Chapter 4: Flagpole



Janet paced anxiously in front of the flagpole as she watched lightning approach from the west. "What am I doing here," she lamented. "How did I get into this? I only wanted to help people. I wanted to save lives, and to bring care and comfort to the suffering. That's what I do, I help people. Now look what I've done. I've fallen in love with a high school boy. Or maybe with a monster named Rikki Rockett. I don't even know any more which is which. Maybe there's no difference. I don't know who I am any more. I feel like I'm part of some enormous entity, and yet I'm all alone. John says only I can save him. Yet only he can save me. I've always respected his mind. But who am I trying to fool? I'm not here for his mind! I feel like I'm on fire, and yet I'm so cold. I want him. How can I do this? I'm afraid. I'm afraid something awful is about to happen. Something I want."

"Hey! Are you talking to me? Or are you just practicing for one of those performances of yours?"

"John! You startled me! I didn't hear you come up!"

"I've been here all along. And you've been waiting for me, just as I told you to. Good. I'm very pleased with you."

"John, I've been so worried about you. I've heard some terrible things...."

"Don't worry about that. Don't worry about anything. That's not what we're here for. Is it?"

Janet looked down.

"I know what you want. I've always known what you want. I am what you want."

Janet didn't reply.

"Look at me." She looked up. "What do you see?"

"I see John Christ."

"You fool. You see Rikki Rockett. You see desire. You know what I can do for you. All you have to do is choose."

Janet shivered violently. "I'm afraid," she whispered.

"Afraid?" John scoffed, "Life has no meaning. Don't be afraid. There's nothing to be afraid of. Don't be afraid of change. Be afraid of what will happen if you don't. You know what you want. You've always known what you wanted, all your life, but every time you were afraid to take it. This is your last chance. Take it!" John bared his teeth in a flash of lightning.

Janet reached toward John but stopped.

"See, that's you all over. You reach, then you stop. Every time. You get halfway there, then you quit. Just this once, Janet. Just this once, don't quit till you're all the way there."

Janet's mind clouded. As if in a dream, she saw herself strip off her clothing and dropped them to the ground. But it wasn't a dream. John watched her with hollow, dispassionate eyes. He took her and threw her down. She looked up to see John's grin turn from sensual to evil. "I'll show you," he growled.

Thunder and pain rolled across her body as John repeatedly kicked her in the stomach. "Can you see it!?" he screamed and pounced onto her. Janet was helpless. A sharp crack and her arm was broken. Teeth gouged her flesh. "Can you see it yet!!" John grabbed her hair and pulled her naked, overweight body in circles around the flagpole. Janet gasped for breath. The wind rose and she could hear dimly, distantly, the dull clang of the metal standard slapping against the flagpole. She seemed to be filled with fire as the gravel and dirt ripped across her ass and face.

Janet passed out from the pain. John considered the motionless body. "I'll make her see it." He held up the steak knife. Kneeling down next to Janet with one hand he opened her left eye. The other hand guided the jagged edge along the eye lid. He performed the same quick eye-lid removal surgery on the other side then ran into the cover of night and storm.