Deal 1207: Pleasant dreams

Walking in the fresh air and avoiding tea houses for a few days seemed to have stopped the visions. At least for a time.

Then they returned with a vengeance, almost as if their source was aware that I had attempted to shut them off. The fact that I had done just that ate at me, and likely fueled their attack once it came. But then, I seem to be central to this tale, so perhaps that is just what must be.

The alternative is to be just a puppet dancing on the strings of an unseen puppeteer. As if I were nothing more than a character in someone else’s story. Worse, perhaps even designed with reactions calculated to advance the plot. But if that is the truth, it is unthinkable. So it cannot possibly be true.

I am not a puppet. I have free will, and freedom of action. My intentions will carry on past my own demise. I’ve seen to that.

When the letters I’ve left scattered to the winds are gathered together, the truth will be evident.

Of course, actually doing the heavy lifting myself to bring the bright light of justice on those that set me on my current path sounds like hard work, and I don’t have the patience for that any more.

So I leave it to the world to work out the details.

I’ll be here.

Here, battling the visions from the deeps. Deep time. Deep space. Deep water. Deep and dark places where men fear to tread. Places occupied by things better left in the dark. Things that want out. Things that want to step off the page and settle in other minds.

Things that might have found a new home, if my trap has worked.


Deal 1180

Frog ran the numbers rackets. No one remembered why he was called “Frog”, he just was. And if anyone tried to short him or cheat, he was quick to punish them. And remember that he did, as he lurked behind his one way glass and watched the action on the street and in his casino.

His games were rigged, of course, but the customers never dared complain. Rigged or not, he was a formidable enemy, and no one wanted to play that game.

So when Frog said “Leap”, most would simply ask “How high?”


Deal 1170: Emptying the Swamp

Crank the handle, wind up the music. And the band played on. And the frogs came in from the swamp.

Wind up the music. Listen to the croaking madness. Dodge the occasional explosion.

There is a war on, but then when hasn’t there been a war on?

The frogs come in from the swamp in wave, croaking thanks as they cross our threshold.

Rain may fall without harm, but shrapnel is a flying pig of another color entirely. Frogs don’t appreciate the charms of shrapnel. They do appreciate shelter.

Music plays and frogs sing.


Deal 1158: Bats

Choices abound, as usual. They vary in quality from the best that can be had to the worst imaginable, with all plausible outcomes falling far away from the extremes.

This time they had gone to far. Their only way out was to go all the way through. And survive.

Meanwhile, the juggernaut began to flex its muscles in court, burning all possible avenues of retreat, narrowing the path.

In its wake, the possibilities evaporate as if never there, as the choices we would prefer evaporate before our eyes.

That brings us to this moment as we stand with the stolen loot in hand in the lobby of the bank, surrounded by police with nowhere to turn. Our plan had been simple. Pull this last heist, and then use the proceeds to obtain transportation away. Far far away. Somewhere we could outrun our previous choices, and live free for a time.

Instead, here we were. The fires we set to cover our escape were already burning and we had to be out the door and moving in seconds for it all to work.

Then it all went pear-shaped. Or perhaps it always was, and this was just the moment we realized it.

Our carefully planned retreat was blocked.

Blocked by a man dressed all in black, wearing an improbable black cowl and cape. And yet, somehow, he seemed to carry it off.

“You know who I am,” he said, “and you are coming with me.”

What else could we do but set our weapons down and agree to face our fates.