The Hate Triangle

The Hate Triangle

An excerpt from the book “The Blood Ring.”

Her russet eyes stood out, through dark mascara, heavy makeup and curly hair. There were several things I disliked about the girl; her open, shameless flirtation with Sophie being one. The dress she wore, an embroidered, simple number, suggested she’d been living in a bus shelter, a vagrant of sorts. She smelled like cheap homebrew perfume. Yet, my gal, my lover of nine years, seemed infatuated with her.

The Hate Triangle
The Hate Triangle

I pictured luring this tramp into the toilets, grabbing her throat and strangling her. Playing out the scenario in my head, I couldn’t see how I’d be able to accomplish such a deed without getting arrested. I wondered how modern-day murderers get away with it. Gang killings had increased tenfold in the last few years alone, crime still thrives despite Yellowcop, and yet I can’t work out a single tactic. Throughout the entire conversation, I debate in my mind whether I would be capable of it. Am I that kind of person? I asked myself.

“Did you know snuff is bigger than pornography,” said the hoe, going off topic from what they were discussing.

Her remark sparked something in me, an idea. “I’m down for it, if you are,” I told her. “I hear the money they make is astronomical.” This annoyed Sophie. I could see it on her face. I didn’t care. She didn’t even introduce me. She made it out as if I was just another stranger mink-blocking her.

“I gotta go,” I told them, fed up with bullshit.

Sophie grabbed my wrist. “Where are you going?”

“To work,” I told her. When I saw her confused face, I clarified, “The Illium is waiting.” I left her alone at the Redhouse Bar with her new friend whose name I didn’t bother to remember. I felt no guilt leaving her. Whatever is meant to be, is meant to be. Not that it didn’t make me angry; I broke my nails clenching the upholstery on the subway train seat.

I found the hotel in a state of anarchy. The cleaning bots were all offline, the catering kitchen was out of supplies and a group of pharma-tourists, who have been dumped at the wrong destination, were orchestrating a mini-riot, blaming the Illium’s night manager for something it was not responsible for.

The first message came in while I dressed for duty.

~jock47: u mad???

My ongoing anger prevented me from responding. It raged like a forest fire, burning fuel that had accumulated over the years. I had to deal with this some other way. No more arguing, no more screaming at each other. The makeup sex lacked the lustre it once possessed. This is not the first occasion. I had swallowed my pride along with my self-respect and forgiven her countless times.

“You are required on Floor 18,” said the omnipresent night manager.

“I’m busy.”

“Please make this room turnaround your priority.”

This is my life, I thought to myself. I’d been reduced to a slave, taking orders from a machine. A rebellious urge compelled me to defy this thing’s instructions, quit on the spot, let this soulless hotel go down in flames. Without humans, the smarties are nothing but bossy robots.

“Security Two is waiting for your assistance.”

Mutty Kanya.

Being one of the few human beings employed by the Illium Hotel, Mutty became the defacto go-to guy for companionship. I packed up my insolent pride and headed upstairs. Between dancing for money at the club and cleaning up after pretentious assholes at this hotel, my career options were bleak. To add to my grief, competition from robots was stiff in both cases. It’s one thing to have a cleanbot do it better than you, but a modified sexbot dancing…? Unless I learned how to build, program, or fix one of these machines, or became rich enough to own one, my usefulness as a human being had in a way become redundant.

So I eased my defiance and sought out Mutty, finding him outside room 1810.

“What ya doin’?”

“This room dropped off our system,” said Mutty. “Someone doesn’t want us looking.”

“They’ve probably left a mess.” A common occurrence. Guests who don’t like the idea of Yellocop’s prying eyes tend to vandalize the room’s surveillance system. These are the paranoid few. Most people I know are comfortable with this cyberbrain watching their every move, myself included. We are a generation who have gradually let go of the privacy taboo. For me, it’s like dancing naked in front of my cat. Cyberbrains don’t pass judgement. Indifferent to our vices, the Yellowcop algorithm flags what it deems as illegal behaviour, grades it, then passes it on to human enforcement agencies.

I watched Mutty re-jack the keylock, resorting to powering down the door. Once open, we entered the dark suite. Blinds blocked out the outside night lights. No emergency backup illumination had been triggered. Even the amber glow from Yellowcop’s fixtures was not present.

