Steal Head

#SL: My but how time flies…

Wow… tomorrow marks exactly a year since my story marathon Steal Head ended. A whole year. Now that has really gone by quickly. To think how much has changed since then – how much of a high I was on. A few more months writing Gang Wars and that would be it for my time in Steelhead and SL, pissed off by a couple of tossers so much that I decided to give another game a try, a little thing called LOTRO… I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I actually have a lot to thank Sheriff Numbnuts and the One-Armed Wanker for 😀

Do you know what… it’ll be my 5th anniversary in SL on the 19th too. Blimey.

 

Gang Wars: Visiting Meili

The bike ride through the dark, quiet city was a sobering affair. After the storm of the previous night, the air had turned cold and the edge of a bitter wind knifed through the streets and alleys. Even the old statues look perished, thought Beck as he left the Town Hall and headed back to Shanghai. He had the curious feeling of being watched and turned back to see the young novice who had called upon him that morning staring back from one of the cells. She was a strange one, he thought, so quiet and shy it hardly seemed possible she was being trained as one of the Perpetual Vigilance’s most deadly weapons. Still, young women in these parts were hardy and knew their own minds and he was sure that under the stewardship of that old battle-axe, the Mother Superior, she’d flourish. As he passed out of sight of the Town Hall and headed east across the city gardens and towards Shanghai’s western-most windmill gate, his attention shifted to another young woman, one he’d said some harsh things to, things he didn’t mean, things he had to try and make right. He had to see Meili at the hotel.

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“Ahh, Dr Beck,” the usual oily welcome from the host set Beck’s teeth on edge but he just grunted and pushed on past both him and the hired muscle behind him. Straining his eyes through the thick smoke until he saw her bending by the cots, tending to the pipes of the dreaming customers. He wove his way through the room and reached out through the opium haze to touch her shoulder gently. She turned with a smile that fell from her face as she saw him, “Doctor…” she started.

“Meili,” he replied, searching her face for some sign of welcome and finding none “I… That is…”

“Why have you come here?” her voice was low and she busied around him as if her were her customer.

“Meili. What I said… I want to explain,” he was whispering too, the bruiser by the door was watching them, looking for the first sign of trouble, “Please, can we go somewhere? I need to talk to you, I need to explain.”

Meili glanced at the doorman and gave him a barely perceptible shake of her head. He instantly relaxed and stepped back slightly, although his eyes remained on Beck, “You made it clear what you thought,” she replied, a cold, hurt edge to her voice, “What is there to explain?”

“Please… I wasn’t myself… if you would just grant me a few moments to explain,” he tried hard not to plead, “Is… is there somewhere we could talk?”

She looked up at him, her brilliant emerald eyes searching his face, “Follow me,” she sighed and led him through the deep red silk curtains behind the cots to the deeper, more private places hidden below the hotel. The sickly odour of opium smoke mingled with other less exotic yet infinitely more illicit scents – rich perfumes curled around him, sweet flowers of sweat bloomed from doorways full of shadows and sighs. This was the arena of angels, the temple in which they visited their gifts upon mortal men. Despite himself, he found his heart racing as she led him to a small, private room and shut the door behind him. Again she fixed him with her green eyes, “I can not be long,” she said cooly.

“Meili, please,” he said, “when you came to me, when we met, I mean to say after I was… rescued I wasn’t in my right mind and I said things I shouldn’t have…”

“You threw me out!” she hissed, “you told me you never wanted to see me again, you told me I was cursed!”

Tears welled in her eyes and the shame of his words stung him. “But what I said, I meant to protect you…”

“Protect me?” she repeated, her voice dripping with incredulity, “Protect me from what?”

He looked her, memories of his wife’s snarling face burned brightly in his mind, an arctic wind bit at his skin and images of lost children, his own and poor little Li Fe, danced behind his eyes. He didn’t want to give voice to the truth of his failings, his sins, but he needed her to understand, “Please… I have no excuses…”

“Protect me from what,” she asked again, her anger raw and brittle.

“I was out of my mind. The creature, it did something…”

“Protect me from what!” she snapped.

He looked into her perfect green eyes, tears rolling from them down her cheeks, and knew he was lost. He’d said both too much and not enough. How could he tell her now? How could he tell her what he’d done to his family, how he’d let down every member of hers? He was right, she was cursed, cursed to have ever met him. He turned and opened the door before looking back at Meili, “From me,” he said simply and walked out.

