by Ivor W. Hartmann






From Issue 12 (August 2011)



For H.R.E Eyes Only

In terms of the Information Umbrage Act. All unauthorised viewers (confessed, intimated or not disproved) of this document are liable for immediate execution.

O Royal Emperor Eosphorus, Most Exalted Ruler and Master of All that Was, Is, and Will Be.

The contents (sealed hereafter), have been painstakingly pieced together from ancient data records. These records handed down the ages as inert sacred relics of another era, were preserved somewhat unwittingly, yet propitiously, by our order. After recognising that the relics were, in fact, ancient data storage devices, it has taken us fifty long years to reconstruct the technology necessary to access them. Whilst the records are severely damaged, I do believe there is enough surviving coherent content, to discern the nature of the events described. I alone have been witness to the full, deciphered transcripts, and will gladly stop even mine own heart, should the Emperor wish to expunge all record of these blasphemous tracts.

I await your divine instruction in secrecy and silence.


Your most humble dog.

Ben Ajido

Master Archivist

H.R.E. Order of the Dying Crane

The 1005th Year of Our Lord Emperor

{Data block Alpha: sector: 234G563} {Transcript begins}

{Unrecoverable cycle redundancy check error: Break in transcript}

‘You know me. You know my names. I am the one inside who stares from behind those eyes, that startling stranger you find in the mirror, the one who transfixes and cuts to marrow. In one million mirrors around the world, you deny my existence, hastily averting your gaze from the undeniable truth that lurks within you. However, occasionally you look and see, nay demand, impetuously, my presence, then I return to the palace of the heart’s perfection. Home, where I belong inside your skin, wandering amongst your innermost secret, tangled, and twisted thoughts.’

‘Yes, that’s all very well your honour, but if we may continue? I place into evidence the relevant abridgments of the victims, as compiled and edited by the court appointed quantum seer, Philias Nostrum. May you all please log on to file XRe135B, presentation package for the prosecution. Everyone synchronised? Your honour, if you will please commence the evidential showing at your convenience.’

John James Rote was a forgettable, quiet man. Later, when people had occasion to talk about him, at the very least they could all agree on that. He was the kind of man that was never, affectionately or otherwise, nicknamed. As a schoolchild, he was the one they always put in the outfield, or on the far boundary. There he would idle away the game by staring at passing clouds, or watching the progress of a nearby ants’ nest. His grades were never bad but never great either. As far back as he could remember, he felt as if he was waiting for some great event that would signal the beginning of his Real Life. Was it sex, cigarettes, driving, fist fighting, leaving home, having a job, a house, a mortgage, a wife, a child? With the passing of each one of these social objectives, he kept striving for the next one, the one that would make it all seem… Real. Throughout his life thus far, John had been patient, believing each day brought him closer to that unspecified but glorious day. Such was his conviction that when the day finally dawned, it held no surprises for him. Just a serene, steady confidence that all his life had prepared him for this day, this hour, this specific moment out of all the others he had endured. The day he woke up feeling Real.

{Break in transcript}

‘Suddenly Mr. Rote had a gun in his hand and he calmly pointed it at Mr. Granger’ – Miss Ellen Washburg, Witness #23 for the prosecution.

{Break in transcript}

‘Some might think me evil, but that would be a mistake on their part, for when has nature ever been single-sided. No. Nature is a ruthless organism of efficient opportunity. Maybe that is one of the answers that you seek here; you have forgotten what actually bestows you life.’

{Break in transcript}

Iwao Tanaka had bad dreams that became waking nightmares. He cried softly in his elbow-space room in the throbbing heart of Osaka’s Old Minami district, where he lay tightly curled upon his tatami mat, frozen in fear of what would happen if he allowed his limbs any small measure of freedom. Such was his rabid consternation, that he had undertaken this position for four days straight. The fifth was just now beginning to light a single, tiny window, which overlooked the street of restaurants below. In a mess of sweat, vomit, urine and shit, he lay clenched in this deathly embrace, fighting with all his fading might not to leap in obedience to the commanding images that racked his mind and body. There on the table. He could just see the bevelled handle that led to twelve inches of cold, keen, steel. How he longed to caress his face with its burnished length, to cool the sicknesses of his soul that radiated from his burning skin. However, that was one step on the path to the end, and as he lay staring up at the brightening square of light, he no longer saw any other possible course, nor outcome.

{Break in transcript}

‘It was only when my pregnant mother turned to me, covered in blood, that I saw Mr. Tanaka standing behind her. He was, [witness cries into handkerchief] smiling.’ – Kyoko Nakamura Witness #294 for the prosecution.

{Break in transcript}

‘Yes, when three or more gather in anyone’s name, this may, if the circumstances are propitious, lead to widespread, lasting, and subtle energetic relationships. Still you cannot see the purpose I serve, nor why I can call you my home. How much longer can you deny what is writ in such large letters upon the very fibre of your being? There is much you dare to presume based on so small a piece of the puzzle as you have uncovered.’