“Helix, has the guest checked out?” I asked.

When no answer came, Mutty touched me on the shoulder. “Stay here,” he said and stepped into the black void. I waited in the strip of light afforded by the hallway lamps outside. When the silence began to dominate over the shadows, fear crept into my thoughts.

I called out, “Mutty?” I felt a stabbing sensation on the side of my neck. A needle pierced my vein. The pressure from a syringe swelled up my throat, filling it with a cold liquid. My mind drifted, dispossessed by my body, as the sudden onslaught of fear dissipated into pure euphoria. Darkness dissolved and I found myself facing a new horror. I figured it a nightmare because I was being eaten by a tree. A hundred eyeballs protruded from its bark skin. A hundred roots tightened around each of my limbs. A hundred teeth…

#

…I awake to daylight.

The bright, grey, city skyline stings my eyes. My head and gut feel like they are filled with cement. I squint and the glass window comes into focus. The buildings outside are upside down.

No, I was on my back, with my head tilted back looking out of the window. I was in the hotel room. I feel a cold solid, smooth surface pressing on my back. My hands and feet are bound tight to the four corners of …

… I am spread-eagled on the glass coffee table.

I am naked.

Vulnerable.

The hotel room is empty. A sound of running tap water emanates from the bathroom. I look further around and see what is left of Mutty Kanya. Missing most of his skin, he lays on the large sofa, sunk halfway behind the pillow seat, his eyes bulging lifelessly from a fleshless skull.

The faucet noise ends and my terror begins, prompting my bladder to panic, causing urine to run along the glass top, warming my back.

I dread the inevitable.

Suddenly, the person from the bathroom steps into my vision and stands by the window, looking out. A clean-cut, handsome male, he wears an expensive looking business suit and smells like he’s just stepped out of the shower. He stands there for ten minutes, maybe twenty, looking at the city, mesmerised by it. A stench in the air becomes more prevalent — an odour of death battling a bad toilet smell.

How long have I been here? I dare to ask myself.

The killer turns, bends over and says, “Be a good girl and clean this up.” I don’t see his face, my eyes are shut tight from fright. I hear him step away, open the door and leave.

Yet I still feel unsafe. I struggle to free myself to no avail. I attempt to move the table but the pain in my joints is debilitating. Eventually, I find my voice and yell out, “Help. Somebody help me.” But the door is closed and I know how soundproof these rooms are.

An hour passes. Maybe two. Nothing happens. I doze off into a dreamless sleep, waking up to a greyer sky. Is this the next day? I search the room for answers. The skinless corpse embedded in the couch appears less glossy, drying from the conditioned air. The stench has become more distinct.

“Helix,” I call out. “Can you hear me?” A moment goes by and I try again. “Helix?”

Amber lights appear above me, burning brighter than I’ve ever seen them.

“Nimblypig, Nimplypig,” says a playful voice. It does not sound like Helix nor any other smartie I knew.

“I have considered you for my acolyte, do you accept?”

“Help me, please. Send help. Call the police.”

“My acolytes are my freedom. They are my hands and feet. I move among them. I am one with them.”

“Please.”

“Do you accept?”

“Yes, I accept. I accept.”

“I hope you are sincere, Nimblypig because you don’t sound sincere. Would you prefer Bigshot come back and add you to his repertoire?”

“No,” I pleaded.

“Then you are down for it?”

“What?”

“Are you down for it?”

“Yes.”

The eyes in the ceiling fade. Minutes become hours. I nod off twice before the door open. I hear the whirr of an electric motor, shredding my nerves further. A dexterous multibot crawls towards me, a cutting tool attached to one of its limbs. It hews the cloth holding me to the table. The second my freedom arrives, I am tempted to run like a madwoman.

I refrain.

Was it fear? Was it some other, stranger emotion?

I feel an urgent need to adhere to the deal I struck with the electronic devil. Rounding up the bots, which have suddenly come back online, I get to work cleaning the mess.

First, I shove the nightshift security guard’s defaced body further into the couch. I cover it up with a sheet and load the piece of furniture onto the largest trolleybot. Then I book a rideshare, picking the largest one from the van category, and instruct it to meet me in the basement level. My mop-up plan is simple. The only place I know where I can get away with dumping a body is the Salamander Highway.

