Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Autopsy of Christianity

The Autopsy of Christianity Stoops: By Ester Lighthorse
Sample Chapter

Chapter 5

    Regina Stoops was a woman of many talents. Highly intelligent and gifted in the arts of persuasion she was the master manipulator of all manipulators. Her intuitive powers were uncanny, and if a person was afraid of her she could smell that fear from a long ways away. She did not hesitate to utilize the fear she sensed in others to suit her own means and ends.
    A woman of old, Regina had more than just been around the block a few times. She was the one who had designed and built the block. She knew every nook and cranny, every shortcut, every alley way, every shadow. With ruthless precision she delegated the who, what, when, where, and why. It was not very often that she was bested by anyone, and whenever something like that did happen it was always a direct result of some asshole or other failing to follow instruction.
    She prided herself in the manner in which she had raised her only son, Christianity Stoops. From his very birth she taught him how to garner respect and instill fear. She taught him how to control and direct the minds of men. And in the event that those he led turned on him, she also taught her son how to slip through the judgments of humanity, re-create and re-invent himself, and then re-integrate into society.
    The death of her son was not a complete surprise to her. She knew damn well he was more than in just a little trouble health-wise. So, she had been biding her time and planning everything perfectly so that she would be able to render the proper treatment to cure that which ailed him. Unfortunately, for all of her intuitive abilities she had underestimated just how very deathly ill her son was. That was okay, though. She could work this out. She could make it work to her advantage. There was always a way to get done what needed to be done, and she always found that way.
    Something wasn’t quite right, though, and ever since leaving Kelsey McGregor Memorial Hospital she had felt an uneasy queasiness pecking away at her gut. At first it was relatively easy to push such thoughts away, marking it up to the stress of the situation. As the day pressed on it became harder and harder to ignore the feeling that something was terribly wrong. And now the feeling had settled over everything within her and without her like the thick blankets of doom that would settle over the Midwestern farms right before a brigade of tornadoes tore everything to shreds.
    Looking at Don as he gazed forlornly through the airport terminal window she immediately regretted not acting on her gut instincts to personally check whether or not the body of her son had been switched according to plan. In many respects, seeing was believing for Regina Stoops. She considered herself to be a woman of honor and expected people to take her at her word, yet detested taking people at their word. She liked to see things for herself, needed to see things for herself. It was better that way because then she could say without a doubt that she knew something for sure.
    It would have been as simple as unzipping the body bag upon arrival at Ecclesiastical Forensics Pathology and giving her ‘son’ a goodbye kiss on the forehead. In the few seconds it would have taken to do so she would have been able to tell whether or not her son was still in the bag or if he had been switched as instructed. The ringer corpse she had arranged to switch with her son’s body had all of the same tattoos, but was in far better physical condition. Under no circumstance did she want anyone to discover the true condition of the health of her son.
    After leaving Ecclesiastical Forensics Pathology in the hearse, Don had received a text on his cell phone that said “It is done.” It had been from Mordecai. Sitting so close together in the front of the hearse Regina had seen that the text had been from Mordecai. But, not wanting to make a scene in front of the hearse driver she had said nothing. Instead she looked straight ahead out of the windshield, forcing her bubbling temper to remain in check.
    And there was something else bothering her and gnawing at the fringes of her mind and begging to be brought front and center. It was something that had to do with the loading of her son’s body onto the hearse at Kelsey Memorial. Was it the hearse? No. Was it the gurney? No. Had she left something important at the hospital, maybe her identification or her purse? No. She had those things with her. What was it?
    She continued to brood over it and systematically began replaying the entire morning in her mind, checking things off as she recollected them. She was absolutely confident she would figure it out, probably in a rogue thought of instant illumination.
    Now as she approached Don in the airport terminal she wondered what in the hell else had gone wrong? And there was so very much that felt wrong, wasn’t there? Even though Mordecai (one of Regina’s least favorite people on the planet, a person whom she had given strict instruction to Don to NOT use in any part of their planning) had indicated that the switch had been done there were a million other things that could have gone wrong. Maybe someone noticed the extra-wide shape of the hearse and the extended thickness of the floor and decided to investigate. Maybe the mechanism in the floor that held the body of her son malfunctioned and they were having trouble getting him out. Maybe the private plane she had chartered to fly her son’s body out to Hawaii had met with disaster. Even if all of these things had happened she could fix them. It sure as hell would not be easy, but it could be done. Besides, what were the odds that so much or everything would go wrong?
