Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chapter 30

I spent the next few days organizing plans. The first thing that I had to do before I could lay siege to the Second City was to get a car. Like Johnny had said, I wasn’t far from Trystix’s warehouse where I had left Vic during my first visit to Chicago. I could take my pick of vehicles whenever it occurred to me to do so, but I could hold off until my plans were solid. I had to choose my targets first. I had to hit Trystix where it hurt; I had to make sure he knew what was coming, and that he could do nothing to stop it. I borrowed a map of the city from KJ and taped it up on the wall of my room. I drew a circle around Tryst Tower, nearly right in the center of the map. I spent hours staring at the map, trying to pick the perfect targets that would make sure Trystix knew it was me that was raising Hell itself.

Based on that philosophy, I came up with a battle plan. I would start the party with Stu’s house, then the warehouse (minus my pick of vehicle, of course), then an abandoned diner Trystix used for his paper records. It was humorous to me that he still had those paper records of his legal career. He had more money than the rest of the city combined, and he held on to his past case files that meant absolutely nothing to anyone else. I’d always known he was a touch odd, but this blew my mind. Aside from the warehouse, Stu’s, and the diner, I still had one target left. This target was going to make some people very angry. It might even incite a riot if I was lucky.

The beauty of this plan was location; each building was little more than a mile to the south, east, north, and west, respectively, of Tryst Tower. If Trystix was paying attention, which he would be, he would suspect the next target to be to the west. He would be correct; but he wouldn’t know when. I would spread the timing out among the three buildings, with at least three days between each. I would take the fourth building only two days after the third to throw him off any sense of pattern. Now I just had to decide on which building to take within that radius.

KJ, Riv, and Lance kept their end of the deal; they stayed out of my way. I’d see them in the halls sometimes, but the only one who was even remotely friendly was Lance. He was short, blonde, and stupid. He always had a goofy grin on his face, like he knew something that no one else did. He would laugh to himself a lot, amused at something only he thought was funny. I had no idea why KJ would put up with this kid. He wasn’t bright, he wasn’t big, and I doubt he even knew the difference between right and left. Regardless, KJ and Riv kept him around for something. He wouldn’t be much of a criminal, but they still kept him close. I wondered to myself if he was some kind of savant; a genius at something…but I doubted it. I started thinking he must be related to Riv somehow. That made more sense; the only idiots one keeps company with are idiots that you are related to.

I was beginning to feel confident in my new environment; I had everything I needed. I had a room, privacy, and access to every critical point of my plan I wanted to hit. I was close…so very close…Absolution and redemption were on my doorstep. I spent about five days plotting and calculating when to attack. My birthday was approaching, just a week away. I figured that would be the perfect day for the first strike. I waited patiently, trying not to count the minutes until the moment I could finally start. Everything had aligned perfectly. That, in and of itself, should have tipped me off that something was wrong.

I was in a deep sleep one night, dreaming of a beautiful disaster. I saw a building, completely nondescript, completely consumed in flames. My body and soul were aching with the need to make my dreams come true. I woke with a smile and a laugh, telling myself my time was coming. I turned over in my bed, content to return to my dreams. Outside my window, I heard footsteps, followed by a powerful engine revving and tires squealing. This wasn’t unusual for Chicago, but it was unusual for this area and time of night.

I sat up, waiting to hear anything more. I didn’t hear anymore cars, but there was an odd noise in the main foyer below my room. Thud. Thud. Thud. Scrape. Scrape. Thud. I swore, not wanting to get up and check on Lance sleepwalking again. Thud. Thud. Scrape. Scrape. Thud. Thud. This was beginning to annoy me. I got out of my bed and pulled a shirt over my head. Thud. Thud. Thud. I walked over to my door, anger fueling the movements. This wasn’t new; Lance had wandered into my room in the middle of the night once, scaring the hell out of me. Sleepwalking is an odd thing. Just before I opened the door, the noises stopped with an abruptness that stopped me cold.

I don’t know to this day why, but something told me this wasn’t Lance sleepwalking. I hesitated, then walked back to my bed. I reached under my pillow and pulled out the pistol Raiden had packed for me, made sure it was loaded, and returned to my door. I took a deep breath, letting long seconds pass. I slowly turned the knob, and quietly opened the door. I slid through the doorway, enveloping myself in the darkness of the hallway. I crept towards the stairs, taking slow and measured steps. Everything was still. The front door stood ajar, but that was typical. The chair where had been keeping watch was empty; this was not typical. He rarely slept, and when he did it was in the early afternoons. But Riv was nowhere to be seen. I made my way down the steps, my eyes darting from side to side. Nothing seemed amiss except the lack of Riv in his chair.

