Jar’s eyes rattle around in his head like a slot machine, his heart beats quickly in his chest, and he struggles for a breath, as he, like the rest, try to make sense of the moments that just took place. He forces himself up, from the ground and quickly grabs Marilyn, pulling her to her feet.
“Are you okay?” He asks, gently running his hands through her hair, resting them on her shoulders, squeezing them.
“I think so,” she says softly, looking over, towards Sonia’s body, she jumps in fright, clutching hold of Jar tightly, as the apartment’s door slowly opens, on its own.
“What the fuck?” Jones says, nervously pulling a cigarette from a packet and lighting it, his eyes close as he draws in a deep, long drag, then they shoot open again, he lets the smoke release, and repeats his question. “What the fuck?”
“Don’t ask me,” Jar replies as he crouches over Sonia’s body and closes her blank, empty eyes.
Jimmy clears his throat as he raises his hand awkwardly into the air, and all eyes fall on him. “Isn’t it obvious? That thing, whatever it is, is our killer, is this Roundhead character,” he says. “It’s like it’s using the story as a way to bridge a doorway into our world, you know, using the power of the people reading it, or sharing it, to give it the ability to cross over.”
“Did you hit your fucking head back there?”
“My head’s fine, besides being a little rattled. But anyway, I’m just repeating what Towns wrote. It’s all on the blog, the whole idea behind the story, and he’s got notes, shit loads of them, before I came across the second chapter that’s what me and Clarke were looking at, it’s actually quite fascinating, if you think about it.””
“I can’t see this ever being fascinating,” Jar says, he looks at Marilyn and can see the panic in her eyes, he flashes her a reassuring smile, but they both know, they are out of the depths.
“Seriously? Some hack writer tells the future in a short story and gets it right, but not just right, he gets it dead on, word for word? And you say it’s not fascinating?”
“Right now I couldn’t give a good god damn fuck about the story, what I care about is how the fuck are we supposed to deal with this thing? We don’t have the man power or the capabilities, and to make it worse, no one will ever believe a fucking word of what just happened,” Jones says.
“Manpower isn’t what we need, the story is the key, while it’s out there it’s giving that thing its strength, the more people who read it and pass it on, the more power it gains. What we need to do is delete the story, wipe it from the net all together, stop people sharing it, reading it, and in theory, it should stop it,” Jimmy says.
“That’s impossible, you said it’s been shared millions of times, over multiple networks. There’s no way in the world we’d be able to take it all down, not easily, anyway,” Marilyn says.
“That’s where you’re wrong, if I had a pen I’d draw it for you, but all we need to worry about is the original post. You see, all the shares go back to the original, they don’t post the story itself, they just share the link, so, all we have to worry about is the blog post, and, maybe the blog as well. See, I was reading the second chapter, and only the first chapter’s been released, so it’s safe to say he’s scheduled the whole thing to be posted over the next few days, all the way up to Halloween, like the blog says. What we need to do is stop the posts, delete them completely, and that should technically kill its power source, once and for all. I think anyway, I mean, I’m just throwing shit at a fan right now, so, I don’t know.”
“Which takes us back to the earlier question of you hitting your head, because right now you sound crazier than those religious nut jobs that picket abortion clinics,” Jones says.
“Considering we’re dealing with a killer from a story, that’s coming to life and killing the people who are reading the story, about them being killed, in the story. I wouldn’t be wasting time, asking about my sanity, not when the real question is, what else’ve we got that could explain what we just saw?” Jimmy says, they all stare at him, and then all eyes fall on Jones.
“What? It sounds crazy, I’m not….” a plumpish man in his mid thirties bursts into the apartment, cutting Jones off before he can continue.
“Holy fuck!” he yells. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, really I am, but you’ve got to take a look at this, you’ve got to take a fucking look,” he yells as he holds his phone out towards them. “This just aired on Serbian national TV and it’s gone viral,” he says as he presses play.