{Break in transcript}

Nailah Darwish checked the straps holding the wrapped layers of C4, wires and fuses that covered his chest and back. Making sure the prime detonator was disconnected, he picked up a dead man’s switch. Grasping it firmly he observed the light flash green, and heard the detonator ping in response. Letting it go, the light flashed red, and he felt a tiny solenoid click from the detonator, just above his heart. Looking into the gloom beyond, he saw the flash of a TV in the next underground chamber, reflected against the rough walls. That would be his final goodbye they were watching, he thought, and smiled inwardly to himself. Yes, he had said the words and actually believed them, but faith was not the only force that drove him happily onwards. Just then, he heard a low, booming rumble, as a train shot by overhead in the transit tunnels above. How appropriate it felt, to be in the belly of the beast, as he assembled the means for the beast’s destruction. He clipped the switch to one of the straps, and shrugged on a well-worn green army jacket. He turned, picked up two Thermos flasks, and deposited each in an opposite jacket pocket with a grunt of effort. His stomach gave a long, low growl and he patted it fondly, as one would a well-trained animal. Hastily, with a sudden pang of guilt, he kissed the rosary crucifix that hung about his neck, and mumbled a prayer in atonement for his thoughts of pride.

‘From what we have ascertained in reviewing the extensive evidence, it is clear that Mr. Darwish ingested some two litres of enriched Californium251 slurry. We also believe he had, in addition to the formidable explosive vest, been surgically operated on to place more explosives internally. The end result being that Mr. Darwish was effectively converted into a 20 kiloton dirty nuclear device, which detonated at 11:11am on September 11th, nearly 900m high atop the Burj Dubai Skyscraper.’ – Dr. Al Gerome, expert forensic witness #608 for the prosecution.

{Break in transcript}

‘You do not know how much I truly admire you, how sweet are the battles we wage every day, as you valiantly and without reserve try to resist the temptations I lay before you.’

{Break in transcript}

Morgiane Henries frowned, yet felt nothing but the fading echoes of emotion. She slammed shut the boot of the car, holding a bulky plastic rubbish bag at her side. She quickly scanned the area, but she was alone on the rural road. A light wind rustled the leaves of stark trees in the weak sun of a midwinter’s afternoon. Abruptly, she stalked off the cambered road, down into the tree line, until she could no longer glimpse the road or car. She quickly stripped naked and heaped the clothes together on a patch of bare earth. From the bag, she took out a slim can of lighter fluid, a box of matches, and placed them to one side. She upended the bag, dropping several sets of different-sized and gendered, ripped and blood-drenched clothes, shoes, and socks, onto the pile. After the flames had died and ashes were thrown to the wind, she returned furtively to the car. For the longest time she sat slumped low, staring at her own reflection in the passenger side mirror. She absently scratched at the dried, bloody smear on her forehead, but her focus was her own eyes, and the stranger smiling back. Morgiane was now nearly devoid of all emotion but the barest echo, to which she clung as desperately as Beethoven to the last note he ever truly heard. It was only the appreciative honking of a passing car which goaded her into dragging on a pair of grey baggy gym sweats.

{Break in transcript}

‘Mrs. Henries, AKA The Chameleon, is still at large, as are the heads of her last eight families. She is, we believe, the first serial killer to change her appearance not only with cosmetic surgery after each crime, but also through black market gene technologies, her very DNA signature. Given the twenty-three victims that we know about, she is a new breed of highly successful killer.’ – Dr. Roland McDowell, criminologist, witness #1756 for the prosecution.

{Break in transcript}

‘Standing accused of literally countless crimes against humanity, this court finds the ethereal being known as, The Devil, AKA; Satan, Lucifer, Eosphorus, etcetera, etcetera, guilty as charged, under the World Federation of Nations. You are to be remanded into custody, until we can figure out how to best end your existence, or keep you forever so jailed. Do you have anything to add sir?’

‘Yes, if I may. You asked at the beginning of this trial how I pleaded to the accusations laid forth, and I said yes, I was unreservedly guilty. For I have influenced these actions, but I ask you, of what crime does that make me guilty? Does the wolf pack ask its prey if it’s hungrier than they before executing the kill? Is the sun guilty of shining, the rain of being wet, and the rock of being hard? I am simply a force of nature, and as such, do not exist solely because you think I do. What you see me as, now, before you in this court of law, is not who I really am, but the product of your limited perceptions. Now perhaps you understand why I chose to represent myself, as none of you could — and let it be noted that I had no witnesses allowed for my defence. You might never truly comprehend the greater overall system you live in, nor my definitive place in it. You may forever so entrap me, perhaps even destroy me, but you will be far less than you are without me whispering in your collective ear.’

‘So noted, and be that as it possibly may, sir, in keeping with the humanitarian tenets of true freedom and power of individual choice, we shall nevertheless endeavour to live without your company, and see where that might lead. The accused is herby remanded into custody. The court would like at this time to hear a few words from Dr. Albert Bartholomew, whose ground-breaking research enabled the hunting and capture of the Devil’.

‘I have spent my entire life in the pursuit of this near-mythical — though not to me — multidimensional being who has plagued and infested the collective sub-consciousness of all humanity. Let us all now walk forward unfettered by the chains of our past, into a new destiny of true choice, and personal responsibility.’

‘Thank you, sir. This court will reconvene in six months, at which time studies — to be undertaken by the Ministry of Defence — into the feasibility of a death sentence, will be presented. This court is hereby adjourned.’

{End of Transcript}


Copyright © 2008 by Ivor W. Hartmann,
first published in StoryTime #11, October 2008.
Reprinted by permission of the author.

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Ivor W. Hartmann

Ivor W. Hartmann, is a Zimbabwean writer, currently based in Jhb, South Africa. He is the author of Mr. Goop (Vivlia, 2010), and was nominated for the UMA Award (2009), and awarded The Golden Baobab Prize (2009).

His writing has appeared in African Writing Magazine, Wordsetc, Munyori Literary Journal, Something Wicked, and Sentinel Literary Quartley, among others. He is the editor/publisher of StoryTime, and co-editor/publisher of African Roar.
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