After what seemed like a million stairs and thirteen hours, I had descended to the foyer floor. I was starting to think I was just paranoid until the noises started again, closer this time. Thud. Thud. Scrape. Scrape. It was off to my left, but I couldn’t see anything but shadows. I crept to the wall and hit the light switch. I turned and saw Riv collapsed on the floor. He was bloody and broken, trying to crawl across the hardwood. His eyes were swollen shut, and he had a deep gash across his throat. He wasn’t making any progress except for hitting his hand on the floor, his fingernails clawing into it. I could tell just by looking at him he didn’t have long.

“Riv. Riv. It’s me. What happened, man?” I asked him, not knowing why. I knew he couldn’t respond. He coughed and sputtered something unintelligible. He gestured across the room to the opposite wall, and that said plenty. He coughed again, then went still. On the wall, spray painted in red, was a message. But it wasn’t for me.

With his blood, clean your wounds. Then get out of my town. Resistance will only bring more blood. One down, two to go.

Wonderful. My roommates had enemies too.

KJ! Lance! Get down here!” I yelled, lowering my gun.

It took a moment, but I heard some banging around upstairs. KJ came crashing out of his room with a gun in hand.

“What the hell, Devil! What could you-…Oh shit.” He said as he came down the stairs.

Lance came bumbling out next, falling down the stairs. He shook it off, smiled his idiot smile, then finally noticed the body and the message. He crawled over to Riv and held his head in his hands. He then started crying. Poor kid. I turned back to KJ, who hadn’t moved a muscle since he saw the writing on the wall. Then, KJ lost it. He screamed and started firing his gun at the wall. He fired all six rounds, but kept pulling the trigger. He was shaking and sweating, screaming and cursing. He finally sank to the ground, his face in his hands.

“You mind telling me what the hell you got yourselves into?” I said. KJ stopped trembling and looked up at me.

“Riv’s dead, you moron! That’s what’s up! Mind your own business!” He yelled.

“No shit. I’m the one that found him. You mind telling me why he’s dead?” I asked, trying to stay in control.

“He’s dead because he got killed!” KJ was almost hysterical.

This was going well. Riv had been killed, Lance was crying, and KJ was shooting his gun and stating the obvious. I sighed and turned to go up the stairs and go back to bed. KJ grabbed my leg and held me fast.

“We are trying to get the price of medicine back down. So we took one of the trucks Trystix has his boys selling them in and trashed it. We poured the pills out in the street and roughed up the driver. We told him to tell Trystix that Chicago is gonna fight back. We told him to tell Trystix the Resistance is coming. We were careful, man. We were careful. No one saw. Nobody.” KJ said. He was shaking his head in disbelief.

“Actually, someone did. Your driver. He is what real criminals call a witness. You should have killed him and painted the message on the street with his face.”

“We ain’t criminals, man! Come on! We ain’t killin’ nobody!” He said, looking at me like I’d told him to kiss a rattlesnake.

“You’re an idiot, KJ! You’re trying to fight Trystix without playing by his rules! He’s ruined or killed more people than you can imagine and you fight back with kid gloves! What were you thinking?” I was blown away by the stupidity.

“We just want everyone to have a fair shot, man! That’s all! Just trying to help the city…” He broke down and started crying.

I shook my head, unable to comprehend what could have driven these three men to try and fight back against Trystix. They hadn’t thought it through, hadn’t covered their tracks, and now one of them was dead. I didn’t have time to waste on amateurs, but they had call for vengeance now, too. Maybe I could use them…

“KJ, you didn’t play the game right. They either know who you are or knew where to find you. Either way, you guys screwed up. You got Riv killed and you could’ve gotten me killed, too. I’m not ok with that. But I know how you feel; I’ve been in your position. As a matter of fact, I’m still trying to even the scales. You boys want revenge, right?” I looked at KJ first, then Lance, who had finally stopped crying. They looked at each other a moment, then they both nodded. “All right then. I’ll write you in to my game. But if either one of you screws up, I’m the one who’s going to kill you.”

Chapter 29

I learned a long time ago that intentions matter. It doesn’t matter much if they are good or bad; they all end up the same way. I heard somewhere that good intentions pave the road to Hell. I took to that a long time ago, but I had only just realized that the ill intentions are ground up in the gravel of that same road. And let me tell you, I had some dark intentions in mind for my visit to Chicago. Hell wouldn’t hold a candle to what I was about to do. I think Johnny knew it, too. Periodically, he would look at me, sigh, then shake his head. It’s a funny feeling to be judged by someone who helped put you under house arrest. But Johnny had found his way out of this chess game. Lucky bastard.

