AUTHOR'S NOTE - You are the editor

Okay, that's three chapters down and we are at the end of the year.

I hope that Santa was good to you - or who ever or what ever is appropriate to you for this season.

Here I am at my last planned author's note for the forseable future. No doubt there will be others and I will be doing an insight post following the next chapter, but right now I don't see a pressing need for any new author's notes after this one.

I rather think that the title of this post kind of sums up the philosophy I intend to cover herein, but allow me to go over it in greater detail.

I have no proper editor. I am a one-man-show over here. But I am, like all of us, fallible. There are a dozen or more obvious ways I could make mistakes - even if I'm being careful - as I put this trilogy together. And there must be gadjillion additional ways I could screw up with increasingly unlikely (though non-zero) chances of occurence.

This is where you come in.

If only I had the legions of fans that Star Trek garnered which eagerly dove in and dissected all the contradictions and errors in their ever-increasing millieu. They of course didn't have my advantage of being able to go back and correct their errors, having committed them all to permanence on celluloid. I however have much more ability to adjust. I will be relying on my readers to help me ferret out the most egregious mistakes, and with three chapters in the bag, it's time to open those doors and start that process.

Copy Editing

Inevitably some of it will come down to simple copy-editing. I do run a spell-check before I publish chapters, but that's hardly fool proof. Even if I did have perfect spelling and an equal grammar knowledge base I would miss things due to familiarity. There will be times when things are deliberately wrong - especially, but not limited to dialogue. (But don't let that possibility hold you back.) I welcome and encourage all input on these things. Simply point out the error in the comments of the appropriate post and I shall deal with it.

I am not in the habit of deleting comments on any of my past blogs (unless they are spam) even if they are unfairly negative. I can imagine a future where I would want to clean up the comments on some posts simply because of a long string of people pointing out a deliberate grammatical error, or if there are comments about spelling mistakes that I have long since corrected (like anyone would really want to waste their time reading posts about errors that no longer exist!) So, for now... if you have a spelling or grammar correction to pass on please put it in a separate comment from any other points you may want to make. Hopefully I can find a more elegant way of dealing with this in the future.


In an ideal world I would never write a word that conflicted with a single other thing I have to say. But that simply isn't a reality that I live in. If you happen to notice a place where I have contradicted something I've previously said or otherwise thrown conflicting data into the story, by all means point it out to me. There is a chance it will have been by design, but in many cases it will be an artifact of simply having too many details to keep track of and I'll find a new way of achieveing the same narrative goal.

The fact that I will at times have to go back and retrodict portions of the plot makes this even more likely, though it also allows me plenty of freedom to correct any errors that crop up in the process.

I suppose there is a chance I could decide that a detail is simply too small for me to be bothered with, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Logic, Reality & Science

I am a big fan of science and reason. But there is also a need to tell a good story and there are often parts of any tale where either a blind eye must be turned or a game of "what if" is being played. This tale has some big "what ifs" in it and I must embrace them in order to tell the story I am telling, but within that context I want to hang on to as much reality as possible. I can't be an expert in everything, so I will be interested and open to hearing any and all opinions as to how I can improve the realistic parts of my story. By now it should be clear that there are some elements that have virtually nothing to do with the world we actually live in (and there will be more to come). But even these I wish to make as plausible as possible with the science we currently understand. So I am always open to your feedback.

Character, Plot Arc & Tone

While I can't please everyone, and my number one goal is to please myself... errr... that sounds dirty...  Uh... I am interested in what other people like and hate and imagine the future will hold for the people in the world of Necropolis.

I don't see any of these types of suggestions as "errors" per se, but I am very open to your general feedback. By all means. If you think the plot should feature more Edmond and less Sylvette, or the other way around, or the same for any of the other characters yet to make an appearance - tell me! If you find that you lost interest after a particular event then let me know. That is the information that is most important to me. I am not going to overhaul my entire trilogy to please a loud minority, but it could positively influence things that I am less committed to in the narrative. As much as this is about me writing the story I want to write, it is pointless to write it if I am not writing a story someone else is interested in too.