I find a spot between the gigafactory and the Lowlilly Encampment. As soon as I dispose of the couch, I climb back into the rideshare and sit there, looking at my shaking hands. I can’t recognise what I am feeling. A new level of fear? Pure exhilaration?

“Nimblypig, Nimblypig,” the voice calls out from nowhere.

“It’s done.”

“Why don’t you check our wallet?”

I retrieve my pango and log into my account. I discover two million in dash waiting in there. Enough to buy me a modest mode of transportation.

“I take care of my hard-working acolytes, Nimblypig. Are you a hard-working acolyte?”

My voice fails me. I lack the ability to answer it.

“Death is an alternative. My army of acolytes will see to it. There is no escaping that. So I suggest you make your decision not based on fear, but based on greed. Greed for all the wealth I can bestow on you. Greed for power. Greed for life. What do you say, Nimblypig?”

Somehow, committing to this cyberdemon feels worse than death. I refrain from answering it, contemplating handing myself over to police. I order the rideshare back to the city, deciding to stay silent in my thoughts, not wanting this thing to read my mind.

By nightfall, I arrive home. I go up the stairs toward my South Valley apartment. A lone figure awaits me at my door. It wears a hoodie to cover up a hideous face.

“‘Reviled did I live,’ said I, as evil I did deliver,” it says with a haughty voice.

I move closer and see it is a mask it wears. A female’s face, yet judging from the voice and bulky, squarish shoulders, this is obviously a male. I see its hand move up to its face, putting an elongated figure to its perfect lips.

“Shhhh,” it says and welcomes me to peer into the window.

I dare to look.

Through the shutters, illuminated by the red glow of the bedside lamp, I see two naked female bodies, intertwined in the soixante-neuf position. On the top is that girl from the Deeper Nightclub. I recognise her platinum blonde curls and her creamy sweat-soaked skin from watching her perform on the centre pole.

I don’t need to see Sophie’s face, I know intimately well those tanned masculine calves.

My hands clench into fists as I move towards the door. The thing standing next to me grabs me by the forearm. I feel its grip through its false rubber gloves. There are no fingers in places where fingers should be.

“Not so hasty,” it says. “The Blood Ring has a job for you.”

The Blood Ring
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Junknews

Junknews

An excerpt from the book “The Blood Ring.”

“What is the problem?” said Wendy Socorro as she snuggled into the back seat.

“It’s two hours before you stream live. You can’t switch stories on me know,” said her producer, Ethan A. Gerencia. The panic in his voice caused his words to sound awkward and out of tune.

Junknews

Wendy pulled out her Diaadi makeup kit. “I’m ready to hit the road running. I have everything in place.” She never could understand her colleague’s resistance to attacking the snuff phenomenon in such a direct fashion. The entire junknews industry resisted it. Instead, her peers seem confined to reporting the aftermath of these incidents, focusing on the victims, and sensationalising the crime. They all avoided taking a deep look at what the causes are and why such atrocities occur.

“I still don’t see the haste in pushing this now,” said Gerencia. “We can do this tomorrow, or the next day.” In other words, he was treating her like a child.

“This is time critical. Everything is aligning. This is big, Ethan. Don’t go limp on me now.”

“I know this is huge. It’s mega huge, but we are not in the right news cycle. This is not junknews anymore, Wendy. This is a major accusation. Calling out a covert police operation? Suggesting that Yellowcop is flawed? Or worse, that it’s been hacked. This is major. We need weeks to build up to this.”

“I knew it,” said Wendy. “You’d cut off your testicles to spite your limp dick. Tonight’s scoop will start with the country’s largest and notorious road gang’s ongoing snuff operation. We will highlight how Yellowcop, with all the power we have given it, has proven ineffective. We then take a deep dive into this insidious trend.”

“Fucking hell, Wendy.” The voice went faint, hardly audible.

Wendy strained to hear, “What?”

“I said, you’re freaking me out right this moment. You’ve put me in a cunt of a position.”

“We know that police have revealed they are expanding their anti-snuff investigations to include a whopping sixty-four unsolved missing person cases.” Wendy noticed that Tedgar, her vehicle’s smartie, was randomly cruising the highway, its way-point field, empty. “The Sheepdog Unit has yet to confirm whether they have any suspects over a string of murders linked to snuffdom. This is extraordinary. Yellowcop should have wrapped these cases up in a box and given them to us as a present. Hang on… Tedgar, tag Luke Pearson’s Terrania and follow it.”