The night was cold but he didn’t feel it, after all he’d been to far colder places than this. His lungs itched and gnawed away inside him, his mind twisted and turned, nagging and pleading with him.. He needed to loose himself in the smoke and as the hotel was no longer an option he headed into the slums.

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Even at this late hour eyes watched him from the darkness. Not just him of course, these eyes, small eager eyes, watched all that happened in Shanghai day and night, but because these eyes were set in the grubby little faces of the street children, no one paid them any attention. Scamps were invisible to all but a few and although on any other day Beck would have noticed them, his opium-hunger blinded him to all but his path through the filthy back streets of Shamian and towards the seedy dens hidden in the deepest, darkest parts of the slums.

The eyes also saw another figure walking through the dark streets, this time heading out of Shanghai and towards the tunnel to St Helens. The eyes had much to report back to their mistress, the pretty lady who paid them and fed them, the doctor was up to his old tricks and a nasty Tong bully was heading into the forests…

To be continued…
All the “Gang War” posts can be read on my blog here and over on the Steelhead Ning here.

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Links to other blogs and stories:
1) Dr Beck hurt Meili in the epilogue to “Steal Head” here.

Gang Wars: The Story In Full (part 1)…

The roots of the Gang Wars story lie back in the many other stories written in Steelhead. From the kindap & murder of poor Li Fe in ”Creaky Gloom” to the assassination attempt on the Dragon Lady in ”Steal Head” the criminal gangs (or, more importantly, their corrosive effect on the communities of Shanghai) have been evident. I invented the Tong as a foil for my Dr Beck stories, a boogieman to provide him with something to fight against in his efforts to help the poor of Shamian Alley. I always hoped they would be used by other writers and storytellers to add colour to the city but I couldn’t have hoped for the interest that led to the Gang Wars story.

Although the Tong first made an appearance in my darkly comic & noir-esque tale Goodunnit where a Tong fence meets a very nasty end at the hands, or rather the mouth, of the Tong’s most feared killer The Voice it wasn’t until Darien Mason had them meet an angel one dark night that I began to hope they would have a life beyond my own scribblings…

The Tong

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The Yakuza

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Gang Wars

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Useful Links:

All the “Gang War” posts can be read on my blog here and over on the Steelhead Ning here.

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Mutations – Chapter 14: A Morning Caller

Sister Ascenza Kathleen Rose-of-Lima Jones was still a novice in Steelhead’s famous SWAT nuns and as such always drew the short straw when it came to visiting the slums to call on the services of Dr Beck. It wasn’t that she felt in danger in the slums, after all she was a SWAT nun and perfectly capable of protecting herself as well as meting out some divine justice to any miscreants that crossed her path. No, it was more the doctor himself who made her uneasy. Something in the way he looked at her seemed awfully un-doctorly and the way it made her feel was very, very un-nun-like. Ever since the murders in Port Harbour and Boomtown months before she had kept away and said extra rosaries whenever his blue eyes and chiseled cheek-bones popped into her thoughts, not to mention his… no! She shook her head in annoyance and silently began a round of three Ave Marias until she was sure all un-worthy thoughts of him were driven from her mind. She strode on through the docks and towards the surgery.

The taste of salt from the waves crashing against the harbour was sharp in the air as she reached the half-decaying pile where the doctor held his free surgeries for the poor immigrants & sailors who called this squalid and libidinous place their home. The smell of fish mixed with the smoke from the blacksmiths and the odour of death from the butchers, yet behind it all lurked the scent of human filth and waste. When, she wondered, were the Town council going to get some running water and sanitation out here to these poor people? She put such un-godly thoughts of local politics aside and concentrated on her reason for visiting the oddly handsome (she paused for two Lord’s prayers) Dr Beck. A short rap on the door brought no reply. Another, longer and louder, was no more successful. Nervously she pulled at the door and it opened easily, obviously unlocked. She peered into the gloom and quietly called out “Dr Beck? Dr Beck? Are you in?” She received no reply save a slow drip from a water faucet somewhere in the room.

Except… except there was no running water in the slums.

