31 October 2008

The Devil's Advocates by Ivor W. Hartmann





Eyes Only

In terms of the Information Umbrage Act. All unauthorised viewers (confessed, intimated or not disproved) of this document are liable for instant execution.

O Royal Emperor, Most Exalted, Ruler of the Seven Seas, Master of All.

The contents (sealed after these words of introduction), have been painstakingly pieced together from ancient data records. These records handed down the ages as inert sacred relics of another era, were preserved somewhat unwittingly, yet propitiously, by our order. After recognising that the relics were, in fact, ancient data storage devices, it has taken us fifty long years to reconstruct the technology, necessary to access them. Whilst the records are severely damaged, I do believe there is enough surviving, coherent content, to discern the nature of the events described. I alone, have been witness to the full deciphered transcripts, and will gladly stop even mine own heart, should the Emperor want to expunge all record of these blasphemous tracts.

I await in secrecy and silence for your divine instruction.


Your most humble dog.

Ben Ajido

Master Archivist

Order of the Dying Crane

The 105th Year of Our Lord Emperor

{Data block Alpha: sector: 234G563} {Transcript begins}

{Unrecoverable cycle redundancy check error: Break in transcript}

'You know me. You know my names. I am the one inside who stares from behind those eyes, that startling stranger you find in the mirror, the one who transfixes and cuts to marrow. In one million mirrors around the world, you deny me my existence, hastily averting your gaze from the undeniable truth, that lurks within you. However, occasionally you look and see, nay demand, impetuously, my presence, then I return to the palace of the heart's perfection. Home where I belong inside your skin, wandering amongst your innermost secret, tangled, and twisted thoughts.'

'Yes, that's all very well your honour, but if we may continue? I place into evidence the relevant condensations of the victims, as compiled and edited by the court appointed quantum seer, Philias Nostrum. May you all please log on to file XRe135B, presentation package for the prosecution. Everyone synchronised? Your honour, if you will please commence the evidential showing at your convenience.'

John James Rote was a forgettable quiet man. Later, when people had occasion to talk about him, at the very least they could all agree on that. He was the kind of man that was never affectionately or otherwise, nicknamed as a J, JJ or Jr. As a schoolchild, he was the one they always put in the outfield, or on the far boundary. There he would idle away the game staring at passing clouds, or watching the progress of a nearby ants nest. His grades were never bad but never great either. As far back as he could remember, he felt as if he was waiting for some great event that would signal, the beginning of his Real life. Was it sex, cigarettes, driving, fist fighting, leaving home, having a job, a house, a mortgage, a wife, a child? With the passing of each one of these social objectives, he kept striving for the next one, the one that would make it all seem. Real. All his life he had been patient, believing each day brought him closer, to that unspecified but glorious day. Such was his conviction that when the day finally dawned, it held no surprises for him. Just a serene steady confidence that all his life had indeed prepared him for this day, this hour, this specific moment out of all the others, he had endured. The day he woke up feeling Real.

{Break in transcript}

'Suddenly Mr. Rote had a gun in his hand and he calmly pointed it at Mr. Granger' Miss Ellen Washburg Witness #23 for the prosecution.

{Break in transcript}

'Some might think me evil, but that would be a mistake on their part, for when has nature ever been, single sided. No. Nature is a ruthless organism of efficient opportunity. Maybe that is one of the answers that you seek here; you have forgotten what actually bestows you life.'

{Break in transcript}

Iwao Tanaka had bad dreams that became waking nightmares. He cried softly in his elbow-space room in the throbbing heart of Osaka's Old Minami district, where he lay tightly curled upon his tatami mat. Frozen in fear of what would happen, if he allowed his limbs any small measure of freedom. Such was his rabid consternation, that he had undertaken this position, for four days straight. The fifth was just now beginning to light a single tiny window, which overlooked the street of restaurants below. In a mess of sweat, vomit, urine and shit, he lay clenched in his deathly embrace. Willing with all his fading might, not to leap in obedience to the commanding images, which racked his mind and body. There on the table. He could just see the bevelled handle that led to twelve inches, of cold, keen, steel. How he longed to caress his face with its burnished length, to cool the sicknesses of his soul that radiated, from his burning skin. However, that was one-step on the path to the end, and as he lay staring up at the brightening square of light, he no longer saw any other possible course, nor outcome.