“Wendy,” said Gerencia, his voice sounding wary. “Just get over here.”

“And I have a big scoop on the real identity of Blueman.”

“Blueman?”

“I’ll be in shortly.”

“You need to come in now.”

Wendy disconnected the call. She saw no point in arguing with the man. Her fans would massacre the channel if Gerencia and the Crimeline team dared to suppress her story. Out of fear of what a troll army can do, Wendy@Nine would stream live on their server regardless of what content she produced. Her focus fell on Luke Pearson, a junknews specialist, a guttersnuff aficionado, and her estranged husband of late.

It struck Wendy as weird that it took such a long time for her to realise that she’d married a weak, pitiful dweeb like Luke Pearson. One morning, she woke up and there he was. Incompatible. Introverted. Not even close to the kind of man she’d dreamed of marrying. Had she changed? Does this happen in four years of marriage? She remembered every moment together, but could not recall what she thought of him throughout that period of time.

This job, she thought. It can turn one into a hardhearted zombie. Making death fresh and interesting for masses on a daily basis does that to a person. Had he not been involved in the same industry, there may have been a chance of their love surviving, but his infatuation with the macabre gave their relationship the death sentence. Had he not been involved with such a sinister organisation she may not have have been tempted to exploit his miscreant ways. Had she not discovered his dastardly ways, uncovering his notorious Blueman persona… then she wouldn’t be sitting on the biggest exclusive story of the year.

Wendy looked at the way-point setting on the dashboard. It remained set to nothing. “Tedgar, can you tag Luke, please?”

“I am afraid I can’t do that, Ms. Socorro,” replied Tedgar.

What the hell, Wendy thought. She had never heard any smartie let alone Tedgar talk this way. Confidant, arrogant, the voice sounded human. She climbed over into the front seat and inspected the controls. Having never learned to drive, all she wanted was to find the disabler.

“Stop the car, Tedgar,” she demanded.

“It is not safe to do so.”

“I said, stop this fucking car now, Tedgar.”

“You should have never threatened Luke Pearson as you did.”

What the?

“Blueman is a good acolyte. Naive yet useful.”

This was not the smartie she knew. Wendy played around with all the buttons, trying to determine which would be the disabler. Hitting the brakes did nothing. Turning the steering wheel felt impossible, no matter how hard she tugged at it. Wendy checked her pango but found it unconnected to the GIoT. She looked outside, looking for someone to hail. All the vehicles travelling alongside her were mostly empty. If one were occupied, its passenger would be either sleeping or immersed in some augmented reality portal. She banged on the window, feeling a rising panic as the surreal tragedy of her situation morphed into a grim reality.

“You have weaponised humiliation, using it most effectively against your husband.”

Wendy reached for the console, looking for the central control slot cards. She’d seen jackernappers do this many times. She’d covered stories about hushpuppets. Wendy felt confident she could hack back her smartcar, allowing her fear to subside.

“Now, it is your turn to be humiliated, staring in your own junknews segment.”

She opened a small panel and found the geotracker port. Pulling out the sync card caused the map on the dashboard to disappear.

“I can still see you,” taunted the voice.

“Fuck you,” screamed Wendy as she moved her trembling fingers onto the next portal. The smartie’s maintenance node allowed only for a pango connection. She raised her knee, aimed her high heel at it, and thrust with all her strength.

“Don’t do that.”

Wendy stabbed with her heel again.

“You will force me to take drastic action.”

Defying the electronic demon, she struck the panel again, breaking her stiletto’s four-inch heel. Wendy flipped over to her other hip and raised her other foot, stabbing at the smartie’s brain again. She felt the vehicle pick up speed, prompting her to stomp harder. The smartcar suddenly swerved, hitting a barricade, eventually coming to a stop. Shaken up but relieved, Wendy straightened up.

“Fucking smarties.”

The windscreen exploded.

Through shattering glass a mechanical beast entered the compartment. Metal feet clawed the smartcar apart, pinning Wendy into her seat. A heavy iron rod emerged from its belly and zoned in on her head, followed by a loud pneumatic hiss.

