Sunday, March 20, 2011

Found Damien's old workplace today. Went inside and went right to the manager's office, with nothing more than a personality to go off of. No name, no picture, no identity to go with, just a personality that he was a bit of a hard ass. All things considered, it went pretty well.

One of the employees pointed me to him, and he looked up upon my approach. I didn't look like a cop, with T-shirt, jeans and a leather jacket that I grabbed at some thrift store on the Montana trip, but appearance doesn't make the man so much as how he presents himself. And judging from his appearance, I think he took me seriously enough.

“You the boss?” I asked.

“I am. Name's David.”

“Been here long?”

“Long enough. You are?”

“Detective Riley.” Sorry, Eric, but you were a good enough cover name and there was no way your obituary would have made it this far south. I showed him my badge that I still keep on me for these just in case situations. “I'm investigating Damien O'Connor's suicide.”

All the activity around us seemed to stop dead as I said that. The manager was looking right at me with a frozen blank expression, and I assumed everyone working around us was as well. Sure enough, I glanced over my shoulder to see the workers frozen in the middle of their work looking right at me. Seeing my stare they broke out of their stupor and they returned to business as usual.

I turned back to the manager, who was also resuming work.

“I thought the police closed that investigation,” he told me.

“I'm re-opening it,” I replied. “There are still some details that are a bit hazy for me.”

He snorted. “You're new around here, aren't you?”

I shrugged. “More or less.”

“What's wrong with your voice?”

“Been sick. Just getting over it.”

He sighed and placed the box down and folded his arms.

“Aright, Detective,” he said, “what do you want to know?”

“Alright,” I said, pulling out my notepad and pen. Look at me, being all official. “You were his overseer during his time here, right?”

“I was.”

“How would you describe your relationship with him?”

“Like watching a train wreck in slow motion while the sun explodes and the moon catches fire.”

“Difficult, then.” Well, it wasn't as if I didn't expect at much. Damien's notes on his boss weren't exactly the most positive ones. “Would you say that was more on your part or his?”

“Damien was a very unique individual,” he told me. “And a particularly violent one as well.”

“He attacked you?”

“No, but he came close once or twice. Mainly with other customers. Seemed like I was pulling him off someone every other day. Mood swings, you know?”

“Well, were you aware of his medical history?”

“I was aware that he was taking medication as part of some study. And I saw what he was like off the drugs. And it wasn't fun.”

I wrote all that down, though it really wasn't anything I couldn't already figure out. Every employer needs to check their employees' history out to make sure they're liable. Still, facts are facts.

“When was the last time you saw Damien?”

“Let me see...” David closed his eyes, trying to remember. “It was after that friend of his died, but not long before Amelia's accident. Something happened that made him just stop showing up-”

“The Ellison murders,” I explained. “Emily Ellison was a friend of his.”

“Was she? Lord, no wonder he cracked, losing that many people in such a short time...”

“What was he like in those last couple of weeks that he worked here?”

“Pretty much like I described him, though times five. Paranoid, sweaty, thought he was going to have a heart attack at any second, increase in violence. Then he just stopped showing up. Didn't know what happened to him until the day after he died when his death made the paper.”

The entire time, I got the feeling that I was being watched by the other employees, but I tried to ignore it. Maybe Damien was just a touchy subject in this town. During his posts, I never really got the vibe that he was someone well known among his community. Maybe I was wrong. Or maybe it was something else. It was hard to say.

“I just wanted to ask one last quick one and then let you get back to work.” I told him, flipping the page of the notepad.

“Oh, leaving so soon?” He looked a mix of apprehensive and relieved.

“Just for now. I'll probably stop in again eventually.”

He nodded, seemingly relieved, so I dove into my final question. “At any point during those last few weeks he worked for you, did he ever mention anything about being stalked by a man in a suit?”

His face paled but otherwise he gave no visible recognition to my question. “No, none that I recall.”

Bullshit, I thought for no real reason.

“Thank you.” I closed the notepad and stuffed it away. “If I have any further questions, I'll come back. You have a good day.”

He nodded and returned to his work and didn't spare me a second look as I turned and walked out. The little busy bee workers had returned to work as well, though one or two threw a glance in my direction that they probably thought I wouldn't see. The whole place had a weird vibe to it. Maybe I was just too on edge.

Definitely didn't help as I stepped out of the store and noticed some dark-haired girl staring right at me from across the street and didn't stop looking even as I stared back directly at her until she finally realized what she was doing and started walking off.

I don't know if it's the town or just me, but Jesus, Indiana is fucking weird.


  1. Zeke, I've said it before and I'll say it again...I have got a bad feeling about this.

    What if the cult Damien's parents were in is still around? The red building he mentioned was abandoned, but they could've found another location. Cults -- especially the kind that worship him -- don't take kindly to people snooping around.

    I won't ask you to leave, because I know you're too much of a crazy bastard and you won't listen to me. But be on your guard. Don't ever let it down. And if you mention O'Connor and people stop and stare at you like that again, just let it lie. When you're trying to look through murky water, it doesn't help to stir up the mud at the bottom.

    And try to post sooner next time, yeah? We worry about you.

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  3. Yeeeeeesh. I was thinking along the lines of Celeste.

    It feels like something very wrong is going on here.

    I don't like it.

    This cult may be more widespread than Damien knew and/or let on.

    ~ Branwen

  4. Smells to me like a proxy nest be on guard. Also don't know if you saw my last post, but the Bone from dreams in darkness was found. Waiting to hear back from Jack for news on that front.

  5. I have a friend named David, and I couldn't help but imagine him through this whole thing. Which is weird, and not really relevant.

    At any rate, that does seem really weird. I mean, if it's a small enough town it might just mean that his suicide made him well known. Suicides can do that. Or people are hiding something. Either way, I'm going to ask you to be careful again, because you just can't say that too many times.

  6. For some reason, I imagined everyone in the post as the characters Treading Ground. Fun stuff.

    Seriously though, don't be too paranoid but don't be too relaxed either. Maybe have a tripwire or something set up near wherever you sleep. Just don't forget it's there come morning.

  7. indiana

    where nothing happens

    except disembowelment

    and races

  8. As someone who has lived in Indiana all his life, I can tell you: Indiana isn't weird, it's boring. As a whole, anyways.

    I'd be willing to bet it's the town if it isn't paranoia. Be careful, either way.

  9. Try not to draw anymore attention to yourself than needed, Zeke.

  10. *snort* I could have told you that Dreams in Darkness really happened.
    Be cautious, Mr. Strahm. The area around where Damien lived is a stronghold of The Black King's agents and proxies.

  11. Spread the word
    See the world
    Free your mind
    Know the truth
    He Who Waits Behind The Wall

    Spread the word
    For the love of God
    Spread the word

  12. Interesting. At least some of Dreams in Darkness is true. Lead on, Zeke.

  13. The dark-haired girl was Mary.
    I'm THAT genre savvy. I'll keep reading and see if I'm right.