As with everything, all things must come to an end. The stars and moon will one day perish. The Earth in all of its beauty will one day become fuel for the sun, and even the sun will one day burn out. All bad things, even all good things must eventually come to an end. Nothing, not even the universe is permanent. All things have their place in time. Like the reign of the mighty Shogun warrior, even with his unbreakably loyalty and honor, his time too did brake and eventually come to pass, to make way for new era. Life like everything in a story happens in its place for a reason, or maybe it's more like a poem, and everything rhymes.
The drive to Mammoth Lakes was long and quiet, a seven hour road trip from Huntington Beach. No one said much more than a few words. Just comfortable silence, and quiet excitement. The darkness of night had fallen upon them as they exited the 395, to the 203, a short little two mile strip leading to the town of Mammoth Lakes.
They were driving down Old Mammoth Road without a real purpose of direction. Looking for anything, something, any kind of sign. Brad was the first to see it, the sign on the wall. "Shogun Japanese Restaurant."
"Look at that." Said Brad. "That restaurant has my name on it. If that's not a sign, then I don't know what is."
"Not everything is a sign Brad." Said Julie, she was the one in their relationship that was more grounded in reason and science. Brad was the dreamer, and like opposites, they were perfect for each other. "This restaurant has been here forever."
Krissy didn't care if it was a sign or not, she was starving. "I don't care if it's the answer to life the universe and everything. I just want to go in and say so long and thanks for all the fish."
"Let's eat then." Said Tim. He was happy to see that zestful feistiness in Krissy again.
"Sushi it is!" Said Brad.
It was karaoke night, and the place was packed. The restaurant had just closed, but the bar was open, and they were still serving sushi there. Every seat was taken except for a booth at the end of the bar, where a young man was sitting alone. He had a loner vibe about him, like a Vader vibe, he looked as though he enjoyed his solitude. The kid's hair looked as if it had been soaked in bleach with black roots spiking the blond tips. The place was electric and alive. Someone in the background was murdering that song, "Sweet Caroline."
Brad approached the young man first. "Hey I'm Brad, there is no where to sit, and me and my friends would appreciate it very much if we could join you?"
"Bump! Bump! Bump!" Sang out the whole bar together.
"Not at all, have at it." Said the young man with the bleached hair. He was very reserved in his manor, and there was a mysteriousness about him. The four of them then sat down with him in the booth. The waitress came by and they ordered some yellow tail which was Brad's favorite, and some California rolls for Krissy.
Tim took one look at the young man and thought there was no way he was twenty-one. "How old are you? You look way too young to be in a bar."
The young man with the bleached hair gave him a quiet stare, then turned to Krissy. "Is he flirting with me? I can never tell when someone is flirting with me." Was he joking? If so it was hard to tell, his face was so serious.
Tim started to blush, as did Krissy. He was a very attractive young man. "You are something else." She said laughing.
"I like this kid!" Said Brad as he introduced everyone by name. "And you are?"
"My friends call me Chazz." He said, still reserved and very serious.
"Is that short for something?" Asked Tim.
"Yeah it sure is. It's short for Chazzarelli."
Chazzarelli? Was he kidding? His face was so serious, and they couldn't tell.
"I'm just playing, it's just Chazz."
They all had a laugh, all except Chazz, though he did give off a mysterious smirk. "We're actually here on an investigation." Said Brad. "We're looking for the thought to have been dead Carol Cain. We believe she might being hiding out here in town. Have you seen anyone resembling her?"
"You guys aren't cops are you?" Asked Chazz. "Cause if so I don't answer questions."
"No, we aren't cops, we're private investigators." Said Tim.
"Well, to be honest I've never heard of her." Said Chazz.
Again, was he kidding? They couldn't tell. The death of Dr. Cain was one of the most publicized news story of the last year.
"Are you serious?" Asked Krissy.
This time he was though, but then again he was always like that. Serious and mysterious. "Serious, never heard of her."
"Don't you ever watch the news?" Asked Julie.
"Nope. I don't watch television at all, haven't in years. That stuff's bad for you. It's all negative, and will rot your brain."