{Break in transcript}

'It was only when my mother turned to me covered in blood, that I saw Mr. Tanaka standing behind her, he was, [witness cries into handkerchief] smiling, while, savagely slicing into, a young mother and her baby.' Kyoko Nakamura Witness #294 for the prosecution.

{Break in transcript}

'Yes, when three or more gather in anyone's name, this may, if the circumstances are propitious, lead to widespread, lasting, and subtle energetic relationships. Still you cannot see the purpose I serve, nor why I can call you my home. How much longer can you deny? What is writ in such large letters, upon the very fibre of your being? There is much you dare to presume based, on so small a piece of the puzzle you have uncovered.'

{Break in transcript}

Nailah Darwish checked the straps holding the wrapped layers of C4, wires and fuses that covered his chest and back. Making sure the prime detonator was disconnected he picked up a dead man's switch. Grasping it firmly he observed the light flash green, and heard the detonator ping in response. Letting it go, the light flashed red, and he felt a tiny solenoid click from the detonator, just above his heart.

Looking into the gloom beyond, he saw the flash of a TV in the next underground chamber, reflected against the rough walls. That would be his final goodbye they were watching, he thought, and smiled inwardly to himself. Yes, he had said the words and actually believed them, but faith was not the only force, that drove him happily onwards. Just then, he heard a low booming rumble, as a train shot by overhead in the transit tunnels above. How appropriate it felt, to be in the belly of the beast, as he assembled the means for the beast's destruction. He clipped the switch to one of the straps, and shrugged on a well-worn green army jacket. He turned, picked up two Thermos flasks, and deposited each in an opposite jacket pocket with a grunt of effort. His stomach gave a long low growl and he patted it fondly, as one would, a well-trained animal. Hastily from a sudden pang of guilt, he kissed the rosary crucifix that hung about his neck, and mumbled a prayer in atonement, for his thoughts of pride.

'From what we have attained in reviewing the extensive evidence. It is evident that Mr. Darwish ingested some two litres, of enriched Californium251 slurry, We also believe he had, in addition to the formidable explosive vest, been surgically operated on to place more explosives, internally. The end result being, that Mr. Darwish was effectively converted into a 20 kiloton dirty nuclear explosive device, which detonated at 11:11am on September 11th, nearly 900m high atop the worlds tallest building, the Burj Dubai Skyscraper' Dr. Al Gerome, CSI witness #608 for the prosecution.

{Break in transcript}

'You do not know how much I truly admire you, how sweet are the battles we rage every day, as you valiantly without reserve try to resist, the temptations I lay before you.'

{Break in transcript}

Morgiane Henries frowned and yet felt nothing, but the fading echoes of emotion. She slammed shut the boot of the car holding a bulky plastic rubbish bag at her side. She quickly scanned the area, but there was only her on the lonely rural road. A light wind rustled the stark trees around in the weak sun, of a midwinters afternoon. Abruptly she stalked off the cambered road, down into the tree line, until she could no longer glimpse the road or car. She quickly stripped naked and heaped it all on a patch of bare earth. From the bag, she took out a slim can of lighter fluid, a box of matches, and placed them to one side. Upending the bag, several sets of different-sized and gendered, ripped and blood-drenched clothes, shoes, and socks, dropped on top the pile. After the flames had died and ashes were thrown to the wind, she returned furtively to the car. For the longest time she sat slumped low, staring at her own reflection in the passenger side mirror. She absently scratched at the dried bloody smear on her forehead, but her focus was her own eyes, and the stranger, smiling back. Morgiane was now nearly devoid of all emotion but the barest echo, to which she clung as desperately as Beethoven, to the last note he ever truly heard. It was only an obviously appreciative honking of a passing car, which goaded her into dragging on a pair of grey baggy gym sweats.

{Break in transcript}

'Mrs. Henries aka. The Chameleon is still at large, as are the heads of her last eight families. She is, we believe, the first serial killer to change her appearance not only with cosmetic surgery after each crime, but also through black market gene technologies, her very DNA signature. Given the twenty three victims that we know about, she is a new breed of highly successful killer.' Dr. Roland McDowell, criminologist, witness #1756 for the prosecution.

