His hands shook as he smoked his last cigarette of the pack. It was to be the last of his life and he knew. He knew by the heavier than usual acrid taste, like puffing the rest of the filter into oblivion. The veracity of his heart was long lost in a halo of hatred and malice. As a child he simply loved people too much—giving his all only to be taken advantage of. Ritualistic beatings by his stepfather (fueled by alcohol and resentment) left him hungry for blood-lust and a precarious desire, inevitably leading him to this place of deprecation.
The other prisoners were becoming boisterous as the main entrance door to the hall was heaved open. And how could you blame them? They were all waiting for infinity. This long, treacherous cement walkway held dead men in rusted, defiled cages.
Three officers emerged from the vivid doorway that filled the echoing hall with precious light. An overweight vicar and the Warden followed suit. The shivers caught on as the encased prisoner dropped his smoldering cigarette to the ground. In came the feelings of abandonment, frustration, and the unrequited search for solidarity.
The three men and vicar moved passed his cell and stopped in front of one a couple of cells away. As the shivers built themselves into a chaotic crescendo, the sobbing increased from a small murmur to galloping heaves.
The Warden slowly moved in front of his cell, stopping in a charismatic fashion. Hair slicked back, suit pressed to perfection, Warden Jonathan D’Amico was unlikable at first glance. He wore his 6’2 245 pound ex-USC linebacker frame very well. Although only 33 years old, his masterful political agenda coupled with eight consummate years working for the California Department of Justice warranted a handing of the reigns of the brand new Cabrillo State Penitentiary, a maximum security fortress located in the sprawling hills and forests of San Mateo County.
D’Amico had his reasons for becoming a man of the shield and proprietor of justice. At 13 years old, his mother was beaten, raped, and murdered in the front of their home while coming home from one of her many jobs. As had been the case with many previous murders in history, no one came to help his mother, who was assaulted in broad daylight, in the middle of a quaint, quiet upper middle-class neighborhood. Unfortunately for Jonathan, he came upon the carnage in conclusion as he arrived home from school.
Face to face with the man who just violated and ended his mother’s life, Jonathan saw red. Something inside of him finally disconnected. Maybe it was the built up anger and frustration at not having a father from the first day he was born. Maybe it was the hardship and failures he and his mother endured throughout his young life. Or maybe it was because of the way the perpetrator cackled and smirked as Jonathan stood there motionless and in flames. Maybe it was the way the man casually zipped himself up while holding the dripping, bloody knife that he used to carve up his mother, making his way towards Jonathan with a smug suaveness fixing to end the D’Amico lineage all in one day.
Whatever it may have been, Jonathan’s vision was red; as red as the pools of blood that surrounded his mother. And black followed with it.
When the police finally arrived, Jonathan sat next to his mother’s inert body, covered in blood. His eyes no longer held the redness dredged from the depths of his quintessence. All that remained in those eyes claimed defeat, resembling dead ashes in a hearth. The redness had found a new home: engulfing the murderer who now lay 10 feet from Jonathan and his lifeless mother. Although the murderer himself lay beaten and broken, with both eyes gouged completely out (the remains of which smeared his face and the surrounding sidewalk in a gelatinous mess) and his own knife stuck firmly in the middle of his gaping, severed neck, Jonathan was acquitted of any wrongdoing and applied for an emancipation to be on his own.
Jonathan D’Amico never fully recovered from the treacheries of the man who murdered his mother in cold blood. But, his single life goal from then on was to eradicate any and all defilers capable of such acts against other human beings, this being easy behind a shield with some seriously earned clout. This was his calling, and Marcus de Falla was just another piece of shit he wanted to see sent down to Lucifer for an eternal Hell storm.
“Hey shitbrick, what’s the word?” D’Amico snickered as he knelt in front of the shaken prisoner’s cell. He got no response, save for the continuing body trembles.
“I bet you’re wondering if your number is up, right de Falla? Rest assured, your maker has already made reservations for your remains you worthless shitbag.”
D’Amico stood up and paused a brief second to sneer at the prisoner before sauntering toward his officers and the vicar. Marcus de Falla knew that it wasn’t him that day, which made the shakes even more volatile and erratic…because he knew who. The only man he ever opened up to and respected in this Hellhole: The Pacifist.
D’Amico finally reached the cell that housed The Pacifist. Inside was an elderly man of 75 years old, sitting inaudibly on his bed with his hands folded trimly on his lap. He wore an alluring face designed with wrinkles wrapped in time, and a priests collar. He was formerly a priest in San Diego, but the ensuing investigation showed that he served time in many other states and countries including some in Africa, Europe, and Russia. He was an esteemed man, held in high regard with many in the community until local and federal agents broke his underground procession ring of child prostitution and pornography. The Pacifist had one of the most brilliant operations law enforcement officials had ever seen. Because he worked so much in different countries, it was easy for him to prey on the runaways and juveniles that came to the church for guidance. These lost kids would arrive to The Pacifist looking for revelations and find a monster hiding in the shadows feeding his own gaping maw with decadence.
