pain

•April 13, 2011 • 1 Comment

Take sarah. She turned twenty three today. She’s been hanging on to the hope that her fiance can set a date for their wedding before the deadline kidney cancer put on her life is reached. They’ve talked about it, but he has real trouble dealing with her perscribed death only a couple of weeks after their would be hospital honeymoon. He struggles to give away the only thing he wants in order to give her the only thing that she wants.

The ring he bought her is an exquisite diamond. Imperishable as a silent mockery to the brevity of her life.

Neither of them know it, but it comes from a small country named Sierra Leone, where blood diamonds are smuggled into western society. This is where we find Idi. Idi was born to a father who had died on a landmine, and a mother who was raped and murdered for the crime of being inferior. He was then abducted and put to working 14 hours a day in a diamond excavation site at age 6. He’s been there for thirteen years now.

While diamonds make the chief illegal export of Sierra, the egyptian revolution has also opened Africa to the middle east, where the conflict is fed by weapons, so the second hand AK47 that used to keep vigil over Idi has now been shipped into Iraq.

In Iraq war has never really ended. When Iraq invaded Kuwait a few decades ago, the American military spent 43 days dropping tens of thousands of tonnes of bombs on Iraqi people. During these forty odd days powerplants, water purification plants and hospitals were destroyed killing 110’000 people died of whom 70’000 were children under 5.
Tony Blair called the war ‘ethical’.

In these bombings we might have had Jamal, thirteen year old civilian who saw his brother die in a hospital bombing. When the U.S. invaded again in the 21st century the old wounds were opened and he found a second hand AK47 from Africa to fight those who he thought to be oppressors.
He’s been sitting on a hil. Without food for two days while his friend fires rocket after rocket from an RPG into a stalled tank. The tank’s reactive armour shrugs off the rockets, Which is the best Jamal and Haqim can do, so hope dwindles for the hungry terrorists/freedom fighters as the western military superiority and the unfairness of their situation is entrenched in their minds.

Inside of the tank sits Clyde. Clyde is praying that the hull is not somehow. Breached by rocket after rocket exploding not two metres from him. Even as he does this he thinks to himself he deserves to die, and that he’s worthy only of hell.
A day ago he shot a pregnant woman for stumbling upon their camoflauged vehicle. He didn’t want to, he couldn’t believe it was happening even as he did it, yet there it was, ears ringing from his rifle fire and his superior’s scream he watched her collapse. He is now the murderer of an unborn child.

Not too long ago he was still playing world of warcraft in his parents’ home while chatting online to his foreign friends, such as Kenji from Fukushima Japan, who lost contact with him after he joined the military.

Kenji was on a ground level of a bank when the warning the japanese government spent 1’000’000’000 dollars o went off, warning of a massive tsunami. That billion dollar warning gave Japan exactly a minute to react there was no time to make a final phone call to his girlfriend, or to even think of what pets and possessions he’d save even if he had been at home. So he jammed into an elevator with twenty other people and by some divine grace it worked despite their weight, taking them all up.
His family wasn’t so lucky. His home, his school, everything he had ever known was washed away, even before the nuclear powerplant leakage gave him the start of what would later be cancer, killing him in three years time.

News crews interview Kenji, broadcasting his generic story all around the world. In England Ruth sees this and remarks that that’s what Japan deserves for all the whaling they’ve done.
She doesn’t know that Kenji is a vegetarian. Neither does Sarah who’s laying in the bed Ruth’s sitting at during her visit to the cancer ward.

And I’m worried about what girl is interested in me.

Isn’t that hilarious to the point you want to cry?
We’re more concerned with the battery life of a cellphone than all the suffering out there.

Pain is universal, we’re all human, we all feel it, and mutual suffering connects us like nothing else can, yet we all cause it in one another since we never put ourselves in each other’s shoes.

Yet… Apathy is a defense mechanism, if we cared about all of this all the time, we’d have no time for our own lives. Just think about this the next time you worry over something that really should not matter.

just a quick few thoughts

•April 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

S

So I bought my blackberry today, it’s pretty nifty, actually might have been another postless year without it.

It’s 3 am right no and I just had a smoke outside when I realized some stars are actually visible here in the suburbian city-periphery. And looking up at them I had that most common of rare revelations of how infinitesmal we are. I look up, into space, and what is up there in the stars is a titanic clash of energies in tumultuous anarchy. They swirl together and break apart under their own magnitude, they dance a pandaemonious ballet, with heat that could obliterate everything you’ve ever known, in the blink of an eye.

And when they reach their apex, they implode, like they sabotage themselves right at their finest moment and become forever cavernous nothings that simply suck ib everything around them, obliterating it, crushing it.
Yet what I saw was this

Orion’ keeping silent vigil over the zodiac, a single shooting star like a fleeting teardrop disappearing into the night. A few pinpricks of light that could penetrate the city’s haze.

For all their power, grandeur rage and immensity, a single city of streetlamps and homes dwindles them to nothing but a cluster of pretty ornaments adorning the night sky.

And I wonder: if humanity is seen from the distance, is all the hate, war, famine, pestilence and death visible? Right when we sabotage one another at the beginning of our finest moments, right in our lust, wrath, envy, greed and apathy, is anything visible from the outside except for the very beauty of us living?

It’s just a thought.

The internal Apocalypse

•September 12, 2010 • 3 Comments

(Don’t try to tell me that some power can corrupt a person, you haven’t had enough to know what it’s like)- Trent Reznor

Greed never really cared (primarily) for wealth, avarice can be satiated, and eventually you can have enough things.

Greed cares for power, and money is simply the interchangeable eventuality we use to achieve it.

It’s about living in a world where financial Strong arm thugs get to humiliate those who are forced to hatefully bend the knee to them, it’s about setting the rules which apply to everyone but you, it’s about treating people like belongings, the exhilaration of murder and the insanity in rape, where the dehumanized victims have to submit and comply with your sickest animal desires.

So money becomes the laso to the wealthy, and the noose to the poor.

A lot of people have a problem with money and how it is just another way for some people to have power over other people. Money is not the problem, human nature is, we simply use the system we created to gain this power

In the end, having power has baneful consequences: Those who have it regress to spoiled children, who play with people rather than objects, unless they have the discipline needed to tame the dribbling id, the salivating demon, in themselves.

