Here's another look inside Delta Green: Through a Glass, Darkly, the new novel by Dennis Detwiller. As of May 17, 2011, we're not quite halfway to the deadline and a little over halfway to the goal. Thank you for your support!
By Dennis Detwiller, (c) 2011.
“Like a Deep Sea Diver”
Class Two paranormal event: Tesoro Station, Seattle, Washington.
47.61 N/122.34 W latitude/longitude. Approximately 2,391 miles from New
Brunswick: Wednesday, January 26, 2001, 2:37 A.M. PST
Tim Moriarity sat in the
Tesoro gas station behind three inches of bulletproof glass and watched the
lights on the highway, feeling something move through him like defeat. With it,
the same old disbelief and nostalgia rose up in his throat. How had he arrived
here? What had he done to deserve this job? This life? It all seemed unfair. He
could not locate any event on which he could pin the blame. Any particular
event would do—some memory under which he could sweep the crap away and label:
THE MISTAKE. He wasn’t picky, really.
whole life seemed like one prolonged mistake. Maybe that’s why he couldn’t
life was scattered across the western half of the United States like the
contents of a ransacked apartment, from its starting point in Philadelphia to
its apparent finish line: Seattle, where he now occupied a booth at two A.M.,
enduring the ass end of a swing shift like the last months of a twenty-year
life was composed of equal parts distrust, hate and boredom. All the necessary
components for a Jerry Springer show (hell, a half a dozen of them) were there.
Two ex-wives (only one of whom knew where he was), four children he never saw,
several abandoned pets, apartments full of crap (along with months’ and months’
worth of overdue rent at each) and three cars (one of them new). Now all of
these things, people and possessions were gone, each and every one. All sucked
somewhere into the endless expanse of the country. He had no phone numbers, no
addresses, no paperwork, no keys and no attachments. He couldn’t locate any of
them now and he no longer tried. He had left, after all. Who would want to hear
he didn’t even want to hear from himself. Isn’t that what this boredom was all
probably couldn’t even pick his kids out of a police lineup—which is where they
would turn up anyway in a couple of years, after the way he had destroyed them.
Didn’t he know how it felt? Hadn’t his dad done the same thing to him?
this life had seemed ideal. No connection to the past, an endless open future.
But now, as he hit the end of the country it seemed he also had hit the end of
what passed for a life. Seattle was it—as far west as he could go without
swimming, as his dad used to say. It pulled him in. He had a good apartment, a
shitty job, a terrible boss and no real friends. All in all, a normal life, a
normal existence. But why then did he—
was a knock at the window.
jumped, and a lancing pain shot across his lap as coffee spilled over his legs.
A steaming trail had traced a river across the sports pages of the Seattle Times and off the counter. Scooping up
the wet newspaper, Moriarity dammed the coffee off and wiped it back into a
messy pile of wet newsprint until only a few streaks remained on the counter.
He rapidly righted the cup and stared out the glass window, his face set in an
he could not be sure, for a moment Moriarity could swear that the figure beyond
the glass looked somehow blurred. Shaky, as if viewed from underwater, like it
was rising out of the air itself, solid but indistinct. Just as suddenly it was
all right. He was looking at a rather plain man in a beaten denim jacket and
jogging pants. The stranger's hair was neatly combed, his face clean and
stranger’s long and thin face split in a self-deprecating smile, embarrassed
and a little bit sad.
depressed the speaker button.
can I do for you?”
was expecting a request for change (Tesoro’s prices were not very competitive
at the moment) or maybe even a small amount of gas from Pump 1 (super unleaded,
the cheapest). Instead the man squinted, fixing him with a confused stare, the
look of someone trying to good-naturedly puzzle something out. Moriarity noticed
for the first time that there were no cars at either of the pump islands.
Moriarity unlocked the cash drawer and looked down at the pistol in it.
the man asked. He had a shy, retiring voice that was nonetheless full of some
kind of good humor. For no reason he could place, Tim Moriarity thought of
sneakers. The image rose clearly in his mind, but it meant nothing.
Moriarity barked back through the speaker, voice distant and full of suspicion.
Moriarity?” the man reiterated.
me. Bob Lumsden. We went to high school together.”
. . . ” Tim said, considering. It had been a long time, after all—ten
years—something like that. Thomas Jefferson High School, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, class of ’89.
Bob . . . I remember you! We had gym together!” Moriarity shouted, his voice
full of the first bit of real pleasure he had felt in many months. Bobby
Lumsden had been a . . . well, he had been a wimp. Someone Tim and the football
crew picked on pretty heavily; but that was a long time ago. It seemed like a
lifetime ago, now, like it had happened to another person.
Lumsden felt the same.
me.” Lumsden modestly smiled.
. . . ” Moriarity began, and then found himself at a loss. So what? What did he
have to say to Lumsden? Not much. Still, here he was, a connection to his past,
even if it was technically speaking a bad one. Lumsden was all he knew in
Seattle that could lay claim to his own existence before his arrival. Lumsden was
the only proof in this town that Moriarity had led a life before arriving at
this gas station. Suddenly it seemed terribly important to talk to Bob Lumsden,
but the words wouldn’t come.
have you been doing with yourself?” Lumsden inserted, filling the awkward
silence that had spun out.
nothing much,” Tim replied, smiling as if to say, You know, the same old stuff. He shrugged.
raping teenage girls?” Lumsden asked, in the same tone one would use to ask a
stranger for the time.
spun out again.
think you better get out of here, shithead,” Moriarity finally hissed through
looked at Moriarity and shook his head sadly.
going to tell you something, Tim. Something not many people ever get to know.