Sister Ascenza gasped out loud as she saw the source of the slow, rhythmic dripping sound. A large patch of what looked very much like blood had soaked through the ceiling and was dripping to a glistening pool on the surgery floor. There was, to the best of her knowledge, only one room above and it belonged to Dr Beck…

She ran up the rickety wooden steps to the rotting balcony outside his door and peered through the grimy window into his small room. At first she couldn’t see him, just small knots of his belongings; a small folding table with books and plates gathered around a microscope, a wash basin covered in red-stained cloths, a small un-made bed (she ran through a quick Memorare), before she found him. At the foot of a battered armchair facing away from her and towards a glowing fire, the floor glistened wetly and she felt her heart skip a beat as she saw, draped over the side of the chair, the unmistakable shape of a man’s arm.

Fearing the worst and not knowing what else to do she began to rap hard on the window. With a jolt the figure in the chair shot up and spun round. Sister Ascenza let out a small scream of surprise and jumped backwards, tripping over a bucket of fish that had been left standing by the door. She crashed to the balcony in a pool of icy water and flailing limbs just as the door opened and the horrified face of Dr Beck leant out to stare down at her. “Sister…?” he said, his croaky voice questioning.

She looked up at him, her cheeks glowing red, “Dr. I’m sorry… I thought…” she began to struggle to her feet and he reached down to help her. Mortified by her predicament she took his hand quickly and let him pull her up, as he did do she couldn’t help notice the edges of his white shirt cuffs stained a deep red.

“Good lord, you are soaking!” he exclaimed , “Come in! I’ll stoke the fire.”

“No, no I’m fine, she said, trying to regain some modicum of composure.

“Nonsense, you’ll catch your death out there like that, come in!” he moved into the room and went to stoke the fire, but as he reached the armchair he looked at the pool of liquid at its feet and paused. “I, er… I fell asleep in the chair I’m afraid. Knocked over a bottle of wine. Not the best I’ve tasted, but still… damn shame. Sorry, not damn. I didn’t mean damn,” he was flustered, looking around for a towel which he dropped on to the liquid before pulling the chair to cover it. “Come and dry yourself.”

With a slight hesitation, Sister Ascenza walked over to the fire as Dr Beck threw some kindling on, “Please, don’t go to any trouble for me, it’s just the edge of my habit, really it’s not as bad as it seems”

“Nonsense,” he said, “I can’t have one of Steelhead’s nuns falling ill can I? Now, what brings you out here to see me?” He smiled at her but to her he just looked tired. Tired and something else she couldn’t quite put her finger on.

“It’s a body. There’s a body in the docks.”

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A few minutes later, as Sister Ascenza Kathleen Rose-of-Lima Jones hurried off towards the docks on her own, Amarantis Belfire swung down from her vantage point on Beck’s roof to the balcony where she pushed open the door and walked in. Beck was scrabbling about about trying to tidy himself and find clean clothes, but he paused to look around at her, “I have to go,” he said, “I can’t stay, there’s a body and they need me there.”

“I know. I heard,” Amarantis, “but it’s a mistake. What we did…”

“WHAT YOU DID!” Beck shouted back. He looked shocked at his own outburst and fought to control his voice, “What you did, not me,” he said sharply, “Don’t tar me with that brush.”

Her alien eyes bored into him, “Yes, well what I did,” she said slowly, “means we have no way of knowing what… side-effects there might be.”

Beck, wearing a clean shirt and with his face washed clean, pulled on his great coat, “Well it’s too bloody late for that now, isn’t it?” he hissed as he pushed past her and strode out into the slums.

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To be continued…

All my “Mutations” posts can be read on my blog here
All the “Gang War” posts can be read on my blog here and over on the Steelhead Ning here.

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Links to other blogs and stories:
1) This tale follows on from the end of “Steal Head” here & Amarantis’ post here.

Gang Wars: A Meeting Of Gentlemen…

In the cannery the rhythmic clattering of cans rushing along to the hissing, breathing steam-cooker drowned out any hope of conversation between the gutters and packers who toiled away day and night to feed the world’s seemingly insatiable desire for Steelhead’s finest tinned salmon, yet even had the machines stood silent there would be no chatter between the workers less the three Tong thugs who were striding through the factory heard and meted out one of their feared beatings.

