This is my Terror Tuesday for this week. Now that Robert realizes more of who he really is, what lies in store for him? Armageddon is Hell!
GHOST NO MORE
Last night was not an easy one. With the realization of who and what I actually was, and the compilation of horrors running through my head from both sides of the Armageddon war, I got very little sleep. I had tried sleeping in my bed, only to find myself getting up and walking around as the thoughts filtered through my mind. Running my fingers across the keys of my computer to record what was played out before me also meant that I spent most of the night in my recliner, crashing to catch some rest before writing more.
It was a continual game of back and forth, causing complete exhaustion. I finally fell asleep and woke to a bright morning sun.
Big day today: Jack, Penguin, and I will have a very interesting discussion. And, if the Schantz Gospel rings true, I will come out ahead. There is no more bewilderment or self-pity on my part. I'm in charge now.
I close the shades to my window, go to the fridge, and grab some ice cubes after getting my coffee ready. Yeah, it's a typical headache morning, with me needing the medicinal effect of the caffeine and the magic of the ice on my head to attack my ever-present pain. This is a three cup day, but my head feels much better after my treatment.
"Fuck this daily ritual," I think."It totally sucks sucks, but, then again, what choice do I have?"
Nine o'clock. I still have three hours to go before the meeting. Shit! What now? What do I do to kill three hours? Simple solution: a quick workout at the gym. That will give me the energy to tackle the rest of my day. Pumping blood through my muscles will create a mind/body union that will enable me to blow away the Penguin fuckers.
My gym is only three blocks from my little paradise of a loft, an easy walk, no need to drive. Yes, Robert Schantz was on the ball when he purchased this place. Why drive when you can walk? Shit, the parking in the Big Apple is at a premium. Leave my Jeep in the parking garage. save the gas and the aggravation.
I grab my gym bag and off I go, finding everything to be pretty slow at this time of day. The before work crowd has already gone, and it's too early for the lunch bunch, mainly professional people doing their cardio stints on the bikes and treadmills before heading back to work. The poor delusional fuckers don't realize that a combination of cardio and weight training is the way to go. What else would I expect from the lawyers and money managers frequenting this area?
Hitting the weights after my warmup on the treadmill, I'm pumped up and ready to go in an hour and a half. I'll shower at home and leave the damn germs in the locker room. It disgusts me when I see the less than sanitary habits of the so-called professional people working out here. Some arrive here reeking of body odor, and since they don't shower when they leave, merely toweling down before they put their clothes back on again, they still stink. Not a good thing.
Looking in the mirror when I get back to my loft, I see that my eyes look better than they did before I left for the gym. The puffiness has gone down a lot. That's a good thing. I need to present a strong persona when I traipse into the offices at Penguin. Dealing from a position of strength is my Ace in the hole.
The hot shower invigorates me, and unlike the guys at the gym, I'm feeling and smelling pretty damned good when I drive my Jeep into the parking lot that Penguin owns and wheel into John's parking spot. Why not? He won't be using it any more.
I walk past the parking security guy on the way to the building, a new guy I've never seen before.
"Excuse me," he says, "you just parked in John Adam's parking spot. I saw it on the camera."
"Yes, I did," I say, "but you should have stopped me before I wheeled in here. You must have been fucking off."
The guard's not very happy with me now. "Well, I'm here now, you bastard! Get your Jeep out of here!"
I laugh. "Call Howard smith's desk and tell him Robert Schantz is here. Maybe . . . just maybe I won't tell him that you're a slacker."
He seethes, but makes the call anyway. Talking to Howard's secretary for awhile, he says, "Okay, Mr. Schantz. You've been cleared. It appears Mr. Adams is dead, and his place has not been re-assigned."
I take more pleasure in his red face than I should, I reckon. "Thank you, sir. You know who I am now. There should be no more discussions of this kind anymore."
"No more, sir. Thank you for your patience."
With a little more bounce in my step than I had earlier, I make my way to the building and prepare to visit Mr. Smith. My guess? Before the day is out, John's old parking slot will be reserved for me.
I've been to Howard's office on many occasions, all of them much more pleasant than this one will be. Ah yes, those were the ghostwriting days when deals were made and fortunes planned for. All of us made money then. Those were the good times.
But there is to be no more of that. Howard is probably in the dark as to what's happening, and I'm sure he'll be a tough sell on my plan, but he'll come around. He has no choice.
As for Jack, he doesn't have the balls to fight me. Even though he finds it tough to believe that what's going down is really happening, he's seen enough to know the last thing he wants is to cross me. Lingering thoughts of John and his untimely demise are in his mind.
Heh, heh. That's a good place for them. That area of gray matter filled with cowardice is just perfect. There could be no better storage place for the memories of what happened in his house than in his feeble brain. That society-slut wife of his has more balls than he does. Boy, is she ever going to be one pissed off bitch.
Joan, Howard's secretary and all around super office assistant, has always been nice to me when I've come in. today is no different.
"Good morning, Mr. Schantz," she says. "Howard is ready to see you whenever you're ready. Jack is already in his office."
I smile at her and nod. " I figured they might be eager to get this show on the road."
"It appears there's something different about this novel."
"You could say that."