Like everything else in this project, this is all subject to ammendment. But for now, I invite you to play by these rules.


Book: The First - Part: One - Chapter: 3 - Installment: iii

He often wondered if it was like this for everyone like him. Was there a tipping point where the element of choice was lost? Or did they actually get to choose? Was the trigger the same as it was for him, or were there innumerable permutations?
The only thing that held him back in the moment was the surrounding people. Witnesses pressed up against him, all of whom would know in an instant what evil rode with them if he were to act now. Surely he could handle a few of them. But an entire car full, never. Even if they didn’t overwhelm him, there was no time. They’d be at the next station in moments – how many would flee in how many directions? Not to mention the entirely new set of witnesses on the platform. No, he could not act now.
When he had ventured out into the early-evening rain he had not intended to go out on the prowl. She had caused this. He hated her for it.
Damn her. Why did she have to invite him?  Perhaps if she had ignored him he could have let her go, but in opening up that tiny crack – that simple friendly gesture – she connected with him. It said ‘I can feel your desire and I accept it. I am pleased by it.’ The invitation eliminated his final inhibition, and his desire carried him out the door with her into the night.
“Next Station: Broadway.”
Even this late in the rush-hour, the chaos at one of the city’s busiest platforms was too much for the average commuter to absorb the mad detailed rush of faces. When she disembarked, no witness would be able to recall if she was being followed. Her body would never be found.

Chapter Four


Book: The First - Part: One - Chapter: 3 - Installment: ii

The PA chimed its familiar announcement. “Next Station: Stadium-Chinatown.” The familiar whine that had once – back in 1985, when the trains had first appeared, in part as a show-piece for the upcoming World Exposition – seemed so other-worldly, presented itself as an audio telltale of the coming stop as the electric motors slowed the train just as it centered on the platform.
The doors opened and initiated the ubiquitous struggle between those on the inside of the train who had finished their journey and the commuting throng who pushed inwards to the waiting car.
It was a focused demonstration of incidental mass-hysteria. The same ridiculous exchange was occurring at each station every three minutes of every rush-hour. How difficult was it for the people on the platform to grasp that the space inside the train was finite and that the space outside was, for all practical purposes, infinite.  There was only one sensible order for the two things that were supposed to happen to play out. First, space must be made inside the train, then new passengers could fill that space. But unless the crowd on the platform made way for those inside to get outside, the people on the outside would not be able to get in.
Yet the need to get to their destination as fast as possible, and the sub-conscious knowledge that everyone else on the platform had a similar goal created a necessity for competition for those few spaces that opened up on each incoming train. To hesitate was to be lost – or at least to have to wait for another train. The jockeying for position near the entrance could not help but escalate into what amounted to a grand-push that had nothing to do with allowing room for the exodus.
Somehow though, despite all frustrations, ninety-nine times out of a hundred everyone who need to get off managed to get off before the doors closed then in until the next station, and those passengers were rapidly replaced by a new set of riders who, when their turn came, would be put on the defense against a new wave of aggressive ingress.
He could smell the differences in this new iteration of fellow passengers. Generally they were wetter – a fresh rain had caught most of them on their way to the station. Whereas many of those already on the train had got to a station without exposing themselves to the sky by accessing stations in the downtown proper – all of which were sub-terranean. The sheep-skin jacket worn by the urban cowboy in front of him was a particularly obvious odor, but above the olfactory bass-note was another smell, a feminine smell that he found quite pleasant. Not perfume, though remnants of numerous grooming odors mingled in the air - samples of several dozen morning applications of as many varieties. No, this smell was un-manufactured. Biological. To his well tuned sense, full of healthy youth.
He barely had to turn his head to find her, and his reaction, his instinct, was un-suppressable.
Beautiful. Young. So young. Her beauty percolated up through her youth, the promise of its full-blossom being ever more potent than the actualization of it ever could be. And yet… there was something else. He felt the surging desire rise in his veins. His pulse rising uncontrollably as he fought to keep his reaction internal. Consciously holding himself back when he realized he was leaning closer to her, beginning to press against the people between he and she. Luckily his nearly autonomic advance was indiscernible from the natural momentum shifts that the rocking of the SkyTrain car translated to its passengers.
Precocious. That’s what it was. There was a wisdom underneath her young skin. An awareness. An understanding. An old soul. That was the greatest fuel for his desire. Her age compared to him was a given, he’d long since reconciled himself with the notion. Her physical beauty – the long, straight, dark hair, the big curious eyes – and the robustness of her health… the smell…  They were all significant, they turned him her way to begin with. But it was the rare sagacity he sensed about her. That was what truly drew him to her.
“Next Station: Main Street.”
She stayed on board, and he knew she was in trouble. His control over his urges teetered on the edge. He feared for her life. He could not draw his gaze away.
Sensing his attention on her she turned and met his eye. Seeing his pleasant countenance, she made the mistake that would cost her everything. She smiled.

