« on: January 23, 2015, 07:50:14 pm »
Senor Paes was disturbed. Disturbed, here, has several meanings. His discovery should have satisfied him. His invention should have sent him into euphoria. But it was hard to be euphoric against failure.
On the rare occasions someone would introduce themselves to him, that inevitable question would always come up. “So what do you do?” He wasn’t a good fibber, Senor Paes. His palms would get sweaty and he would have trouble swallowing. Finally he started yelping “LARPING, I AM A LARPER!” It seemed to satisfy them, in that they would grow uncomfortable and shortly thereafter excuse themselves.
It was LARPing, though, in the very real sense of the word. He was playing a role, these last few years pent up in the workshop, tinkering and hammering and laughing and sobbing. It just so happened that the role he was playing was Bolthar the Collector, Harvester of Souls.
It started years ago with that great awful bastard The Good Reverend Roger, or Doktor Howl, or whatever he was calling himself. Senor Paes, thanks to his wife and the kinds of medication one usually finds in hospices, in Guantanamo Bay, had most of the bad thoughts under control. But then came that story, he hated to think of it even now, the story that TGRR so proudly labeled as having been hatched with malice on the brain. After that, things got a little bit blurry.
He started construction of his device in a fit of mania, driven by alligator medulla oblongata extract and semi imported drop bear omelets. It wasn’t a dagger, like Bolthar’s, per se, more of an advanced neutralization depowerm…let’s just say it looked a bit like an egg slicer attached to a reciprocating saw, with a plethora of hoses in between. And what it stole wasn’t exactly a soul, but more of a quadridigital imprint of cognitive functioning…it made people empty. The practical end of it, which Senor Paes called the business side, was a cricket bat with a railroad spike lovingly crafted into it, so as not to split the fine woodwork.
He’d clipped his shaggy hair and neatened the wild beard, trimmed his bitten and broken and jagged fingernails. He’d put on the clothes of the old Senor Paes. And he’d flown to Tucson to meet Roger.
“COFFEE?” the private message read simply. It was a direct line to Roger’s shriveled heart, provoking a response doctors have previously called “grossly overenthusiastic” and “disturbingly sexual.” Like a conditioned rat he stood from his desk and grunted aside a terrified maintenance crew on his way to the machine. He stopped before his shrine and grabbed the holy carafe and as he readied to pour he paused at an odd smell, a smell like burning batteries and rotten milkshakes.
The business side did its job, and the contraption on the other end whirred to life in a sinful music. And like that, it was over. Senor Paes breathed again like he used to. He almost smiled, lugging his invention back to the parking lot, back to the boarded up Motel he was staying in. The room was cramped and its odors struck him as senses awoke from their long dormant state. He fired up his phone and checked the forums.
And there was Roger. With another of his stories. Senor Paes checked his machine’s storage. Surely enough, an appropriate amount of its space was taken up. Significantly more than he would have expected, in fact, given the subject. In a state of serenity, he transferred the subject over to his backup, its data prison, and he slept a sleep of the purposeful.
The next day he did it again. And again after that. Days became weeks and weeks became months until they too faded. He killed Roger in the morning and he killed Roger in the afternoon. He killed him in his sleep, he killed him in his car. He killed him, in an act Senor Paes now saw as his most depraved, on the toilet while he made his wretched art. It was that one that stopped his obsession.
He left the tiny room and he looked around and it was off, somehow. Maybe it was perspective but the mountains looked further away, or maybe just smaller. The once busy roads had fewer and fewer cars on them. He sought Roger again. After all this time, the man’s schedule was as much a part of him as Bolthar.
He found him inducing vomiting on the steps of the congressman’s office, as was his Tuesday routine. The crowd parted around him. Senor Paes drew back the business side and struck Roger as he had so many times. As he fell, Paes saw two things. The first was that Roger, unlike Paes himself, was scaled to his environment and the people around him. The second was that one of those people disappeared before his eyes just as his invention set about its terrible work.
So yes, Senor Paes was disturbed. His work was far greater than he anticipated. And he was going to have to buy more storage space for the backup. It was far, far too small to fit all of Tucson.