Last week, we introduced you to Phenomenal–one sad sad adDekkted, Grace Juice-suckin’ puppy–and now we give you Chandor. Close  your eyes and allow yourself to be swept into this journey of discovery as you take the next step of recovering from your AdDekktion.

CONFESSIONS OF AN ADDEKKT (STEP 2):
Realizing the Benefits of your AdDekktion

Phen posted his Confessions last week, so now it is time that I let you know more about myself.

I didn’t know what I was getting into when I picked up that first jacketed hardcover.  As the shiny new cover caught the light, a riddle was revealed.

Born of Black and White. Eaten with Worms. I’m a Saint, a Sinner, a Siren of the Word. The Circle knows me. The rest just wanna trip on Grace Juice, Baby. Showdown at Midnight.

The author’s name sounded familiar. I’d worked in this bookstore for almost three months now, and I’d seen many customers flock to read his books. I’d always been a reader. From age 4, I devoured books. Mysteries were my favorite. Books full of action, suspense, and intrigue. It’d been a while since I’d indulged this need of mine. This need for a good story full of twists and turns. A trip, so to speak. Yes, I needed a good trip.

And here it was, right in front of me, a book clearly wanting to take me on a “trip.”

Showdown

Myself, and a few of my coworkers all embarked on this SHOWDOWN between good and evil together. I finished first. I still remember that moment when the whole story flipped on its head. It was the same moment I realized I must definitely continue reading what this author has written. Who was Thomas Hunter?

That was the question I was left with when I finished the story. I figured I could find the answers I was looking for on this fantastic author’s website, thus, I joined The Circle. I had fruit thrown at me, and I was encouraged to read these odd books called BLACK, RED, and WHITE. Over the next 3 months, I read THR3E, BLINK, OBSESSED, the CIRCLE TRILOGY and HOUSE all the while eagerly discussing with my coworkers and this online community that was passionate about God and a good story.  In short, I was AdDekkted.

I started sharing my books with my mom.  She’s the source of my “reader genes” and like I suspected, she fell prey to this AdDekktion, too.  I started waiting for my next fix ever so impatiently.  In the month leading up to a new novel, I’d check the site every day to see if anyone had found it yet in stores, and I checked my sources at our own store.  Every box in the backroom from Thomas Nelson got opened prematurely by this over-eager sales clerk.

Over the next few years, I tore through SAINT, SKIN, CHOSEN, INFIDEL, ADAM, RENEGADE, CHAOS, SINNER, KISS, an ARC of BONEMAN’S DAUGHTERS, LUNATIC & ELYON.  I even started to wear a symbol of my AdDekktion around my neck.  A circle of GREEN, surrounding a field of BLACK, where a RED cross overcomes the darkness, and gives way to a center of WHITE.  Many ask about it, and I tell them it’s a symbol of our redemption, as told by one of our greatest Storytellers.

Circle Pendant

I continued to get to know my fellow AdDekkts from all over the world, but I also sought to get others AdDekkted.  I got my friend to read BLACK after much persistence.  After a few days, he informed me that I had created a monster.  He quickly consumed the rest of the BOOKS OF HISTORY CHRONICLES.  With a 2/2 success rate, I was emboldened.  I picked up 3 copies of my favorite story, THE CIRCLE TRILOGY, and started giving it to friends that also loved a good story.  The virus was spreading, and the only relief to this AdDekktion was another trip.  Even my younger brother got into the action.  Surrounding myself with others who shared this love of story with me made me feel a little more… sane.  Yes, I could introduce others to this Storyteller and not feel so alone when I wanted to talk about these tomes.  But still, I had this need to meet others.  These friends I had made from our online Circle.

Then, the day finally arrived.  The day I would spend in pure bliss with my fellow AdDekkts and our Storyteller.  The Gathering.

Me and my fellow AdDekktsMy AdDekktion culminated in this weekend.  In a state I’d never visited, with a group of people I had only met online.  We traveled hundreds and thousands of miles to come together, but I swear, we’re not a cult.  Well…

Together, we laughed, we rejoiced, we celebrated the Great Romance that had brought us back to our Creator.  This. This was why life is lived.  To know our Creator and celebrate our redemption.  Meeting the Storyteller face to face and communicating just a fraction of what these stories have meant to me was huge.

