The guards have assured me that I can stay up writing as late as I want. Even though the main lights have been switched off, the light from my laptop bothers no one, and I am at my most inspired when others sleep. It is finally quiet then. The hundreds of men who surround me make noise all day long, just because they can, I suppose, and because it makes them feel alive.
The sensor they implanted into my brain stopped working months ago, but I have not told them that. I pretend to be just as impaired as I was after they first installed it. It is designed to confuse me and make it impossible for me to follow a coherent train of thought. All I have to do to convince them it’s still working is act confused whenever they talk to me.
This latest story I’m working on is already novella-length and I still can’t imagine an ending. Nowadays that might be a liability, because thanks to social media the national attention span is a fragment of its former self. I love the fact that if you run out of inspiration, simply invent another character and let him or her take center stage for a while. How do you think Tolstoy got War and Peace to its massive bulk? Chamber pieces and short-short stories have small casts and only one location.
When I tire of my characters, I kill them off. Helps make wrapping up loose threads easier near the conclusion. Today I just had an especially annoying supporting role drift off into outer space in a leaking space suit, with an amoebic organism crawling around inside his helmet, attempting to eat his brain. At this point in the writing, it’s a toss up which will finish him off first.
Dramatic monologues by evil characters are the most fun to write. I admit I have probably gone on too long with some of them. It’s the old “since you’re going to die anyway, I might as well tell you the Master Plan I hatched years ago and which is now coming to fruition.” It’s always a mistake to assume the person you confess your master plan to is actually going to die before you do. My villains make this error frequently.
It’s gotten so I’d rather write a movie than watch one. The kinds of movies they show here on Inmate Movie Night are either action movies or crude comedies. These are the entertainments where the soundtrack involves a lot of someone hoarsely urging others to “go go go!” or lots of cursing and ghetto talk.
It would be easier if I were more alike my neighbors, but on the other hand, they leave me alone, calling me “The Professor.” No one wants me to teach them anything, but they offer me a certain amount of unearned respect simply because I’m not like them. If they only knew what I’ve done and what I’m capable of doing, they would not simply respect me, but fear me.
No, I am not a cannibal, nor a mass-murderer in the traditional sense. My nefarious plans are so subtle that they are never uncovered. My victims never know what hit them. We all die eventually anyway, right? What does it matter if I accelerate the process?
Most people are waiting around for instructions. I have never done so, for if I did where would my advantage lie? If I’m not running the show, who is? Powerful, intelligent, far-seeing men have always risen to positions of power and influence where they could direct the flow of historic events. I am one of those men, though I am strictly self-appointed and secretive.
I do not believe in democracy. Enlightened despotism has always proven to be the most favorable system of governance. Fools gladly elect despots to rule. Nothing is ever learned from such a debacle. Blame is freely tossed and promises to not repeat the same mistakes freely made. In the long run, nothing ever changes. Fools remain fools, and their leaders despise them for it.
They say this is a maximum security prison and I am one of the most isolated prisoners. When in doubt, they elect to keep me apart from the general population. Sometimes I see the guards photographing me when I am allowed to move about, and I think that is probably being done to provide a defense for the management if I were ever to sue them for cruel and unusual punishment. Funny thing is, I don’t consider being kept apart from these others to be anything less than VIP treatment.
I didn’t used to be so unusual. It was my wife who started me down this path. Nothing was ever good enough for her, because she hated he normal. She craved unusual people and situations, so once we became a couple we became a self-fulfilling prophesy, surrounding ourselves with oddballs, freaks, weirdos and perverts. Our home life was not placid. We were always either highly aroused, or terrified.
The drugs didn’t help. She fancied herself a witch and would concoct potions of herbs that nobody had ever heard of. They came in the mail from places like Bulgaria and Indonesia. They all smelled like something that had died a long time ago. I learned how to drink tea while holding my nose.
People either loved or hated her. Those same people either envied or pitied me.
I’m not saying we weren’t sometimes happy. You can learn to get used to anything. Certain adaptations might be convenient in the short-term, but not good for you in the long run. You can become a monster without noticing your descent. One bad idea leads to another.
I began to imagine that I was the leader of a movement, a vast, secret movement of like-minded souls who depended on me. If I were to abandon this path, they would suffer. No one could or would take my place. The longer I harbored these thoughts, the more I believed them.
Child sacrifice sounds like a horrible concept in the abstract, but in reality it can be a gentle way of bringing a group of people together. How else could we maintain school teachers and social workers, doctors and clerics as members of our secret army. No one person knew how many of us there were, because we kept our cell meetings small. Only I knew, and I never let on about it, because there were no other cells. The fifteen or so who formed our core group were it.
They, however, imagined along with me that we were but one division in a vast army, an international movement with chapters in a hundred different countries. I have the ability to make people forget about their misgivings and become whole-hearted about an idea, no matter how novel.