Installment iii


Book: The First - Part: One - Chapter: 3 - Installment: i

The inevitable pungence of the evening commute permeated his nostrils. “Packed like lemmings into shiny-metal boxes…” he thought. The author was referring to cars he had no doubt, from the further context of “Daddy grips the wheel and stares alone into the distance,” but it struck him that perhaps the image of the London Underground was more apropos.
It had been many many years since he’d last rode ‘the Tube.’ Perhaps he should consider a trip back to ‘the old-country.’
“The Old Country.” Is that appropriate?
The phrase was one reserved for use by decrepit citizens of the continent – ones who had left not only their home, but their language behind. But as much as modern convenience made it a cinch to travel around the world – there was not an inch of the planet that a person with enough money could not be inside of 48 hours – he couldn’t really bear the thought of the hassles involved to get back ‘home.’ London wasn’t even ‘home’ in that sense, though he’d lived there for quite a time. The ‘old country’ itself didn’t even exist anymore.
The SkyTrain wasn’t ‘shiny.’ He wasn’t even sure whether it was metal or not. Fiberglass or polymer of some description, possibly, but he was certainly packed in with his fellow lemmings, making their way in the late November dusk Eastward out of downtown, burbwards. He knew TransLink was constantly studying whether or not there was sufficient capacity on each route for the amount of traffic experienced at any given time of day. He couldn’t see how any calculation the transit gods could fashion could possibly equate to the belief that this was acceptable. Shoulder to shoulder, personal space collapsed to the combined thickness of the clothing worn. The closeness was possible, even bearable, but the equation fell apart when one considered the difficulty of negotiating one’s path off of the train.
“Excuse me” became a meaningless phrase when floated as a request towards someone who could not themselves budge to clear the path. Add to this the perpetual frustration of imbeciles who couldn’t fathom that in order for them to get on the train they needed to clear room at the doorways for riders to get off the trains.
As much as Canada was known for its near ingratiating politeness, the social wisdom necessary to act upon the niceties of etiquette was in ever-less evidence. Perhaps it was time to move on to a new home. Vancouver had served its purpose. But the immortal question; ‘where?’
The wide-open spaces that he knew as a child were disappearing unless one wanted to live in a veritable or literal desert. But he couldn’t. He needed people. He just didn’t want them quite as close as this.

Installment ii


AUTHOR'S NOTE - Mechanics

I expect that how this all works will be fairly intuitive and that no one should truly need to read this post in order to be able to get the most out of this blog and more importantly the novel which is at the core of it.

But in the off chance that someone needs some light shed upon some detail of my process, or should the whole thing become more complex than I could imagine, I am going to begin now and get some of the "rules" (so to speak) down.

Most of this is pretty self-evident I think, but...

Installments of the novel - all the most up to date versions - are labelled sequentially with the rather unimaginative, but easily organized title format of Book Number, Part Number, Chapter Number and Installment Number - Eg. "Book: The First - Part: Two - Chapter: 3 - Installment: iv."  (Note, I have no idea how long the third chapter of part two of the first book will be.)