{Break in transcript}

'Standing accused of literally countless crimes against humanity, this court finds the ethereal being known as, The Devil, AKA; Satan, Lucifer, Eosphorus, etcetera, etcetera. Guilty as charged, under the World Federation of Nations. You are to be remanded into custody, until we can figure out how to best end your existence, or keep you forever so entrapped. Do you have anything to add Sir, before I commit your sentence?'

'Yes, if I may. You asked at the beginning of this trial how I pleaded to the accusations laid forth, and I said, Yes, I was unreservedly guilty. For I have influenced these actions, but I ask you for what crime does that make me guilty? Does the wolf pack ask their prey if its hungrier than they, before executing the kill? I do not exist solely because you think I do. What you see me as, now, before you in this court of law, is exactly what you want to see. Now perhaps you see why, I chose to represent myself. But I ask you, is the sun guilty of shining, the rain of being wet and the rock of being hard? In other words, I am simply a force of nature. You may forever so entrap me, perhaps even destroy me, but you will be far less than you are, without me whispering in your collective ear.'

'So noted and be that as it possibly may. Sir. In keeping with the humanitarian tenants of true freedom and power of individual choice, we shall nevertheless endeavour to live without your company, and see where that might lead. Sentence is passed. The Court would like to at this time and in conclusion to make special mention. Of Dr Albert Bartholomew and his ground breaking research that enabled the hunting, and capture, of this near mythical, multidimensional, being. Who had plagued and infested, the collective sub-consciousness of all humanity. Let us all now walk forward unfettered by the chains of our past, into a new destiny of true choice, and personal responsibility. This court will reconvene in six months. At which time studies into the feasibility of a death sentence, undertaken by the Ministry of Defence in the intervening period, will be presented. This court is hereby adjourned.'

{End of Transcript}

The Devil's Advocates was written by Ivor W. Hartmann.

Copyright Ivor W. Hartmann 2008.

Ivor W. Hartmann, is a Zimbabwean writer. He is the author of Mr. Goop (Vivlia, 2010), and was nominated for the UMA Award (2009), and awarded The Golden Baobab Prize (2009). His writing has appeared in African Writing Magazine, Wordsetc, Munyori Literary Journal, Something Wicked, and Sentinel Literary Quarterly, amongst others. He is the editor/publisher of StoryTime, and co-editor/publisher African Roar, and on the advisory board of Writers International Network Zimbabwe.


Ivor W. Hartmann said...

Happy Halloween 2008 to all of StoryTime!

This little tale is something I have been saving just for this Halloween. So WhooHaahAAHhAAA!!(evil maniacal laughter) Enjoy! HahhHAAAHHAAAA *cough* WOOhaaa.. *splutter* Haaha, ha, WOha, HA!

Anonymous said...

WOOhahaHaa!, Indeed Ivor.

In all, a bold, original, thoroughly imagined story. I’m left with a sense of conclusion, but wanting more, which is exactly how you want your readers to feel, ideally. I found myself actually thinking about it afterwards, and getting a little creeped out.(That doesn’t happen to me often while reading, so consider it a compliment.)

I also like the fact that the courtroom, the technology involved, etc, is not described. I have my own images of that scene, now, which makes me more involved with the story.

Well, that’s my review, I hope it helps. I really think this is not only publishable, but worth publishing, which is something entirely different…

Thanks for the ride! Happy Halloween!


Ivor W. Hartmann said...

Thanks Metabolix,

Yes, the idea was to restrict the story to the Letter, and it's sealed Attachment only, with no other explanations given. Like the reader found it accidentally on the way home or something, and even with the stern warning in the letter, broke the seal to read the contents. This meant no obvious explanation of set or setting, leaving only what the reader can ascertain indirectly. Though I did bring in 'Philias Nostrum' to be able to describe the victims 'relevant condensations'.

Myheshni Pillay said...

Yipes!!!! It's been a while since a story has evoked that feeling of impending dread in me :) I have forgotten how much I enjoyed that. And nothing achieves that more effectively than a fictitious tale with it's roots firmly embedded in reality. Thanks, Ivor ;)

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