Black Star [Intro]

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Black Star [Intro]

Post by Hollis Brown on Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:31 pm

Max rubs the backs of his fingers on his right hand against the blue hair above Danielle’s neck. They are dimly lit by the movie theatre screen several rows ahead. Sunset Boulevard is showing. Max’s brown hair is in a ponytail, and he is wearing a blue denim jacket. Danielle is wearing earrings that look like little eyeballs and a violet-colored blouse.

While Max caresses the back of her head and continues to run his fingers through her pixie hair, Danielle sits still, glued to the TV screen. The scene where the monkey is being shown is on the screen. The only part of Danielle that moves is her left hand, which gently squeezes Max’s right hand.

Two rows behind them, in this sparsely occupied theatre, Ellie is sitting alone. A bag of yellowish popcorn is on her lap, but she is not touching it. Her eyes are looking ahead, but not on the screen. She closes her eyes, reopens them, takes a small handful of popcorn and pops into her mouth, looks back up at the screen, and tries not to choke on an unpopped kernel that had snuck its way into the bag.

10:00 pm approaches.

***********

The bar is almost completely. There are only four people inside: Mil Bradley, who is behind the counter; Samson Ackermann, who is sitting on one of the stools and is slumped forward slightly over the counter; Lesley Kozlov, who is sitting alone at a table and smoking a cigarette; and a dark-skinned man with corn rows who is playing solitaire.

Mil wipes the inside of a glass with a red cloth. He is wearing a white button-up shirt and black skinny jeans. A red sweatshirt is wrapped around his waist. Mil finishes wiping the glass and sets it down. He turns slightly, places his left hand on the counter, and looks at Samson. Mil scratches at the spot above his goatee.

“Gonna be another one tonight,” Samson says. His voice is low, deep. Like the voice of the villain in an old American Western, except with a strictly Midwestern accent.

Mil nods. “If the fucker is going to try it again.”

“I hope it’s me,” Samson says. He remains slouched forward, not taking his eyes off the wooden counter. “I’m thinking of going out to the well after this. Offer myself. I wonder if he takes volunteers.”

Mil studies Samson. Scratches above his goatee. “I can’t let you do that. New bar policy: customers cannot leave the bar between 10:30 pm and 12:30 am on the last day of the month. The police have narrowed down that somehow the heads end up in the well around midnight. They also think that the killings happen shortly before that. I can’t endanger my best customers.”

Samson heaves his body into a straight-ish sitting position. He turns around, so his back is to Mil. He looks toward the dark-skinned man.
“Another drink, Mil.”

11:00 pm approaches.

***********

Sheriff Randy Flecker and deputy Roger Roger are parked in view of the well, inside Roger’s black 2010 Hyundai Accent. Roger is in the driver’s seat, and Randy is in the passenger seat, with one hand on the handle and his gun in his other hand.
Roger checks his watch and says, “Midnight approaches.”

Randy nods. “The killer has to show up. There’s no other way he is dumping the heads… They are placed down there, on some kind of pedestal he keeps putting there… And that sign, there has to be a logical explanation for that as well…”

Roger closes his eyes. In this perfectly silent night, their breathing can be heard loudly and clearly. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Roger says quietly. He assumes a look of confidence and resolution. “It is time for the rats to leave the sinking ship.”

Someone runs into their range of vision. The two are caught off-guard by the sudden motion. The man in the black suit, Angelo, is dashing across the snow, hardly able to keep himself from stumbling forward.

“It’s him!”

The sheriff and his deputy fling open their doors and emerge from the black car. They aim their guns ahead and sprint toward the target.
Angelo looks up at the sound, screams, and bolts toward the well. In his panic, he falls head-first down into the dark hole. His screaming quiets as his body descends. Suddenly, a bright red light shines forth from the well, and Angelo’s screams muffle entirely. The night is once again silent, and the Randy and Roger are alone, looking at the red-glowing old well.

Then there is a loud sucking sound, similar to a bathtub drain chugging down the last of the water. The red light fades away as quickly as it had emerged.

No one else shows up at the well.

When Sheriff Randy Flecker reaches the bottom of the well, he finds the head of Brandy Smith on the pedestal. There are no traces of Angelo’s body. No sign was posted outside of the well.

***********

Dr. Nora Green is driving through hard-falling snow. She is well past the Stakeford area, on her way toward her new home. Her eyes periodically dart toward the “SERVICE ENGINE SOON” near her gas meter. “The Way We Were” by Barbara Streisand is playing on the radio.
Nora squints her eyes to see through the snow and blackness.

She looks back down at the “SERVICE ENGINE SOON.”