“Good evening, I am Olga Branković, and thank you for joining us for this special bulletin. Tonight, we see a world locked in terror, as, over two million victims around the world have been claimed by, what police are saying, is a well-organised, highly sophisticated terrorist attack. Reports of these brutal and savage attacks, that are being referred to as ‘The Roundhead Murders’, are being recorded from every continent, across the globe. Right now I am joined by ex-chief police inspector Aleksandar Kasun, author of the book, ‘In their eyes he sees’. In his book Aleksandar talks to fifteen of the world’s most brutal mass murders, as he journeys along with these people, trying not only to understand why they became what they are, but to understand why they did, what they did. Aleksandar, thank you for joining us,” Olja says.
“Thank you Olja, I wish I could say it was a pleasure to be here, but on this day, a day where the cloud of darkness has dropped over, not only Serbia, but the entire world, I cannot say that I am.”
“Can I start by asking the one question that’s on everyone’s mind, what’s the reason for these brutal and senseless killings?”
“Well Olja, I, like many of the general public have been watching these extremely disturbing events play out, and I too have questions, like they do. But, I, also have answers, you see, I am blessed, not only to of had the experiences I had while writing my books, but also, with over fifty years as an officer in Serbia’s Police Force. So, my first question would be, who could organise such decisive, and elaborate attacks? Attacks where the victims have included, not only your carefree, average, everyday civilians, but, also, politicians, movie stars and other prominent people in our society. You see, our killers, and I say killers, because there is no other answer, our killers, have amassed an obviously large underground sleeper sect that have managed to somehow burrow themselves into every aspect of the worlds populated areas, waiting, until such a time that their organization decided to activate them, and this Roundhead story seems to be the perfect cover, but….”
“That’s bullshit and you know it!” A voice yells out from across the studio.
“Please, Professor Milovanović, your turn to participate in this conversation will happen soon,” Olja says as the camera swerves around and focuses on Milovanović.
“I’m not going to stand here and listen to his hog-wash, this isn’t the work of some sleeper cell mumbo jumbo shit, or terrorists. This is something, something older than time itself, before man, using technology against us, making our strengths, our weaknesses. This is a beast from the bowls of our imagination, that’s been given form and now feeds on us all, driven by it’s jealousy of what we are, and it’s need to claim our world as its own. Can’t you see? It’s so clearly evident from the murders that’ve already taken place, that no imaginary sect could pull off such brutal, violent attacks in such a short time frame, no matter how well organised. My research paper on the beast of bedlam covered such a story, in twelve thousand BC this beast carved its name across the lands as it rode on the coat tails of a story that was passed from village to village and then town to town. Look at the name it chooses now, this Roundhead name was given to it by some writer on his blog and then when it was ready, it made him spread it to the world, gorging itself on all who shares it’s story, taking their souls, their sins, into itself, making it stronger, as it breaks free of the bindings that hold it. This silly, insane belief that there is a group of numbskulls running around murdering everyone is ridiculous. The beast has returned and this time it will take everything from us, because we’ve built a world where there is no distance, there is no sea, there’s no part of this planet I cannot reach with social media, and once the beast is full, we will all pay!”
“You call me insane, listen to your own words, you’re the one who’s insane!”
“Then I dare you to share the story!”
He marches up to the desk and slams a tablet on the table, “I dare you to sign into whatever social media site you like, and share the beast’s story.”
“You’re mad, I will not be bullied into something as silly as this,” Aleksandar says as he launches himself up from his seat.
“Why? Because you know I’m right? Because you fear the beast?”
“This is absurd, if it will stop your ramblings,” he says as he grabs the tablet and quickly signs into his Facebook account, easily finding a shared copy of the story and shares it to his page, then slams the tablet down. “Come on then beast, come and eat my soul!” He laughs as he stretches out his arms, looking around the room and then back at Milovanović. “I think maybe, your beast is…. i-i-is….” Standing a few feet away from Aleksandar, is a pale, lifeless woman, staring towards him, with cold, dead eyes.
“The beast answers all who call, and so all humanity will fall, as the beast grows stronger and the cage grows weak, prepare yourself for the beast, for soon it will be here to feast, on your flesh and your soul, so say its name while you can, for soon, it will be too late!” And then, the woman disappears, and everyone sits, in silence, staring at where she was standing.
“T-T-Tell me you got that?” Olja yells.
“I got it, I got it,” the cameraman yells back.
