Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Mercenary and the Gloaming Ghouls

The gloaming ghouls still haunt me, and I know why.

Mercenary is the only job I’ve ever had, even back when I ran with the Gunrunners. For the first few months, I was the powerhouse of our little gang. The gunslinger was the muscle, sure, but I was the firepower. The preacher may have healed us, but I kept us alive. And the schoolgirl was smart, but I was the brains.

As the movement grew and more countrymen joined our ranks, it was my brains that ended up making me the most gold. I routed hidden trails the magistrate couldn’t find. I gave our troops intel about hidden supply stashes. And I knew underhanded tactics that made the veteran gunslinger blush. And eventually, I was paid to plan the biggest operation we’d ever done.

The gunslinger wanted to take the magistrate’s armory. I told him we could take the magistrate’s army. When he asked me how, I just smiled and held out my hand.

It took weeks of planning and prep. Our guns were loud and bright, so darkness didn’t help us much. But we attacked by night. They outnumbered us 10 to 1, so we made sure they had a full house. We knew the magistrate overvalued the armory, even though our guns were better. So that’s where we struck.

Because I had made something new; something they hadn’t seen before. Special ammo made from scrap metal that could shred through armor. What’s an unarmored man in a gunfight? Dead.

The plan was to make it look like a last desperate assault. We staged weaker and weaker attacks against the armory. We drew the guards in from the surrounding villages and camps. And during the midnight shift change, in the mists of the gloaming, I fired off my special shred rounds, and the countrymen began their barrage.

It was a massacre. All told, we killed hundreds of them and lost only a dozen ourselves. I looked around at what I had done, and something happened to me, though I didn’t notice right away.

I stayed to finish the fight. When we killed the magistrate, the gunslinger said there was still more to do. But I was done. I was broken. So I left. I went to one of the colonies. I joined the Watchmen’s guild. Now I only kill the dead.

Sometimes I try to forgive myself. After all, I wasn’t the only gun in the fight. Certainly there was another that night with more blood on their barrel; another soul the ghouls should be after.

But then I remember the dark truth of that night. The reason the gloaming ghouls still haunt me, all these years later.

The countrymen were fighting for freedom. I was fighting for coin.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Puzzle Box

What, the puzzle box?
It’s not a terribly interesting story.

A few months after we met, we were working on improving his abilities; testing his limits.
I’d seen him lift cars and invert statues and disassemble tables, but he was still having trouble with minute manipulations. He lacked the psionic equivalent of fine motor skills.
So, one day I was browsing a local thrift store and found a small metal puzzle box. It was small cube with many interlocking gears and metal components. It was very intricate and difficult to manipulate with your hands. It was just the thing I was looking for, and I got it for less than 5 dollars.

The next morning, I gave him the box and we spent the entire day training with it. By the end, his control had increased at least threefold, and I learned a lot about how his telekinesis worked. It’s fascinating, the energy he generates is mostly focused on one small point. He says it takes more willpower to affect multiple points at once than it does to make the effect stronger. He can lift cars or statues with a few distinct points of force, but liquids just slip through his mental fingers.

Right, sorry.
Anyway, after we were done for the day, just as I was leaving, he stopped me at the door. He said he wanted to make a point of thanking me for the puzzle box. He said it was the best birthday present he had ever received.

I didn’t know. He hadn’t told me. I never even thought to ask.

And I think I’m still the only normal person who knows what day it is.

Well, unless you count his brother.

But looking back, that day was when we really started working together. Every interaction we had before was so… clinical. After his birthday, I began to understand how his personality, his mind, affected his powers. So many major breakthroughs happened in the year that followed.

So, exactly one year later, I went out and found another puzzle box. This time, I got the biggest and most complicated one I could find. It was bigger than a microwave, and cost about two hundred dollars. But it was worth it to see how far he had come, and to see him that happy again.

And every year since, I’ve gotten him a bigger and more intricate puzzle box. Just to see him happy.

Never tell him I said that. He’d never let me live it down. It’s in his nature.

He doesn’t need that kind of stress. He’s got a “resistance” to worry about.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Abyss

Why does Mr. Dotson do it?
Why put up with him? Why not let someone else deal with the day to day handling of his affairs and just focus on the science?