Jami Sue and I at the Gathering

All of us who gathered that weekend, also got the chance to read BURN.  This story, wow.  What a powerful picture!  What a great parable!  For the first time in year, I had the chance to read a story that I had zero expectations about.  There was no synopsis on the back cover.  There were no reviews to taint my perspective.  It was just me and a story.  And I loved it.

In the meantime, an AdDekkt I had never met in person asked me a question that changed the course of my future.  After discovering our shared passion for social justice, she offered me to come out to DC to participate in an urban ministry program, serving this same Creator by loving others and being the hands and feet of Jesus in a broken world.  I accepted her offer to come to yet another place I’d never been before, and now I am proud to say she’s not just a person online, but a real and true friend.

Once I arrived back home, my job at the bookstore started again, and it paid off in letting me read the ultimate story before hardly anyone else.  The rush of holding GREEN in my hands and turning its action-packed pages before most any other AdDekkt was exhilirating.

Now, I’ve joined in with yet another AdDekkt, Phenomenal, to work on this labor of love where all things Dekker can be presented in a fun and entertaining way so that others can find their “next Dekkie fix”.

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TOP STORY:  This week, the efforts of the Forest Guard were greatly rewarded:

NYT

Kevin Kaiser tweeted on Wednesday afternoon

Just got news that Green hit the NYT Bestsellers list (#20). Thx to everyone who helped make that happen!

We did it! Granted, it’s not #1 (some day, folks), but still this means that all of us encouraging our friends to give the Circle a chance has really paid off. The story of our redemption is out there and getting noticed.

FLASH FICTION:  Ted poked his head out of his undisclosed location this week in order to share his shortest piece of fiction to date. I present to you The Gunslinger.  Despite how brief the story is, many of Dekker’s fans are pulling out nuggets of truth embedded within the snapshot of a tale. 

IMMANUEL’S VEINS: This week was a slow news week when it came to new clues as to Ted’s upcoming novel.  Pretty much what we’ve uncovered over the past few months have this novel set in the 1500’s and including “non-Twilight” vampires. 

The online debate continued on Facebook and on The Circle.  Most of Ted’s fans are fine with evil being portrayed in a realistic way as to contrast with the light and make it appear all the more good.  Some seem to question whether vampires are in this novel primarily because their “popular” right now.  Or does the current popularity of vampires make a Dekker novel about them all the more relevant to a world that needs to hear the truth?

FOREST GUARD: This week we were introduced to a BONUS MISSION along with a special audio message from Ted thanking us for all our hard work promoting Green. For this extra mission, members of the guard can earn bonus points for posting reviews of Green on sites like Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Christianbook.com, and other online booksellers.  All we have to do is post our reviews, then submit a report with links.  So what are you waiting for?  Get out there and write a review!

BURN:  Only 121 more days until the release of Ted’s next novel.  As we’ve previously reported, Burn is Dekker’s second collaboration with Erin Healy.  The hundreds of fans who attended this year’s Gathering have already devoured this instant classic.  As one of those fans, I can’t wait for everyone else to get a chance to immerse themselves in this story.  This is one of the best “stand-alone” novels that Ted has ever done.  He and Erin have penned a masterpiece together and in just 4 months, the world will get a taste of what happens when you have to choose between your own wants and sacrificing for another. 

TEA WITH HEZBOLLAH:  January 2010 is a big month for Ted.  Not only will we see the release of Burn but we will also be treated to what I can only assume will be a worldview-rocking non-fiction book:  Tea With Hezbollah.  We’re keeping a close eye for any excerpts or more information on this one.  I am excited for the discussion this book will inspire. 

 

And now here’s your weekly recap:

Music Monday: “Fire it Up” – Thousand Foot Krutch
Ted-Inspired Tuesday: “Name’s Black… Marsuvees Black”
Wacky Wednesdays: Confessions of an AdDekkt
Thoughtful Thursdays: Through the Looking Glass
First-Look Fridays: Going Green!

