The American public was being groomed to be a nation of people with an attention disorder, when it came to the news. The hottest headlines and stories of the day were all that mattered. Yesterday's news, was just that, yesterday's news. The narrative put out to the public by the major networks were all in synchrony. "Dr. Cain had killed himself out of guilt. He couldn't face the music, or a trial, or prison, so he offed himself." And that's exactly what the pale ones wanted everyone to believe. Dr. Cain's journal entry would have put doubt into that narrative. So would the fact that the door had been locked from the outside, and that the shotgun had been too long for him to have pulled the trigger. The Journal disappearing was a blessing for the pale ones, and the public moved on to other stories.
"Strange Weird News," was the last tabloid standing with front pages sensationalizing the alternative possibilities. But even that publication had its limitations. The new biggest story of the year had broke. "The story of the century." They called it.
On June 12, 1994 the wife of a major athlete and celebrity, had been murdered. It was a double homicide. The suspect was a star, and it had completely taken over the news cycle. Dr. Cain and the Essence were no longer on the front page. Five days later, and the low speed chase was on. The pale ones rejoiced, the spotlight was off the Essence, and now on the Juice. The timing was perfect. Summer vacation had just started and every man, woman, and child were glued to their televisions, wondering how it would all end. Tim Gray was one of them.
Tim was sitting in a waiting room lobby somewhere in Van Nuys, waiting to be interviewed. Time flowed like water down a drain, as he watched the great low speed chase of the white Bronco that was broadcasting live on the television screen above him. This was news that he didn't want, that he could go without. His mind was still on Dr. Cain and on his own guilt.
Tim was jobless and on unemployment, but this wasn't that type of interview. It would end up that way though. He was here to try and make right the mistake he had made. He could no longer stand idly by on his feelings, he would reveal his big surprise, no not the book with the leather cover, he couldn't go that far, but he would reveal how he felt about all of this to the press. The guilt had gotten to him, watching the smear of Dr. Cain, and his hand in it. He knew that it wasn't a suicide, and he was going to let that be known to the press. He had chosen a specific publication because it felt safe. It was the same publication that he had bought with his morning coffee that faithful worst day of his life. He was in the lobby of the tabloid with the crazy headlines. The neon sign out front read, "Strange Weird News."
It was 7:30pm and he had been waiting since 5pm. The television above was on mute, but the caption was running like ticker tape across the bottom. "Don't feel sorry, I've had a great life, great friends."
"Sorry about the wait." Said the receptionist with her eyes still glued to the chase on the television screen above. "Meeting with you was all he talked about the last few days, but with everything going on with the Juice and this chase, he's been super busy with leads and getting ready to go to print... So what do you think?" She asked changing the subject. "You're a cop, or ex cop. You think he did it? Sure looks guilty to me, why run if you are innocent?"
"I haven't been following it... really... my mind's been preoccupied."
"And there's a note. He wrote a note, I think he's going to kill himself, but not Mr. Shogun. Brad thinks he's a narcissist, and says that narcissists don't kill themselves, and that he will eventually turn himself in."
Mr. Shogun was who Tim was there to meet. To whom he would share his thoughts and ease his burden. Brad Shogun was the editor in chief and owner of, "Strange Weird News."
"I don't know much about it." Said Tim. "My mind has been somewhere else the last two months."
More time, like water, went down the drain, but the end of Tim's wait was near. A surrender negotiation was in place, and now 9pm, the ex football star was in custody without a struggle. Mr. Shogun had been correct, narcissists don't kill themselves. He was now ready to see Tim.
Brad Shogun, the editor in chief, was nothing like Tim had expected. Tim had expected an overweight man, the type that never leaves his typewriter. Brad was fit though, very fit, and very handsome. He had a blue star tattoo on the side of his right bicep, and his hair was high and tight.
Brad had always had an obsession with the old stories of Shogun warriors, and how they had an honor code of brotherhood, so much so that he had legally changed his last name to Shogun.