Normally the three brutes would have taken great pleasure in watching the workers shrink back from their approach in evident fear, but today they had other things on their mind. Today they had been called to see the boss and if the boss was here so were They; his generals.. As they approached the door to the meeting room Chang looked at Shayu and they booth looked at Fan, their unspoken leader. He looked nervous and that made them doubly so. Fan raised his hand to the door but the unmistakable voice of the boss said “Enter” before he had chance to knock, an unnerving trick at the best of times but even more so considering the boss was said to be stone deaf. Fan swallowed hard, beads of sweat forming down his spine as he pushed open the door and walked in.

The dark, smoky room wasn’t large, not really. Nor was it grand. The boss hated the small of fish so didn’t spend much time here, leaving the running of the crews to his two most trusted men, his generals; The Voice and Han Hong, the Korean Swan. These two most feared men stood either side of the boss who remained seated behind the simple table reading a slip of paper. Moments stretched out into forever as the three summoned enforcers nervously tried not to shift uncomfortably or in any way draw attention to themselves. Eventually the boss looked up and gazed at them with a look so inscrutable all three men felt their skin grow cold. “Report,” he said simply “What is happening outside in the harbour?”

Chang and Shayu glanced quickly at one another as Fan swallowed and started, “The demon seems to be dead, boss. The airship piloted by the robot sent troops into its lair, into the Dragon’s old railway car we blew up. The fight took the car into the harbour but the demon seems dead. I think the patrols will stop soon.”

“Hmmm, yes… the patrols. Despite their presence everywhere of late, the Dragon still manages to strike at our operations whilst our attacks go awry, is that not so?”

Fan’s eyes darted between the two generals behind the boss before returning to the old man himself, “Boss?”

The boss put the papers down and looked Fan directly in the face, “Let me put it this way. We have lost two warehouses, the ships no longer dock here and the merchants are beginning to think we are a toothless snake. Meanwhile the Dragon Lady suffers no such losses. Her dens are full, her clients many, her purse rattling. You were charged with killing her and look what that brought us, a head stealing-demon and so many Jager patrols we can’t even piss in the gutter without three green-skinned dogs watching us.”

Fan could feel the blood draining from his face.

“Now, before I ask The Voice to give you a very special message, I would like to hear what exactly went wrong with the bomb and what has been going wrong since. You have two minutes exactly and if I do not like what I hear by minute three you will be laying on the gutting tables happily ordering those peasants out there to skin you alive, do I make myself clear?”

Had the man stood in front of the boss been Chang there would be no doubt that the cannery boning knives would have been busy before the two minutes were up. Even Shayu, who was many times smarter than Chang, would have struggled to keep his composure. But the man in front of the boss was not Chang or Shayu but Fan and Fan may have been many things but one thing he was not was stupid, “I don’t think it’s a spy, boss. I’ve thought a lot about it but it doesn’t fit. The Dragon didn’t know about the bomb, she wasn’t warned. Shayu was watching and it was Xan himself who warned her. He shouted out at the last minute and tried to disarm the bomb. It seems he had a family member with the Dragon, working for her, and he moved to save her.”

“And the warehouses? The shipping?”

“That’s different boss. There’s someone new in town. No one knows who, but I think the Dragon has hired someone. She is keeping her distance yet attacking at the same time. I’ve been asking boss, Chang’s been banging heads, we’ve tried everyone but no one knows anything. And it’s not that they are scared boss, they just don’t know.”

“What about the steamer and the log? An accident?”

“No boss. No accident that’s for sure. I went up river to the burnt cowboy’s lumber yard and saw the chains for myself. They were cut with bolt cutters.”

“Does he have anything to do with it? Was he involved? Paid to look the other way maybe?”

“It’s possible but I’ll need to speak to him to be sure.”

The boss looked at him through the smoke, narrow eyes and unreadable face glowering out of the gloom. Fan’s heart was pumping like piston. Everything came down to this moment. If the boss believed him he’d live, if not… well not even running would help, not now, not with Han and The Voice here.

“Well done Fan,” the boss said. Fan felt the relief swell inside him but daren’t for one second let it show. “You’ve confirmed what we know and suspect. The Dragon bitch has hired some foreign scum to do her dirty work. I want you to go and find out who they are and I want you to introduce them to my generals, do I make myself clear?”

“Yes boss,” Fan had no idea the hell how he’d achieve this. They’d lent on everyone, broken bones, cut off fingers. No one knew anything.