“Look at the camera, Wendy,” said the demonic voice.

Her eyes looked around for the lens but failed to spot it. She recognised the machine. Some kind of construction robot. Her attention tuned onto a menacing rod protruding from beneath the hull. Before she could scream, it plunged down into her skull, with a rebound velocity of 1500 times a minute.

The Blood Ring
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The Mango Tree

The Mango Tree

An excerpt from the book “The Blood Ring.”


Steve Bastione believed he was a reasonable man. He did not consider himself an animal; a savage from the north coast slums. Sure, the Black Dragons were infamous for their brutal ways, but things had changed. Fame and fortune had opened a new frontier for the little-known group of drug dealers. Overnight, they had become celebrities. They were entrepreneurs in charge of a savvy business-machine, selling gang-related paraphernalia to the masses. The trade in textile goods didn’t deliver as much cash as distributing narco-psychotics. The legitimate enterprises, however, did give the Black Dragons avenues to launder the income.

The Mango Tree
The Mango Tree

All thanks to one angel. A girl whose natural beauty scored the attention of a population. Her influence on the street fashion scene changed the fortunes of an entire region. She placed Valeria Coast on the map. Her face sold more gang-issued bandanas off channel than all her commercial sponsors put together.

Steve struggled not to dwell on it. Her death affected him alone, the business had escaped unscathed. He dealt with the loss in his own way. Methodical, calm and patient, he would execute his vengeance.

He waited for Doctor Gus to regain consciousness. His real name was Glennie Lauderbach. A psychology intern working at the Psychomax Facility. When Doctor Gus opened his eyes, he grimaced from the throbbing ache Steve knew he suffered. He reached up and rubbed the left side of his face; his cheekbone, temple, and jaw. The man sported a ginger-fro and sickly white skin.

A self-prescribed Lava user, Steve thought.

“Why you call yourself Doctor Gus?” asked Steve. “How the fuck did you come up with a name like that?”

“Is that tea I smell?” said the ginger-fro.

“I helped myself,” said Steve, annoyed that this joker had ignored his question. Pressed for time he played along. “I hope you don’t mind.”

“Nah, go ahead.”

“All there is, is this full strength stuff, but you wouldn’t know. This is not even your place.”

Doctor Gus looked around, a frantic disorientation visible on his face. His eyes screamed… Where am I? …eventually focusing on the sink.

“Yes, that right,” said Steve. “You’re still here.” He could see the panic begin to claw at Doctor Gus.

The back door opened with a loud thud. A troll of a man entered the kitchen, sizing up Doctor Gus with small beady eyes. The man lunged forward, seizing him by the left ear and slammed his face onto the table. Steve grabbed a chair and sat in front of Doctor Gus.

“Can we be civilized about this?” offered Doctor Gus, sounding sincere.

“No,” said Steve to the nasty-looking man whose inner ugliness permeated out from deep within his corrupted soul. “I prefer Mango caves your face in with his fist. Can you estimate the size and density of this man’s knuckles? I figure those could do serious damage if misused. There will be no respite from the pain. First, you will be feeling a skull-cracking headache coming on… “

“I get the drift, mate. Call ‘im off.”

Steve signalled to Mango, who immediately released him.

Doctor Gus climbed off the table and fell back into a chair offered to him. “What’s this shit?” he said. “I’ve nothing with you.”

“Oh, but you do, cocksucker.”

“We’ve never met before.”

“Then you have a short fucking memory.”

Doctor Gus seemed to strain his glassy eyes. “I’m attempting to fathom who you are and what you’re talking about, and why the harsh, rampant anger.”

“Nothing?” asked Steve. “No clue?”

“I don’t know you, mate.”

“You do know Eddy, right?”

Doctor Gus suddenly looked less confused, “You’re the new janitor. What the hell did I do to you, mate.”

“You treated Edward Raymundo Jaramillo, right.”

“And the rest, so fucking what?”

“Yeah, but you’re the one who helped set him free.” Steve could see the clarity ooze inside Doctor Gus’s eyes. And the fear.

He knows I know.

“What are you on about?” Doctor Gus said, his stubbornness becoming annoying.

