me, save until that last sentence. I smiled a bit. The fireworks were about to start…

“Let me tell all of you a story. Two nights ago, as I was meeting with my resident physicians on the progress of a revolutionary Red Rose Fever drug, someone broke into our lab at Veritas Chicago. They did little to disturb anything, except to steal some very important documents and blood samples proving the success of a new drug in its preliminary tests. This drug has shown exceptional results in treating the Red Rose Fever. I checked the security tapes within hours after the intrusion, and found them stuck in a loop of footage from the previous day. There was no visual evidence of the break-in because of this. Know this, my good people of the East; I know who is responsible. I know who the heartless coward truly is. I know him, and so do you. It is NOT the Nemesis boogeyman that Raiden would have you believe in. It is RAIDEN HIMSELF!” He slammed his fist on the podium, again pausing to let the thought sink in.

    The people in the room immediately began chattering like mice, firing questions at each other as fast as their rodent brains could think of them. Trystix stood at the podium, eyes moving from person to person. He said nothing for nearly a minute, then raised his hands to usher in silence.

“Have I proof of this? That Mr. Micah Raiden is the true villain robbing us of our sanctity of life? No. I have none. But no one else could have doctored those tapes. No one else has such a great need for the cure I have been working day and night to give each of you. Raiden is not our “saving grace,” he is our death sentence! This attack on our safety began with him! He is behind the Nemesis! He probably sent him to attack us to distract my attention, pulling the wool over my eyes if you will. The Nemesis is nothing more than a hired gun! Mark my words, people of the East. Raiden will pay. He must be removed from his position of power! Because of the direct nature of his attack on our people, I will not waste any more time. I hereby declare war on the West! The only way this war will end will be two-fold: Raiden must be removed from power and punished for his treason. Secondly, control of the country must be deferred to me! Only one as righteous as I can save us from this menace. I have already mobilized the army, and we move at dawn. I call for volunteers to contact their local unit for marching orders. Raiden must fall! He is the head of the snake! We will remove the snake, and then the Nemesis menace will die with him! This is war!”

    The journalists again started chattering, this time full of hostility. I had to take a moment to pick my jaw off the floor; I hadn’t expected this. At least not this soon…This was getting very interesting very quickly. The hurricane had reached the shore.

Chapter 36

    Halfway to the top, a shot rang out. I leapt up the last few steps and crashed through the door into the office. It swung open, and I rolled through just in time to hear another gunshot. A hole appeared in the door in the exact spot my head had been two seconds earlier. I stayed low and ducked behind a small desk.

“Well, well, well. If it isn’t the Devil himself. Come out and play with me, Devil.” KJ said, followed by three more gunshots through the office window.

    I looked around the room I had so unceremoniously entered. As I had thought, it was filled to the brim with monitors showing the main floors of the entire building. I quickly located the one with KJ, who had started slowly moving towards the stairs. There was also someone slinking along behind him with a knife in his hand. I looked closer; it was Johnny! How did he get in? Not that it mattered; he had made it in and was about to take care of my little KJ problem. I watched him stay close to KJ, who had no idea he was there. Johnny took his steps at the exact moment KJ did, disguising his movements. The man should have been an assassin.

“Come on, Devil. Let me send you back to Hell.” KJ was saying.

    Johnny said nothing as he crept quietly behind KJ, a look of determination on his face. KJ was almost up the stairs, Johnny two steps behind him. He moved with focus, matching each step and breath KJ took. He was like a tiger closing in on his prey. Not bad for an accountant.

“Last chance Devil. Come out like a man, or I put you down like a dog.” KJ said. He waited a moment, then scoffed as he got up the last step.

    I put my foot in front of the door, trying to buy a little more time. It’d be hard to shoot me if he couldn’t get in the room. I watched as KJ’s silhouette darkened the window as he raised his gun. As he did, I saw another shadow leap on top of the first. KJ cursed as they struggled. KJ dropped his gun, Johnny his knife. They were engaged in a battle of brute strength. Johnny definitely wasn’t going to last long against someone the size of KJ, so I had to act fast. I jumped out of the office just in time to see both men tumble over the railing.
“No!” I shouted as I watched.