Because we all have that seed of Adam,

of Nimrod,

of original sin,

which screams to turn us into a beast in human skin

but we choose to deafen ourselves with the comfortable pillows from where we never have to see the reality of what we’re becoming.

So we’re slaves to sensation, slaves to sensationalism, making entertainment out of the misery of others when we’re no longer human enough to have our own feelings.

Television feeds this vicarious emotion as we regress into something more infantile, more animal.

Until finally, anything that was ever profound, everything that was ever good , is lost in a foggy memory disappearing in the haze of hollow pleasures.

You see, a real apocalypse isn’t the world shattering around you. A real apocalypse is when you vanish into the creature inside of you that lives from nothing but fear, hunger and lust.

By having power (through money, class, respect, etc.) you gain freedom of the consequences of your actions to varying extents, if you are not the match of the power you receive, then you will become the slave of instinct and addiction. This happens in our own worlds as well, in the comfort we experience we have the option of living past one another, because we are more interested in seeing the contestants of survivor go through ‘real emotion’ (which honestly is the only reason anyone watches it, nobody cares about the challenges, your pupils dialate when you see what those people are going though, their suffering, and we fail to admit to ourselves that the suffering of these people, is our entertainment;) than our own family.

In the comfort of having microwaves make our food, having pipe systems bring water to us, having cars so we don’t need to spend days walking somewhere, having cellphones which makes communication instant, sanitary toilet systems, the internet to tell us anything we had ever wanted to know, and so many other things done for us, we have so much time for self improvement, but that’s not what we do. Instead we’re on facebook, we don’t have the discipline to use our never-before-seen free time, exactly because we never have to do anything for ourselves anymore. It’s ridiculous that the more potential we have, the more we have to go against our own nature to achieve it. Because our bodies, like anything in nature, follows the path of least resistance, which is to go for comfort, to adapt to the situation your in. So when you don’t need to take care of yourself, then your body and your psychology adapt.

Only when you’re stripped of every piece of comfort will you be forced to grow attached to the people you had to make an effort with previously. When your computer, television, cellphone, magazine, and every other distraction is gone, you suddenly be part of your own family again.

The brevity of platonicity

•August 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I do it to other people
they do it to me
we meet then like then love each other
then we simply leave

we take what we can get
never passing up what’s free
we take what’s given out of love
just to feed our narcissistic apathy

don’t bullshit me with ‘for life’, ‘forever’
the only constant ‘for’s are ‘forget’
‘fortune’, ‘force’ and ‘fornication’,
we don’t even know who we are yet

sincerity is fleeting
and no love beats eternal
we hear our virtues time to time
to our vices we’re always servile

because forever is a flight of fancy
the only constant is decay
we leave our heart-bound on a whim
as soon as a better offer’s displayed

so save your melodrama
we need no obituary
for this beauty we knew would wilt
this rose called platonicity…

The little things that matter.

•August 22, 2010 • 2 Comments

So lately I’ve been trying to put more effort into relationships with friends and loved ones: the unexpected visit, the occasional kindergarten style handmade card, the just-cause-you’re-on-my-mind texts, and trying to take an interests in their interests.

I hadn’t thought about what my sudden motivation was until a short while ago. It occured to me that this wasn’t a spontaneous attempt at altruism, there was something just a little bit more self-serving behind it. (hopefully this is normal and I’m not a sociopath.)

when we make a card for someone, write a lover a song, name a star after our mother’s, we aren’t necessarilly creating a mind blowing revolution of creativity and ingenuity, we’re just trying to say ‘I care. You mean something to me and I just need to express it in some way that presses the memory in between the pages of the book that is our relationship. The desired response is ‘I love it. I love the fact that you take the time to encapsulate your affection for me. Even though it sucks, or even if it did suck, It’s given significance because it comes from you.’

the same words from the right lips can turn profane to profound.

These little forget-me-nots mean nothing in themselves, they simply represent something intangible between two people, namely that childlike way of saying: “I love you with everything I have, here’s macaroni glued to paper to prove it.”

show your loved ones you care. No matter how lame it feels.

New 5th edition tyranid army

•August 17, 2010 • 3 Comments

So I picked up a 5th edition tyranid codex recently, and I’m still trying to decide on what to include for the standard games. So here’s my first list. I’m well versed in 4th ed, but I’m quite new to the 5th ed rules, so let me know if I made a stupid mistake or did something illegal please.

Here goes:
HQ.

Swarmlord (280 pts)
1x tyrant guard + lash whip (65 pts)

parasite of mortrex (160 pts)

ELITE:

the doom of malan’tai+ mycetic spore (130 pts)

TROOPS:
24 termagants (120 pts)

23 hormagaunts (138 pts)

Tervigon + toxin sacs + adrenal glands + catalyst. (195 pts)

FAST ATTACK:

24 gargoyles (144 pts)

HEAVY SUPPORT:

Trygon prime + regeneration (265 pts)

TOTAL 1497 pts

so my reasoning goes like this: the army functions as three seperate entities, the trygon and the hormagaunts racing forward, the tervigon and no pain feeling termagants in the centre to bear the brunt of an attack when they aren’t trundling along themselves, and the parasite in a group of gargoyles coming up the flank to prey on enemy stragglers.
So there’s a synapse beast with a little horde in each of the three prongs. The swarmlord bolsters synapse to any prong that might lose it’s own synapse, as well as being a real threat in its own right. The hordes will shield it from assaults, absorbing the worst of them (possibly dying in the process) buying that round to let the lord assault. That’s why he only has one guard.
The demi-god vampire known as the doom of malan’tai will then deep strike inbetween the biggest non-mech threats (3+ on turn two thanks to the swarmlord) leech health and shoot off cataclysm (great anti-tank/huge units in the right circumstances)
the PoM and Tervigon are there because I have a soft spot for anything that spawns me more creeps.

so that’s about it. I’ve scanned through a friends rulebook but don’t own my own yet, so my big concern is that monstrous creeps no longer get 2D6 armour penetration, as you can see how that might trouble this army. I realize I skimped on powerful ballistics, but honestly a tyrannofex is really overpriced for a gun ‘nid with only 3 BS. Carnifexes seem nerfed through overpricing, and while I see the merit in deepstriking a standard fex for 200 pts, that means it’ll get a charge on round 3 at the fastest. Besides, after always having 1 or 2 in 4th ed, I’m bored with fex’s. The harpy might’ve been nice for the firepower role, but I wouldn’t trust taking one alone.
I might include 3 hive guard. 150 pts for 6 str 8 AP 4 shots seems to be a great sideboard against mech heavy armies (6 shots at BS 4 compared to 2 shots from a rupture cannon at BS 3. Math hammer 4 str 8 hits vs 1 str 10 hit and I still have 100 points left? The fex has double the range in theory, but it also needs LoS and the guard can shoot up to 30 from their starting positions if they move before hand.)
I might post the story behind this fleet sometime (Hive fleet Hades, swarmlord is named Aeries, parasite named Icarus, tervigon named brood mother, DoM is Omega and trygon prime is called Leviathan.) anyway. I ramble. Tell me what you think.