Each installment will have a link at the end to the next installment in sequence... assuming I don't get lazy about it, but that would be really counter-productive.  Even so, the intallments will be posted in order and thus will appear in reverse-chronological order on the blog with the latest installment first.

On occassion I will have other things I want or need to talk about. Most of these will appear as Author's Notes like this one. I already have a total of four in mind and will be parcelling them out by the end of the year. Usually these will be practical things pertaining to the book/blog and in my mind will be things that most readers will want to at least peek at, if not read in full. They won't be required reading by any measure and some of them will arguably fit into different categories, but you can assume that if I have labelled it as an Author's Note that I think it is of above normal interest to the reader and beyond the narrative of the novel.

I also see a space to be filled for something I intend to label "insight." This will be a bit more of a peek behind the curtain. Indeed I already know what the first one will be. There is an element of chapter four which has had to change in my head since I first conceived the character that it revolves around. I think it's a potentially interesting look into how I've had to rethink a core element of the set-up. In the case of most novels the reader doesn't get the behind the scenes sort of thinking that goes into a book as it is being written. Perhaps this will be of interest to some of you, hence I'm including it, but I heartily endorse skipping these bits if you just want the story.

I suppose someday there might be a reason to label a post or posts as "news," but I suspect that if that ever happens it'll be a long way down the road.

As mentioned in my last author's note, I will also need a place to identify changes to past posts. I think this will probably occur on one separate consolidated page, but I have yet to commit to that and it's also likely that changes will appear in posts, or at least that I'll have posts that call attention to the consolidated page. I'll update on that matter as it becomes pertinent.

Related to that, I also suspect that there might be some interest in portions of the novel that have either been excised or radically changed - kind of the novel/blog version of "deleted and extended scenes."  For now I'm planning to label those as "Past Versions." They won't link into the narrative like proper chapters, but they will appear in the blog timeline in immediate proximity (presumably after) the chapters they relate to.

Like everything in this project this is all bound to change and I shall update this page accordingly at that time.