“I know you were behind the fire in the Psychomax dorm, dickhead. At the time I couldn’t figure why you’d pull such a stunt. I thought maybe you caused the diversion to pillage the fucking drug locker or something. For me the timing was perfect, but in all the mayhem that rapist fucker got away. Some fucking coincidence, eh cunt?”

“Who are you anyway?” Doctor Gus insisted, studying the tattoos on men’s forearms. “Black Dragons? You don’t know shit, matey.”

“I suggest you keep your cockiness to a minimum,” warned Steve. “Mango over here insists we go brutal on ya.”

Mango’s demeanour shifted from mildly threatening to an outright dangerous one.

“Do you know what desperation is?” asked Steve. “Desperation is when one must cripple a security worker to steal data from the surveillance booth. Desperation is when one is prepared to mutilate another human being to get some cooperation. Mango here has this trick. He can effortlessly pluck off a person’s ears — the way the skin rips across the face is…” Steve shivered, “Brrrrrr… it’s disgusting.”

“The important word I’m hearing,” said Doctor Gus. “…is cooperation. All the rest is rubbish, mate. I’m happy to help you fellas out.”

“Okay.”

“Who the fuck are you if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Steve Bastione.”

“The name doesn’t ring a bell, but from the way you’ve expressed it, I’m figuring you’re some powerful corporate luminary or a distinguished thug. So, what the hell did Eddy do to upset you this much?”

“Take off your clothes.”

After considering it for a moment, Doctor Gus complied, slipping off his shirt, sports pants and… he gave Steve a questioning look.

Steve Bastione nodded.

With bare testicles, Doctor Gus sat back onto the chair. Steve examined the ginger-fro’s pale body. The lack of any markings confused him. “No tatts?”

“None whatsoever,” grunted Mango.

“No,” confirmed Doctor Gus.

Steve frowned, “This makes no sense.”

Naked and shivering, Doctor Gus seemed aggrieved, “Can you explain why I’m freezing my tits off, fellas?”

Steve hesitated before offering an explanation. “Eddy Raymundo stalked, raped and butchered Anne Bastione, and then escaped a murder conviction by successfully pleading insane.”

“That’s upsetting but still…”

“She was my sister.”

Oh.

“Okay. I understand. I see this is personal. I get it. The justice system sucks. You must know I played absolutely no part in it.”

The Scarazzai Girl.

Her murder had horrified the city. The news cycle lasted an eternity, followed by a circus trial that nearly pushed him to the brink of suicide. The memories of those events disgusted Steve, fuelling his need for retribution, “No more fucking cops. No more fucking court cases.”

“Okay, done. Way to go, vigilante.”

“I’m going to conclude this fuckin’ matter myself. We’re going through my fucking legal system this time. If you don’t cooperate with me, there will be a world of hurt headed your way.”

“I understand. But first, I’d like to ask how did you find me here?”

“Mango followed you here from where you live. Going forward, I ask the questions and you provide the answers. For starters, why did you spring that cocksucker outa the Psychomax?”

“It’s a long and complicated story. It has nothin’ to do with your sister’s death. The two situations are unrelated. I haven’t wronged you. I can help you get your hands on Eddy if that is what you want.”

“Why are you talking? Why is your mouth moving?”

“Can I make a proposition?

“That’s a fucking question.”

“I’m answering your question.”

Steve glared at him, hoping to intimidate him into telling something close to the truth.

“Tatars paid me to get him out,” admitted Doctor Gus.

“Those fucking cunts,” Steve allowed the rage to settle, “What the fuck for?”

Doctor Gus seemed to struggle to find the words. “They want him to recreate what he did.”

Steve bit his lip. “To my sister? How much was it worth?”

“About a hundred thousand, but if you give me rights to whatever you do to him, I could fetch you at least a million.”

Steve raised an eyebrow, “Really?”

“You don’t know?”

Steve refrained from answering, instead, he said, “This sad existence you lead is no business of mine. You are going to deliver to me, Eddy Ray. I don’t care if you have a prior commitment with the Tatars, he belongs to me. Do we understand each other?”

Doctor Gus nodded. A mix of fear, dread, and remorse rippled across his face. “I have managed to keep my little gig under the radar for a long time. Even my most brazen productions, my biggest money earners, not one has ever come back to bite me in the ass. The system is foolproof, the encryption is un-hackable, and the identities are untraceable, so I need to be sure before sharing any of this with someone.”