The forceful habit

•May 16, 2010 • 2 Comments
“Underneath the veneer of normality we see in people, behind the calm and collected faces of the people who we don’t give a second look, something more is lurking. The most placid face could be one little push away from a cataclysmic melt down, you see these faces every day. And you’ll never know which ones they are.”

Lock the door.
Slide the safety lock in place too.
Slide the safety lock out of place and let its chain dangle loose.
Unlock the door.
Lock the door and slide the safety lock’s chain back into place.

She examined the lock. She tried opening the door. It was locked.
She exhaled. Relief.

Partial Obsessive compulsive disorder dictated most of what Yvette did. Every day was perfectly meticulously calculated. The routine was machine, cold, perfect. It was time for her next step: Wash the hands, thoroughly.
Her idea of thorough was not conventional. When she came to the bathroom she took out her waterless hand wash and put it on the basin. She used her can of disinfectant spray, showering the towel in a pssht of anti-bacterial aroma. So she would not receive germs from it after washing her hands. She sprayed the tap which she would use to rinse her hands with. She then took a tissue, sprayed it with anti bacterial spray and wiped the canister tenderly, so the germs her dirty hands had passed to it were eradicated. The tissue was disposed of. She washed her hands, the red in them really showed this time of year. They dried out in the winters a-humidity. She dried them off with the disinfected towel.
Yvette was satisfied. She would no longer contaminate her food on its trek to her mouth. She would no longer pass bacteria to her face.
She wasn’t a germaphobe. Not a full-fledged one at least. She liked to think that she was to a germaphobe what a vegetarian would be to a vegan. She only liked her hands clean. She needed her hands clean. If she couldn’t sanitize them she couldn’t focus. It dominated her mind as though it were a personality in itself, it outscreamed everything she tried to concentrate on. She turned on the television to watch news. The remote had its plastic cover. She winced slightly at the burn from her hands, they were cracking from the lack of moisture, like athletes foot that had decided to migrate north for to her hands the winter. She didn’t believe in using cream though. The oily feeling gave her goose bumps and it landed her fingerprints everywhere. She took her notepad and her pencil.
Her job as an architect worked out perfectly for her. She could practice her hobby of drawing to a point where her talent had reached technical perfection. She was obsessed with it. When the television showed cartoons she would draw the cartoons herself. Creating a duplicate Johnny Bravo finally hitting it off with a lady.
“No! That’s wrong! Johhny can’t hit it off with a girl. It’s not….” Her voice trailed off hesitantly as she mumbled to herself near incoherently.
Her OCD had absorbed his pattern of striking out, she couldn’t bring herself to break the omnipotent pattern which was as adamantine strong as any other pattern in her mind. She was the victim of routine. Her comfort zone of that which is familiar and should remain unaltered was her cage of inertia.
She changed the channel. Two channels back and one forward. This was a documentary about penguins. She didn’t feel like drawing penguins
Two channels back and one forward. This was news. She took her pencil to her sketchpad immediately as she drew the middle eastern people on her screen dying. Her imagination ran wild with the idea. Creative ways of killing people, she had started the habit with her mothers boyfriend years ago. Every time her mother would take his side over hers, and every time rules clipped the freedom of her wings she would lay in bed as the echoes of the possibilities whispered insomnia into her ears. She started drawing these possibilities. Crude at first, as a six year olds drawings would be, but gratuitously violent in their content. At first she would draw the family as stickmen where she pushed him off a cliff. As her skill improved and she watched more gory movies so did the pictures evolve. Humble beginnings became morbidly beautiful pictures of slow and painful deaths, up to the day she finally moved out of the house. She had developed the skill remarkably, the career of architect fit her perfectly. She didn’t have to socialize much, she worked as a freelance architect for her company from home and the shows of her work were very much meet and greet when the sketches weren’t e-mailed or faxed ahead. She was happy in her serene comfort zone, where the variables that were people were kept to a bare minimum. As she finished drawing the heart wrenching picture of the Arab choking on his on turban as he tried to wrap it around a bullet wound in his neck her watch ordered her to go to bed. She crumpled up the sketch and threw it on the floor. She went to bed without turning off the television or the lights.
“Who’s got OCD?” She thought with a smirk.
She wore that smirk and thought that thought every night, when she left the lights and television on and threw her sketches on the floor. She went into a blissful sleep. The insomnia was never a problem anymore, neither were dreams.

The next morning her Alarm ordered her to wake up at exactly 10:01. She liked the symmetrical sequence of numbers, she thought it meant something in binary but she really wouldn’t ever know.
“First things first.” She went through her hand cleansing routine.
After that was breakfast, which was the same cereal with sliced apple chips and semi-warm milk as always. She turned off the lights and the television as was her morning routine. She had breakfast, slurping every third bite.
She donned her jogging outfit, got her waterless hand wash and mentally played out the path she had been following for the thirteen years she had been jogging. The door was unlocked, opened, exited through, closed, locked, unlocked and locked again from outside. The winter’s morning bite had abated by this time and she went through the motions of stretching.
Next to drawing Yvette liked nothing more than jogging. Nothing could compare to drawing, she was a god when she could create anything, give life or take it. It was the ultimate form of control, the most evil man was only three pencil strokes away from death when you had him on canvas. Jogging held another kind of thrill for Yvette, it was timed. She contemplated it as she went to the other side of the road. Everything about it was rhythmic and cyclical. The pat of her feet as they hit the asphalt, the music of her breathing as it quickened pace or slacked down at her will, the same cars passed by. The everyday faces shook their heads at her as she ignored them. They had long ago given up smiling and waving to the quirky women who went out of her way pretending that she didn’t notice it.
She went into her trance. The exhalations a release of pent up feelings and the inhalations an inrush of energy. Her eyes closed as the world became motion and rhythm. She never jogged with music. It would all disappear in the slap of her feet hitting the pavement anyway. She was focussed on the road ahead of her, wondering if she would have to stop at the traffic light. She had stopped at the traffic light the day before, which meant in this week she had stopped at it once and passed it immediately twice on her morning jogs. She would stop a total of three times and pass four times this week, seeing as she stopped four times and passed three times in her morning jogs the week before. She decided to pass for her last time the week and slackened her pace so she would catch the light green. Successful she was pleased with herself, she looked around her at what winter was doing to the land. The park she was passing was entering hibernation: trees shedding leaves to slow metabolism, plants dying off, waiting to rejuvenate in spring, animals becoming more scarce, and the face.
The face.
Yvette barely caught the lamppost she was about to run into as she was caught off guard. There was a woman staring her in the eyes, gaze following her face across the sidewalk. Yvette shrugged it off, her misstep had broken her beat. She started up again, careful not to walk on any cracks. She carefully avoided the stare she could still feel. The woman wouldn’t stop staring.
She ran the blocks on her route and was soon out of sight. She took out some waterless hand wash to cleanse her hands from the microscopic lamppost death, they were clammy.

