Open Windows-Chapters Sixteen and Seventeen



Chapter Sixteen

The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on.

Joseph Heller (1923 -), Catch 22


I had to keep moving, I knew that much. I could see there was a storm coming and it was going to be really something to see. If it weren’t coming there to kill me, it would have been beautiful.

The funny thing was, if it was there to kill me, to fry me into the next world, it actually helped me because I saw where I had to go then, I saw flashes and it was enough as the darkness was lit so brightly, even though it hurt my eyes.

It was the kind of thing that you might have watched, maybe even camped out in front of the fireplace with your girl so you could both enjoy it, turning down the lights and letting the music play softly. You seemed to always have a hot coffee or hot toddy in your hands. Side by side on the couch watching the show of thunder and lightning thru the window.

But this time was different as I watched the lightning flash from the sky like icy blue fingers trying to find me in the dark.

I could see that lightening as it spread across the ground, coming this way from where I had started. As the bright light hit the ground they spread and flashed around, setting the brush and trees on fire. A few small animals tried to escape, but were too near when it flashed.

As the lightning moved on, several small dark things quickly ran in and ate the now cooked victims that the lightning left behind.

I started walking faster now, being able to see and also to make some space between there and where I had to go, the flashes of light and fire still helping me.

It wasn't that far now, but I had an image of the chair burnt where my enemy had been sitting a few minutes ago. I felt as if I could see him at her house.

I was hoping this wasn't going to be another "five more minutes" that I was going to regret. I panicked a little and started to run. Then I ran even faster, picking up the pace and reminding myself that we were the good guys and we always won.

Most people believe that when you’re hypnotized, you have no will of your own. That without someone there to tell you what to do, you aren't aware of what's going on around you and that even if someone does find you, unless it is your hypnotist they can do nothing to help you out of it, but that is just not true.

You can make them believe that under hypnosis, but after a while, the subject will even wake without any help. The things you suggest they do are not commands that they can’t resist, they still have a will of their own at all times.

Erika sat there in the tub as I’d planned, but after a while she woke up on her own, maybe the water got too cold, or maybe she wasn’t as comfortable as I thought she was, but then she sat up and was drying herself off when she heard the door open again.

The smell Nemrul gave off as he entered the house was over powering and it stung her eyes. It looked like the cartoon where smoke picks up Bugs Bunny and takes him to the oven, as the odor found her head and surrounded her like her own personal storm cloud, it was drawing her away from where she was and straight to him. She stood before him, naked and shivering but he either didn’t see nor did he seem to care until he told her to get a robe and she obeyed and then came back.

As the lightning flashed inside where I was, it also flashed around her in that room, but not as bright or hot as where I was. It flashed red and purple and then white-hot as it surrounded her and then the room started trailing smoke clouds that lingered over her.

She was helpless to resist or speak, as if she had heard his voice and was under something deeper than mere hypnosis, it was something more resembling a coma the way it controlled her.

Erika went and put on the robe she had given to me, it had my “smell on it” as she would say with a smile, that was her one act of rebellion, and how she managed that, and even to be able to think of me when he had control over her took an amazing amount of strength and very deep concentration.

She went and stood before him and fought for a little self-control with everything in her, but she was getting tired, so she decided to save her strength for when it was needed most.

Where he had walked into the room, there were burn marks instead of footprints, some of them still smoldered and yet the room was not afire.

There were marks burned into some of the wood that he hadn’t even touched, but merely had gotten close to. The doorknob just fell off, melting as it poured off the door and settled onto the wooden floor.

If you had been in this room, or really most any part of the house and had come in now, you would think you had come to the wrong address, everything looked now as if it had been under the sea for about a year, there was strange looking vegetation growing out of the floor and covering some of the windows, all the wood flooring and walls were now warped and bent, and the very air in any room of the house was now steamy and very hot.

It was the kind of temperature that Nemrul felt most comfortable in, so he never gave it a thought, yet she was sweltering under it.

It was hard to breath, and sometimes hard to see, hard to know exactly where you were in the house because things looked so moldy and wet that it was hard to believe anyone could actually live here anymore, and in a few hours, maybe that would be true, maybe no one would.



Chapter Seventeen

Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 - 1821)


I was finally at that moment reaching the garden again and my lungs were ready to burst. I didn’t remember how much time it had taken me to get here the first time, but then I remembered time was an idea that they liked to play with and could not be called reliable in here.

Even the distances were “interchangeable” because I know those mountains were moving back as I approached and things like that just don’t happen.

I had run all the way there and the storm had receded, losing ground and strength and then fading far back behind me, far enough to where I felt it might be waiting for me to return. Every so often I would see lightning flash as if it was angry at me, yet it was so far it could be easily missed if I wasn’t looking for it.