Milovanović grabs the camera, and stares down the barrel, “I told you it was real, the mark of the beast has been made, and now it comes for the foolish, we must stop the story, freeze it in place, Javier make the phone call, don’t hesitate, do it now!” He yells.
“You made me do it, you tricked, tricked, tric…..” Aleksandar is suddenly hoisted up, into the air, then slammed into the desk as the beast lets out a deafening roar. It storms forward, and swipes widely at Milovanović, severing his throat, he falls to his knees, choking on his own blood, his eyes, wide with horror, as the beast looks down at him, with its endless, black, soulless eyes and lets out another roar of defiance.
“I told you before, it’s my story not yours, I’ll keep coming for you, so run, run little man, but, you’ll never win!” It screams as it drives its massive fist down, and the video ends.
They all stand there, with their mouths open and then all look to Jar.
“Don’t look at me, I don’t fucking know the guy, seriously,” he says, looking at Jones.
“Get the fucking number for the company that runs this fucking WordPress site and get them to take it down, delete it from existence, before the next chapter of this fucking story is posted.”
Jar pulls his phone from his jacket and frantically types information into it, several seconds pass, as he waits, the screen lights up and he groans, “Fuck, it’s all email shit, no direct contact numbers for any actual person…. Wait, hold on, I think I’ve got one,” he says pressing a number on the screen, the phone takes a few moments before it finally begins to start ringing, going straight through to an automated answering service. “Fuck,” he mutters as he waits for the message to guide him onto the next stage, it takes another few minutes of him thumping buttons and answering questions, that at several points, lead him back to the beginning, until, finally, he has another human on the other end of the line.
“This is Sarah from Automatic support, what’s the nature of your problem?”
“Sarah, my name’s Detective Inspector Javier Toddard from the Sydney Special Investigations Unit based at Sydney City Local Area Command, identification number RDG-five-six-seven-eight-four, I need to talk to someone about taking down one of your blogs?”
“Without a warrant detective, if you are truly who you say you are, there is no information or assistance I can give you,” she replies, he darts a look at Jones.
“They need a warrant?”
“Give me five minutes, and get me their fax number,” Jones says as he searches through his contacts and selects a number, seconds later the phone is answered “Judge Turvell, sorry for the interruption. Yes sir, I know it’s late, but I need a warrant to access the WordPress account of a Marty Towns, the company who hold the account won’t give us access without one. No, it can’t wait a few hours.” More minutes pass, as Jar relays the fax number to Jones, and then Jones onto Turvell. “Thanks George, I’ll explain the nitty-gritty stuff later, but, trust me, you won’t believe it,” he says as he hangs up the phone and nods towards Jar.
“It should be coming through now,” Jar says.
“Please hold the line while I go and check the machine,” she says as she places the phone on hold, music plays and Jar darts a look to Marilyn again, she meets his gaze, letting out a cold shiver, and gives him another, fake smile.
“Okay, Detective Toddard, I have the warrant, I’m sorry about that, but we do have procedures that must be followed. Now, how can I assist you with Mister Towns’ account?”
“Shut it down, permanently!”
“Yes, did I stutter? I said permanently. I want it gone, as in, I want none of the posts or scheduled posts, or any of the other shit that comes with this site, to exist anymore.”
“There is no need to be rude, I’ll put a takedown notice in place and contact the user.”
“That’s not going to be possible, the user’s dead, just take the site down, now!”
“I’m sorry Detective, but we have procedures in…..”
“I don’t give a fuck about your procedures, take the site down, NOW! Or the next warrant you’ll see will be the one for your arrest for obstructing a major police investigation!”
“I-I, of course, I’ll take it down,” Sarah says, he can hear the fear in her voice.
“How long will it take before its offline?”
“It will be immediate.”
“That’s what I wanted to hear,” he says as he hangs up the phone and looks at Jones. “Okay, sites down, now what do we do, hold our dicks?”
“No, we get Jimmy and Clarke here to collect up every hard drive, flash disc and whatever else they can find, get them back to the labs, and make a start on sifting through all this shit before my team arrive in the morning, we’re going to make sure this thing stays dead!”
Go HERE to read part 4.
All artwork by Yazgar, check his stuff out when you can!