she turned a corner to the left, she took the next left again, starting to close the distance she had made between herself and her home. Her heart was racing, the face was Polaroid snapshot behind her eyes, burned into her memory. It wasn’t like the faces who said hello for the sake of saying hello, there was interest in it. It didn’t fit. She murdered the thought as her thoughts had murdered so many people, she didn’t need to wonder about it any more.
She arrived at her home.
Being a recluse she had a habit of talking or mumbling to herself, conscious or subconscious. She was a crazy cat lady minus the cats.
“Doesn’t fit.” Her eyebrows furrowed as she became annoyed with the face. It wouldn’t leave her alone. It was an inexcusable break in routine. She locked, unlocked and relocked her door. Had she almost forgotten?
Impossible.
She rushed to the bathroom to wash her hands. Frustrated that the entire ritual couldn’t go faster. She had to wash off the dirt. Wash off the unfamiliar and the outside. The burn from her hands came shortly after she didn’t dry her hands properly.
“Shampoo.”
She put her hands carefully on the shower head’s warm tap, counting as she turned, making sure that the rivet that had started at the top was now three quarters of the way around. Like the difference between 12pm and 9pm on a clock. She waited ten counts, then turned the cold tap so the top rivet ended at the bottom. Turning it halfway. She undressed and walked inside. Taking her shower.
When she had come out she dried herself off. Standing naked in the room. She looked at the basin once. A shadow of stern defiance crossed her face. She balled her fists and marched nakedly to her room to find clothes.
The bathroom door was an empty photo frame for about three seconds before it burst into video motion as she ran to wash her hands. In utter frustration she completed the ritual and dried her hands again. She went to her room in utter defeat, The addict of habit. She took out her clothes and dressed. The wetness from her improperly dried hands stung tenderly. The face was still in her mind. Angering the beast that was routine. She ran to the bathroom again almost sobbing to wash her hands. Finding temporary solace in her next hit. The withdrawal would set in again when the next trigger upset her, she knew it. But for now she was comforted.
Dejectedly she went to her work table. Starting to work on her next project, a celebrity home. It kept her busy for hours. She lost herself in bliss, in the unthinking space that was programmed into her brain. She didn’t have to think, she just drew autonomously, no mental monster could follow her here. After almost eight hours of ecstatic work that escalated like an avalanche she realized that she needed to eat again.
She was almost up for her second jog of the day. She had no social life and almost no priorities. She passed the time by any means she could, anything that numbed down thinking. TV wasn’t interactive enough.
She was afraid. Her mind was gleefully looking for creative ways in which to torture her, wagging their tales to pounce on the opportunity, it would all just depend on the face. If the face would show again that could set a new routine. Something new she had to see everyday. If it didn’t it could mean her mind would expect to see it every second jog. If it was there then she- She cut the thought short with a grim tug on her shoelaces, completing the bow. She hated her mind. The unpredictable way that it took the most stupid things and blew them up into omnipresent must-haves. She was almost too afraid to jog, but she had to have her second jog. She didn’t know how much she would have to wash her hands to abate the feeling even slightly.
She took her jog, trying to ease her mind into numbness. With nothing to concentrate on but breathing and listening to the rhythms of her body. The traffic light didn’t matter on the evening jogs. The twilight was alive with lights. As the great light in the sky died out the little lights on the ground took its place in dim caricature.
In all the flashlight freeze frames and all the twilight twinkles she still could not enter the mental labyrinth and lose herself. The face was still haunting her, a spiteful poltergeist. She wasn’t even looking at the enchanting lights, she was looking at the spots where their influence fell. Searching for the face that would confirm the hiccup in her life. She couldn’t stand it. She was looking everywhere and hoped desperately not to find the sincere eyes of the woman. She hated the contradiction.
When she approached the park she was almost to afraid to look into the park, but she did. She knew what torture the not knowing would inject into her every waking moment.
The woman wasn’t there. She was not in the spot her phantom occupied in Yvette’s mind. Yvette didn’t know whether she was relieved, disappointed or hopeful. Something in the eyes of that shameless beholder understood her. Either in empathy and sympathy, or in disgust and baleful apathy. The memory of a song came into her head. “Don’t think cause I understand, I care.”

She reached home. More confused than she had ever been in her life. She didn’t know what to make of it. She locked, unlocked and relocked the door, and leaned her back against it. Sagging to the floor in a lonely heap. Everywhere she looked she couldn’t see anything but signs of how much she was alone with her demon. The little goblin that chittered orders into her ear. Even as she closed her eyes, she knew what she had to do.
She looked at her hands, and headed for the bathroom.
She watched cartoons that night, she drew the dead faces on the news that night, and when she finally came to from her thoughtful stupor, she saw the face she had drawn being hanged was the only face that she wanted to forget.
“Damnit.” A tear of frustration rolled down her cheek reflecting the display from the television as her watch sent her to bed.