My heart was beating triple overtime and threatened to explode but I could not stop, I could feel such a strong sense of urgency, I knew I couldn’t be late this time, and I had a strong sense that he had found her and was waiting for me.

I could see the flowers ahead, they seemed to be straining as if to reach me. Some of them seemed as if they were trying to sound the alarm, to make others aware that an intruder was there. But there were others that seemed to know my purpose and were trying to help me because they were flashing bright colors in the direction they knew I wanted to go, dark flowers in the middle as if they lit my path. They did this even though it meant some would get trampled because where they didn’t flash it was still very dark and sometimes I didn’t see them in time, but I had the feeling they didn’t care as long as I got what I came for and saved her.

I thought for a moment I was going mad, these were plants for God’s sake, but I felt it as I passed thru there, and they led me right to where I knew I would find it.

Others seemed to be standing back, though they might have wanted to help they were afraid or just holding back, but I could hear them telling to “Hurry my damn ass up before it’s too late!”

I could hear them as they all strained and pushed at each other. I could see the ones at this edge, not clearly, but they could see me too, or sense me, they were used to this darkness.

These were the good memories or seemed mostly to be. Even in the darkness they still held their color if you looked close enough, as if that was what gave them their dignity, it was important to them.

They stood out with a glow of their own, and they gave me strength with their familiarity, a bit of hope that it was going to be all right.

I walked past them, not paying any more heed than I had to because I didn‘t have time to. Still some yapped at my heels like a small dog trying to get my attention, though they wanted to help, they were taking my concentration too and I knew I needed that.

I knew where the ones I needed were and I was hoping they were still there, that they hadn‘t been over run or trampled and killed.

Then I came to another sign. This one looked official like the other, but all the words were burned into the sign. It was melted and warped where the "print" was and it was left there for me, I could tell he was in a rage when he left this for me and it made me smile in spite of what it said:

"When your bones are ground away to dust

And your blood sucked into the ground

Your soul becomes a toy of mine, resist if you must

But your fate is sealed today, this is killing my ground

Other men have tried to escape

Or they drop and plea for their useless lives

But it's over now; you must accept this fate

hope if you must, there's no way you'll to survive

In the end, they all became mine

Their skulls now decorate my belt

Your dying started when you crossed that line

You’ll burn; and you'll share the same pain they felt

Your fate is sealed, your soul to be delivered

I tell you, try but it's no good to resist

Nowhere to hide from death, from the ancient Black River

It is me that will be bringing you death's black kiss!"


I had the strongest urge to take out my frustration on that sign, take out my guns and shoot it full of holes, bit that’s when I saw what I wanted. What I had come for and what I hoped I was right about. What I had to be right about or we were both done for.







She watched the glow of his rage as Nemrul approached her. She wanted to run, get out and she knew he was there to kill me as soon as she saw him, but she felt as if her feet were cast in cement, and she knew she could not escape now.

She wasn’t afraid of him, or for herself, but she was afraid for me, because she had seen this so many times before in her life, she had known what he was and why he was there, though not where he had come from, only that he was always there to help her and she never had to call him, he just knew somehow.

She had never even tried to figure that out. But she knew what it could do and what it was going to do now, why he had come here today.

As she watched as it approached her, knowing that at one time she thought of it as a friend, as her personal savior that had taken care of the bad men in her life, the ones that had hurt her for no reason other than that they could do it.

Most of the men in the newspaper were those men, now older and with families, some of them even died with their wives and no one ever knew why, no one could ever trace them back to her.

She felt vindicated when it started, because that one was particularly hateful and punished her for something she could have never done. But when she saw that some wives died along with them, and sometimes he got the wrong man, she felt guilty, yet she never called him and asked him to kill for her, Nemrul just knew and carried it out without being told.

Though she could never understand how men could hurt as if it was sport for them, as if they were bigger or better men somehow from it, and thinking about it now made her angry again, and the thing before he burned a bit brighter then too.

But she remembered me, the feeling she had when I held her, how safe that made her feel, though she knew I was not as powerful as this thing she had found in her life one day, she knew that I was a strong man and would take care of her, maybe even lay my life down to save hers if it came to that.

“You really think he loves you?” He mocked her; she couldn’t see his face either, yet she knew he was smiling at her now.

“Do you think he would risk his life for you? Take care of you as I have, all this time? I have been your tireless protector, paid back those men that caused you pain, that took things from you that can never be returned!” He was angry now, maybe it was impatience too, but it was more anger than anything else.

“I know he would!” She answered him, and she was thinking that even this moment I am doing exactly that, but she quickly threw that out because she didn’t want to reveal my plan before I was ready, whatever my plan was because she didn‘t know either, when she tried to see what it was by looking inside of me she drew a blank wall and thought that was me protecting my plan from Nemrul and not her.