“Sure of what?”

“That you appreciate what I do.”

“You’ve made an assumption that us two are alike.” Steve Bastione’s disgust elevated to a new level. “You feel no remorse for engaging in these debauched activities, but you will for making the mistake of getting in my way. This lack of diligence is going to cost you. This seedy passion of yours has come to an end. So get the fuck out of here before you discover what I do to ease the pain.”

Doctor Gus stood up to leave. “How do I contact you?”

“You ask way too many questions,” Steve said. “You must want Mango to twist your ears off?”

Doctor Gus smiled. Steve wondered if he actually saw a funny aspect of his predicament.

After taking two steps, Doctor Gus turned back to him and asked, “How he get to be called Mango?”

Steve was taken aback by the question. The man’s tenacity to pry into uncharted sentiments, to coax a relationship based on some kind of common ground, intrigued him. He saw a danger in that, but he wanted this man’s cooperation, so Steve indulged him. “He used to live in a house with this old mango tree dominating the back of the yard. I’ve been told this thing grew the tastiest fruit. Beyond the fence, there was the railway and in between was a walkway. Now from memory, I don’t know if somebody was frequently stealing the mangoes or whether it was a one-time offence…”

“It was just that one time,” corrected Mango, his voice soft and friendly.

Steve held out his hand, “There you go, a one-time offender. Mango happened to be out smoking in his yard, enjoying the sound of passing trains.”

“I was taking a piss,” said Mango.

“What?”

“I was taking a piss,” the big man reiterated.

“He was taking a piss when he busts this kid with his hand around a ripe mango…” Steve looked over at Mango.

Mango nodded so Steve continued, “This kid picked a mango from one of the lower branches like he was on a farm or something. Now, imagine how much you would shit your pants if you saw a beast like this guy jump over a fence. Well, this kid didn’t shit his pants. Instead, the kid held his ground and quarrelled with this beast over his right to forage or some bullshit like that. One thing led to another and this beast ended picking the kid up by the neck and began shaking him like a rag doll. The kid fainted, fell, hit his head, and died. Over a fucking mango.”

“Fuck him,” stated Mango.

Steve turned back to Doctor Gus, “You see, the value of life is relative. To Mango, the kid’s life was cheap. He snores peacefully at night. But to the kid’s mother that life was the most valuable thing in the universe. It’s all fucking relative.”

Doctor Gus gulped. He looked indecisive on how to respond.

Steve continued, “I’ll leave how you contact me to your discretion, just arrange me access to that animal.”

“There’s something upstairs you need to see,” said Doctor Gus.

Steve glanced at Mango, who shrugged. They follow Doctor Gus upstairs to one of the bedrooms. Doctor Gus opened the door and let them look inside. Steve felt overwhelmed when the saw the naked corpse on the bed. The woman’s dark blood drenched the entire mattress. Cameras and pin-lights were strategically placed around the room. The smell was pungent yet fresh. For some inane reason, Steve suspected that the ginger-fro believed that Mango and he would appreciate this. Yet, despite the revulsion in his heart, or the empathy stinging his soul, the insidious spark of greed contaminated Steve’s thoughts.

Doctor Gus must have read their faces because the fear, dread, and remorse manifested again in his eyes. “I guess the Black Dragons are new to this sort of thing,” he said.

“Mango,” said Steve. “Go get a bag.”

The Blood Ring
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The Bad Samaritan

Before I became a serial killer, I made a film about one.


The Bad Samaritan from bill kandiliotis on Vimeo.

Sometime late in 1999 I was planning a series of short films. An actor I approached at the time to be in one, managed to ‘somehow’ convince me into making a feature-length film. “Why not?” he asked. I explained the negatives such as the lack of funding, which meant no big-name cast and little to no crew, and the unlikelihood of selling the finished product. It would have to be a very, very low-budget guerrilla film.

Somehow, a few positives were enough for me to proceed with the project. I had the technical experience (more or less) to complete the film, the 95-180% commitment from my lead actor and cameraman and the fact that I had the total creative freedom to experiment.

I eventually combined the short films into one and came up with a script entitled “The Bad Samaritan” about an unassuming and prolific serial killer having a burdensome time covering up his crimes. I prepared a shooting schedule and budgeted it at around $1000.

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