"So... crazy long day!" Said Brad. "Sorry to keep you waiting, but today has been insane. I want you to know this story is important to me. My mother in law was one of the few to be cured by the Essence. She had a brain tumor, but not anymore, so this case is very near and dear to my heart. I don't buy the suicide shit for a second, but what makes you think it wasn't a suicide?"
A thought of the journal crossed Tim's mind, that last entry he had read, but he had to keep that in.
"When we broke into house, the door was locked from the outside, meaning someone else had to be there. And the shotgun used was too big, even if he tried to use his toe to pull the trigger, it would have been nearly impossible."
"Interesting," said Brad. "My condolences to your partner... Did they give you a reason for firing you?"
"My chief said we had compromised the crime scene, but we were just doing our job. The case was too high profile, so he said, and his hands were tied."
"Sorry about your job, sounds like bull shit if you ask me. I'm going to run your story on the front page as soon as this Juice stuff cools off. I've been trying to get my hands on the autopsy report, but no luck, they aren't releasing it which is very suspicious to me. And the the autopsy on Carol Cain looks fudged as shit. I'm guessing he had the Essence in his system, which means he would have been in a trance, making it impossible to pull the trigger."
"I had never thought about that." Said Tim.
"Yeah, they are probably taking their time to get the story straight. Probably say he had a high tolerance. Anyways, this story is important to me, and I have a proposition for you."
"My PI is going to be very busy chasing this Juice story, and I'd really like to hire you as my PI, to investigate everything Dr. Cain. So what do you say? I know you're unemployed, and you've got experience, I really can't think of anyone more perfect for this."
"I'm not sure I should."
"I pay a thousand bucks a week." Said Brad, with a slight smile.
The bills were piling up, and he would be a perfect fit, when he thought about it. It might bring some unwanted danger into his life, but at this point, he had almost lost it all, and was okay with a little danger. "Sure I'm in."
"Good." Said Brad as he threw a pager at him. "Keep this on you at all time. When I got leads you'll get a page, always use a payphone. Any questions?"
"Yeah I got one, and I want this to be off the record."
"Do you really believe in that stuff about vampires?" Asked Tim.
"I wouldn't print it if I didn't." Brad took a long pause... an uncomfortable silence, as he looked Tim in the eyes. "You've seen one, haven't you?"
"I don't know, maybe, I'm not sure."
"You would know it." Said Brad. "These aren't the blood sucking types, like you see in the movies. I know this sounds crazy, but I've done my research. They feed on bad emotions, like hate, fear, anger, guilt, and sadness. They can't live without it. And it's been going on since the beginning. The knights of the old brotherhood lodge, they had their run ins with these life suckers. The Germans too, the Nazis were in deep with them, and once they failed there, they came over here, trying to infiltrate America."
"You're right, sounds crazy." Said Tim.
"In the movies they say it's the cross that keeps them away, but that's a farce, it's the Star of David that repulses them. Sometimes in the movies you will see a vamp wearing the star just to throw us off, it's all by design."
The conversation was making Tim a little uneasy, a lot uneasy, but he could tell Brad was very passionate about what he was telling him.
"I had my dealings with one once." Said Brad. "Back when I first started this publication. He was old and pale. Told me he didn't like the stories I was publishing, and that he would ruin my life if I didn't cease. It had me in a trance, with a feeling of dread, it was sucking the life out of me. I thought I was going to die. Then I did my research, got really deep down the hole, and got this Star of David pendant. After that I stopped seeing the full fledged pale ones. Sometimes in the corner of my eye, or maybe from a distance. They can still possess those with dark hearts to do their dirty work, so I have to watch out for that, but for the most part I've been safe. I know this sounds crazy, and maybe it is, lots of crazy shit going down in this country right now."
"It's completely crazy." Said Tim trying not to smirk.