     Johnny landed spine-first onto a conveyor belt, making a sickening crunch. He looked unconscious or dead. KJ was lying on the floor screaming. He had somehow landed on the side of his feet, snapping his leg bones like twigs. The angle at which his legs had shifted was sickening. Bone protruded from his ankle. His screams were horrifying. The few employees in the room had gathered together and were as pale as the walls in the room. I slowly started walking down the steps, eyes fixed on Johnny. He hadn’t moved. I made a point to step on KJ’s ankle as I walked past him, making him scream louder.

"I'll kill you, Devil! I'll kill you!" he whimpered.

I got to Johnny and saw he was still breathing, if barely. He was covered in a cold sweat. He was coherent, but in agony.

“Go. Now. Do what we came for. Go, Jared.” He whispered.

“No, old friend. Not without you.”

“Damn it, Jared! I can’t feel my feet, can’t feel my left hand…I…I…I can barely breathe. Go.” He pled.

    A gunshot broke our argument. I fell to my knees, grabbing my left shoulder. The pain ripped through my body like a lightning bolt. Somehow, KJ had found a gun and shot me. Resourceful bastard. KJ had pulled himself up with his arms and tried to shoot me in the back of the head, but wasn’t steady enough to hold aim. I was lying on the floor, grasping my shoulder. Luckily enough, it went through-and-through my shoulder. KJ smirked and tried to point the gun at me again. Another shot rang out, but not from KJ. It had come from the conveyor belt above me; from Johnny. KJ collapsed, never to rise again. Funny how a bullet between the eyes will do that for you.

“Jared! Jared! You ok?” Johnny said.

“Better than you, I’d guess.” I said, watching blood run through my fingertips. My shoulder throbbed, but it didn’t seem to be damaged too badly. I still had feeling in my hand, which hopefully meant the nerves were ok. The pain was bad enough I almost wished it had found one.

“There is a gas line in the back of the room. Get these people out. Open the line, and run like hell. I’ll give you as long as I can, then I’ll shoot. With all the particles in the air and the spark from the gun, this place should go up quickly. Get safe.”

“I’ll carry you Johnny. We’ll get safe together.”

“Jared! I can’t move much more than my right arm! You have a bad wing now. We’d never make it and you know it!”


“Just do it, Jared!”

“But you’ll d-…”

“I’m already dead, Jared! You know that! I haven’t got long left anyway. Let me die helping you save the rest of us.”

    I stood up and looked him in the eyes, which now had tears running down his cheeks.
“Are you sure?”

“Our time is up, Jared. At least now you don’t have to be the one to end it for me.” Johnny smiled grimly.

“Even dying, you’re still an optimist?” I said.

“I’m still human, Jared. So are you. Good luck, my friend. Now go!”

    I hesitated a moment, then sprung to action. I looked to the white-coats and said simply “get out.” They fled like little white cockroaches running from a fire. That actually wasn’t too far from the truth, now that I thought about it. I ran towards the gas lines piping into the machines and opened the valve. With a small hissing sound, my work here was almost finished. I reached out and grabbed a fire alarm, trying to alert as many people left as I could. I doubted it’d matter, but I had promised Johnny I‘d try. He gave me a weak smile as I walked by. I heard him start counting. I ran as fast as I could towards the exit. I crashed through the door, running towards the entrance I had come through earlier.

    Another gun shot rang out, dwarfed in sound by the resulting concussion from the explosion. I was knocked off of my feet, hitting nothing but asphalt and landing on my injured shoulder. I cannot explain the pain that wracked through my body. Two ‘Damn it’s and a ‘son of a bitch’ later, I got up and limped away. The building was a goner; windows shattered, machinery exploding, and a silky black smoke began to pour from the building. Johnny’s car was about a hundred yards away from where I was, so I limped my towards it. The bodies of the two guards Johnny had been arguing with lay tucked behind the final checkpoint. Johnny had shot them both, probably out of nowhere during their argument. I smiled. Johnny had always had impeccable timing. And he had arrived just in time to save me. Again. I owed that man my life, and he had just sacrificed his own for me.