"How? How do you not ever watch or ever hear about any news? What do you do?" Asked Krissy.
"No time for it. I snowboard, eat sushi, drink sake, sing karaoke, and smile at the pretty ladies." He then turned to Krissy and smiled for the first time.
She grabbed tightly on to Tim's hand. "Well maybe if we show you a picture?"
"Sure, Mammoth is a small town, and I'm good with faces, if she's here I'd know it."
She then pulled out a photo from her purse. Immediately at the first glance Chazz's expression went from one of seriousness to one of grave fear, which didn't happen often. He looked sick, like had just seen a ghost.
"What is it?" Asked Brad.
"I've seen her." Said Chazz. "But you are never going to believe what I'm about to tell you."
He went right into it, holding nothing back. "Up at the end of Old Mammoth Road, where it turns into a dirt road, there's this old abandoned cabin. It's said to be haunted. Some little girl supposedly died of the Hantavirus there, at least that's the urban legend. All the doors and windows are boarded up, with signs that say keep out, and danger of the Hantavirus. One night I was out there drinking with some other kids, and they dared me to go in. No one else has ever been inside, cause of the Hantavirus warning."
"And you went in?" Asked Tim.
"Well, it was a dare. Anyways, I went in and that's where I saw the lady from the picture you showed me. I'm sure of it, I'll never forget her face. She was crying, and it was like I was looking at ghost. I went to see if she was real, and needed help, and that's when I was attacked by a pack of raccoons, that came out of nowhere. It was like they were possessed. They started to come at me and bite at my ankles. I got the hell out of there, and never went back. I know it sounds like BS, but I swear it all happened just as I said it. I thought for sure I was seeing some kind of ghost, because how could someone get boarded up in there?"
"You didn't go to the police?" Asked Brad.
"We weren't supposed to be out there, and what was I gonna say... I'd like to report a ghost and weird raccoons?"
"Makes sense." Said Brad. "We believe you. We've seen far stranger things."
"I felt some pretty dark emotions while I was in there too. Like something was sucking the life out of me. It was the worst feeling. Like a sense that something really bad was going to happen if I didn't get out of there."
"Can you show us where this cabin is?" Asked Krissy.
"Forget that. I can tell you how to get there, but I'm not going anywhere near that place. The very thought of it makes me feel that death is upon me."
He then proceeded to tell them how to get there. Told them of the long dirt road, and to keep following it till it ends, and there they would find it hidden in the pines.
The waitress brought them their food. "I think we should take this to go." Said Brad, as he tried to wave back the waitress for the check.
"Don't worry about it." Said Chazz. "I got it, it's on me. You guys be careful out there."
"Well thanks." Said Brad. "If we ever happen to cross paths again, my treat."
Chazz nodded, without so much as an expression.
"So long, and thanks for all the sushi." Said Krissy with a big smile, and then they left.
They followed Old Mammoth Road till its end, and then followed the dirt road till it had ended. It was very dark out, pitch black, with only a little bit of light coming from off the headlights.
"Can't see shit out here." Said Brad. "It's so dark out here. I got some flashlights in the trunk."
"That's my man." Said Julie. "Always prepared."
Brad parked the car and popped the trunk. He grabbed the flashlights, he only had two, and handed the other one to Krissy. They stayed close together in pairs. They were two couples in a place they probably shouldn't be, like a lover's lane. The air was cool and dry, like it always was in Mammoth. Even on this June night it was cool. Cool and dark with euphoric adrenaline.
"Look there it is." Said Krissy. "Right between those two pine trees over there, just like in my vision."
Both flashlights were now pointed in its direction. There it was, the old abandoned log cabin, it was run down and old. It looked like it was right out of the early 1900's and the wood was partially rotting away. They quietly approached, and only talked in whispers. The ground around the outside was littered with empty beer cans, left by teens, that dared to get close, but would never enter. The signs were on all of the boarded windows and doors, just like the kid at Shoguns had told them. "Government Warning! Keep Out! Hantavirus Infestation!"