With his charges by no means enough for the death penalty, it took the uncovering of at least 150 corpses of children murdered for the camera in California, Texas, West Virginia, and at least 8 more states; because of ramifications and lack of cooperation with other foreign law enforcement parties, it was never known if he had claimed victims in the same fashion overseas. Having been ex-communicated by Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church, with the Pope and his rash of cardinals claiming they had no idea this travesty was happening, the public cried bullshit. Reporters, private investigators, and surprisingly a few senators and state representatives from the U.S. Government sought a more concrete answer as to who let this man move so much with ease, and why. Why was he so sporadic in his movements including being sent overseas into at least 6 different countries?
The investigation was supposedly very lucrative in its many findings but ultimately led to it being shoved to the third page of the paper with a few columns contributing facts regurgitated from previous articles. One reporter claimed that the government had uncovered a list of prospective clients and ‘customers’ associated with The Pacifist which included high-echelon U.S dignitaries, a few A-List Hollywood actors, and even the Pope himself but nothing came to light and the case was eventually dismantled and shelved with the church settling with the victims families.
Which led to the Pacifist being led here–amongst a dead world shrouded in dispraise. The other prisoners knew, of course, of the crimes against children this man had perpetrated, the normality in this place being no one live longer than 5 minutes past their booking and orientation because of it. Yet, the derelict prisoners and drifters could not allow themselves to harm a man of the cloth. For most of them, the only person that they had in their corner was God. And they were not about to lose him. Not after their brutal and flagrant crimes against humanity and the world.
The Pacifists brought his faith and healing processes to the prison and became somewhat of a conscientious objector. Even though he had been excommunicated, he still believed in heaven, hell, as well as permissible-lawful death. Excommunication was by no means a way to formulate a person to drop all religious conviction and creed. At least not for The Pacifist.
The Pacifist began blessing himself and as he stood up to great his doomsday prophets. His tongue rolled the syllables of his now rising prayer, which became diluted with the clicks and pops of his tongue.
“O my God, relying on Thy almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon for my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer…”
The Catholicism mantra of the vicar continued as well, only changing to Latin so as to not overtake The Pacifist’s own prayer.
D’Amico ordered the guards to open the door as he silently surveyed his thoughts. Was it uncanny that he was transporting The Pacifist to his end? His thoughts inflamed into a swelling of mockeries. As a young child he was a dedicated servant to his Catholic church as a devout altar boy, while also completing his First Communion and Confirmation. Throughout his childhood, passed his mother’s brutal and unfortunate end, and into today, he remained highly devout and true to his Catholic roots.
His conscious was doing fiery back flips atop his crusade for justice, all the while repeating ‘wrongdoer, wrongdoer’. The Pacifist was the actual wrongdoer. He would have to pay for his sins, whether Warden D’Amico liked it or not. Whether it was a breach of religious code, or a highly devout Catholic sending a priest to his end, it had to be done.
As the men exited the cell, the other prisoners became tranquil, as The Pacifist was in full view of everyone on the cell block. The dead man’s walk began as the Warden led the way–The Pacifist following and the officers and vicar dragging behind. As the Pacifist came upon Marcus’ cell, he slowed his promenade to a slow saunter. His prayer broke off into a fade as his eyes met with Marcus’. He turned to Warden D’Amico.
“May I have a mere minute with the boy young Warden D’Amico?”
D’Amico looked insipid and heavily under par. He didn’t like the idea of The Pacifist cavorting with this mongrel of a man. But, like any prisoner sauntering to his fate, it was the least he could do.
“Sure thing Father. You’ve got one minute.”
The Pacifist knelt in front of Marcus’ cell. Marcus crept to the bars in a pain stricken crawl. He held out his hand to The Pacifist. As they were about to touch, a truncheon slammed down on the bars only just missing Marcus’ hand. Acknowledging the situation, The Pacifist put his hands together in prayer. Marcus could only look on in pain as The Pacifist spoke to him.
“Will you commit me to your memory forever my son?” The Pacifist asked.
“Yes. I will.”
“Will you say the Prayer for the Dead like I taught you?”
“We will meet again. Prostrate yourself until your atonement. Be diligent about the after world. Leave this place in harmony.”
Marcus shuffled his weight from left to right, realizing that his entire body slowly grew cold and distant—as if his soul began to depart with the aura of The Pacifist.
“Death is inevitable,” The Pacifist resumed. “It only takes time. Spare your thoughts from wreckage and use this time wisely.”
“Death is inevitable,” whispered Marcus.
The warden placed his hands atop The Pacifist’s shoulders.
“Father,” Warden D’Amico intervened, “It is time.”
The Pacifist began his prayer once more as he stood up to resume his walk. Marcus could only stay inert on the ground as the men departed from his view and behind the door a few cells down. The inmates were still unvoiced as the block grew cold and silent. The inconceivable truth that Marcus was at his end was prominent.
The shadows of the trees placed malformed images on the leaf trodden earth. Screams of a female can be heard in a cacophonous chant with the hoarse pleadings of a man. Two men wearing all black carry the man and woman throughout the vaporous forest. The man is hog-tied and being dragged on the ground. The girl is tied in the same fashion and is shouldered by one of the men.