Book: The First - Part: One - Chapter: 2 - Installment: ii

The wet mouth piece shot at her.
Sylvette let all exterior action slow as she focused on the airborne piece of rubber.  To all others in the room it would, as usual, look as if her reflexes were beyond those that any normal human-being had.  While in a sense, that was what was happening, it was also very much not what was happening. A normal person’s reactions happen without a thought. Instinct. Sylvette’s talent came from the ability to allow all action beyond her to retard while she acted at what was, for her, a considered pace. Hyper-time.
She reached forward carefully between droplets of spittle and pulled the mouthpiece out of the air. Then she stepped aside and let the spray pass her by.
Fucking fool. She thought, as she slipped back into the normal time-stream.
She stepped toward him as the technician withdrew the syringe. She grabbed the recruit’s lower jaw as his body began shaking. She tried to pull his mouth open to force the mouthpiece in. The shaking made it difficult, the strength with which his mouth was clasped tight made it nearly impossible.
Half a minute ago she could have overpowered him without a second thought. In a few minutes more she’d be able to overpower him again, once the serum ran its course. But while he was in its throes, he was bound by a violent and unpredictable strength well beyond her own, yet born from the same place.
Without warning, his mouth snapped open and closed again in a flash before she had a chance to adjust her perceptions. When the teeth came back down, they came back down on either side of his tongue, nearly cleaving it in two as it lashed out between them, like a snake. He didn’t even appear to notice as his eyes rolled back into his head. His teeth sawed back and forth. Once, twice, and through the tongue which fell to his lap before rolling off onto the floor. Blood foamed through his teeth and dripped past his chin.
“We’re losing this one!” Sig, the medic in charge of the woman’s transformation, called.
Sylvette looked over to the woman. Her veins were practically bursting through the skin, but even more telling was the dark-purple, almost black, spreading down the length of them like some sort of spectral spider-web.
Best for this one if that’s how he goes too. She thought as she looked back to him.
There weren’t any signs yet, one way or another, but the violence of his shaking did not look to be in his favour. May go ‘N-positive.’ She thought as she stepped around to the third recruit – the second male.
Simon. That’s what his name was. She had thought that he had potential. Just one of her talents. The ones she was most attracted to were usually the best prospects.
“His shakes are subsiding. The serum’s nearly fully distributed.” Said the medic in charge.
“I was first, you may recall.”
“Sorry Ma’am.”
Surviving the body’s initial subjection to the serum was beyond anyone’s control. Some bodies could, some couldn’t. This was the part that they couldn’t train them for.  Assimilating the serum was pure willpower. They had told them that much, but there wasn’t any technique beyond the exertion of each recruit’s intestinal fortitude.
“Fight it, Simon. We need you.”
Sylvette looked to the other two recruits. The woman’s body was desiccating at an accelerated pace. Sheldon’s tremors had subsided, he was down to the act of will.  Biting off his tongue would be a severely distracting handicap.
Back to Simon. His eyes opened.
“I want you. Come on Simon.”
He cocked his head as much as was possible in his restraints.
Excellent sign. He understood me.
“We’ve got an N-positive here!” Shouted the medic in charge of the recruit Sheldon.
The overhead intercom crackled with a familiar French accented voice.
“Clear out.”
“This one’s going to make it!” Sylvette.
“I said clear out.”
The technicians and medics headed directly for the door.
Damn it. Why did he have to come and watch this transformation?
Sylvette let all action retard. Before he could get away from her, she grabbed Geoffrey’s wrist firmly and then fell out of hyper-time to normal so she could communicate effectively with the ordinary human.
“Hey!” Geoffrey was startled.
“We’re following this one through.”
“Sylvette!” From the intercom.
“Damn you, Papa. This one’s going to make it.”
“And the other is N-positive.” Crackled the intercom.
“I can handle him.”
“Not for the first few minutes.”
“Just long enough to get this one out too.”
“He’s not finished!”
“He’s going to make it, Papa.”
“And you don’t have a seal ready.”
“Have one ready when we come through the door!”
Jesus.” Geoffrey speaking up as he put her intentions together.
“Shut-up. Keep monitoring him.”
And she slipped into hyper-time.  Throwing Simon’s restraints aside.
Back to normal time for a moment, “Focus on yourself Simon. Keep fighting it.”
The sound of oak beams snapping as Sheldon’s N-positive reaction peaked.
“Open the door!” She hollered before slipping back into hyper-time.
She pulled Simon over her shoulder in a fireman’s carry. As she stood erect she saw Sheldon, or rather what had been Sheldon, stand. He spun around and fixed his fiery eyes upon the three remaining people in the room.
He’s found his way into hyper-time too.  She thought, surprised at the bad luck that allowed him to discover that ability so immediately.
She didn’t stop to watch. She turned, grabbed Geoffrey’s wrist and ran for the opening door.
In only a few steps she felt Geoffrey’s arm pull taut as she overbalanced him. In her haste she hadn’t thought that he wouldn’t be able to keep up – even over such a short distance. She dragged him with all her might as the door in front of her loomed open as she got to it.
One last sudden burst of energy and she was through the door and closing it. Geoffrey was still only part way through the door and scrambling in slow motion to clear the jamb.
In all of one moment his eyes opened in terror as he was pulled back through the door in one fast movement, scrambling for his life. And then the door was shut and the lock clicking into place.
Sylvette fell back into normal time and lowered Simon to the floor.
“Hold on Simon! You’re almost there.”
She looked up into the face of the medic. He held a pair of tongs in one hand, holding onto a glowing metal insignia. With the other he carried a blow torch with which he was keeping the insignia heated to a yellowy-red glow. He looked at her with accusing eyes and shook his head disgustedly.
“Hold him still.”
She laid Simon on his back and pressed her weight down on him.
“It’s going to be alright Simon. This is going to hurt. But it’ll keep you…”
The glowing metal insignia pressed into the side of Simon’s neck. Sylvette smelled the pungent aroma of burning flesh as Simon cried out and thrashed beneath her.
“Hold him! I can’t get it fixed!”
Sylvette jammed her elbow into Simon’s Adam’s apple. He gave out a choking sound and fell limp.
The medic pressed the metal hard against Simon’s neck – low, towards the collar – until the skin boiled around it, fusing it to his body. He released the tongs from the insignia and backed away.
Sylvette lifted herself from Simon and sat back, breathing heavily.
Simon lay still a few moments, then coughed harshly and sucked in a few choking breaths before relaxing into a more natural breathing pattern.
His eyes opened and he looked about himself, confused. Wincing, he raised his hand to his neck – to the still warm metal insignia. He touched it and looked at Sylvette. Into her eyes and then down her cheek to her neck, to the silver insignia embedded in the flesh of her collar.