Phen and I have another great week of posts planned, so stay tuned. 

Also, please send any suggestions or post ideas to our e-mail:  ScribesofOE@gmail.com

Kiss Away the Pain

There are defining moments in every person’s life, whether it be the birth of a child, the loss of a loved one, or a beautiful wedding. We center every part of our being around these few scarce incidents and build our lives–past, present, and future–around them…

Everybody has a past, and it’s something you can’t exactly erase from existence. That one small mistake that turned out much larger. Those kids that used to make fun of you in high school. The divorce of your parents. It can all build up and eat us up, from the inside-out, destroying the very fiber of who we are and who we were created to be. We can choose the pain of those things that tore through our lives like a tornado . . . Or we can choose perspective. “Pain or perspective.”

You choose pain–you choose to fight it, deny it, bury it…”

You may grapple and wrestle and tear apart those actions in your mind, piece-by-piece, but it will bring you no good. No matter how much you may deny what has happened it will always continue to stay the same. The past doesn’t change. Bury it alive, but it’ll come back from the grave to haunt you one day. And you . . . you will always carry the burden, the pain, and your life will slowly deteriorate, hopeless and alone.

But you choose perspective–embrace your history, give it credit for the better person it can make you, scars and all.”

Breathe in. You are still alive, aren’t you? You may bear the scars of times past, but you have been granted something greater than any tragedy can take from you. Life. Embrace your history, and dance with your Creator, for He has given you another chance, another day, to change things and make the future so much brighter. Learn from the mistakes, and don’t bear the pain already bore for you. You can become a better person now.

Laugh. Smile. Live. Look through the glass of perspective, not pain.

He wants you to remember who delivered you from that time . . . That’s the point of holding onto that memory: delivery, not darkness.” –Ted Dekker, Kiss

Today The Forest Guard Chronicles is pleased to present you the first in a very special series, Confessions of an AdDekkt. If you are reading this, you are most likely an AdDekkt, also. We hope through these honest, open essays you are able to come to terms with your problem and take the necessary steps to breaking this habit. Dive deep.

CONFESSIONS OF AN ADDEKT (STEP 1):
Admitting Your Problem

My name is Phenomenal, and I have a problem. You see, I’m a story junkie. I love a good novel, whether it be fantasy or mystery or suspense. But I receive no greater thrill than feeling the pages of a Dekker novel gliding between my fingers, my mind absorbing every single word and sentence. I’m addicted, I admit. It takes alot for me to openly admit it, but I AM a Dekker addict. But first, allow me tell you a little bit about myself.

I was born a Blessed Child in Paradise, CO, but I was Chosen and have grown into a Man Called Blessed. I count in Thr3e‘s and I view the world in four colors (Black, Red, White, and Green). My life occurs in the Blink of an Eye and I am trapped within my own Skin. I sing The Martyr’s Song, and I cry When Heaven Weeps. Some call me a Lunatic. Others call me Infidel. I say I’m just Obsessed. Things may be worse than Chaos, heavier than Thunder of Heaven, in my life but I hold onto my Savior, Elyon, and I dwell in His House. I’m no Saint. I know I’m a Sinner, but I’ll never go Renegade. Heaven’s Wager is on my soul, as well as yours, and the Showdown nears… (Did I mention I’ve never Kissed a guy named Adam, and my sister is BoneMan’s Daughter? ;P)

Now that you know about me, I can tell you about this spiral into adDekktion I find myself in now. It all started a few years back when I decided to pick up a book called House. I had read some of Peretti’s stuff since I was in fifth grade and I really enjoyed his stuff, so I took a gamble at this co-authored book. It was decent. That led to picking up the book Thr3e for a dollar. Ironically, I got much more than 3-for-1. Then one of my teachers in high school at that time, who happened to also be an AdDekkt, gave me Showdown as a gift randomly. It’s all History from there, quite literally.

Skip a year or four, now I have an entire blog devoted to the Man Behind the Mask. I also have a secret shrine devoted to him that nobody’s supposed to know about… *cough cough*

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I see Roush and Shataiki around every corner. I tremble in the presence of Noxzema. And I attack anybody in a black trench coat, fearing they may be Marsuvees Black.