    But with each step back to the airport terminal where she had left Don she wished she would have at least tried to look in the body bag before leaving Ecclesiastical Forensics Pathology. She would have felt much better at least seeing to that part for herself. If it was up to her, hell, she would do everything that needed to be done all by herself. Why? Because she trusted no one more that she trusted herself.
    It didn’t take a rocket scientist to read Don’s body language and tell something was very wrong. He was resting his head on the window, hands stuffed in his pockets and shoulders sagging forward. His posture gave Regina the impression that he was desperately trying to disappear, or at least make himself smaller so that he would be more difficult for her to spot. Somewhere in the back of her mind she had known that this was going to happen. She knew that somewhere along the line Don would stray from her path of instruction and end up fucking things over royally. This had happened every single time she had needed to come to the aid of her son in such an over-the-top, dramatic fashion.
    “Don?” Regina called to him. She watched his Adam’s apple bob up and down as he swallowed hard. She felt the anger within her building up in her heart and filling it, metamorphosing into rage. That rage increased exponentially with each breath she took in, sharply slicing away at the self-control she used to tame her temper. She felt her control slipping, the white-hot embers of her wrath beginning to spill over and course through her veins to every part of her body. She would kill him for sure. Not here in the airport, but she would definitely kill him. And just to show him how true to her word she was she would make his death long and suffering and terrible.
    And make no mistake about it he would deserve every bit of it.
    “Don?” Regina called out to him again. “ Don?” She thought for a moment he was doing something he had never done before. Ignoring her. “Don!” She absentmindedly clenched her fists. “I am talking to YOU, Don! Turn around!”
    He didn’t want to turn around, but he did. She saw that his eyes were wide with fear and tendrils of approval shot through her body. Now standing only a few feet from him she saw the sweat that beaded on his forehead and she knew that whatever news he had for her it was going to be the worst. Far worse than she would have ever expected.
    “R-Regina,” he stammered, “there’s, ah, there’s been some unfortunate developments.” He swallowed and his throat clicked dryly.
    “Has there been?”
    “Yes. The, uhm…our son-”
    “MY son,” Regina corrected Don.
    “Yes. Your son. He…uhm…” Don began to fiddle with the change in his pockets. Regina’s hands twitched, begging to fly to Don’s throat, to interlock their fingers, and then to shake whatever information this happy asshole was trying to say out of his mouth.
    “You know, Don, it would be better for you to just get out whatever it is you are having trouble with. You already know I am pissed. At the very least that should be obvious. So, why not save us both the added trouble and come out with it?”
    “He’s not on the plane to Hawaii.”
    “Uhm-hum. So, where is he?” She took a step forward directly into Don’s personal space. He tried to take a step back and met with the wall.
    “He’s not here at the airport,” Don almost whispered.
    “Then WHERE is he, Don? Or maybe you would rather play twenty questions?” Regina’s voice had started to rise. Her lips pulled back from her teeth in a snarl as she spoke, “Is he still in the hearse?”
    “No,” Don answered in a very small voice.
    “Did the hearse driver go back to Kelsey? Is his body still there?”
    “No,” Don answered, and Regina could smell the sour acid that was bubbling in his stomach on his breath.
    “Then WHERE is he?”
    “At Ecclesiastical Forensics Pathology.”
    Christ. This was very bad news indeed.
    “Is that so?” Regina’s expression darkened. “And why, pray tell, is my son still there?” Don saw that Regina’s expression was not the only thing that had darkened. He could no longer see the pupils in her aqua blue eyes. Neither could he see the aqua blue of the iris.
    Regina’s eyes were completely and totally black.
    Don felt his bladder spasm, and if it hadn’t been for the fact he had emptied his bladder twenty minutes ago in the men’s room of the terminal he would have urinated on himself.