    I climbed in the car and sped away from the blazing building. I looked in the rearview mirror as Veritas Inc. burned to the ground. My final target destroyed, now I had to lay low and watch the fireworks begin with Trystix and Raiden. I had to stay quiet for a while. Johnny had insisted on it, and now he was gone. Johnny, the last of my conscience, had just been martyred for my cause. My only friend was gone, and now I was alone in a world of enemies. But their time was almost up.

    As I drove away, I thought of all Johnny had done for me. I was glad I didn’t have to kill him, though in essence, I kind of did. He gave everything he had to help me find justice, including his life. My throat constricted; my chest tightened. I steeled myself with a new resolve; I wouldn’t let him down. I murmured a silent goodbye to my only friend and sped down the road, passing police cars and fire engines as I went. They were too late. They had no chance.

And now, neither did Trystix.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chapter 35

“Last chance, Jared. Through that gate, there is no turning back.” Johnny said.

“Keep driving. There isn’t any other option.” I responded.

Johnny sighed. He really didn’t want to do this, but he was committed to it. He pulled into the lot slowly, looking for the security check-in. Our plan was to have Johnny try and talk his way in, distracting the guard while I slipped behind the small building. The chances of them letting Johnny in were slim, but I needed him to occupy their attention more than I needed anything else. There would be another smaller check-in, but hopefully the second guard would come help the first guard get rid of Johnny. I told Johnny to be as ignorant and obnoxious as possible.

“All right then. Good luck, Jared. I’ll try and get in, but I doubt I’ll be able to. I’ll meet you right back here. Watch your ass.”

“You too. Thanks again, Johnny.” I said as I opened the door. I strapped on my backpack, filled to the brim with the toys of my trade.

We were out of view from the first security check, about a hundred yards away. I slid around the back of the car and walked to the perimeter of the outer fence. The outer gate led to a smaller, more enclosed lot. The smaller lot was an L-shape, leading in to the L-shaped building beyond the second security check. I gave Johnny a signal to move ahead, and started to shadow him against the silhouette of the fence and the building beyond. Johnny slowly pulled forward, going slow enough that I could keep up but not slow enough to draw much attention. The guard stepped out of the small building as Johnny pulled up. That was my opportunity. As quietly as I could, I started to climb the small fence. Johnny began talking loudly, trying to cover the noise.

“I have this friend and he has the Fever. I need the drugs to give to him so he doesn’t die! Do you want him to die? You selfish bastard! How can you do this? You are a monster. You ass! Let me in! I demand to speak with your boss! Where’s Trystix? I want your name! Then I’ll have your job!” Johnny was yelling. Damn, he was good at being an idiot.

“Sir, please calm down. Sir. Sir. SIR!” The guard said. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small radio. “Brenton, I need some backup here.”

Damn it. Now I had to duck back behind the small building until Brenton got there. There was nothing but daylight between the first and second check-in. I heard a golf cart rolling down the asphalt towards myself and the small building and Johnny. As Brenton rolled up, Johnny started talking louder.

“Damn you all! You arrogant self-centered rent-a-cops! You are all the same! I bet your friends have all the Fever pills they want. You are hoarding it all! I just know it!”

“Sir, you need to leave. Please back out and go home. You can get the drugs from the vendors or drug stores like everyone else. I hear they’re lowering the price, so I’m sure you’ll be fine.” Brenton was saying.

“I will not! I demand to speak with your superiors! I demand it! You make the drugs here, so why can’t I buy them here? I have money! Don‘t you like money?”