My first theory was that they are just good friends. And honestly they might be, but you wouldn’t assume that just by looking at them. He acts like an entitled celebrity, and Dotson like a beleaguered assistant. They don’t seem to engage as peers, at least not in public?

Maybe they just have a good work dynamic, but then I see Dotson plugging away at the some project for days while his partner flitters around the lab tweaking and experimenting with everything in sight. I don’t know if that’s it.

Destiny perhaps? We know that he chose Dotson out of all of the many people he could have gone to reveal his powers, so we must infer that he prefers Dotson’s methods over anyone else’s. But Dotson isn’t a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. He knows when to drop something that isn’t working. Personally, I think Dotson would enjoy his work more if he just analysed the data from experiments that someone else was running. Dotson must see something we don’t.

True love? I didn’t see any evidence of that, but maybe I’m not the best one to ask. I’m not that kind of girl.

This question has plagued me for longer than I care to admit. I don’t… have much going on myself, and it’s hard not to get caught up in their antics. I’m certainly not the only one, as rumors about what nonsense they were getting up to were always circulating around the facility.
I guess we were all anti-social nerds anyway. Maybe talking about the adventures of a superhero and his loyal sidekick came naturally to us. Perhaps to me more than most…
It’s all a bit parasocial really...

But one day, back when I worked in the research lab under the Global Psi headquarters, I got a chance to satisfy my curiosity.
He sat down at my table during lunch. Dotson, that is. I managed to strike up a conversation.
We talked for a bit, and I’ll spare you the details, but it ended like this:
I said, “Honestly Mr. Dotson, how can you stand working with him all day? He’s insufferable! You know they say that when you stare into the abyss, the abyss also stares back into you. Is that why you’re so crazy, Dotson?”

And then Dotson looked over at me, gave a me a small, gentle, worrying smile, and said, “Maybe, but I have to wonder…

What does the abyss feel when it stares back into you?

I think there’s only one way to find out.”

Friday, April 7, 2017


She’s hard to talk to. It must be difficult for her to open up. I’ve had three sessions with her and only now, twenty minutes into session four does she actually say something of substance.

“Let me explain something to you right now, I’m good at arguing I mean I’ve been arguing my whole life. I’ve fought with my parents, my older brother, my two sisters, camp counselors, old friends, principals at every school and even the police on occasion. If you’re going to write down anything in your stupid notebook Mr. Dotson it should be this: Abigail Morner, argumentative.

But he is impossible to argue with.”

I wish I had a proper office to conduct these sessions. Bouncing from room to room has not been good for her cooperation. And I think hosting this fourth session in our interrogation suite was a very bad idea.

“Minutes into any disagreement he dissolves into childlike behaviour while keeping his infuriatingly smug wit. And his nicknaming thing quickly becomes name calling as soon as he loses his temper. Last time he called me ‘Hotpants’.”

I see that she’s starting to burn through the wooden table she’s leaning on, but before I can say anything she continues.

“Which was funny but in a personal and hurtful kind of way.”

She throws herself back into her chair annoyed, before noticing the small trail of smoke her hands left on the table. Her eyes widen and she checks her thermometer under her wrist.

“Great, my core temp’s rising. Look at me, I’m attracting too much heat talking about this guy.”
I ask her if she wants something to drink to cool her down, but she refuses.

“No no, I got it.”

She reaches into her pocket and retrieves what looks like a big neon glowstick. Gripping it tightly, she vents heat into the device, changing the fluid within from a pale green to a warm orange before setting it on the table. She is now visibly more calm.

“You know, I am thankful for his help. These monitors and heat sinks he and Nitro made for me have certainly made this temperature thing easier to live with. And I did kind've keep these powers on his recommendation. And I suppose I should thank you as well, Dotson. My life was very all over the place before I got here, it’s nice to have someone to listen after the… trauma of the “event” that happened to me.”

Her gaze doesn’t leave the heat sink, even as she does air quotes around the word “event”, until she says the following sentence.

“But that doesn’t mean I’m going to take this lying down. And if you’re not going to step in and stop him from bullying me and the other guys… and his staff… and even you sometimes Mr.Dotson, then I will.”

