Fried chicken is the best, especially when it is hot and fresh. The way the skin is so crispy and there is that little bit of oil creeping between the grooves in the meat. White, dark, it doesn't matter. But the thing that really bothers people when I eat chicken is that I like to eat the bones too. Its the sound that gets them, the way the bone cracks. They should be glad I am enjoying my 18 piece monster bucket of Mr. Chicken's Special Recipe. If it was up to what I've become, they would be on the menu instead of another chicken leg.
All stories have a beginning. I was born, the second son of a white bread upper middle class family on the north side of Basin City. My father was a moderately successful architect and would be amateur golfer. My mother lived the Desperate Housewife lifestyle, a nice Mercedes in the driveway, mani-pedi with the girls once a month and book club on Thursdays. But the most defining aspect of my live was my older brother. Nothing grows in the shade, and he cast a large shadow. We are almost nothing alike, he is broad-shouldered and all American like the Norman Rockwell depiction of teenage boys in the 50s. Me, Karl Duncan, the little brother, I am thin and weedy. Wade, my bother, he plays football and baseball, and for a jock is smarter than he lets on. He has a few books, he reads, he plays a few video games, and he goes to church. Of course he does, he is the perfect son.
I am less than perfect. I am not strong and good looking. I am thin with dark hair, and instead of playing sports I have more interest in indie films and film production. I would rather spend the weekend slumming in the Bohemian artsy part of the city where those actors who don't head west to Hollywood rub elbows with aspiring directors, idealistic producers and porn stars waiting tables. Mix in some basic teenage rebellion, light recreational drug use, and reflexive atheism, and I am the sort of kid parents console each other over. At least our son isn't like the Duncan boy, he's weedy and looks poor, I think he does drugs. Then they go back to overindulgence, buying things that they don't need with money they don't have to impress people who don't care.
It Begins so Innocently
It started, as many things do, with something small, easy to overlook. I was in the Bohemian section and like always there were the guys selling DVDs out of the trunks of their cars. They looked poor, and their cars were rolling rust buckets, but I knew they had thousands of dollars tied up in computers and shit like that to make their $5 DVDs and Blu-Ray disks. The one that I stopped at looked like the rest, but instead of slick covers and copies of movies that were still in theatres, this guy had old movies. Movies i hadn't heard of. It was Grindhouse. Gory, violent plotless movies that are all about gratuitous violence, flexing biceps, explosions and heaving tits. Good stuff, the kind of stuff that I lived on. I was in a few of them, as an extra. If you ever get a copy of Zombie Rangers II, about 16 minutes into the movie I am part of the crowd of walkers who gets cut down by the topless heroine toting a minigun. I am in a few other spots in the movie, usually wearing a red ball cap. But I have digressed. The movie that caught my eye was a battered and worn copy of Croatan II: The Becoming. I watched it.
It is a crappy movie, with terrible production values. Shaky camera shots, grainy film, it reminded me of Blair Witch, but not as well put together. It was worth to two dollars I paid for it. I took it to my friend's house and we all watched it on his laptop. In HD the movie looked even worse, but some of the special effects were well done for what was obviously an older movie. We were guessing late 70s, early 80s. We tried to look it up on IMDB, and the Grindhouse movie library and nothing. A bad movie like that with so much well done blood effects and some really nice looking young girls someone would have seen and databased it. Even wiki was blank.
Then the dreams started. I dreamed I was in the movie, complete with bad visual quality and overly dark blood. It was nuts. My friends all started having the same kind of dreams. We didn't share dreams, we just had the same one, like people who have a dream about falling are having the same dream, even though it wasn't the exact same dream.
C'mon Karl, we can't start filming until the sound rig is set up. She laughs, her name is Jesse and i think I would like to date her, but she is out of my league. Even in this little group of film buffs, I am more like her brother than anything. We laugh, we set up. The location is perfect, sure it was a long hot drive from Basin City to Lake Croatan, but what could be more fitting than filming Croatan III at the real lake Croatan!
Lights, Camera, Action
We decided the best way to channel this shared creative energy was to do something we all loved, we made a movie about it. it was going to be a re-interpretation of the film. We filmed and camped out by the lake. We made smores, and talked about films. We slept in little paper thin sleeping bags in dollar store tents. We smoked some pot, and we drank. It was great, everything we thought it would be. But something didn't work out. A sort of spirit took over us. I don't mean the mystical kind of light and smoke spirit, but the sort of spirit that turns a crowd of sane rational people in a lynching mob. It turned brutal and ugly, and the cameras rolled for all of it. We turned on each other in a cold ritualistic fashion. One by one we singled each other out and made blood sacrifices. Movie blood is entirely too bright, that fire engine red color. Its wrong. Blood is dark, and it comes out under pressure. Jesse never blinked, never screamed even when we cut her throat with the knife.
Somehow, and I don't know how, I ended up the last man standing. Possessed, or mad, I drew circles in the lake clay, and I laid their bodies out. Arms were positioned thusly, symbols carved in their flesh. I filmed my work. The parts where I couldn't hold the camera while I worked I set it on a tripod. I cut circles and patterns in her smooth pale skin, even dead she looked beautiful. This is where things get fuzzy. I remember things in flickers and flashes. The technical term is phantasmagoria. I woke up on the far side of the lake, I ached all over, and three days had passed. I hitched a ride back to my house. For the first time in as long as I could remember, my parents were happy to see me, even Wade was glad to see me. I felt dazed and out of it. I got to watch the news before the police showed up. After we didn't come back from out camping trip, people started looking for us. Not my parents type of people, but Jesse's parents, and those sort. The police dogs found the camp, and the dead bodies, mutilated and violated. Yes, violated. Compared to some of the things I done since I Became, making love to a dead girl is a small thing. I sobbed, somewhere I wanted to think that I had loved her.
