Book 1: Chapter 1
My name is John and I’ve got a major problem – again.
Just a few minutes ago I finally got around to checking the mailbox – although it was after 6 pm, it was still scorching outside. Even the short walk from my porch had caused me to sweat, and I could feel my hair begin to stick in stringy mats to the back of my neck – perfect. Worse yet, as soon as I looked down at my stack of mail, I knew I had a problem because peeking forth from all those damn advertising flyers was an otherwise nondescript piece of airmail — the sight of which sent me into a coughing fit.
Now I wasn’t expecting any letter from overseas and there was no return address, yet even before opening it, I knew who it was from.
“Damn her for doing this to me.” I dropped the rest of the junk mail and proceeded to tear open the small note. As new rivulets of sweat poured down my back, I read the following…
1492 is coming for you – MM.
For a moment, a chilling force gripped me – turning my spine to water and causing me to cower down in fear. Yet, the moment quickly passed and when it did my blood began to boil, “She should know I don’t need this crap.” I spat at the letter, before ripping it to shreds and tossing them into the yard.
When I got back inside, I briefly considered changing clothes – I stunk and I knew it, but since it had only been three days in these overalls I wasn’t about to toss them in the laundry pile just yet. Instead I got a six pack from the fridge and then parked myself once more on the raggedy Laz-E-Boy in my living room. Off in the corner, my turntable was playing a Jim Reeves’ record – the tune Welcome To My World was presently on, yet the volume was turned down low so that it didn’t compete with the TV since I was still waiting for the baseball game to start.
I don’t believe in paying for A/C, therefore I had the shades pulled so I could get some measure of relief from the sticky heat that still clung to the evening air. And so, sitting in that hazy darkness, with only the kitchen lamp behind me competing as a light source with my television, I picked up my copy of The Williamsport Sun Gazette. Immediately I tossed aside everything but the sports section – since that was the only part that could tell about my Philadelphia Phillies.
As I read, I took a sip (or three) of my beer – good ol’ Pabst Blue Ribbon — and settled in to watch the game. But then, just as the local news was about to end, suddenly the station was interrupted by one of those damn Special Reports…
“Good evening, friends. We interrupt your local programming to bring you an update on today’s landmark speech by Dr. Ghaz al’ Ridwan Ma’bus,” The anchorman spoke in that silky baritone they all seem to be born with. “Who is like Ma’bus? That is the question on everyone’s lips as the world continues to praise perhaps the greatest world leader of our times.”
Now, I could have continued to just ignore the news and focus on my paper instead. Or I suppose I could have changed the channel as well; but let’s not get carried away here – after all, we’re talking about a ’68 Zenith, thus changing the channel required getting up to fiddle with a manual dial, and that’s not for me. Oh don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I still live in the Dark Ages – like everyone else I did have my TV upgraded with a digital box to comply with that broadcast regulation scam that occurred back in 2009. However I will admit that I still kept my old rabbit ears, proudly displaying those antennae perched on a black box which sat atop that cockamamie digital receiver.
I tried tuning out the TV anchorman, but his voice just kept droning on, “Dr. Ma’bus’ IdentiChip has surely saved our world from a Great Depression, however the United States has yet to adopt Ma’bus’ device.”
“Bah!” I cursed, feeling the wrinkles cut deeper into my face. “Who cares about Ma’bus, tell me about my Phillies!”
<SMASH!> Glass shattered across the kitchen floor behind me, followed by the sound of someone banging against the door.
“What the hell,” I sputtered to get up. “If those Robinson twins are trespassing again…”
Yet even before I could turn around, suddenly rough hands were upon me; and before I knew what was happening, a black-clad intruder pounded a hard right into the side of my face – knocking the Phillies cap from my head and filling my mouth with blood.
“Umpf!” I moaned, even as another blow sent me crashing into the TV, where I became entangled by those god-forsaken rabbit ears.
Unable to stop my attacker from jumping onto me, my efforts to ward off his blows were futile.
“It’s taken me too long to find you, Baron.” My intruder straddled over me. “You may not know me, but you sure as hell know what I’m here for.” And with that, the goon unsheathed a nasty-looking dagger from his belt, “As fish are caught in the cruel net, and the bird taken in by the snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them, eh…Brother?”
My eyes lit up for a moment at his quote from Ecclesiastes, not to mention his reference to The Brotherhood, but most of my attention was captured by that blade. Yet I never got a chance to reply, for just then my attacker stabbed me.
Again and again and again the intruder forced his knife into my torso — seven times in all — leaving me a mangled mass of blood and pulp.
Death was NOT a fun experience, let me tell you — it never is…