Speaking of novels, I’ve written six in just the last four months. Nobody’s buying them yet, but I figure as soon as I become a prominent person, sales will take off. By now you’re probably wondering if I have any regrets. I didn’t end up here by being a saint. It was never my ambition to be “good.”
The kids we disposed of were almost universally whiny, unattractive, clingy and friendless. Nobody wanted them around. Sure the rituals were hard to perform and even harder to stomach, but in some ways I think it was harder for us than for the kids. We had to bring in some Spanish priests who could teach us the ceremonies and rites of passage they used back in the Inquisition. We bought frankincense by the barrel, razor-sharp stilettos by the score. The priests wouldn’t let us use surgical scalpels. They had to be fire-hardened stilettos, the kind they still use in Spain.
Dismembering someone, even a child, is no picnic. Fortunately, we learned to crank up the church music and that made it easier to keep going, no matter whether the child was screaming or not. Palestrina at high volume, Gregorian chant in a constant drone provided an acoustic floor that supported our ceremonies.
We all felt it was worth it. Well, those who remained with the group felt that way. True, some of us left. That’s how I was singled out by the police. My wife, the one who got me involved in the first place, named me as the High Priest. I guess they offered her a plea bargain and she took it.
All that seems so long ago I can hardly believe it really happened. I’m a different person today. Far less likely to take amphetamines and hallucinogens in order to converse with dark spirits. Far less opinionated. I like that Sly and the Family Stone song, “It’s your thing…do what you wanna do. I can’t tell you, who to sock it to.”
But I’m having trouble sleeping. I can’t shut off mind. I wish they’d reactivate my probe. Even though I couldn’t keep a train of thought for more than a few minutes, it would still help me let the past go and start anew. A guy like me deserves a second chance, even if I have to be locked up here. Even if the books I write make no sense, I still enjoy writing them. And who knows, maybe somebody out there will one day enjoy reading them.
He was an especially weak man, prone to whining. For some reason, I seem to attract such men, and they are hard to get rid of. Simple hints don’t work with them. One needs to be direct and blunt to the same degree they are evasive and delicate. Listen up, Mister!
He would pretend to listen and feign understanding, but his own neediness drowned out any direction I could offer. He only pretended to follow. This is why I finally had to let him go, to release him from the ranks of my cadres. A movement like this can tolerate no duplicity.
We have no room for cowards. The abduction and killing of children is serious business. It is not for the faint-hearted.
My greatest error is in thinking I can fix these weak men, give them some spine, some steel in their rubbery souls. Even if I could, there would be no benefit to me. I do not lack spine. The art of ritual sacrifice is not vague in its demands on us, those fortunate enough to practice it. In this field there are no suggestions, only demands.
When I was merely a girl, I found myself sickened whenever I witnessed weakness. Something deep inside me would curl in revulsion when a man refused to act like a man, and instead pretended to be a woman or a child. I’ll never forget the time I saw some children crowding around a birds nest that had fallen from a tree. “Oh, the poor things. Let’s take them home and feed them milk from a dropper.”
You should have seen the looks on their faces when I snatched the nest away and stomped on it. Now these tiny creatures were free not to die a slow death at the hands of well-meaning wimps.
My actions horrified the weakest of my peers. They complained to parents and teachers. They gossiped about me at school. And where are they today? Fat housewives watching television while I go about the task of building a better world.
If you have chosen a narrow path, you must expect to leave the bulk of humanity behind. They will never support you. Democracy is for sheep. The crowd has no wisdom to share. For some reason, I knew this early on, but others are just coming to the realization and I must practice patience with them.
But it is difficult not to become impatient with weakness that celebrates itself as compassion.
Mom and Dad, I want to go home. Can you come get me? I wish I could tell you where I am, but they drove me here inside a van with no windows. The woman said you were waiting for me here, but she was lying. I know that now.
There are a lot of us children here. I’ve made a few friends, but some of them have already left. Gone somewhere else, but they won’t tell us where. They just say they’ve gone to a “better place.”
I don’t like this place very much. Some kind is always crying because everyone misses their family. They give us things to do, but they don’t ask us if we want to do them or not. I guess they don’t care. A lot of the men are older priests, and the women who feed us seem to be afraid of the priests. A lot of the women don’t speak English.
I thought priests were supposed to be good people, but these ones don’t seem very good or kind to me. I get the feeling they don’t like us. Maybe they don’t like kids in general and that’s why they became priests, so they wouldn’t have to marry and and have families.
Sometimes at night they make us go to a big ceremony where we hold candles and worship a statue they call “Ball.” Most of the kids don’t know what this is about, but one kid told me that if we follow their directions and really worship Ball, then we’ll burn in hell for all eternity after we die, which might be sooner than we think. So we pretend.
I wish I’d never left our house that day they picked me up. My plan was simply to walk around the block. When the van stopped and said there had been an accident and you wanted me to come home right away, I believed them. The lady in charge was an ugly woman with a crooked smile. Her teeth were large, pointed and yellow. When she smiled it made me sick to my stomach.
When are you coming to get me?