She had started trying to figure out what I was doing on her own, but then she herself wasn’t sure if she would help me or try and defeat me as she always had before.

But she was helping me now, in this world, keeping Nemrul busy while I did what I thought might work, but inside there, being physically inside there with me was an entirely different animal, that animal was in control, and that animal hated me for touching her heart. He had seen her this way before, and now it sickened him, he was tired of this thankless task, of always cleaning up after her, making sure she wasn’t hurt and if she was then he dealt with that as well. He wanted a new owner, someone else to care for, because this one would never learn, she would always be vulnerable and easy prey and would have lost her mind long ago had it not been for him.

But then, maybe some would argue that she had already lost her mind, being this close to something that dealt death without impunity, it had no heart but hers, and now she was trying to take that away from him, he knew it as much as he knew that all men were alike, all men hurt and move on. Nemrul could love her but could never have her, therefore he felt his love was pure and without anything foolish or that he considered a filthy habit that only humans and mindless animals could enjoy. But as it got closer, she wasn't burned by it’s intense heat as it rose off him.

The room was now like a sauna and filled with smoke and that rotten egg smell that he carried with him. The windows were covered in steam and starting to mold around the edges.

She had started a collection of Diego paintings. They were melting off the canvas now, the edges of the gold tinted frames starting to glow with the heat and smoldering at the edges where it touched the canvas.

There was so much heat and moisture in there then, that a green mold or fungus started to grow on her too, when she moved it would break off, but it was now as if the room had been covered that way for a lot longer than it had.

Water collected and dropped off the ceiling and hissed as it struck the floor. The sound reminded her of drops of water hitting a heated frying pan and that gave her a small bit of comfort because she thought about the times we had cooked together and how good things like that made her feel.

As she felt him getting closer to her, Nemrul leaned in close and whispered "He thought he could hide you here from me? Does he not know your secret?” he asked and then seemed to think that was very funny.

She stiffened suddenly at that, having never thought of that herself, and the thought scared her and brought her back to reality like a hard slap across her face.

He looked towards her as he spoke and she could feel the anger he held in check for now. It emanated immense power even from the distance where he stood.

"I love him" she spoke inside her head. “And this time I know that he loves me!”

That infuriated him and he almost struck her. He thought that might be what she wanted so he stopped.

Nemrul sneered at her and said, “Still trying to help him? Did you not know what would happen? Did you not see this coming? How could you be helping him all this time and not think I would know or see what you were doing?” he hissed at her. “His simple and foolish plan to save you for himself!”

“This is just like all the other times, the other boys or men that you thought loved you and they hurt you! Can you not see that?” He asked her.

"He thought he could protect you with this weak spell?" he shouted at her, leaning closer again. All of this was building in him for a while, she could see that now, but he had worked himself into frenzy now, she thought he was getting working himself up for the kill. She also knew at that moment that it would not be quick and painless for me either, he was angrier and hungrier for blood in a way she had never seen before, even when he was killing someone she held a special hope for his soul burning in hell for all of eternity, even then he was not this angry and that scared her.

The smell he gave off made her stomach retch and she had to stifle the urge to vomit in his face, she didn’t want to feed his anger but she did want to distract him as long as she could, and she was ding a great job of it, he could not see me though he was trying right at that moment. Since she didn’t know he could not see me and it made him angrier and made him stronger. Yet she knew the more she kept his attention on her, the less chance he would have to find out what I was doing and stop me, though she now began to get an idea of what I was doing, she wasn’t as sure as I was that it was going to work.

"I love him and he loves me, ” she pleaded with him. “He will not hurt me,” she said, tears starting to flow. She was not sad in the least, it felt so good for her to say that and know it was true that she could not help herself.

Can you not see how strong this bond has grown between us? Does it not seem right to you?” she asked him.

“We have talked about this many times before, you and I.” he spoke slowly, as if speaking to a child. “We have spoken and I have heard these same tired words!” he told her then. “This is nothing new, it is just a different name for another man I am forced to kill for you!” he said to her. “They were false words then and they are just as false now!” he told her.

“Had he not blinded you with his empty words and false deeds you would know that for yourself!” he told her. His resolve not weakened a bit by her efforts.

“Once again, I came here to save you from yourself!” He said. “But I know in my heart” she started to say but he cut her off.

He raised his finger and pointed it slowly at her and her voice was gone. She felt that even her thoughts were now being controlled. She felt could not speak her mind anymore. She knew he would not listen anyway but it was something she knew he had heard before and it always ended the same way, but she knew in her heart what she felt was right.

"He's not like the others,” she shouted inside. It took tremendous strength for her to even try that, but she knew she had to fight for me and was ready for it.

She knew he could hear her, because he flinched at the words, but he tried in vain to ignore her. “We will sit here and wait for his return" it said and sat in the corner. “Then you will see, then you will know!”