"The buzz is all over the place."
"This is only the beginning Joan. There will be lots more. none of it will be quite as expected."
She gives me a strange look, one of those, "I think I know what he's saying, but I'm not quite sure" things. I nod, turn, and walk into Howard's office without knocking. Bad manners? Maybe. But fuck them. I'm the reason for this little confab. As far as I'm concerned, that means I'm in charge.
Howard and Jack are both surprised by my sudden entry into the room, but I pay them no heed and quickly settle into the remaining chair, a rather uncomfortable Scandinavian style piece of shit supposedly constructed so as to match the decor of the rest of the room and to insure that no one will dawdle for long in this office, constrained as they are in these torture devices.
"You and Jack must have hired the same interior decorators, Howard. your office totally sucks."
He stares at me, taken back by my statement, but not sharing the pain Jack and I are. His swivel chair is well stuffed and appears to be quite comfortable.
"Your chair appears to be well built to handle your more than ample butt,' I say. "Too bad you weren't as considerate of your guests."
Bad Robert! I pissed Howard off. His demeanor is rapidly heading south.
"Let's stop criticizing my office decor and get down to business," he says.
"Yes," I say, "let's do. I'm sure your ears have already been filled with words of wit from Jack, so allow me to expand your knowledge a little more. I wrote Demon Rift; it was supposed to have been published in my name; John tried to fuck me over to make extra money for himself on the deal; and Jack went along with the plan."
"And how do I know that what you're saying is true?" Howard asks.
I laugh as I slide the contents of my briefcase over to him. "You will notice, Howard, that all the dates and signatures specify that I was not to be a ghostwriter with Demon Rift. This is my baby, and it was supposed to have been published as such."
Howard looks everything over, but shakes his head anyway. "I'm sorry, Robert. You have to understand Penguin's position on this. All the publicity is out. It's . . . it's too late to change things now."
Normally, my anger would be spilling out, filling the room at the moment, but I'm in control, totally able to take over. Howard might think he holds the cards, but I call and raise him.
"Oh, Howard," I say. "I hate to disillusion you, but you are so wrong. You have not been listening to me. That is not a good thing. John didn't listen to me and he is dead."
Howard gives me the same look that Jack did when I mentioned this to him, but his is a far more intelligent look.
"No, Howard, I did not kill John. Jack knows what killed John. He has seen the groadies for himself in all their depravity. But they also have a certain amount of splendor. C'mon, Jack. Tell Howard what splendid demons we are dealing with. Explain to him that these horrific entities are blessed with the power of total annihilation. What could be better than a demonic creature capable of destroying everything in its path, or more importantly, everything in the path of its master?"
Howard's a tough sell. He's read the book; he knows what's in it. "So your monsters are purportedly real?"
"You're telling me your novel is not what it appears to be, that it is actually non-fiction?"
"Non-fiction in the sense that the Bible is. For example: the Book of Revelations. These things have not come to pass. However, it doesn't mean they won't."
Howard laughs. "So your book is part of the Bible? That's absurd!"
My turn to laugh. "No, Howard. My book is what will really happen. The Bible is flawed. Not all the Scriptures are correct. Bad translations and improper book selection are the reason."
"But you know everything. You are divine; you are the true Prophet."
He gets up from his chair, laughing his ass off, and opens the door. "Get the fuck out of here, you looney. Take your share of the profits and spend it on a good shrink and plenty of pills."
I don't budge from my chair. The fat fuck will have to lift me out of it, but that won't happen. That's not what's written. Looking at Jack, I say, "Tell Howard what happens next. Remind him of what will be taking place here in a matter of moments."
Jack is too scared to say anything, but his anxiety is a dead-cinch giveaway. Howard? Howard searches deep within his mind, working as hard as he can to extract memory of what was in the book. He is thrown away from the door by unseen hands, and the door is slammed shut. Terror rips his face apart as the venetian blinds covering the windows between his office and the hallway come slamming down.
What goes on in this room will be kept secret now. There will be no prying eyes to tell of the horrors contained within.
The sounds of Howard's rapidly increasing heartbeat fill the room, furthering the turmoil within Jack. He looks for some place to hide, but is stymied. Howard's choice of furniture is not conducive to warding off evil.
"Are you remembering now, Howard?" I ask. "Ah, you are. Your pudgy face tells me as much. Yes . . . yes, the next part is excruciatingly horrifying. I would say it is enough to send a man like you-a man with a bad heart-into a state of shock Great enough to cause your heart to explode. Can a heart explode from fear, Howard? C'mon, tell me. It's your heart. Give me some answers. Help a writer such as myself with a little on the job research. If Jack gets his teeny nuts out of his throat, he might learn something as well."
As if to lend credence to what I'm saying, Jack starts choking, gasping for air, not knowing what to do to quell the unrest inside of him. "Damn, Howard," he's thinking. "It's my ass I want to save."
Shadows, large, invasive, and dark beyond description, come creeping into the room by way of the exterior windows. They stand erect, their totality stretched behind them. Unable to bring the physical component of their forms in through the windows, they are stopped in their tracks.
A slight look of relief creeps across Howard's face.
But then . . . but then, with a terrifying roar, the glass explodes into the room.