The police wanted to interrogate me. I was the prime suspect in 13 murders, and they had the video we made. I panicked, and I ran.
In Kafka's Metamorphosis poor Gregor wakes up a giant cockroach. Something inside me was woken, something inside me was changed, as I crawled into the last place I expected anyone to look for me. in Croatan II the characters killed each other after an orgy and a play at a magic ritual. They were trying to 'Become' but none of them went into any elaboration as to what that meant. I know, I know because I Became. My body changed, my mind changed, and my appetite changed. I don't mean I grew hair in funny places and my voice changed. My spine changed shape, I grew an extra set of arms and four more eyes. I became a fucking monster. I don't mean the tragic sort of monster like Dracula who was just a dead guy looking for love, but the sort of thing you look at and realize that is why chainsaws and flamethrowers exist. I crawled down a manhole on Muskingum Street, and hid in the storm drain cistern near Security Park a human. What emerged wasnt. I supposed a description is in order.
The City had a knack for picking the day Calvin had a hot date to send him on a maintenance call down into the sewers. Nothing pleased the ladies quite like the scent of sewage to go with their shrimp salads. The Security Cistern sensor kept getting triggered, usually meant there was something like a dead dog or a bicycle caught in the drain. There was something in there alright. It was big and gray, looking like some freakish pale six legged alligator. Calvin recoiled in horror, the head was broad and froglike, with gaping jaws and teeth like row after row of broken glass. The worst part, worse than the stench, worse than the voice screaming this should not be in the back of his head, was that he could feel it, inside his head. The creature knew he was there, knew he was Calvin Bowe, Basin City sanitation, waiting to go on a hot date with Rebecca Carlyle that evening. It looked at him with six glowing red eyes, they caught the light from his flashlight. Calvin liked to talk big at the bar, about what a pussy Bear Grylls was, and that he betted he could wrestle a 'gator or a 'grizz. Calvin couldn't find his wits to run when the monster in the sewer lunged at him and tore him apart. In two days, Calvin's left steel toe work boot stalled out a sewage processing turbine, letting the city know that one of their own was missing. Rebecca didnt notice, as a good looking man with a rogue's smile picked her up at the restaurant bar.
The rule for monsters in a movie say that the monster should only be seen in small pieces, and if he is revealed completely, the shot should only be for a second. Once you can dissect the monster, he looses his mystery, his unknown factor. I don't know the extent of the monster inside of me, that I have become, because I am not sure where I stop, and it begins.
I learned that my appetites were greatly changed, and my metabolism was matched. Food, I was so hungry. I could eat almost anything, it didn't matter if it was steak, or food rotting in a dumpster. Above all things I craved protein, fresh was better, but even rotten meat was better than fresh vegetables. My mother would scold me for not finishing my vegetables. She would probably do more than scold me if she knew my favorite thing to eat now is human flesh. No, not while I look human. These teeth are small and weak, not suited for that sort of eating. These teeth are better suited to black angus Fat-Burgers and french fries, and truffle souffles. When I Become, when I can feel your thoughts as easily as I can smell you, then I can use my claws to shred limbs from torsos, and take great ragged bloody bites and swallow the pieces whole. I don't mean anything by it, but I have to eat, just like you have to eat. But instead of sending the cattle to the slaughterhouse to be rendered into 54 different products and 73/27 blend hamburger meat, I take you alive and eat you whole.
Cars, fancy cellphones, the newest ringtone and the trendiest fashions, I don't care about any of those things. I am alone, and that is what gnaws at my heart, what threatens to swallow my soul. I have spent time with women, some paid for, others I tried to befriend. But as much as I want to not be alone, it doesn't change the fact that under the pretty make-up, and expensive clothes, they were meat. Humans have no idea the scents that they produce. You know about body odor and pheromones, but that is only a fraction of the tale. I can smell your emotions, anxiety, fear, arousal, they all have their own scent. Somehow, I cannot explain, but I can feel your thoughts. Its not mind reading, but like looking at the surface of a pond. You cannot surprise me, you cannot escape me, I can smell you, I can feel your mind. There is something about the terror that engulfs you as your life ends that sends thrills down my spine. Some of you find solace in something and there is a silent peace that ends your life, and that, that leaves me curious.
The mysteries deepen in Basin City as a string of missing persons reports are starting to point a finger at a serial killer. All of the victims have vanished, leaving behind a few random personnel possessions. Police have few leads. Karl Duncan, still wanted for 13 deaths at Lake Croatan is top on the list of persons of interest, but some parties have argued that a lone teenager should not be capable of killing 19 more people and completely dispossing of their bodies. The leaving of personal items, a work boot, a personalized lighter, a cellphone, are a calling card. Internet blogs claim that this is the work of an urban cryptid, the legendary alligator in the sewers.
NAIS Autopsy Report
NAIS Dimensional Science Report
Extra-Dimensional Species: General
I try to remember who I was, the skinny kid who was too shy, and liked cheesy movies, and drove a piece of shit car. I try to remember who I was when I just stood in my brother's shadow. I steal what I need, I live in the sewers, and swim in Lake Croatan or in the Resevoir. I eat Mr. Chicken by the bucket and listen to the beast in the back of my mind. It whispers to me what the people around me are thinking, about what they are feeling. I can tell you don't believe me. You believe what the papers and TV have said. Karl is just a crazy person, a murderer.
I like fried chicken. I really do.
I would tell you to lock your doors tonight, but I will just be honest. It won't do any good. When I decide its time to eat...