Welcome back. Today, we’re looking at the second part of I Vanish, an urban horror detective novel that follows our still unnamed hero as he copes with some rather unfortunate transformations in his life. If you missed Part 1, you can find that right here.
Let’s get on with the show…
I Vanish — Chapter 1
That was the second time my life fell apart, but after this great fall, there weren’t any king’s men waiting to put Humpty together again. Instead, I slipped through the cracks of an imperfect system and like so many other poor bastards in this world, I just kept falling.
The system wasn’t built to handle situations like mine, of course. Society is a loaded gun aimed dead-bang at the known knowns, the things that fit into tidy little containers with trite, one-line labels. When it comes to the other stuff—things that refuse to be so easily explained—society is caught flat-footed. It shoots and it misses, and with brutal efficiency, it cleans up and it forgets.
My story doesn’t even remotely fit in a tidy container.
The change came in the blink of an eye. One moment, I was standing in an unfinished office building, smoking a cigarette and talking to Jonah Greene, a recent convert to what we call a restrictive religious movement. The next moment, I was gone. I vanished.
I don’t remember anything about it, but I’ve heard second-hand tales about the day they found me. A construction crew stumbled onto the scene three days after I disappeared, and they got the authorities involved. Uniforms in various shades of blue swarmed the place, and what they found emptied plenty of stomachs.
The room had been turned into a modern art exhibit; Jackson Pollock in one shade of red. Jonah—what was left of him—was still strapped down to the chair. The zip-ties were unbroken, but his arteries were all split open like over-filled tires in July. His rib-cage had been cracked down the middle and his internal organs were gone, leaving the hollow cavity propped open like a beartrap.
Me? I was stretched out on the floor, naked as a jay and painted in sticky gore. I was screaming at the top of my lungs. Some of the first responders thought I was repeating a phrase, but they couldn’t make heads or tails of it. No one thought to record it for posterity.
Normally, I’d be the prime suspect just for having the gall to survive, but anyone could see we were both victims. The kid exploded from the inside, and I’d been cut up and stitched together with catgut. The incisions were deep, clean and methodical; not the work of a crazed psychopath, and clearly not self-inflicted.
I was turned into an antique anatomy chart, like something out of Leonardo’s sketch books. One doctor said that if he didn’t know any better, he might think someone had dissected me. If you can keep a secret, I don’t think he actually knew any better.
Either way, the mutilation kept me clear of the courts, and that’s a silver lining wrapped around a particularly gruesome cloud.
I spent a little time after that recuperating at Old Bethlehem where they pumped me full of pain meds and put bandaids on my owies. I spent my waking hours thrashing about and screaming. This got me a quick transfer to a different facility, since that particular sort of behavior tends to make other patients understandably anxious.
My next stop was at beautiful, calming Creston Falls, a crumbling building with floors the color of a robin’s egg, where the populace quietly mumbled to themselves and the soup was always luke warm. It was a difficult time in my life, and if you’re lucky, I’ll never tell you about it.
That accounts for six months of my wasted life. Give or take. Time flies when you’re tasting the rainbow out of paper cups. Then one cloudy morning while I was watching the pigeons splash around in their little shit stained bath, my time ran out. They rubber-stamped my papers and shoved me out the door. I still don’t know whether someone thought I was sane enough to release, or if state just got tired of footing my vacation bill.
That’s the magic and mystery of modern psychiatric care.
Then came my moment of reckoning, when I finally had to confront the truth of my situation. My life had been bashed apart, burnt and had its ashes scattered to the winds. Things were never stable in my life before—work came and went, and little of it was completely legal—but now my world had fully collapsed. Clients mostly found me by word of mouth, and even if this catastrophic shitstorm wasn’t my fault, no one would ever ask for my help again. Not after Jonah Greene blew up in my face.
So, my ass met the street and I learned to live like a rat. It’s not glamorous but it’s a living, and that’s a start.
The real son-of-a-bitch is that I never stopped vanishing.
This piece shifts into a more standard narrative tone, quickly recapping the time between the introduction and when our story actually jumps into motion. My intent was something akin to a montage, where you get quick graphic glimpses of the intervening time, and we start to learn just a bit more about our protagonist, his career, and his particular view on life.
Next week, the story really picks up in earnest, so be sure to stop by and take a look!
Copyright 2012, all rights reserved, and a delicious chicken sandwich.