Chapter 3


Book: The First - Part: One - Chapter: 2 - Installment: i

The three recruits stood in a row in the old abattoir.  Not one could truly conceal their fear.
None would be where they now stood without having made the decision with absolute certainty.
None would be allowed to be there without absolute knowledge of the risks they were taking.
Not one would have made the decision if they had anything else in the world that mattered to them.
For each, it was the most important decision of their lives, and more than likely the last.  With nothing else left to live for, nothing else made sense.
Sheldon stood naked between the other two potential recruits.  His mind raced with the tenets the Lazarus had drilled him with; the cornerstones of their philosophy.
Act not out of vengeance, but in defense.
One for one is not enough.  One for a thousand is righteous sacrifice.
Over and over he ran those and the others through his head – anything to keep his mind off the terrifying fact that he could easily be in the last minutes of his life, and that if he wasn’t, life was about to change forever.
He looked off each of his shoulders – the man on the left, the woman on his right.  He didn’t even know their names.  Practically the first thing they had been told was to not get to know the others - to not get attached.  That statistically speaking none of them would survive.  That the chances were, if any one of them lived through the imminent transition that followed their training, they’d be the first out of the last three ‘classes’ of recruits.
He looked to the one way glass.  It looked like an afterthought.  It had to have been installed in the wall of what had once been a walk in freezer.  In fact, it was an old abattoir – it had probably originally been an ice-box, where they now stood.  He tried to peer through the near mirror of the glass – to see movement behind it.
What a cliché.  He thought.  Who is up there?  Who is the overseer, what is their plan?  How do we fit in?  What greater plan are they enacting by playing upon the fact that each of us have nothing left to lose?
“Gentlemen.  Lady.”
Sheldon had been watching her since the beginning.  He hadn’t been the only one.  He’d noted that the other man had been watching too.  He didn’t know for certain why, but it couldn’t have been much different than his own reasons.  Sylvette, their primary instructor, was the sexiest woman Sheldon had ever seen.  There was something distinctly creepy about her appeal, but there was no denying the raw sexual aura of the woman, indeed her odd nature magnified it.
The midnight hair; the pale skin; the bright, violet coloured eyes created a strikingly unique look.  Her physique was mouthwatering.  Her tight limbs were muscled like a wild dog, lean and hard, the skin almost an after-thought.  The dangerous, agile strength was both frightening and alluring.  Sheldon couldn’t decide if the duality was in spite of or because of each aspect.
“Congratulations and good luck.”  She said as she walked out of his blind spot to in front of the trio.
Sheldon sensed the sudden increase of saliva in his mouth, as he watched Sylvette prowl past his field of vision.
The woman in his group of three – whatever her name was – was not unattractive.  Had they been allowed to fraternize, Sheldon could imagine he might have tried to do so with her.  He could see how he might cling to her in desperate final carnal fury.  Knowing that chances were very good that both of them were living their final days, they would have fulfilled their deepest sexual desires together – each other’s probable last sexual partner.  But that had been forbidden.
Instead Sheldon fantasized about Sylvette – her true animal magnetism being even more unattainable than… whatever her name was, and magnitudes sexier.
“Look at your fellow recruits.  If you are still here in fifteen minutes, chances are they won’t be.”
Sheldon was getting to the point where he was getting weary of the constant reminders.  What is the point?  He thought. We’re long past the point of no return.
“Honour them now.”
Technically they had been past the point of no return as soon as they were recruited.  Once they knew what they were ‘signed-up’ for there was no turning back.  If he had known at the time that it would simply be the first of innumerable clichés, he would have found it funny.  As it was, he’d actually scoffed at the ‘once you know, you can’t back out or we’ll have to kill you’ situation he’d found himself in.