He squatted there and smoldered. He pointed his finger at the other corner, and she felt herself being pushed in that direction now. Erika could feet his hand behind her, pushing her across the room, even though he was walking away from her right then and halfway across the room.

She moved to that corner, walking stiffly as she went, she had no choice and it might give her time to think of something. When she got to the corner she felt his hand guiding her to turn around and then he pushed at the back of her knees so she would sit. “I can sit down, I am not a child!” she shouted at him and then was struck by how much she sounded like one when she said that and stopped to think about that. She now sat across from the door and waited too, taking her cloud with her as she walked.

Erika felt like she was walking underwater, and her hearing was distorted too, but she was glad for that. She knew that meant he was working a constant spell on her, to hold her there and that kept his attention drawn away from me or at the least divided it somewhat, she knew what he was doing to her was not going to kill her, she doubted if he ever could, but she also knew it took a lot of his energy to hold her that way, but he knew if he didn’t, she would work her way out of his control, but he couldn’t know that she was helping me.

Because the bounty hunter with his snake had accidentally spilled his blood into the mixture before, they now shared a minor link between them, and therefore it was a link to me that I was unaware of, but it was how Nemrul had finally found me as if I had written a map.

He followed that link and it led him to here, He was angry then because he should have known where I would be, but he had other things on his mind in the beginning, and he went away when she hurt me that first time thinking I was gone for good.

He had been watching us for a while now though, waiting for the right time to make his move. He had watched me walk in that day and thought I was still here somewhere until he saw her trying to figure out what I was trying to do.

He hadn’t gotten to that part yet, because she guarded her thoughts, cloaking them in other things that he couldn’t get thru, he didn’t feel threatened at all though, men had brought bigger guns and devices to kill him and he was still here, unscathed but for the fire she stoked inside of him.

A blister started to boil up behind her knee where he touched her to sit down and that had never happened before either.


At last I saw what I wanted, hiding behind the last row of "good thoughts" and I went after it, hardly noticing that in the process I had trampled a few of them. They were still flashing for me but hadn’t been lit at that moment because they wanted me to get there and go, even the good flowers did not like the feel of men and I guess I could not blame them.

As they fell to the ground, they oozed red that looked very much like blood but it was quickly absorbed by whatever was down there in the black soil below. Sometimes I thought I heard a scream, like a rabbit sometimes does when in extreme pain.

Whatever was in the soil didn't even wait 'till some drops landed and leaped up to meet it, hungrily snapping at the drops and then drinking them down as it fell back.

I reached for my prize, thinking all was going according to plan and that's when I felt something grab my ankles and slam me face first into the ground. It felt powerful and yet I had the feeling its strength came and went in spurts, as if it couldn’t be strong for long periods of time.

As that was happening with me, she was struggling to understand what was going on. She knew why she couldn't move while under his control, but because I was inside her head, she could now close her eyes and "see" what was happening. How she was able to hide that from him I would never even try to take a guess at but she did, she could see me and he couldn’t, yet he could see everything else about her and would she knew if she said or did anything he would know that instant. That made it worse though. She was still helpless and though she tried to warn me off, I couldn’t hear her and Nemrul would.

She was stuck in the middle of the monster she created with her anger. Until now he had been her savior, her rescuer and her protector, the only one that had ever cared for her, though he was devoted to her, she knew they could never be lovers and needed more than he could ever give her. It hurt to be in love but it hurt more to miss it and know what it was like and not have it.

She was stuck between her own black pearl and the man she loved with all her soul.

Because she couldn't move on her own and he might see me and stop her she was frustrated, but there was nothing she could have been given that would help me against this slug-thing that was trying to absorb me into itself anyway.

She thought about what she needed to do next, how to help me and maybe save me if she could. She watched as it crawled under the roots towards me. She saw how much it hated me and she saw how the blood of the other, darker flowers fed it and made it hunger more at the same time They were flashing their own colors now, but blended all together they became a black hole that made the emptiness even blacker now.

It was too close and why the hell couldn’t I see it she shouted. Inside her head she was straining to warn me, wave her arms at me and cupping her hands to shout to me. She looked at Nemrul then, remembering he could see her but he must have been distracted because he never stirred in the least.

Then she got an idea. She started to smile at the simplicity of it, yet she knew it was the best way, they only way she could help me now. It was perfect and she knew that too, but it had to be, it was all she could think of and there was no time to be making mistakes now, trying new things would only lead to Nemrul being victorious and she knew she could not let him win, not this time.

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Graphic Novels
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Rating: 10.0/10

By this time, all the cards are on the table and everybody pretty much knows who is who and what is what. But not really!
A Word from the Writer
Thank you sincerely for your interest in my writing.
Published Date
11/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Published In
Publish America