The next morning was Friday. The wash of the hands followed. She switched off the lights and the television and picked up her papers. She ate her cereal with its apple bits and she went outside for her jog. She had business to do today, she would have to drive to her office building around five to hand in the carbon original of her newest sketch that she would finish that day. Friday was the day that she didn’t take her second jog. Instead she did her non-online shopping and face to face business that day, bringing the total jogs per week to 13 which she could only rationalize as being okay because it couldn’t be divided by anything. Making it a perfect number in her mind. Unchangable. It ended in three, which was a holy number, also it was the number of stops or passes she did at the traffic light every week in the mornings. She knew this was lunatic logic, but she adhered to it. She wanted to think of it as freedom, but every time she hopefully tugged at the idea, her mind threatened to force her to do that one extra jog. Compulsive obsession was her dominator, and she was its whore with the dog collar around her neck. Her hands were really dry today.
As she went through the park she looked out for the face again, but still it wasn’t there. Just to spite her it wasn’t there. The single rising little bubble, out of place on her monotonous perfect line. The way she was obsessing about it felt like the bubble was becoming a volcano on her y=mx+c line. She never saw the nameless demon of a face stalking behind her when she exited her home. It had been watching her for weeks now and had allowed itself to be seen once. It took a snapshot with a photo, It silently scribbled something on its notepad as it looked back and forth from Yvette’s shrinking back, to her home. It tucked the notepad away and walked away with a grin threatening to drool. It had one thing on its mind.
“Lockpicks.”

Yvette came home again eventually, the door lock’s oil was taxed as the key slid in and out and in and out. It was time for bathroom detail, She would take her second handwash of the day, then shower then take her third hand wash of the day which would be the fifth time she would take her third hand wash that week. She couldn’t wait to escape the tyrrany that she was in love with. She dressed herself and ran into the wonderland that was her art. She was very near completion now, but the loving effort she put into the details was exactly why she came so highly recommended, she entered her trance for a very long time and eventually exited it with dazed satisfaction. It was time for her to drive, she rolled the plan up and slid it into the canister designed for it. she was satisfied that her watch hadn’t told her to stop before she was finished. She would meet her deadline.
She exited her home under the steady gaze of her stalker, paparazzi photos snapping off as she locked her door twice and drove her car away. The woman had her lock picks handy this time.

Yvette had taken her sketch to the company. They had loved it and would congratulate her if she hadn’t so curtly dismissed herself without looking anyone in the eyes. She was one of their best architects but nobody liked her. She was the most unsocial person any of them had ever met. On the drive home she noted the traffic lights she passed, she would imagine the car jumping over each one, before landing starkly on the road as soon as it had been passed. She couldn’t bear to miss one jump like this while she was driving her car. She arrived home and parked the car in her motor home. She was baffled when the key wouldn’t turn in the lock. In her confusion she tried turning it twice more. Brow furrowing as it refused to unlock. She tried opening the door and realized it was unlocked to begin with. She stood immobile, the night air was coming down on her with a harsh bite of cold, but she stood with her mouth agape, looking at the door as if it had just spoken to her. Her heart was drumming double beat in her chest.
“I could’ve sworn I…” Her voice trailed off as was normal for someone who could always finish a sentence with a thought.
Cautiously she opened the door. She closed it softly once inside, almost crying as she locked it, slid the chain in place, slid it out of place and unlocked, then locked and slid the chain in place again as softly as she could. She hated it. She didn’t carry a cell phone with her so she needed to use the home phone to call the police. She wanted to take a look around first. She would hate looking like an idiot in front of people, especially the police. The fear of humiliation was greater than her fear of something being able to come inside. She looked around the house. There was no sign of any disturbance. The little bubble-volcano was very much threatening to become something much more deviant in her mind. She was calming down. There was no one there. But at the same time she was becoming afraid that she was losing her mind. She needed to wash her hands. They called to her through their ache. thumping the command into her legs as the cracks pumped out the tiniest trickle of blood through an arid dry crack in her left hand. She ran to the bathroom in a stumble.
She screamed in terror.
The soap was gone.
Someone was torturing her. She needed that soap, it was not just soap, that bar was the only thing keeping her mind from spinning into a fast forwarded overtime of angry commands and accusations. She ran to the closet where she kept all the soap, and collapsed to her knees as she saw every last bar of soap had been taken. There had been exactly 77 bars of soap in the closet. She always made sure of it. They were all gone. She stood up and paced the house. She could not stop, she couldn’t allow herself to stop. Because once her muscles stopped moving, she would start thinking. Her sanity didn’t have enough credit to afford the thoughts that, that might lead to.
Nothing in the entire house had been touched except her soap, dishwashing liquid and her waterless hand wash.
She immediately grabbed her coat, if she hurried she could still get to the convenience store before closing time. She had fifteen minutes before they shut the doors and locked her sanity out.
The thought that it might really not be the end of the world was unable to fit into her mind. It would be like trying to soothe a withdrawing heroin junkie by telling them that the searing gunshot pain impaling their cramping muscles would be over in a few days if they didn’t take their next hit.
She had an addiction that had been cultivated since she was six years old. That had been twenty seven years ago. As she exited her door she fiddled the key in the lock unsuccessfully before frustration told her it wasn’t important.
She ran to the motor home next to her home. She started fiddling with the lock through shaking hands when she heard a sudden hiccup that snapped her head in its direction. In the shrubs between her home and the motor home, something was there. And a few bars of soap lay next to it. She shrieked inside as a squeal came out of her mouth. Emboldened by hysteria she ran to the shrubs and found someone crouching in them.
“YOU”
The face! The girl with the face! It was her!
She grabbed her by the wrists and saw a notepad in her one hand and a pen in the other, they both watched the pen drop to the floor for a split second as questions comet shot into her mind. She was about to scream something. She didn’t know what it would be but it was something seated a lot deeper in her brain than any human words. The woman struggled with her and won her wrist back as it disappeared into a pocket. Yvette was blind with hysteria and grabbed onto the notepad. She didn’t know what else to do, she wanted to scream and ask questions at the same time. The woman’s hand came out with a tazer in it and stabbed Yvette in the back of the neck before the burning smell of flesh accompanied the marionette movements going through her body. The page on the notepad ripped as the woman ran away.