You see, it gets hard to think clearly when the time comes. It gets hard to
think, when you go through. But I learned the trick. I went through and I came
back, and you know what I learned?”
said nothing; instead he picked up the receiver of the telephone and began
dialing 911. He stopped after two digits and glanced down at the half-open cash
drawer. Lumsden had obviously waltzed off the deep end a long time ago. But
what could he do? Call the police and open a whole new can of worms? What the
hell was the girl’s name anyway? Sarah . . . something. Beer, cigarettes and
some pointless Eighties tune rose up at the thought of her name. Pinning her
down and covering her mouth. To him, it would never be rape.
Moriarity was drawn back to the present by a tapping at the window. The madman
stared at him mildly through the Plexiglas. The expression on Lumsden’s face
was one of an exuberant teacher, one who was not content to let anybody slip by
without learning their lesson.
this I want to tell you, Tim, and listen carefully, because I won’t repeat it.
‘Whatever you’re thinking about in the last second of your life is what you
think about forever.’ I think, Tim—well, hell—I know you’ll be thinking of
was it. Something inside him white hot and deadly leapt up and took control.
Moriarity retrieved the snub-nose revolver from the cash drawer and fumbled to
unlock the booth, feeling like both actions were performed in slow motion. He
stepped into the wet Seattle night waving the pistol around like a frightened
idiot, trying to prove his resolve through action. Moriarity attempted to gain
a foothold on the situation. Events were rapidly spiraling out of control.
Hadn’t he been quietly reading the sports pages and drinking coffee just a
said, “You just shut up, Lumsden, you don’t know anything. I could shoot you
right now and tell the cops you threatened to rob me.” But his voice sounded
scared and weak. Still, something was growing in him. Hate? Disbelief? He
didn’t know. It was big and it felt strong, but jittery and out of control at
the same time.
grinned unsteadily, his equilibrium somewhat restored. The natural balance of
things had gone askew with Lumsden’s accusation, but it seemed corrected now
that the shithead was on the business end of the pistol.
would you shoot me with, Tim?” Lumsden idiotically asked. Was he blind as well
as crazy? What the—
gun was gone from his hand. His fingers were still poised as if they held a
gun. His calloused index finger was still curled around a non-existent trigger.
His arm was foolishly raised from his hip and pointed at Lumsden, as if it
could actually do something other than point. His hand felt warm and tingly.
Strange, but not hot. In the January air a thin, wispy cloud of steam seemed to
flow for a moment from the cup of his palm.
the fuck—” Moriarity whispered, the first hint of fear creeping into his voice.
like this, Tim. It’s like I can see all this happening, it’s like I can see everything happening. On the other side . . .
this whole world is so clear. But I can’t affect it from there. But when I come
back through, well, that’s a different story. I can’t see half as well, but I
can do things. I can do things.” Lumsden clapped his hands, pleased with
himself. There was a sudden metallic clatter from the right. Moriarity jumped
at the sound and spun. Over at the nearest pump he saw the snub-nose .38 lying
on the cement, lit in the harsh lamps. It was more than twenty feet on the
other side of Lumsden.
was the gun Moriarty had been holding a second before. But there was no way
that could have just happened. A thin wisp of steam curled up from the grip of
the pistol and was lost in the lights.
the hell—” Moriarity choked out. He began to backpedal toward the booth’s door.
trick, huh?” Lumsden offered, smiling a sly smile.
did you do that?” Moriarity wheezed. The world seemed to swim before his eyes.
It faded for a moment into a gray haze, only to return to crystal clarity, lit
by colors that seemed to burn his eyes. It hit him like a slap, the reality of
the situation. He realized Lumsden had been speaking the whole time, but he
caught only the last half of the speech over the pounding of his heart.
back isn’t that pleasant. Like I said, most, well, almost all people can’t do
it, but I can. It’s like I’m a deep-sea diver. I put on my gear and come on
through. This body, these forms, they’re nothing more than a container for
something so big you can’t even begin to get it. They’re like fuckin’
Tinkertoys, fuckin’ Legos. But I came back to set some things straight. To
fulfill some promises. This one’s for Sarah.”
Moriarity turned to step back into the safety of the booth he froze. His jaw
dropped. His eyes, which had seemed up to be open as wide as possible, bulged
wider in their sockets. A single clear line of drool spilled from his lips and
struck his collar.
door that had once been behind him—the door he had just come through—was gone,
replaced by an expanse of tile with steam pouring from the grout. It was as if
the door itself was a wound that the building had naturally scabbed over and
healed. The booth appeared to have no entrance at all, just the Plexiglas
placed his palms against the smooth, slightly wet surface of the wall and began
to cry. It was real.
fair. It’s not fair,” he wept.
Tim. For the first time in a really long time, things are going to be fair.”
turned to look at Lumsden as the man’s brow furrowed. Something gathered in the
air, humming like an electrical charge. Like a train approaching a station at
my next trick . . . ”
screaming went on for a long time.
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