"I believe there's a power struggle going on right now for the soul of this country. White hats, and black hats. The members of the secret brotherhood lodge are the white hats, can't tell you how I know this, but I have my secret sources. The founding fathers were members, though it's the secret lodge that gets all the evil labels of conspiracy, and that's by design. They use the same tactics to spread anti-semitism, to pit the masses against their foes. The pale ones are the black hats, and they just want to spread misery and chaos so they can feed. Did you encounter one Tim? Be honest."
"Maybe, and maybe I'm losing my mind. I was questioned by someone very creepy. It felt like he was feeding on me, and draining me of all my energy. I felt like I was going to pass out."
"Here, take my pendant." Said Brad, as he went to unsnap it from the back.
"No, that's really okay, besides you need it more than I do." The conversation was making Tim uneasy. What was he getting himself mixed up with?
"I got that covered." He said showing Tim his bicep... and there it was in all of its glory, a bright blue Star of David tattoo.
"No, I'm good, I wouldn't feel comfortable wearing that, I'm not Jewish." Said Tim.
"Well, I'm only half Jewish, and sure some might be offended by you wearing it, especially Nazi scum, but it beats getting all your life drained out of you."
"Really, I'm okay." Said Tim.
"Suit yourself. Another thing you can do is try to keep positive, they don't like that, it's like eating literal shit for them. Think happy thoughts, but it won't be easy. They have a way of making those go away. Also, get yourself a gym membership." He said looking at Tim's gut. "I like my PI's in top shape, you'll thank me later on that advice. Welcome to the Strange Weird News family." He then stood up to shake hands but pulled Tim in for a hug. Tim wasn't used to hugs and it had caught him a little off guard. "We are family here, I'm serious get that gym membership, it's tough love Tim"
"Yeah, will do, and thank you for the job and everything." Said Tim.
Tim had expected Brad Shogun to be an eclectic man with weird ideals, and an eclectic man he was. The type that changes his last name to Shogun; the type that believes in vampires, and in good versus evil. It was a little more than he had bargained for though. White hats, and black hats? It all sounded so crazy to him, and he was feeling uncertain about what he had just gotten himself into. A thousand bucks a week was a nice chunk of change for him though, and he needed it.
Tim got into his pickup truck, and began to make the two hour trek back to Apple Valley. The 210 hadn't yet been completed at this time, so he was taking the 10 east, to the 15 north, then home sweet home. The freeways were quiet for Los Angeles, as it was midnight; free from all the drama that had taken place during the low speed chase that had happened earlier in the day.
The freeway was almost empty, all but for one car. Tim looked into his side view mirror. "Objects in mirror, may be closer, than they appear." Someone was following him close, real close, tailgating him. Was he being followed? He couldn't make out the driver, it was too dark. But he saw some glowing blue eyes, and they appeared to be getting darker. A feeling of dread entered his body like an unwanted intruder. He wished he had taken that star pendant now. Panic of doom and gloom came about him; his arms and legs felt paralysed, he couldn't move them! It was like sleep paralysis, but he was wide awake, this was happening! The car behind him was almost kissing his bumper. "Think about something positive!" He began to think about his childhood crush from high school. She had short brown hair, cute glasses, and the most amazing smile. He could see her as clear as day in his mind. She had always been so nice to him too. Even though others bullied him, she had always had kind words for him. All of a sudden the panic in his body was gone. The intruder had made a swift departure. He could feel his arms. He could feel his legs. The car that had been behind him was gone.
It was 2am when he pulled into his driveway. His driveway was empty, he'd always been single, always been alone, but the last two months his house had been a circus, with media vans outside, trying to get interviews. It had been a circus when he had left earlier in the afternoon too, but not anymore. They had all left, as there was a bigger story going on downtown. They had all gone to chase the Juice.
Calmness and tranquility... he had his personal space back. His hands felt less filthy, he felt less guilty, less nervous, one less debt for his soul to repay. It was like someone had poked some holes into his jar. He could breath, and for the first time in two months he felt happy.