Yvette woke up in the small hours of the morning, she was nearly freezing outside and her muscles were in a lot of pain. Especially her neck. She sat up dazed and confused. All around her were wrapped bars of soap.
Recollection flooded her memory. The soap famine ended right here. She realized she was still holding on to the piece of paper. It was too dark too read outside.
She made a few trips inside and outside taking everything back to its right place. Her immune system was a Fort-knox of anti-bodies thanks to her healthy lifestyle, she let go on her appearance, but the food she ate and the abstinence from alcohol and cigarette buffered her body against the onslaught of the cold.
The first thing she did was to wash her hands, three times.
She drank three pills to calm her down, in a few minutes they would have her drugged and serene. She took a look at the scrap of note paper she had torn in her madness.
” -e it would be better if you were dead. I could think of a few ways to-” The paper was cut off. Yvette was stressing again. The woman wanted to kill her.
She called the only person she could think of, her cousin was a private investigator. She hadn’t spoken to him in years but she was pretty sure she could afford him. She didn’t want to talk to the police either. She had never trusted them.

She started to call him.
Looking at her DVD machine from the telephone she saw that it was three thirty in the morning.
The phone kept ringing.
She wasn’t going to hang up, her obsessive personality would call more times than he would let it go to voicemail, it would greedily feed off of the repetition. In fact she contemplated calling phone booths afterwards just to calm her nerves. She was prepared to sit there for hours, and the task was taking her mind off her fear as the pills started to kick in. The phone was cordless and she went to lock the door, put the chain on, take the chain off, unlock and then repeated step one and two.
The phone stopped ringing as the hot breath of irritation distorted the sound on her receiver.
“Who is this?”
“Ulrich, it’s Yvette.”
“Yvette? Yvette is that actually you? Sonofabitch… Do you know what time this is?”
“Three-forty-five AM. I need your help.”
“Yvette you can’t just call me up at any time in the morning, what is wrong with you.?”
“Just.” She rubbed her temple with her free hand. “Just listen. Someone wants to kill me, I don’t know who else to call.”
“Woa slow down, You’ll have to clear that up.”
“Someone broke into my house Ulrich. I need your help.” Yvette’s lack of social skills were really coming into play.
“Why didn’t you call the police?”
“I wanted to call you. Please just come help me.”
A sigh came into the phone, mimicking the sound of a strong wind again.
“Just give me some time. I’ll be there in a while.”

She waited for Ulrich, organizing everything in her house. Not so it looked perfect, she didn’t clean or wash anything. She just arranged everything into the places where they should be. whether that meant carefully putting her blouse on the floor or skewing a pillow on her bed. Everything had its place. When Ulrich knocked on the door everything was perfect. He wouldn’t be able to guess it, but everything was exactly as she wanted it.

“Hey Yvette, it’s been forever.” He spread his arms slightly to come give her a hug. She simply stared at him, unresponsive. After an awkward moment he lowered his arms
“Guess I remember why. So what happened? tell me everything.”
“She took my soap. All of it.”
“Seriously Yvette I don’t have time for this. Just tell me everything from start to finish.”
Yvette recounted the tale to him, mentioning the morning jog and the housebreak.
“Your serious? She took your soap?” He said with a smile crossing his lips.
“Why is that funny?”
“Look can you show me this piece of the note you tore off?”
“Yes, here it is.” Ulrich was almost shocked by the proof as she handed him the scrap piece of paper to read.
“Okay, but you know this doesn’t really mean anything, you could have written it. I’ll have to check for fingerprints. Where are the soaps that she took?”
“I put them back in the closet.”
“Did you use gloves? How many things did she touch?”
“Well I touched all seventy seven soap bars with my hands, and the dishwashing liquid, and the waterless hand wash. She didn’t really take anything else.”
He was taken aback. He spoke to her softly: “Seventy seven? Yvette you’ve gotten worse. Look is there anything that she touched that you didn’t?”
“Look she was here. I know you think I’m crazy but she was here! Look there’s still a mark on the back of my neck.”
As she lifted her hair to show Ulrich, his eyes widened. “Okay. I’ll help you but please try to understand my situation here. I need something useful to go on.”
Yvette’s face snapped into realization. “I have a drawing of her. In my trash can, I drew it last night.”
“You see that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. Show it to me.”
Yvette rummaged in the trashcan, looking through all her sketches to find the Middle-eastern body with the demon woman’s face. She handed him the crumpled paper once she found it.
He smoothed it out and took a look.
“She was wearing a turban?”
“No.”
The early morning desire to simply go to bed waved his questions away.
“Okay I’ll come by later today to dust for more fingerprints and do a little stakeout here. You just stay calm and get some sleep.”
“I have to sleep here? Alone?”
A soft look passed over Ulrich’s face as he was halfway out of the door.
“Yes.”
He closed the door behind him. She opened it vehemently not even a second later.
“What are you serious?! What kind of man are you.”
Smiling he took the little chain by the inside of the door.
“Just keep this in place. She wont be back tonight anyway.”
“Asshole.” She said wide eyed in surprise.
“Bye.”