“Someone knows, mark my words. You just haven’t found them yet,” the boss said. Fan’s eyes widened in fear – could the old bas… the boss read his thoughts?

“Have Chang here find that peasant’s relative, the one who works for the Dragon. Have Chang show these people what happens when they side with the Dragon. And Shayu, have him visit the logger and find out what he knows.”

“And if he knows nothing, boss?”

The old man smiled, a thin cruel smile like a razor slicing through old leather, “Logging is a dangerous business don’t you think, accidents happen all the time. You have your orders. Report back in two days. Go.”

Fan nodded, quickly eyed the generals and spun on his heel to leave, “And Fan,” the boss said behind him, “If you disappoint me I shall have you climb into the steam cooker and boil yourself alive, do you understand?”

“Yes boss.”

Fan, Chang ans Shayu made their way out of the cannery as quickly as they could and with only a knowing look shared between them they set off on their errands aware of just how much was at stake should they fail.

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To be continued…
All the “Gang Wars” posts can be read on my blog here and over on the Steelhead Ning here.

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Links to other blogs and stories:
1) All my “Steal Head” posts can be read on my blog here and on the Steelhead Ning here.
2) All my “Mutations” posts can be read here.

Steal Head: What happened next…

If any you are wondering what happened to the brave rescuers led by Qlippothic Projects aboard the airship “Bloodwing’s Revenge” well wonder no more as in the murky waters of Steelhead’s Shanghai port, the legacy of evil battles on…

Steal Head’s Mystery Reader

Looking at my blog stats it seems someone is methodically reading all the posts listed in the Steal Head Story In Full post – whoever you are thank you &  I hope you’re enjoying it and Ya Yiwama says hi… 😀
Ya Yiwama Gravatar (512p)
 

Come visit Steal Head’s Lair (before I delete it!)

Hi all – I don’t know how many of you managed to see the Lair I set up in Gia’s fallen rail car, but as I’ll be deleting the content in a week or so I thought you might like to visit – maybe even post your pictures over on the Ning in my “I’ve Seen Steal Head’s Lair!” thread?

Anyhoo, here’s the SLURL (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Steelhead%20Shanghai/163/86/28) so get your Sunday best on, polish off your box brownie and head on over to Shangahi – watch out for all the gory heads when you swim through the submerged entrance!

Ya Yiwamas Lair_002

p.s. A HUGE thanks to Gia for allowing it to stay this long and for her kind help ‘destroying’ her gorgeous rail car just for the storyline.
p.p.s. You can read the whole Stead Head Tale here, Mutations here & Gang Wars here.

Steal Head: The Story In Full.

The great thing about multi-participant roleplay is the sheer scope & inventiveness of posts and photos that people post to their blogs. Unfortunately it can mean that it’s hard to follow the ebb and flow of the tale and sometime you can miss whole chunks. To try and address this I maintained a record of everyone’s posts and listed them in a chronological order that made sense to the tale. If you’ve never read “Steal Head” before, or are returning to re-read it, I hope this guide helps you find your way through what proved to be an amazing four months of my life 🙂

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The tale begins…

All across Steelhead, people start having nightmares… ((An OOC call to join in the nightmares!))

Dr Beck writes to the Town Council for the first time…

A vandal paints graffiti around town

A message is revealed and the Sentinel is on the case!

Dr Beck writes to the Town Council for the second time…

Dr Beck writes to the Town Council for the third time & Capt Creighton delivers a photograph…

Steal Head Arrives in Town!

Lunar calls for an expedition to the site of the photograph.

Dr Beck writes to the Town Council for the fourth time & Capt Creighton delivers a photograph from the expedition…

More from around Steelhead on the spate of vicious murders! ((An OOC call to join in the murderous fun!))

Dr Beck falls to the creature and a rescue is undertaken.

The end of Steelhead’s nightmare, yet Ya Yiwama claims one final victim…

In the murky waters of Steelhead’s Shanghai port, the legacy of evil battles on…

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Steal Head: The End.

All “Steal Head” posts can be read on my blog here and on the Steelhead Ning here.

Steal Head: Epilogue – Letting In the Light

The crowd surged forward as the rail car began to slip over the edge of the lagoon into the bay. Four explosive charges popped almost simultaneously to release the airship’s boarding tube from its death grip on the caboose, and with a final inhuman scream of fury and tearing metal the foul lair sank beneath the waves taking the dying Steal Head and his final victim with it.