She says that last line with a half-smile and makes a move to get up. I’ve learned to just let her leave when she wants to. I stop her only to thank her for her time.

It’s clear to me that he is not taking the role of leader well. This isn’t the first complaint, and it won’t be the last. But I’ve placed too many chips on this number to back out now. It’s easier to mold him into a better person than find someone new, even if it means getting a little…


I hope my ancestors forgive me for what I have to do.

  • David Dotson

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Interview Transcript

Note: This transcript was made from what remains of the interview with David Dotson. We were only able to watch and transcribe the video a few times due to the demagnetization, and there was a lot of static that covered some of the audio, so as a result some of this transcript is speculation on our part. We apologize for any resulting inaccuracies, but it won’t matter much anyway. Once he finds this he will destroy it and any backups you make. If I were you I’d try to learn what you can from this before that happens. There are some more notes at the end of the transcript.

(The recording starts with about 2 minutes of static before the audio clears up)

Interviewer: (Static fades out) interview isn’t about you, so let’s get down to business. How did you meet him?

David: (Feigning ignorance) How did I meet who?

Interviewer: Him. Who else? From the news.

David: (Sarcastically) Oh, from the news. Well, he just walked into my office one day.

Interviewer: …Is there a longer version of this story?

David: If you want the longer version, I’m afraid I’m going to have to make this interview about me for a little bit. Do you mind?

Interviewer: Not at all. By all means, please continue.

David: Alright then, the best place to start is about five years ago when I was at college attempting to get my professional’s degree.

Interviewer: At Braegart University, right?

David: (Laughs) Yeah that’s right. Good old “BU”. Anyway, I was about to complete my degree in abstract physics and had a job lined up at a local research firm. The only thing I had left was to present my final dissertation on my research. It was the culmination of all my work on a then-unknown form of energy that I had discovered by noticing the gaps in certain physical equations.

Interviewer: This was your big paper on psionic energy, right?

David: Well yes, but at the time I had called it “neuroelectric” energy, as the best place to find it is in the brains of living organisms. You see, this energy and electricity are so closely related that the brain’s natural electric field creates a related neuroelectric, or psionic, field. Psionic energy is unique in that it doesn’t stick around for long. If it doesn’t live within a field, it will start to convert itself into random bursts of energy, usually kinetic, and the results can be quite devastating. To prevent this, our brains have evolved to keep this energy contained within such a field, and there are even certain sections of our brains that are…

Interviewer: I’m sorry to interrupt, but how does this relate to…?

David: Right, back to my story. (Pauses to take a drink of water) Anyway, my professor at the time was a well-known abstract physicist himself and was very… set in his ways. When he review my submission, he basically rejected it completely out of hand. Obviously, I was very upset by this, and after a long argument with him, he finally told me that his primary issue with the paper was that my ideas were just too radical for him to accept without any conclusive evidence. I still think that is a ridiculous claim even if we ignore that this is supposed to be abstract physics, but I digress. So, my first real paper on psionic physics was rejected, and I had wasted months of my life.

Interviewer: He rejected your paper on psionics? He must be kicking himself now.

David: Actually, he passed a few months later. I remember feeling very guilty about it.

Interviewer: (Mumbles something, muffled by static)

David: Oh, and I also lost the job at that research firm since I didn’t get my degree. Luckily, my old job at the Global Skeptics office was still available and they were happy to have me back.

Interviewer: Global Skeptics had offices? Why work for them?

David: Actually, it was sort of perfect. The then owner of Global Skeptics, Maximilian Alvaro, had this fifty million dollar prize for anyone who can prove that they have psychic powers or can talk to ghosts or something, and he had offices in pretty much every country to test those who showed up.

Interviewer: I see. That’s very interesting.

David: No one had ever claimed that prize, at the time, but I figured that if there was someone with that sort of ability around, they would eventually turn up in that office, and that it would be the conclusive evidence the late professor wanted. Plus, it was an easy job with decent pay. Hardly anybody ever came in, so there was lots of time to just sit and study.

Interviewer: Is this the office that you were talking about earlier?

David: I wanted to… (Pauses) Yes, actually, it was. One day, a few months into the 
summer, I was working on rewriting my dissertation while my colleague was doing a newspaper puzzle. I was just finishing the page I was working on when there was a knock on the door. SimonĂ©, sorry, my colleague, got up to go answer it, but before she could get close, the doors flew open, and there he was…
(He trails off here; he seems to be listening for something)

Interviewer: Who was it?