For the entire night Yvette had trouble sleeping. Her pills didn’t calm her enough to make her pass out and even though her watch had ordered her to bed she simply couldn’t sleep. She was too afraid. She watched television instead, listening for outside sounds the whole time. New terrorist threats emerge all over Europe the early morning news informed her. There was also the story about a dog who could climb trees. The whole time she watched she had the telephone in her hands, dialing the number of
a phone booth on the other side of the city just to hear it ring. Nobody was picking up. It was a Saturday, she didn’t feel like working that day and she didn’t really have to.
When the time came for her jog she felt much too tired to go out, she would usually go jog even in the rain. Something about the recent events had just emotionally exhausted her. She grovelled to her OCD trying to reach a compromise, thinking: “Okay so today is June 12, if I take today off then next year I’ll take June 13 off and June fourteen the year after that and so on until I have a whole year of not jogging. No wait I’ll probably be dead before I’m three hundred and sixty. I could take July 12 off next year and then August twelve the year after that. So I’ll have taken one day in every month of. HEY! And there are twelve months in a year. It’s perfect.”
She couldn’t shake the feeling that the woman was in the bushes. She was too afraid to check. And in the hours that passed, she would be too afraid to go out to see the silhouette leaving from its vantage point. Done taking its photos and notes.
Satisfied she pressed the hang-up button on the phone, she had been sitting there for almost three hours listening to its comforting ring. Now in its absence her ears were ringing.
“No wait it really is ringing.”
“Hello?”
“Hey Yvette. I’ve been calling you for almost an hour, since when did you become so social? Never mind. I did some searching on the face. I didn’t find anything, but I’ll do a stakeout by your house when you go jog today, see if I can see her face.”
“I’m not going jogging today.”
There was silence on the other end and then: “But you always jog. Are you trying to overcome your OCD?”
“I don’t have OCD dammit! I leave my lights on and have paper on the floor in the exact same spot every night!”
“Every single night you say?”
“Yes I never ever miss a night of not cleaning up.”
“Wow, you most definately don’t have it.. So what time are you going on your jog?”
“Ten thirt- Damnit I’m not jogging today Ulrich!.”
Ulrich sounded unbelieving. “Hmm Okay. Well I’ll be in the area, scouting around and asking questions. I’ll also come around your house later to get those dusts. Don’t touch anything that might have her fingerprints on it.”
Immediately Yvette’s hands burned to do just that. She didn’t know what else to do with the time she would normally spend outside.
She realized, she could do anything she wanted with the time. It was a very alien thought to her. Being free to do what she wanted.
Frightened, she got dressed and went outside for her jog. She needed to calm her mind. It helped tremendously, that the decision to jog had been made for her, that she was free from that responsibility to choose.
The rhythms of the winter world absorbed her and through her closed eyes there was nothing but the sound of her own breath. The routine was beautiful in its safety. She knew where it would be safe to close her eyes and where it would be unwise. When she opened them again she saw a car driving next to her. It was Ulrich. Shaking his head while smiling at her.
“Get in.”
She stalled to a halt. Looked around, then walked around the car to climb in.
“I’ve been asking around. Everybody knows who you are, and some people know her.”
“What do you mean everybody knows me?”
“Everybody’s seen you. Some of the men have been checking you out.”
“Which ones?”
“Look I’m not cupid. I found out the girl’s name. It’s Molly Bridges. We can’t really prove that she’s done anything, but I know she’s living in an apartment building a few blocks away. For a cold hearted murderous criminal she sure isn’t too careful. I had almost know trouble finding her, and it’s pretty stupid to stalk someone who lives in her area, the people tell me she’s weirder than you are.”
“Could you stop insulting me.”
“Yep. So I’m thinking that we go find out when she’s not at her own home, then we break into it and find some evidence. I’m usually better at doing it alone though.”
“Then I’ll wait outside in the car for you. I don’t want to be home alone right now.”
“M’kay.”
They drove the few blocks to the home of Yvette’s terror, which now had a name. Molly Bridges.
“Okay when I go in there, just keep your cell phone ready for when I may need to call you. In case of emergency.”
“I don’t have a cell phone.”
He rested his head sideways on the steering wheel, looking away from her.
“Don’t know why I expected any different.” He picked his head up again.
“Hey look, there’s a coffee shop over there, would you stay in the car for a while and check for her? I haven’t slept properly in a while. I’ll go get us both coffee.”
“Couldn’t I go? I mean, you need to be in the car so you can go to her house when she leaves.”
“Your right. Or you could just, you know. Tell me whether she left when I come back. Seriously it wont even take ten minutes, and I can’t risk her seeing you right outside her own home.”
“Hmph.” Ulrich’s subtle mockeries annoyed the living daylights out of Yvette.
She pictured how she would draw him dying.

He lit up a cigarette in the car, then when he went outside, bowed his head, bracing against the cold. He waited for a car to pass the street then quickened his pace to get to the little coffee shop.
Yvette waited for a while. Daydreaming, imagining volcanoes and swamps swallowing Ulrich. She began a whole elaborate story of how he would wash up ashore on an Inca village, they would castrate him and amputate an arm. Forcing him to eat along with them, before they would skin his hands to make gloves for themselves and- The face was there. Right outside her window, reaching for the door handle.
In lightning motion Yvette locked her door. Molly looked her in the eyes. She was crying. She banged flat handed on the window twice before running back into the apartment building.
Ulrich exited the shop just in time to see Molly go into her building. He looked over at Yvette as he hopped once in an indication that he was about to give chase. Yvette didn’t know what to do. She was shaking all over. Like a Parkinsons victim she unlocked the car door. She ran after them.
Inside there was only a large open space. Elevators and stairs went up and down but there was no sign of either Ulrich or Molly.
Yvette banged on the first she could find door until the owner opened.
“WHAT?!”
“Where does Molly Bridges live?”
“Who?”
“Molly!”
“That crazy girl?”
“Yes!”
“Listen lady let me tell you something. You can’t just come-”
“Where does she live!?”
The hysterics in Yvette’s voice quieted the man’s heated temper.”
“Fourth floor, number nine. Now listen here! Y-”
“Shut up. Bye.”

Yvette rushed up the stairs. Her limbs were lithe from years of regular jogging, she made record time towards Molly’s floor and found Ulrich busy picking the lock. There were screams coming from inside. The sounds of glass shattering against walls, of other breakables exploding from impact. It sounded like Molly was going insane inside. There was smoke trickling out through the door.
“She locked it before I could get in. Just give me a second though.”
Yvette tried to look in through the exposed window, but it was completely covered with something from the inside.
Ulrich unlocked the door and drew his pistol.
The door vomited out smoke in a billow. It was almost impossible to see inside. The silhouette of Molly was tearing things off the walls and screaming in between her chokes, she kept throwing more things into a pile she had made on the floor, Her tiled floor was scorched all around. Ash and smoke were cascading into the air and trickling down slowly.
“STOP! GET DOWN!” Ulrich screamed aiming his pistol at Molly and switching off the safety. Molly looked at him, swooned to one side, and collapsed.

It didn’t take long to put out the fire. It had nowhere to go on the tiled floor and would’ve died out soon anyway if Molly hadn’t kept feeding it. Ulrich was inside, checking that it was safe. They had cuffed Molly to the railing of the fourth floor. The other tenants who saw this speculated among themselves that the police had already arrived on the scene and it wasn’t necessary to call them. They were still a little bit scared of interfering though.

Yvette was still sitting outside with Molly. Looking her over. Studying the placid features of her passed out face when Ulrich came to her.
“Yvette, I think you had better come see this.”