The truth of the matter was that he was past the point of no return as soon as he’d seen the bodies of Karen and their children… flayed, drained, dismembered and scattered across their campsite.
He’d been on the lake fishing.  When he returned…
He could make no sense of it.  The senseless brutality.  The police were relentless.  There were no animal tracks, and the wounds matched no animal they could determine – certainly nothing native to the area.  The only signs of people were those of himself and his dead family.  The lack of evidence of any sort left the police baffled.  They had nothing to pin the murders to Sheldon with.  Yet the complete lack of any other evidence left him as their prime suspect, and he’d suffered under the heat of their scrutiny for months.  Coupled with his profound grief, it was more than he could bear.  He tried to work, but could not focus.  He spent time amongst friends, but found he had nothing to say.  He could feel the eventual strain of his presence upon even the most well-intentioned of them, and soon he found he could not bear to inflict himself upon any of them any longer.  The police would not let him travel far while the case was still open.
When he first started drinking he did it with a knowing irony.  I’m miserable.  I should drown my sorrows at least once.  Another cliché – or the first, rather.  But once became twice.  Twice deliberately became a week-long bender.  Then two-weeks, and then a habit, and then he began losing count.
The agency – he was the legal advisor for an agent for professional athletes – asked him if he would come back after a year’s sabbatical.  He tried.  But his mind was somewhere else.  He didn’t know if it was still on the camping trip – he simply couldn’t tell anymore.  Wherever it was, his mind was not on his work.  Before too long the agency’s founder spoke with him directly.
“Shel.  Do you need help?”
“I don’t know, Al.  I don’t know that I’d even know where to begin.”
“Well, I know people you can talk to.”
“I don’t know.”
“Sheldon, you need to know that I’m not really asking.  I know you’re still hurting and lost, but I need you to move on.  If you can’t, I have to.”
“I… know.”
“So, is that it?”
Sheldon had no answer.
From there the spiral got steeper.  Despair and depression mixed with self-hatred and an 80-proof chaser.
Soon, what little was left was gone, and the only thing he had left to give to the depression was his life.  And he would have, had not the Lazarus Group interceded.  They came telling him that they had the answer to what had happened to his family.  They promised it to him, if he in turn gave them the only thing he had left in the world – his life.
Their move was calculated.  They had known what had happened from the beginning.  They needed any recruits they could muster, but they also needed absolute secrecy.  So they waited.  They watched him and anticipated the last moments perfectly.
He drove out to Callaghan Lake and found the secluded place where it had happened.  He took a shot-gun with him.
He sat there for over an hour, waiting for the nerve to settle in once and for all – he knew that it would only take a moment between making a final decision and acting on it.  He thought about a note… but who would he write it to?
He rolled over the events in his imagination one last time.  How he had climbed up the rise from the lake, not 40 yards from where he sat at that very moment.  How he couldn’t make sense of what he saw.  What was the mess that had become of their campsite?  Where was his family?  How he walked amongst their remains not knowing what they were.  Not believing.  Refusing to believe.  And the slow dawning realization that his worst, darkest fears were true… right there, where he sat…
He grabbed the shot-gun off the seat beside him, put the barrel between his teeth and closed his eyes.  He drew a breath, then thought that he wanted to go out watching the same place where Karen, Chloe and Michael died.  See what they saw – this beautiful place, with its haunting personal history.  Make that his last sight.
He opened his eyes, and there she was.  Sylvette.
That was three months ago.  Now he was back to staring down the barrel of the gun… this time proverbially.
Sheldon looked to his left and to his right – to the man and the woman he had been through the training with.  There would be more training he knew, if he survived the next few minutes.