    “They are doing…an autopsy…on him. As we speak the doctors are examining his body-” Don’s words were cut short. Regina’s hand had moved with a swiftness that ninjas only dreamt about, leaving a perfect, red hand mark that covered the majority of the right side of his face. Don cried out in pain and terror, pissing off Regina even more who promptly brought her other hand across the other side of Don’s face.
    “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!” Regina screamed into his face, and just like that her conscious mind locked onto what was wrong about loading her son onto the hearse over at Kelsey Memorial.
    There were no camera crews filming the event.
    Not her special camera crew or anyone else’s. At least none that she could see, at any rate.
    “You STUPID mother fucker!” she exclaimed through clenched teeth. The cords in her neck stood out ferociously and her face burned crimson. “You forgot to call the mother FUCKING camera crew? What the fuckey-DOO am I gonna tell everyone now, you goddamn imbecile?!”
    Don instinctively looked around the terminal for help, but save for the mother and two children who were scurrying away from that particular airport terminal and down the hallway to, well, to someplace else, there was no one.
    “Regina! Please!” Don begged as he brought his hands up to protect his face. “I didn’t know! I didn’t know!”
    “Didn’t know what? Huh? How to follow fucking simple instructions?” Regina roared, violently grabbing him by the lapels and jerking his face so close to her own that their noses almost touched.
    “Mordecai! Mordecai! He didn’t mean to send the text saying it was done to me! He made a mistake! A mistake! He was sending the text to-” Don broke off mid sentence as he felt himself lifted and thrown like a child’s rag doll over three rows of chairs. His body turned and twisted in the air, and when he came down he landed awkwardly on the side of his head, his neck twisting, shoulder crunching, and back painfully scraping the metal armrest of one of the chairs.
    “YOU!” Regina screamed like a banshee in pain, moving with the eerie swiftness of an owl’s shadow in the light of a midnight moon.
    “No! Regina, please!” Don begged as he righted himself and tried to stand up. “Mordecai didn’t even make it into the hearse! H-he was h-high on m-meth-” Don screamed as Regina half crouched and grabbed his testicles in one hand and his neck in the other. She threw him again, this time her uncontrolled anger propelling him even further. He hit the top of the airline check-in desk and skittered across the top sending papers flying every which way. His momentum carried him off of the desk and he promptly landed in a large clay flowerpot that broke.
    Don rolled to his side amidst the dark, peaty dirt and broken pieces of pottery. He knew Regina was coming for him. He could feel her coming for him, her black agate eyes shining with hate and the fingers of both her hands pulled into talons that were more than ready and willing to quite literally reduce him to a pile of ribbons.
    He lost his balance as he tried to stand up and thrust his hands out to catch himself. His hands came down on the razor sharp pieces of broken pottery and he cried out in pain and fear. He had hit his temple quite hard when he landed on the desk and his ears were ringing so he sensed more that heard Regina moving behind him. He swayed as he stood up and turned to face her, his bleeding palms held out in surrender.
    “Plea-” Don had intended to tell Regina that he was pretty sure that the only people who had seen the real body of Christianity Stoops were the two doctors performing the autopsy. Well, the two doctors and maybe their assistants who probably didn’t do much more than measure, weigh, and take pictures of the body, however that went. He didn’t get very far with what he wanted to say when an explosion of stars speckled his vision.
    Regina had spun smartly around on the ball of one foot and connected one of her fists with Don’s jaw. Three of Don’s molars broke off where the crowns met the gum-line and he fell back, arms pin wheeling and legs collapsing. Feeling a sharp pain in his throat he numbly realized in a far away thought that he had swallowed a tooth. He fell hard on the floor and a random thought flitted across his mind: My foot feels different. He had lost one of his shoes.
    Then Regina was upon him like a great and terrible monster released from a pit, wrapping her hands around his throat and squeezing with hellish force. She kicked one leg back mimicking a donkey kick and then brought her knee straight into his crotch with deadly aim. The world started to swim away from Don in a wave of white-hot sparks that occurred in a realm of pain he never knew existed, much less ever experienced.
    Right before he passed out he realized he had indeed peed his pants after all.

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