"I'm calling bull shit on these signs." Said Brad. "Someone put these here because they don't want anyone sniffing around. What better way to deflect, than with some good old fashion fear of life and death?" He then kicked in the boarded up front door.
They slowly went from room to room, finding signs of occupancy along the way. Books, blankets, canned foods, and trash. Magazines and newspapers. Not a great existence. This was where misery in the flesh lived. She was in hiding, in limbo, a lost soul, lost in sadness. She had been so capable of bad deeds, but now it was all catching up to her, and the guilt was huge.
The third room they entered was where they found her. Carol Cain, the amore. She was far from dead, but also far from really being alive. She was hunched underneath some blankets, when they flashed the light from the flashlight into her face. She was in tears, smeared makeup and in misery.
"You guys shouldn't be here." She said with squinted eyes. "He will take your souls. You fell right into his trap. There's no way out of here."
"We will see about that." Said Brad. "Why did you do it? Why did you have your husband killed?"
"What makes the most money for the healthcare industry? Lifelong patients, and dead doctors with dead cures. I was so jealous that he was getting all the attention. I am sorry for what I have done, wish I could take it all back, but that doesn't matter now. I was promised fame, but instead I'm so alone, it's freaky. But I did love him."
"Yeah, sure you did." Said Krissy with sarcasm. "It's time for you to face the music bitch."
Krissy grabbed her by the wrist and they all made their way back to the busted in front door, but it was now covered with webs and hundreds of black widows. Hundred of red bellies reflected back the light. It was like a nightmare, how did they all gather there so quickly?
"See." Said Carol. "There's no way out. He has a way of controlling things that have darkness in their hearts. That's how Richard Labble got to me."
They were all scared, stopped dead in their tracks, all of them accept Krissy. She wasn't afraid of spiders, she was able to see the good in all creatures. She didn't even say what she was about to do, she just went for it, pulling down all the webs as she went through doorway. She went into stop drop and roll out on the dirt, trying to remove all the black widows that were now crawling about her skin. She didn't panic though, she thought of the good, and they scurried from her body and out into the woods.
Tim came running to her. "Are you okay, are you bit?"
"I don't think so, let's get out of here."
"I couldn't agree more." Said Tim.
But it wasn't going to be that simple. The whole of the woods began to light up with eyes, just like out of a scary painting. They were blue and reflective, and creeping in closer.
"Richard Labble will be here soon." Said Carol. "He's going to drain us all."
Brad rolled up his sleeve to show off his blue star tattoo. "Spiders, yeah okay maybe, but pale ones don't scare me. Get her to the car I will handle this."
But as blue reflective lights creeped in closer, it was clear that these were not pale ones, these were creatures of the night. Critters without fear of man. They appeared to be possessed, and hissed, they were racoons, and there were hundreds of them.
He turned around to run but the first one was already at his feet, gnawing at his ankles, and getting close to the flesh. He was able to kick that first one off with ease, but it was too late to run. Hundreds more were now upon him, their cute little faces, with hearts that were infested with darkness and evil. They looked diseased like happy little inmates at a funny farm.
Brad tossed his car keys to Julie. "Get her out of here! I'll handle this!" But he wasn't handling anything, they were overwhelming him. They were all mauling at a particular part of his body, the blue star tattoo, and one had already taken the first bite ripping part of the tattoo from his flesh.
Julie's eyes swelled up. She couldn't leave him, she didn't have it in her to do the greater good at this cost. She ran back to Brad and began pulling the racoons one by one from his body. But there were too many, she'd throw one off and another would take its place.
That was when pure evil appeared out of the pines. A man so pale that he could be seen in the dark. It was he, the king, the great pale one known as Richard Labble. He looked fresh and young now, full of energy and power. He was well fed, but the thirst for more was never quenched. The racoons all scurried back into the pines, where they had came. The blue star tattoo was gone though, they had eaten it from his flesh. It could not protect him now. Labble began to feed on them, and they all fell to the ground.
"I can't say I'm sorry, it has to be this way. None of you will be leaving. I warned you to quit. I'm gonna suck you all dry, till you are all catatonic. The asylums can have what's left of you."