David: (Startled) Oh, it was him. You know, from the news?

Interviewer: Of course. Go on.

David: Now, usually the people who walked into our office were either too nervous to go through with the test, or completely insane, but he was different. He was confident, but he wasn’t outwardly boastful. He seemed at once both reserved and friendly; both cautious and relaxed. He was eager to begin the test, but didn’t want to rush the process. After we had finished the paperwork and I had explained the testing procedure, he was ready to begin.
This first test was very simple, we had a room with a half open book on a lightweight wooden table. The subject was to be ranked on if they could move a page, the book, or the table. Not that anyone had ever moved anything before, but Mr. Alvaro was the optimistic sort.
He stared at the book on the table with this stupid, intense look on his face while the book just sat there. I waited about a minute and a half before I rolled my eyes and went to mark him as insane on the form, and when I looked back up he was right in front of the glass staring back at me. Then he said “I’m just messing with you”, before he smiled and…
(He pauses)

Interviewer: And what?

David: Do you remember that incident a few years ago when the dam almost burst in that northern village? This was back when he was still avoiding cameras, so he didn’t make a formal appearance, but he was there to see if he could help. I was there with him, and I remember being surrounded by the chaos of the evacuation; the frigid air and the crying children. It was a horrible experience, but despite everything that was happening around him, he was fixated on that dam. In the news broadcast, there’s a moment where that cameraman zooms in to watch him in the background, and just as the camera was focusing on him, his blank expression suddenly broke out into this… brilliant smile. Then he just, reached out his hand and forced the broken sections back into place, and he held them there long enough for repair crews to fix the rest of the damage. He must have put out hundreds of pounds of force continuously for about an hour, and he had that bizarre smile on the entire time.
(He pauses again, for longer this time)

Interviewer: What does…?

David: It was that smile. He had on that smile when he first showed me his abilities. Without looking, he levitated the book and disassembled the table down to planks and screws, in the span of about seven seconds, all with his mind. And then he said “I’m ready for the next test.”
(He laughs, but he seems distracted)

David: It’s funny, he later told me that that he had practiced that little stunt for about a week, saying it was the extent of his abilities. It’s amazing to see what he can do these days.

Interviewer: Interesting. And what are the extent of his abilities now?

David: (Laughs) That question has a very long and fascinating answer, one that I’m sure you’d like to hear, but I’m afraid that this interview is over.
(Shots are fired outside the room)

David: You see, we know all about your operation here, and I’m not here to give up any information to your “resistance”. I’m just here to tell a few stories.
(The Interviewer retrieves his hidden pistol and points it at David)

Interviewer: You smart son of a…

David: Actually, I’d keep me alive if I were you. He’s not going to be too happy if he finds me dead.
(Heavy footsteps can be heard outside. The interviewer is visibly panicked.)

Voice from Off-Screen: Hey, is this the right room?

Interviewer: (Shouting) Don’t come in or I swear I…
(His voice gets cut off by the sound of the door blasting off its hinges. As it flies across the view, both the camera and interviewer’s gun are violently forced away.)

Voice from Off-Screen: There you are, c’mon Dots we got to go. Nitro set up something big and we do not want to be here when it goes off. Are you alright, can you move?

David: I’m fine. What about the recording?

Voice from Off-Screen: Don’t worry, I just wiped it. The robot is up ahead finding us an exit and I think we can…
(Their voices are too far away to make out at this point. There’s about a minute and a half of rustling noises and alarms before the video cuts out.)

Note: We don’t how long they knew about our deception, or exactly how much data they managed to steal in that attack. Nothing he said was a lie, so he must have known known about the detector and the interviewer’s gun from the start. Must take nerves of steel to knowingly walk into a death trap like that and act so calm. Frankly, I don’t see how you plan on accomplishing anything when you’re up against that sort of opposition.

Consider this my resignation. If you’re looking to kill me, I’ll be applying for a job at Global Psionics.

Monday, August 12, 2013

First Post

No time like the present to make a blog. Except maybe tomorrow.