I smiled as I sneaked around the corner and past the two guards, who were beginning to get frustrated. I could tell they were agitated, and they would probably start using force if needed. That would be all the time Johnny could give me, so I began to run as soon as I was out of earshot. I passed the second check-in and stole Brenton’s key chain, still hanging in the small office. I slipped over the fence again but managed to cut myself on the way down. A small stream of blood was running down my arm, but I had to keep moving. The building was close now, just another fifty yards away. I could see the cameras rotating this way and that. I timed the two by the front door, and I’d have about a three second window to slip between them and into the doorway. I would have another five seconds to get inside, which meant I’d have to have the key ready. I flipped it between my fingers and counted; one. Two. Three. I ran fast enough to just make it beneath the cameras. The key slid into the lock, and I was inside.

Veritas was a large L-shaped building, as I mentioned before. It had long hallways, deep basements, and absolutely no color. Everything was a sterile white, from the walls to the laminate flooring. It was like walking through a hospital. I could see the entire floor level, which was mostly storage and extra offices. The store rooms were past the bend at the other end of the room, but I wanted to poke around for a bit first. I didn’t see anyone around, but I knew there were about twenty people on shift. I’d rather they didn’t know I was there just yet. I walked slowly, checking each office for any signs of life. My heart began beating faster in anticipation. It hadn’t been long since my last burn, but it felt like it had been a decade since I felt the flames on my cheek.

As I moved slowly through the corridor, I began to hear voices. Not the ones in my head; actual voices. The employees were apparently having a meeting in one of the rooms at the end of this section. The door stood open, letting their voices echo down the empty corridor. As I got closer, I swore I recognized one of the voices. It was deep and harsh, and had an odd cadence to it. The voice would rise and fall with whatever he was saying, though I had trouble understanding every word. Curiosity was starting to get the best of me. I slunk down the hall, careful to stay out of view of the open door. There was a small dark office just to the left of the conference room, so I made my way toward it. I could smell something odd, something like sulfur. The familiar voice was getting louder again, but this time I could make it out.

“How dare you fools work for criminals! You make money off of death! I’ve lost my two best friends and my mother to this damn disease, and you devils make profit on it! Why should I let you live?”

Oh, shit. It was KJ. Not good. I crept into the dark office and listened carefully.

“Please…take the money in the vault. Take all the pills you want. Don’t kill us. You don’t want to be a criminal do you? You don’t have to do it this way.” Someone said.

“I already am a criminal! I am Nemesis!” KJ shouted back.

I was instantly irritated. He wasn’t Nemesis…That’d be me…I’m pretty sure that’s copyright infringement…

“You..? Seriously?” The other voice said. Suddenly, everyone laughed. Somehow, I doubted KJ thought it was funny. I heard a small click, then a gunshot. Then another. Followed by six more, each gunshot preceded by a gasp or scream and a plea to let them live. KJ had no mercy, and didn’t say another word. The silence that followed was deafening. I guess KJ remembered to take the safety off.

I heard footsteps leaving the room next door. I waited a moment, then looked around the corner. KJ was to the bend in the hallway, headed towards the supply rooms. I crept into the small conference room and froze. There was a line of eight people in white coats tied together with zip-ties. There was blood everywhere. Every single person had a bullet hole in their head. I was thunderstruck by the violence and precision with which they were slaughtered. I’m not definitely not the most mentally-stable person, but even I was sickened by the massacre. It didn't have to be done like this...

I peered around the corner, making sure the coast was clear. I moved swiftly down the corridor, trying to gain a little ground. I was going to have to improvise a little, now that I knew KJ was here. I had to accomplish my objective, but I couldn’t let KJ draw attention here too early. If he made too much noise, I’d have Chicago PD to deal with. I got to the bend in the hall but stopped before rounding the corner. I leaned up against the wall, listening. I could hear KJ yelling, but I couldn’t quite figure out where he was. The next room was filled with machines and conveyor belts, counting out pills and sorting them in to bottles. It smelled like a hospital, like the entire room was dropped into a bucket of bleach.