The troupe reaches an abundant part of the forest. The man carrying the girl drops her with force. The other man, hauling the woman’s companion, places some bags he also had been carrying near the couple. The frightened woman, no more than 30 years old, squirms her way towards the tied man and huddles next to him. The man who had been carrying the woman wears a pale face and a menacing tattoo on his neck: a blood soaked pentagram with an image of a zombified goat in the center. His partner has a face decipherable from past times. It is Marcus. His partner’s name is Blacktooth. As Marcus looks at the couple in an insatiable lust, Blacktooth speaks.
“Hey Marc, git that salt ready and draw us out a pretty lil pentagram. We gonna have us a lil church service buddy!”
Marcus retrieves the salt from one of the bags near the couple. Along with the salt, the bag houses black candles, inverted crucifixes, life-size skulls, a book with Sumerian symbols, and another book titled Book of Leviathan. The bag, no doubt, mirrors that of Lucifer’s own.
Marcus walks a little past Blacktooth, who is terrifying the girl by slicing his torso with a straight-razor, rapt on creating a pentagram into his skin over the old ones of before. His endeavor is an accomplishment as he throws the straight-razor to the ground in triumph and howls at the moonless sky. Marcus pulls the lip of the salt container open and methodically outlines a perfect star with a circle around it. Blacktooth pulls what seems to be a bottle of liquid and a cloth from his back pocket. His intent is sardonic.
Straddling the girl, he covers her mouth with the soaked cloth. The hog-tied man attempts to break free but Marcus suavely kicks him in the face, distributing bits of bloody incisor all over the soil. The girl is unconscious within seconds. Marcus speaks with hurried enthusiasm.
“Blacktooth, do we need the guy?”
“No we don’t. I’ll be done with him.”
He pulls a Ruger Security 6 revolver out of his jacket pocket and aims closely at the cataleptic man. He pulls the trigger, sending brain fragments and cartilage mixed with the remaining bone and teeth. He fires again and again until all six shot find their final resting place between the man and the ground. Blacktooth seizures into a frenzied dance once again, howling at the moon in an attempt to usher some reaction from the heavens. Marcus can only watch, mesmerized as the heavens answer with rain to wash away the inequities of these foul men.
Marcus awoke in an inundation of sweat and tears; his shirt plastered to his chest. He reached for his cigarettes but realized in mid stride that he smoked the last one 6 months ago. He sat up and cradled his face in his hands, trying to wipe away any consternation and turmoil that probably still showed on his face. The conclusive truth that his sobbing was over only seemed to make the cell that much smaller.
He never did say the Prayer for the Dead for The Pacifist all those months back. In truth, he simply forgot. The pain and dismay only mounted his ego centrism to higher grounds. Of all the times in a man’s life, his impending death was the only thing to take a front row seat to his psyche. When you live life to die, there is no other place to be but inside your head–locked away to gather your sins and shed them out through the irises.
Blacktooth suddenly flushed back into his monotonous thoughts like a disdainful laughing rage. Marcus was here on death row under the watchful guidance of Warden D’Amico, while Blacktooth resided in the Allegheri State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. It was Blacktooth who fired all 6 rounds of his revolver into the man. It was Blacktooth who then proceeded to cut open the man and use his innards for tree decorations. It was Blacktooth who raped the girl and then sacrificed her to the Lords below. Blacktooth knew what he was doing. To say he was insane was a mockery and a blasphemous blow to Marcus. Marcus’ premonition of something going horrible awry was brought to life when Blacktooth was absent during the arraignment. Separate trials for separate crimes. Blacktooth took the easy way out and was spared his life by rolling over on Marcus. This was only the beginning of an omen of bad things to come.
Suddenly, as if a wedge was inserted to pry him away from his thoughts, Marcus heard the clattering of footsteps from behind the entrance door. Once again, the heavy door was heaved open, creaking and echoing through the block and disrupting the snores and breathing of other inmates. The steps of Warden D’Amico and his entourage could be heard a mile away. Marcus succumbed to the noises of the imminent men as he raised one eyebrow and sat up straight, placing his hands on his lap. Death was in the air.
As the men stepped through the doorway and onto the rundown walkway, the fast paced breathing of the overweight vicar was silently overtaken into a dirge of breath and whispers. The door methodically shut closed and the inmates sprang up to take in the scene. Calamity began to fill the cell block and the inmates indulged in their unified omniscient feelings. They screamed and shouted with desolate fury. Some slept through the noise. Others used the toilet, sobbed, read the bible, and kiss photos of loved ones.
Marcus only sat and stared at the barren wall sprawled in front of him. He had nothing but his thoughts and the blood that ran through his veins. The Pacifist was right. Death is inevitable. To run with that notion and rediscover life meant to stare down death and smile. Smile and become invincible to fear. You cannot fear something that is uncontrollable. The Pacifist taught him that…and taught him well.
With the Prayer for the Dead rolling off his tongue, Marcus began to stand–stand and greet the inevitable death.