We arrived in Chicago two days later, tired and craving anything but a cheap hamburger. But there would be time for rest and food later; I had preliminary work to do. Similarly to my previous trip to the Windy City, I had to find a base camp to operate from. Johnny said Stu’s house would still work, but I figured Trystix would have eyes on it by now. My old buddy Vic would have mentioned it before he became target practice for Raiden and his men that day on the rooftop. I had to be somewhere close to the Tower, but far enough away that I wouldn’t attract notice. Not yet, anyway. I would do it right this time, or I would die trying.

Johnny suggested a hotel about half a mile away from the Tower. Better yet, it was inside the district that Trystix owned. It made for a nice little place to work from that was right under his nose. I was hesitant at first, until Johnny mentioned the owners of the hotel were a ‘cash-only business.’ That had underground crime written all over it. Either that, or some sort of resistance group. It didn’t really matter to me which. Either group meant I would find a way to fit in. I’d never had trouble fitting in with the other scum of the earth. I would be fine among the creatures of the night. Any enemy of the city would be a friend of mine, well-intentioned or not, so long as they stayed out of my way. I told Johnny to head in that direction.

“I’m gonna need a car, Johnny. Maybe not right away, but eventually.” I said.

“I know, I know. I thought about that. Why don’t you just borrow one from Trystix?” He said.

“What do you mean?” I could tell he had something good in mind.

“Well, his little museum is only a couple blocks from the hotel. I don’t know if he ever changed his system over there. He might not have had time yet, with the funerals and all.”

I flinched at Johnny’s words, but didn’t acknowledge the pain they brought me.

“I hadn’t thought of that. I like the way you’re thinking, Johnny. Use his own wheels and let him pay for the ride. Not bad.” I smiled at Johnny. He gave me a sad smile in return.

“It’s all right, you know. To be torn up inside. To be angry. To feel pain. To be human. ”

“That’s where you’re wrong, my friend. I’m not human anymore. I can‘t afford that luxury. Your boy Raiden taught me that.”

“I never condoned it, you know. You’re only a man, Jared. He can’t make you into anything you don’t want to be. You can turn back; you don’t have to do this.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, old friend. I don’t have to do this; I need to do this. I owe it to my sister, to my niece. Trystix is corrupt and you know it. He deserves everything I am bringing him and more. This is my salvation; I don’t want to be human if I have to let his sins go unpunished. Humanity, morality, a conscience; I don’t want any of it anymore.”

“I believe you. That’s what scares the hell out of me. There’s the hotel; there, on the corner.” He sighed again and pointed.

The hotel looked like it was abandoned. It was only a two-story building, painted a rusted red color. It was run down, beat up, and looked like it was barely standing. No cars were parked in the small lot outside of it, and no people were visible around the building. I looked to the upper floors, at the broken windows covered by a piece of wood and steel grating. If it came down to it, there would be no daring window escapes. No big deal; I wouldn’t need one. I didn’t plan on being tracked down before my job was done anyway. The building was decrepit, but it would fill the need I had. I looked over at Johnny with an eyebrow raised and smiled.

“You chose the worst place in town for me, didn’t you?” I asked, trying not to laugh.

“I thought you’d feel at home here. You and the other vermin.” He chuckled. He pulled into the vacant parking lot and stopped. He looked over at me and grinned again. “You’re a good man, Jared. Don’t forget that. Whether you want it or not, you’re still human. Do what you’ve got to do, but remember yourself. I’ll never forget that look on your face when I first saw you playing with your niece. Hold on to that. And I hope you send that bastard Trystix to Hell. I’ll be watching for the fireworks.”

I looked him in the eyes a moment, then reached across the car and hugged him. He was surprised by the gesture; for that matter, so was I.

“I hate your guts, you know.” I said.

“I know, Jared. Goodbye, my friend.” He returned.

I reached into the back seat and grabbed the backpack Raiden had sent for me. I climbed out of the car, waving one last time to Johnny as he drove away. I turned towards my new home and walked towards the small wooden door. It swung open before I could reach it, and I had three men with guns aimed at my face as a welcoming party.

“Wrong address, friend. Beat it.” One of the men said. He was a little bigger than the other two, his dark skin covering a broad structure of muscle and bad leather clothes. He looked angry at my trespassing, but I’m used to that kind of look.

“Are you sure? I’m usually so good at these things...Maybe you can get your gun out of my face and show me where the real grownups are..? I said.