Through the noise and confusion Softpaw led Beck away. He was dazed, weak, stumbling and she reassured him he was safe now, that Steal Head could never hurt him again, but inside Beck knew the bastard didn’t have to. Since he’d encountered the strange storm sank the boat in which he’d escaped from England, all he’d had left of his family were their memories. The warmth of his wife’s love that surrounded him in the smoke, the trusting faces of his children smiling at him in his dreams, they were his only connection to his other life in his other England and now they had been taken from him. Now he was alone in this alien place, finally and totally alone.

This wasn’t his world, you see. The storm had transported him from his world to one that whilst looking the same on the surface was in fact very, very different indeed. In this world, this new, alien world, England had not fallen to Rasuptin, Queen Victoria still reigned over a mighty Empire and America was not preparing for a final war of survival. Yet despite all the differences for the better (and there were many) for him this world lacked three things; three small, lost things. He’d had to learn to accept their loss, not just their death, but their total loss to him. He’d had to comfort himself with occasional glimpses in his dreams or in the sweet smoke of an opium pipe, and whilst fleeting, these glimpses, these visions, proved one thing to him, one vitally important fact. No matter how bad things were here, no matter how lonely he was, he knew his family were always with him because he’s brought the final piece of them with him in his memories and nothing could alter that. Until now. Until Him.

The terrible fear of being killed by the creature, of having his head torn off and his soul eaten, had terrified him but the feeling of the creature in his mind, the vile probing of his deepest, darkest thoughts, had proved far worse. The naked fear and repulsion of death were as nothing when compared to the numb cold he now felt in his heart at having had his memories defiled in this way. To discover his children’s eyes filled with horror and accusation, or to see to the raw, limitless hatred in his wife’s face was, after all he’d lost, too much to bear.

As they reached the creaking, rotting steps to the hovel he called home, he waved Softpaw’s offers of company away. Yes she could come back later he promised. Yes he was fine, he just needed sleep he assured her. No, he really didn’t need any help from here, he insisted. He just wanted to be alone. Just him and the darkness. The darkness was still with him of course, it had never really left. Softpaw had released him from Steal Head’s mastery over it, but how could she hope to banish the seed of void that lay inside him? She may as well have tried to pluck the eyes from his face without blinding him, or pull the heart from his chest without killing him. The dark nothingness was as much him as his skin and bones and blood. It lived inside him, watching, waiting.

He opened the door, not even noticing it was unlocked, and found Meile waiting for him. She rushed to him, embraced him and looked up into his eyes through tears. Beck asked her to leave, to go back home. She cried and pleaded to stay, but he refused, ordering her to leave him alone, to get out and never come back. Broken hearted she ran out into the night.

Alone at last (was he ever anything other?), just him and his darkness. He sat in his threadbare chair and gazed into the small, flickering fire. Its warmth failed to reach him but he wasn’t interested in being warm. Everyone he loved most in the world was cold, why shouldn’t he be too. Inside the darkness squirmed and rose, slowly reaching out to spread through his veins and bones until in inhabited every part of him. Beck was tired. Tired of being alone, tired of feeling nothing but guilt, tired of always being cold and dirty and scared, tired of running and hiding, tired of trying and failing, tired of waking and sleeping, tired of everything. But most of all he was tired of the darkness. It was time to put an end to it. It was time to let the light in.

The scalpel didn’t hurt, not really, just two slow cuts and and the darkness began to flow out and the light in. Simple really. The black ran from the light, throwing itself on to the floor, pulsing out and dripping away whilst the light flooded in, bright and white and pure without even the smallest of stains. It filled him up and more until there was no room in the shell of his body for him any more and he fell into the light until he lost all sight and sound and thought and instead became of the light and vanished.

And so, with the trace of a distant smile playing across his lips Rhynold Beck, doctor, husband and father, died with only the crackling logs in his fire to bear witness to his passing.

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The end of “Steal Head”

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) All Dr Beck’s Journal Entries can be read here.
2) All my “Steal Head” posts can be read on my blog here and on the Steelhead Ning here.
3) The latest “Steal Head” Story So Far recap can be found here.
4) All my “Mutations” posts can be read here.