They were all paralyzed, but Tim mustered up some words. Years of breaking free from sleep paralysis had prepared him. "Try to think of something positive." He said to Krissy.
"I am." She said, but barely, it wasn't easy. She smiled crookedly looking into his eyes.
He needed help. An idea, of some kind. What to think of. His mind was blank. "What are you thinking of?" He asked her.
"You... I'm thinking about you." She said. He began to smile, and she smiled back at him. If they were going to die, they were happy to be doing it together.
Their bodies were now almost lifeless in the dirt. They still had their thoughts though, and these thoughts did not go unnoticed. The moonlight poured onto them, while the light of their love reflected back into the dark and lonely night. Somewhere out there something was picking up on it. Some sort of tracking device, a beacon of hope. They were like a lighthouse of hope on a shore, for a ship to find its way.
That's when something of pure magnificence appeared stealthily in the sky above them. It was a small dark black rectangular ship, its color was dull like coal. A UFO of some kind? Richard Labble was oblivious to it, as he was too busy feeding. The center of the ship began to light up. It was absorbing a mass of energy from somewhere. Maybe it was coming from their hearts? It formed into a ball of light, which then blasted down upon Richard Labble snatching him up. It came down upon him like a star of two triangles. One came down, so the other could snatch him up. The feeding had stopped, and the ship disappeared off into the night.
Under the pines, and in the dark, the feeding was no more. All was quiet, just the sound of their heartbeats. Julie was up first, and started first aid on Brad. Stop the bleeding and start the breathing. Krissy took her first breath using it to kiss Tim on the mouth. They were going to make it, they had held on, they were going to live.
Shortly later, some unmarked US Marshal vehicles appeared on the scene. An ambulance was there for Brad. He had been mauled pretty bad, but he would live through it. Julie rode back with him to Mammoth Hospital and would make sure of that.
The man from the lodge was now there. "Tim... Krissy, nice work. We've got everything we need to lock up that CEO for the rest of his life. And Carol will see justice. Your country owes you both a great deal of gratitude."
"How did you know...?"
"We had our guys tail you up here, we had to keep a low profile if we wanted to get Richard Labble."
"Yeah about that?" Asked Tim.
"Need to know Tim. Need to know. And you don't need to know." Said the man from the lodge.
"That was some UFO shit!"Said Krissy.
"I'm afraid I have no clue what you are talking about." Said the man from the lodge. "And one more thing... I was never here."
Carol Cain, the coroner, and the deuce, would all later turn state's evidence, in trade for lighter sentences. They would serve out their time under assumed names in the witness protection program. The CEO of that major health insurance went down hard. The first billionaire to go down for a capital offense. The world would know that Kevin Donald Cain had not committed suicide. Things that were wrong, would be made right. But tragically the cure known as the Essence would stay lost. At least for now.
And what ever did become of Richard Labble?
Was it a UFO?
Was it aliens?
Did he ever get his karma?
Somewhere in the dark grey of night there was small coal colored ship, unseen by both radar and the naked eye. The triangular ship was in stealth mode, on a path of meant to be. On board was the pale one known as Richard Labble, trapped in giant jar of light, in a state of suspended animation. A blank stare of frozen shock. Though frozen, his eyes were wide open and he was aware. On the side of the aircraft was a symbol. Two triangles, one pointed up and the other pointed down. The flag of Israel.
While the Americans and Soviets were in their intense technological race of weaponry against each other, the Israelis were building secret technologies of their own. A way to trap the pale ones, and protect all of humankind from their destructive ways.
"I've been waiting a long time for this day." Said the Israeli commando, as he looked into the frozen eyes of Richard Labble. "You will pay for your crimes now Labble. We may not know how to kill your kind, but in some ways this will be worse. I look forward to seeing you being unable to feed and slowly starve. We've built a secret prison just for you and your kind. Only the happiest of people will guard you. And you will be in suspended animation, well aware of your surroundings, wide awake. Next stop Tel Aviv. Enjoy your flight to Israel, scum."