He took her inside. The thick odour of smoke still clung heavily to the place. The ground was littered with broken mink, glass, cups, vases, plates, flower pots, and a lot of unrecognizable chinaware.
None of the windows let through any light, they were covered in photo’s and pages. The entire apartment was. The only places that wasn’t completely plastered with photos or notepad pages was the pages she had ripped off. Ulrich had put on a light when he first went inside. The entire place was stagnant. No light came through the windows, no fresh air came inside. Yvette looked for the bathroom so she could wash her hands.
Next to the window above the sink she saw two photos of a man. He was talking to a group of friends in the one picture, body frozen acting out some sherade. The photo next to it was a copy of the first, but Brad Pitt’s face had been pasted crudely over his. Some of the glue still showed over the edges. All over the apartment photos like this eerie kind was accompanied by papers. She looked around. There was a photo of a woman who looked very plain, and next to it was a photo of her wearing excessive make up. Looking either like a clown or a prostitute. The makeup had been applied to the photo with koki-pen’s. There was a photo of a girl with a stick figure drawn next to her holding her hand. She read the first paper next to the Brad Pitt man.
“Howard Wilson. I’ve been watching you for a long time now. You’re always the clown, always the funny one. You crave the attention, what is it that makes you unable to see that you’re good enough to your friends as it is? What is it that makes you feel you have to put up a show to be loved? Why do you have to be someone you’re not? I’m trying to find out so I can figure out how to fix you. You have so much to offer. I wish you could see it.” The note detailed speculations about his past, what caused him to be the way he is, and how she could fix it.
The one of the woman with the make up read.
“Cathy Smith. You defend people in court every day. You help murderers go free when you defend them and you send innocent people to jail when you accuse them. You’re very good at what you do. But you feel like a prostitute, I’ve seen the note you wrote in your room. “Prostitution is when you lower your moral standards to enable you to perform an action you would not normally do, in order to make it in this world.” Maybe your opinion of prostitution is different from mine, but it’s clear you think you’re a whore. So where did it come from? I think it happened in your divorce. When you had to support your two children alone on the basic salary you were making. It taught you a survival instinct. Do whatever you have to to survive. You did what you had to, and going through that is what allowed you to be the successful lawyer you are today. I’ve seen you crying in your car. I know you carry around the convicted faces of the innocent people, and I know you think about the families of the victims your clients murdered. I’m going to study you more. I’m going to find out how we can fix you. I think you need to understand yourself and why you’re willing to do these things, before you can learn to live with it. Maybe it would be better if you just quit your job, it’s never too late.”
Every page and with every photo described someone who was unhappy with their lives. Molly’s heart bled for every one of them, in most of the cases she devised actual sound rehabilitation programs for them that wouldn’t cost them anything. It seemed like she helped each person and then moved on to the next.
“Was she going to fix me next?” Yvette couldn’t keep the hope in her throat down. Maybe there was a release from all of it.
Ulrich called to her.
“Yvette? Where are you?”
“In the bathroom.” She whispered in wonder.
She walked out to him.
“It’s crazy isn’t it? Did you read how she’s trying to help these people? She’s trying to save this one guy’s marriage by helping him kick his porn addiction. What a load of bull-”
“Where’s mine?”
“I haven’t found it yet. I’ve been looking around here. Everyone is a confession that she’s been stalking people, and a lot of them admit breaking and entering. We could put her in prison easy.”
“No. Help me find mine. It’s important.”
“What you think she could actually help you?”
She ignored him and looked around for a photo of herself. She opened the window to let in some light. A gentle breeze lifted some of the ash off the ground and chilled the warm apartment. She was deathly afraid that Molly had burned her paper, A lot of half-papers that hadn’t been ripped clean off were still dangling from the wall. In the bedroom she found it.
Her picture, where she was jogging. A cage with a cage drawn around her. The paper next to her photo was one of the pages that had been ripped, lost to the furnace. She greedily read what she could find.
“Yvette Jennings. You have the most developed OCD I have ever seen, you need serious help. It’s not just you, this could affect your children (In the unlikely event that you actually have children.) it’s genetic with you. From your great grandfather to your grandfather to your father there has been obsession in your family, yours has just been cultivated to this extent. This constant need to have every aspect of your life timed and controlled, usually comes from a helpless feeling of not being in control at all. What happened in your past? How were you treated and mistreated? I’m going to find ou-” the page was torn there. Immediately she found another page close to the photo. This one had been ripped twice, but one of the rips was a shape she remembered. She could fit the paper scrap from her home onto this page. There were tear stains on this page.
“-So I’ve never felt this close to anybody in my life. I see so much of my own entrapment in you. Your the victim of your own habits and I’m the victim of fear. I’m afraid of people. There I said it. I think it’s time that I put a piece of my own problems on this wall. I’ve never talked about them. I want so badly to talk to you. I’ve seen what happened when you when I finally allowed you to see me. I don’t just want to figure out how to solve you and then never put it to use like all the others. I need to get.” The handwriting became violently shaky here. “Involved. I need to get involved, I know disrupting your routine would rub sulphur into your wounds, but it’s the only way I can think of to help you without talking to you, mayb-” This was where the rip was, the phantom letters pasted themselves in out of Yvette’s memory. “Maybe it would be better if you were dead, I can think of a few ways to help you, but the mental anguish you’ll have to go through would unbearable. I’m going to try and help you, maybe then I could finally help myself.”
It skipped a paragraph.
“Well I just tazed you and ran away a few hours ago. Guess I am involved now. You’re keeping the phone ringing now. I don’t know who you’re calling but I have a feeling neither do you. Does it matter? you’re doing something out of your routine. These could be the horrible birth pains of your recovery if you would let-” and she ran out of paper.
Tears were streaming down Yvette’s face now. She had no idea what Molly had been through in her life but she was one of the most beautiful and damaged souls Yvette could imagine. There was one photo next to Yvette’s on the wall, It was a younger molly, in a class photo, along with twenty or thirty other children. All of them had frowns drawn on their faces in pens, and a crude knife was drawn to molly’s neck. There were no papers next to it. Only the leftover prestik which they had been attached to dangling down.

She came back out to Ulrich who was still interestedly studying one of a beautiful woman who was supposed to be a nymphomaniac.
“Come.” She told him in a hoarse whisper.
“I’ll be with you in a sec.”
She dreamidly walked outside swaying slowly from side to side. The sunlit blindness took a while to wear off, but her ears could still hear the sobbing from the railing.
Molly was sitting there on the floor, an utterly dejected husk with ash flecks still in her hair and tear streaks running down her puffy eyes. She coughed in between her sobs, not looking at Yvette.
She crouched down by Molly and embraced her form, letting her own tears come as she let go of her controlled inhibitions for the first time in over a decade.
“It’s okay Molly, you’re not in any kind of trouble. I understand now..
I think we need to talk”