“Oh really. All right, Small-Time Big-Mouth. I’ll point you in the right direction. After I put a bullet in your head.” He said. His two buddies laughed. This was going well. I’m so good at making friends, aren’t I? I smiled and walked directly in front of him and put my forehead up to the barrel of his pistol.

“Cute. Real cute. A tiny man with a gun talks like he has the guts to do it. Come on, then. I dare you. Show me you’re a man; show me you’re a badass. Do it, cowboy.” I said.

His smirk dissipated off his face, replaced by a look of concern and distress. He looked to his buddies, but they looked as lost as he was. He was sweating now; looking a little shaky. He hesitated another few seconds, then lowered his gun. His boys followed suit.

“You crazy, boy. You crazy.” He said, shaking his head. “What’s your name, devil?”

“Devil. I like that. Let’s go with Devil for now…You got room for the Devil in your little toy box, here?” I asked.

“That depends, Devil. What kind of hell can you raise? What kind of cash you got?” He asked.

“The green kind. All I want is a room. You can raise your own hell. I’ve got my business; all you need to know is that I’m bad company. You don’t want to know what I’m here to do.” I pulled out a wad of cash and threw it in his direction. It hit him in the chest and hit the ground, scattering everywhere. The big man was stunned, but his buddies stooped down and started gathering it.

“All right, Devil. I respect that. You mind yours; we mind ours. My name is KJ, that’s Riv and the little twerp there is Lance. You shout at one of us if you need something, Devil. But you mind your own business, yes? We’ll be friends, as long as you keep the dollars coming. Top of the stairs, to the right. You are a lucky fool I don’t kill you, man.”

“Oh, I know KJ. You wouldn’t freeze unless you meant to, right?” I smiled and winked at him, walking through the door. I continued up the stairs and stopped. I turned back and grinned down at KJ.
“By the way, that gun of yours works better when the safety’s off. Just a thought.”

Chapter 28

I walked downstairs, contemplating what had just transpired. Raiden knew it was coming; he had probably had that speech ready for a week. I was a little confused by it, but I was also impressed that he knew me well enough to know I would demand my freedom. Raiden was exceptionally intelligent; I’ll give him that. That also made him a very dangerous and capable enemy. I was interested to see what he had prepared for me. I was also ready to have a word with my old buddy Johnny.

I exited the building without even realizing it. A bright red car with an anxious looking Johnny was parked just outside the gate. Johnny was pacing like a caged lion. He was looking at the ground in front of him as he walked, talking to himself. He was wearing a leather jacket and jeans, and he looked like he’d aged ten years since I’d last seen him. His eyes were heavy from lack of sleep, and his face was racked with new wrinkles. He looked up when he heard me coming, the color draining from his haggard face. He feigned a smile and raised his hands.

“I promise; no needles this time.” He joked. I scowled at him, never slowing my pace.

“Jared, come on man. I had to do it! I had to! Forgive and forget, right?”

“Right. No harm done, Johnny. Not yet, anyway.” And then I punched him right in the nose. His head whipped back, and blood streamed down from his nostrils.

“Damn it, Jared!” Johnny held his hands to his now-broken nose.

“I’ll tell you this, old friend. I might understand why you did what you did, but I will not forgive you for it. Never, ever, EVER, do anything like that again. Next time, I’ll do more than break your nose.”

“Understood. Man, you been boxing or something? Damn! That’s one hell of a jab you’ve got.”

I walked past him and got into the passenger seat. He reached in his jacket pocket and pulled out a handkerchief before getting in the driver’s seat. He started the car and we were off. If you don’t know, the trip from Seattle to Chicago is about two-thousand miles, give or take. Johnny liked to drive fast, but it was still going to take us a few days to get there. I decided to try and be civil. Maybe I could find out what my two kings had been up to.

“So how long have you been working with Raiden?” I asked.

“A couple years now. He contacted me when I was still working with Trystix. He offered me a job; he just wanted me to watch over the Windy City and tell him if anything interesting happened. Initially, I told him thanks but no thanks. He said he understood, but he promised me Trystix would screw me one day. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but he’s pretty good at predicting how people will react to things. It wasn’t even a week before I got fired from Trysticorp. I called Raiden, and the rest is history.”

“He’s really annoying when he does that.” I said. Johnny laughed.

“Tell me about it! The man just gets how people think. He has a good feel for the pulse of human emotion, I guess.”

“So what has been going on in Chicago? I know you’ve been out there for the last while.”