Honour them now.
He was certain that they both had similar reasons to be here, that they too, for one reason or another had been to the edge and looked down.  That they had nothing to live for except for what might be on the other side of the process they were about to go through.
They both looked - as he imagined he did – steeled.  But was that look bravado?  Are they having any doubts?  As he looked back to reassess the expressions on their faces he felt hands on his upper arms pulling him away.
He was firmly sat down in a sturdy chair by two large men in tan jumpsuits.  He could hear the other two being similarly man-handled behind him.  The woman let out a restrained ‘oof’ as she was sat in her chair.
Sheldon had seen the three chairs as they were brought into the tiled room.  They stood in an outward facing triangle, neither of the others would be able to see him from where they sat either.  They resembled electric chairs.  As one of the men in jumpsuits pulled a thick leather strap across his right wrist, Sheldon realized that they weren’t simply fashioned on execution chairs – they were execution chairs.  The room had, after all once been used for slaughter.  That much he knew, and that much was, if anything, too appropriate.  Sheldon looked at the strap as it was slapped across his arm towards the buckle.
“You won’t need those restraints.” He said.
“Some people have late second thoughts.”  said Sylvette.  “It’s far too late for that.  Also, live or die, the process is traumatic.  The restraints are for your own good.”
His legs were now secure.  His head pulled back against the thick oaken board, firmly in place.
What kind of second thoughts?  He wondered.  You mean some people come this far and want to back out?  They’ve been told from the start that that was never going to be an option.
He had toyed – weeks ago – with what he might do if he were to change his mind.  One thing he knew was that if he changed his mind, escape of some sort was the only option.  He had also reasoned out that leaving it for the last moment would be folly.  Sure enough, this room was secure.  That had been its modified raison d’etre.  From the start they’d been shuttled under escort from one secret facility to another.  Now he assumed he was being observed from behind the one-way glass and there were fully ten various agents of the Lazarus Group here in the room.  Odds were not in one’s favour if they waited for the last moment.
I guess in three months a lot can change.  Sheldon thought to himself.  I suppose you could change your mind.  Decide that you do have something to live for.
A technician stepped before Sheldon and pushed a rubber mouthpiece between his teeth.
Thanks.  Sheldon thought.  This really is harsh, if I’m in danger of clenching so hard I might break my teeth or bite through my tongue.  Painful.  Very painful.
I suppose with that in mind, you might begin to think twice.
The technician now had a long hypodermic needle.  Sheldon’s arm had been prepared before he had come in.
This is it.  All the training has lead up to here.  Everything I’ve learned to help me help them has brought me to this moment.
He had made the choice to avenge his family.  The training had taught him secrets he needed to know to do just that.  But the first cornerstone of the Lazarus’ Philosophy was: “Act not out of vengeance, but in defense.”
FUCK THAT.  I don’t need them!  He thought.
The technician found his vein.
“WAIT!”  Shouted Sheldon.  But with the rubber mouthpiece running interference, it was an unintelligible syllable.  He jerked back and forth, but the straps held him all but immobile.
“No room for second thoughts.”  Sylvette.
Sheldon opened his mouth as wide as he could and pushed on the mouthpiece with his tongue.  They have to hear me out.
The needle broke his skin with a lancing pain.  Sheldon exhaled with the instant shock of the serum entering his veins.  He had a flashing thought of surprise at how immediately it began its work.  His sudden outburst of breath pushed on the mouthpiece, and it burst past his lips in a messy saliva-sprayed arc towards Sylvette.
The technician depressed the plunger all the way.

Installment ii
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Necropolis by Kennedy Goodkey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada License.
Based on a work at necropolisnovels.blogspot.com.