She looks back up. There is a man standing on the road, in view of her headlights. Nora slams on the breaks, her breaks lock, and her car skids on the ice. Her vehicle swerves to the right, missing the man, spins around, and careens into a ditch. The car topples onto its left side.

The man on the road remains facing where the car had just been traveling a moment ago. His arms are stretched outward, in that same direction. He is wearing a brown tailcoat, dark brown pants, tall black leather boots, and a black beret. His arms gently lower, and he turns around. He glares in the direction of the turned-over car.

The wind howls, and the man in the brown tailcoat disappears amidst a flurry of snow.

"The Way We Were" continues to play inside the car.

***********

“Stakeford is in a state of emergency.”

It is February 1st. Mayor James Douglass has gathered everyone inside the old courthouse for a town meeting. Nearly everyone is there, even Samson Ackermann, who is hung over and sitting alone in the darkest corner of the room.

“I repeat,” the mayor says, “Stakeford is in a state of emergency. I strongly urge citizens to consider the safety of themselves, their families, and their loved ones in these next few precious hours. I am strongly urging all citizens who are able and willing to evacuate from Stakeford. For those who are unable to leave, I advise you to seek out the aid of those who are. We are requesting the help of the federal government to investigate the string of murders that have terrorized our small town. We believe all of the murders that have taken place over the past four months have been the work of a single culprit. This culprit has claimed the lives of several young women in our town: Kelly Francis, Jenny Smith, Christina Farrow, Martha Ackermann, and as of the dusk hours of this morning, we have received confirmation that Brandy Smith has also been lost in this tragic series of murders.”

The mayor clears his throat and steadies himself against his podium. Tiredness and the hints of various emotions are visible on his face. “Again, I urge you,” he says. “Leave this town. Especially if you have daughters, sisters, or wives—take them with you. No one is safe. We must be confident that justice will be done in the end, but we must not arrogantly and stubbornly plant our feet in quicksand. Residents of Stakeford, I repeat: Leave before the end of February.”
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Re: Black Star [Intro]

Post by Hollis Brown on Sun Feb 28, 2016 11:09 am

February 29th, 2016.

Five men stand in around the old well in Stakeford, four on one side and one across from them on the other. Hollis Brown, Cameron Johnson, Jackson Lee, and Cliff Alset look across at Gardenback, who has taken off his hat and made a slight bow in their direction.

"Gentlemen," he acknowledges. He is smiling. "It is a pleasure to see you again. You look well."

"I will make the deal," Hollis Brown says promptly. "15 years of my life, for the guarantee that we will be able to find the killer and end him."

Gardenback nods a couple of times and looks at the faces of each of the others. "I can guarantee that you will be able to find the killer in the dreams. However, whether you are able to end him or not is a matter up to you." He lets his attention rest on Hollis's face. "You have a knife that can cut through the dice. That is the weapon you must use to kill your prey. It is the only thing that can cut the killer's skin. The knife belongs to the dream realm, while guns and other weapons of this world will do nothing for you."

Hollis takes out the little knife from inside his jacket and examines it in the moonlight. The weapon appears to be so ridiculously unequipped for the job, but Hollis replies, "Make the deal, Gardenback."

A red glow begins to swell from inside the well. The bright red light is cast on the faces of the four, but strangely, the light passes through Gardenback's face without showing on his skin.

"I will live long enough to stop the killer, right?" Hollis looks up at Gardenback. "I do not want to die because of this deal before I am able to finish the job."

Gardenback smiles politely. "You will live long enough. While you're in the dreams, it will still be this one night. Your body will not age. I do not make a habit of telling people how long they do have left, before or after making the deal, but I can tell you that you will have sufficient time for this."

Hollis nods and says no more.

Gardenback holds his right hand over the red light of the well. Again, the light does not show on his skin. Gardenback snaps the fingers of his right hand, and instantly the red light changes to blue.

"It is done," Gardenback says. He stands straight.

"That's it?" Hollis asks a bit skeptically. "That's the contract?"

Gardenback removes his beret and makes a slight bow again. "Enter the well, and you will enter the world of dreams. This same well will be somewhere in each of the dreams, but in some dreams it will be buried deeper. Traces of reality are always in the dreams, and this well is guaranteed to be there. When you are ready to go back, you just need to simply go down that well, and you will end up back here. Only about a minute of time will have passed in your time. I warn you, however, that this is a one-time opportunity. You will not be able to go back, unless another one of you makes the deal with me, and that is only if I decide to offer the deal again."

Garden back makes a quick wave toward the men. "Pleasure doing business with you all," he says. "Tally ho!"

Gardenback is gone.

Hollis looks at each of the others. He silently reiterates his pledge to stop the killer at any cost. He turns back to the well and is the first to descend.
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