“Pretty interesting actually. Trystix has the entire East rallied up behind him now. Everyone feels sorry for him. The people are all throwing money at him now, trying to help fund the search for the cure. I hear he has the fever himself. I just don’t understand why he isn’t sick…probably something genetic…Anyway, people have stopped picketing outside Tryst Tower. Now they picket outside hospitals, demanding results. It’s like someone flipped a switch! They love Trystix, now. I’ve spent some time trying to find out if he’s made any progress, but I can’t get a straight answer. Apparently, he’s dumped a ton of money into the research. The only thing to come from it so far is a higher demand for a cure. More and more people in the East are dying everyday. The cities have started cremating the bodies out of fear that they still carry the sickness.”

“And what of Raiden’s work? Has he had any more success?” I asked.

“Not really. The public unrest seems to be shifting towards him. I’ve warned him as such. He is convinced that those blood packets you found were the key to it. He hasn’t been spending as much time among the people either. I think the public sees it as him giving up.”
“I doubt he’s giving up. He’s too damn stubborn.”

“I know! But I don’t think they see it that way…What exactly are you planning to do in Chicago anyway, Jared?”

“Tie up some loose ends. Cause some civil unrest. Let Trystix know I’m not finished with him yet. And then, I will finish him.”

Johnny gave me a sad look.
“I’m sorry about your sister and your niece, man.”

“Save it. They’re gone.”

“You should grieve a little. Don’t let the wounds go untended, you know?”

“Let it go, Johnny. They’re gone.”


“I said LET IT GO!” I shouted. Johnny shook his head and kept driving.

We drove in silence for what was probably hours. The road stretched on for an eternity, and the hum of the engine lulled me to sleep at some point. I leaned against the window and slept restlessly. After the sun went down, I awoke sharply. Johnny was still staring at the road. He looked over briefly and gave me a sad smile. His nose was swollen and he had a black eye, but I could still tell life had aged him a bit since I last saw him.

“What’s wrong with you, Johnny?”

“What do you mean?”

“You look like you got hit by a truck. And I’m not talking about the nose…” I said. He smiled grimly.

“I’m all right. I’m good.”

“Johnny, it’s a long drive to Chicago. Don’t play games with me.”

Johnny kept staring at the road ahead of him as he pondered how to respond. He thought for a long moment before responding.

“Cancer. The bad kind. I don’t have too long, Jared. This is my last job for Raiden. My last job, period. I’m driving you to Chicago, and then I’m done. Raiden bought me a big TV, so I don‘t think I‘ll be too bored. I can live the rest of my life in peace, watching bad soap operas and complaining about the weather.”

“Wow. Suddenly, I feel really bad for clocking you.” I said. Johnny just laughed, interrupted momentarily by a coughing fit.

“Did you see the bag of toys he sent with you?” Johnny gestured towards the backseat.

I looked back behind my seat and saw what he meant. There was a black backpack sitting on the seat. I reached back and brought it up front. I unzipped it and smiled. The first thing I saw was a small handgun. I pulled it out and set it on my lap. Beneath that was a box of bullets, a hunting knife, lighter fluid, a pack of lighters, a box of matches, flashlights, and about a thousand dollars in small bills. There was also a lock pick, wire cutters, and some gloves. Best of all, there was a bottle of Mountain Dew. I smiled to myself; Raiden knew me well. I put the items back in the bag. I zipped it shut and put it in the backseat again.

“Well?” Johnny asked.

“I don’t see any snow.” I said.

“What? What do you mean?”

“It’s like Christmas, but I don’t see any snow.”

Johnny and I both laughed, continuing on our long trek to the Windy City.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


In case you are wondering, Jared is still working towards his revenge. As a matter of fact, I have about 10 chapters ready to post that I haven't as of yet. I will get to why in a moment.

I recently took a small hiatus from everything creative (I.E. The Nemesis Diary, and recording some brand new songs) to focus on bettering my personal and professional life. I admit that I am, at times at least, a bit obsessive. The break was good for me, and I feel the small editing changes I've made to TND have made it a bit better. But something has been brought to my attention that I've had a hard time shaking; pretty much anyone could copy and paste the crap out of my story in its present condition.

I have decided to make The Nemesis Diary a private blog fairly soon, so as to alleviate my own fears as well as some people who have a love for my story. I am sorry if this is inconvenient, but I think it's necessary. I plan to publish it one day, and I don't intend to hit any speed bumps that I don't have to.

If you are interested in how the story ends or if you are just beginning to read, I would love to have you continue. Please either send me a text/email/blog comment saying you'd like to be invited to be a reader. I will be happy to oblige. I won't be changing it to private for a week or two, so people have a chance to see this notice, but please let me know ASAP.

Please know that I appreciate you reading my work. It means the world to me. Thanks guys!