I slowly crept around the corner, ducking down behind machines as I entered so as not to be seen. KJ was far to the right, hidden behind a particularly noisy machine. I saw a few men in white coats lying face down on the floor. They were breathing, which was a good sign. Off to the left was a stairwell leading up to a single office. The single window in the office had the blinds pulled, which I found odd. You’d think the supervisor would want to watch over his query. That gave me an idea.

I moved quickly towards the stairwell and the office. I was sure there would be security cameras and monitors in there, which would show every inch of the facility. That meant I could get a head count as well as figure out what KJ was doing. I didn’t know if anyone was in there, but it would be worth the risk. The trick would be getting up the stairs without being spotted. It was right out in the open, and one lucky glance would ruin the surprise. KJ didn't seem like he was in the mood for a surprise, either. I stopped just before the stairs, listening for any kind of sign I’d been seen. The coast was clear. I hunched down and slunk up the stairs.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Chapter 34

“It’s on, Jared. Come on in, pull up a chair.” Johnny called to me.

“Coming…You got anymore Cokes back here?” I answered. My only response was a quiet chuckle from the other room.

Johnny and I had just finished up at the diner an hour earlier. It had gone smoothly; no interruptions or distractions. We broke in through a back window, but didn’t stay long enough for anyone to notice. I slid inside and poured some gasoline on box after box of legal files and manila envelopes. I still have no idea why Trystix would keep these case files from decades past, especially when he didn’t do any of the work himself. Nostalgia, I guess. I was in and out in a matter of minutes, taking only enough time to breathe in the fumes of my revenge. Again, I signed my masterpiece in the parking lot. All of Chicago would be saying my name by the end of the night.

The night before with Johnny had been a long one. He was convinced that since he was dying he had no right to sentence anyone else to death, even if it was indirectly. He said he was already dying and that I would just be expediting the process, especially after what we were about to do. He was truly heartbroken, crestfallen, and unbelievably stubborn. I begged him to reconsider what he called a sympathetic ending to a horrifying deed. We argued back and forth about it, but I knew he wouldn’t change his mind. Eventually, I sighed resignation. I promised him I would send him on his final journey after we hit Veritas Chicago.

Johnny had more than lived up to his word, willing or not. He drove us to the diner in his own car, kept a sharp lookout; he even paid for the gasoline we used to roast the place. He was pale and shaking when I got back in the car, but he wasn’t soft. He was resolved to this course of action, knowing the end was in sight. I looked at him as we drove back to his home, thinking how much I regretted involving him in this…He was my friend, but he was also my conscience since Olivia and Lena had died. Sad, sad days we were living in.

He had lived a relatively long life, but it had been a lonely one. He had been married for a time, but his work and need to succeed had robbed him of even the blue-collar lifestyle. I knew he felt horrible with his sickness, but he didn’t utter a single complaint. Not one. I could tell he was tired; so very tired. But as tired as he was, he had a little bounce in his step when we got back to his little home. I wasn’t the only one who loved sticking it to Trystix. He plugged his old TV in, dusted it off, and waited patiently for the news to come on. I walked back into the room, seeing him smiling on the couch.

“Another arson attack on a Trysticorp building, this time a mile west of Tryst Tower. There is no word on Mr. Trystix nor any of his employees as of yet. It seems the arsonist has a pattern that police are zeroing in on, but they are still asking for anyone who might have information on this Nemesis…” The reporter was saying.

“They already have you figured, Jared. At least, they think they do.” Johnny muttered, half to himself.

“Nah. They know what we want them to know.” I replied.

“Any chance you’ve changed your mind about Veritas?” He asked.

“Sorry, Johnny. I know you really don’t want to do this.”

“Are you sure there isn’t another way? One that doesn’t put the nail in a thousand coffins?”

“Not this time, old friend. Not that I can think of. I’m open to suggestions.”

“Leave town. Try Florida. Find a girl. Have kids. Live the life I never did.” He said. I started laughing. Johnny gave me a confused look.

“Can you imagine how screwed up my kid would be? Not to mention the lunatic who would fall in love with me…” I said between laughs. Johnny started laughing in spite of himself, shaking his head.

“You have two very valid points there…But at least he’d come by the crazy honestly.” His smile faded. “When‘s the final act?”

“Tomorrow night, if you’re ready.” I said, suddenly very serious.

“Good. I’m so tired, Jared. I don’t think I’ve got much more than that left in the old tank anyway.”

“You could still retire, Johnny. We don’t have to do it your way.”

“Yeah, I think we do. I couldn’t live with myself; I can’t live with myself. I won’t live with myself. All of those innocent people…”

“I’m sure we’ll find a cure for the fever soon; with or without Trystix. They might even have one now.”

“Jared, please. If either one of us believed a grain of that bullshit you just told me, neither one of us would be about to do what we are about to do. You’re forcing his hand; I get that. He has too strong of an appearance with the public; you’re going to taint it. You’re going to destroy him and make the rest of the world see him for the piece of garbage he is. That I agree with. But we are about destroy thousands of dollars worth of drugs that could help treat the people who get the fever, overpriced or not. It won’t cure them, sure…but it makes them feel like they are doing something to treat it. We are destroying peace of mind, Jared. You are forcing either Trystix or Raiden or maybe both to make a move. You are also signing off on the deaths of everyone who gets the fever during the time of hesitation that either or both will take to make that move. You can call evil good and good evil, but it’s still good and evil. It doesn’t matter if you are doing the wrong thing for the right reason; it’s still wrong.”

He was really torn up; I should have been. I hesitated.

“It’s necessary. I’m not saying it’s good; I’m not saying it’s right. I can’t even tell you that I want to do it. But this is war, John. I can’t let what I have to do change because some people will get hurt. I intend to hurt a lot more people before I’m done. This is about bringing Trystix to his knees so I can take his head off. The world will see that Nemesis can strike anywhere at anytime without mercy. When they see that Trystix can’t stop me in the heart of his own city, no one will want him to be in power. Then, and only then, he will not be a martyr. I can’t let him become a hero, Johnny! Even if I have to be the villain in this story! He will fall, then he will die! It’s not right, I know. Let’s just say it’s the right kind of wrong.” I said.

I looked up into Johnny’s eyes. Tears were flowing down his cheeks. He looked old, older than I’d ever seen him.

“I love you, Jared. I know you think you are doing what you have to do. And I agree with ninety percent of it. But all those people…children…” His voice failed him.

“I know, old friend. I know. I think the Devil himself is shaking at what we’re about to do. I know I have a special place in Hell reserved for me and me alone. Know this; I intend to earn that spot, so I can have a good seat to see what he does to Trystix. I’ll suffer endlessly, as long as I know he suffers that much more. Think of all the people he could have saved had he given us the research I know he’s done on the Fever. Think of all the children he has put to death, including his own daughter! What we do is just a drop of water in the ocean of what he has done. He has to pay for his sins! I’m his executioner, Johnny!”

“May God have mercy for your good intentions…or at least not smite me for them.” Johnny said quietly, still choking with tears.

“I don’t think God wants anything to do with this.” I said.

With that, I left Johnny to his thoughts. I went to the back bedroom and laid down on the small bed. I lay there staring for hours. Was Johnny right? Was this worth what I was about to do? Was this the only course of action I could take? Was there some unexplored route to the same end? Was destroying Chicago’s supply of Fever drugs the only move I had left to put the Black King in checkmate?

Yes. My endgame was near. And Trystix, with any luck, wouldn’t live long enough to finish the summer. Then the real chess match would begin.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Another Apology

Hey guys,

Just thought I'd take a moment to thank you for your patience. I haven't posted in forever, but I've still been writing. I'll try and do better. I am grateful that you still have interest in my work, and know that there is plenty more coming. Buckle up! I hope to finish Jared's story in the next month or two, and the fireworks are just getting started!