I drink Green Water, a much better alternative to soda, milk, or even regular water. Sometimes I like to trip on Grace Juice too.

I made flyers and voted for Ted in a student-body election at my school.

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I even have my own Book of History I stole from David Abraham. In fact, I almost made it to Other-Earth.

See, these are just some of the few signs that led me to believe I was an AdDekkt. I, like you, was in denial at first, but I have come to understand the nature of this unnatural thirst for all things Dekker. Now is the time for you to take your first step toward recovery and openly admit you’re an AdDekkt. Leave a comment or email us at ScribesofOE@gmail.com, telling us about your adDekktion. We might even feature it on the blog.

Stay tuned for the continuation of the Confession series next Wednesday!

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LOTS of news this week with the release of Green, of course. Let’s start there.

GREEN.jpg picture by mister_phenomenal

GREEN: If you haven’t bought your copy yet, then you must be mentally insane! What are you doing sitting here on your bum in front of your computer? Go to the nearest bookstore now. Anyway, for those who have read it, you should check out these links for what Ted has to say.

“So… GREEN is available Tuesday everywhere. And I will be available no where. I will lock the door on that secret room and allow only the butler in with food and drink for seven days. I will have to become obsessed. Now we will see who is alive. Have you ever been obsessed about something? (Y or N) Then who or what? Let this be your living confession. Be heard or be dead.” –Ted Dekker, via Facebook

Check out Ted’s newest blog HERE for his thoughts on Green being the first and the last book of the series. Where do you take your stance on The Great Green Debate? Also, check out HERE and HERE for more discussion on the subject. Beware of MAJOR SPOILERS though.

When you’re done looking through that, check out this awesome radio interview Ted recently did, discussing Green, evil, and a lot of other interesting topics. Just click HERE.

IMMANUEL’S VEINS: Well, Ted’s “off the grid and hooked up to an IV” (Kevin Kaiser, via Ted’s FB). He’s been busy writing, writing, and writing some more of Immanuel’s Veins, and now we have a few more details for you to salivate over.

“Ted is dropping off the grid this week to go write IV. Only a handful people will even know where he is hiding, but that’s good. He has a lot to get done in a short amount of time. And that means total immersion. The book is working out great and this will definitely be one that fans of his fantasy novels will sink their fan–, er, teeth into.” –Kevin Kaiser, via his blog

First of all, we already know that it’s set in the 1500s, it’s the backdrop of all the Books of History Chronicles, and now . . . it’s a vampire novel (or should I say, a Leedhan novel).

“So, Ted’s still locked away in an undisclosed location working on Immanuel’s Veins, which comes out August 2010. Yes, it has vampires in it. And, yes, it will be epic. He read some of it to me this morning and I think it’s going to be an amazing ride. Different, but in a good way…

For all of you who are wondering if it’s anything like Twilight, I can tell you DEFINITIVELY that the answer is no. IV is uniquely Dekker all the way through. The only similarity to Twilight is that Ted spells the word “vampire” the same way Stephenie Meyer does. Other than that…totally different.” –Kevin Kaiser, via Ted’s FB

FOREST GUARD: Well, the last mission is a go! Get as many people as you can to download an ebook version of Black, the first in the Circle Series.

If you want to help me out, you can download it HERE with my code 6228. :P

OTHER: Kevin posted a bunch of updates on all things Ted on his blog HERE. You can find out what’s going on with the BoH-related stage production, as well as some news on Tea with Hezbollah, and a Circle animated series! Also, I’d keep an eye on his blog if you want to be the next Ted Dekker. You a writer. Then your time has come. Check out your opportunity HERE.

Ted slipped out of hiding yesterday to say some words on Facebook.

“I come to you from my room, for your help; I must know. Do you believe that A) The Mythos of Vampires (meaning that seductive power of tangible evil that wooed Eve into taking her first bite of the apple, that wolf in sheep’s clothing) is real? Or B) That seductive story has no place in our UnderGround because evil is only a figment, best kept under sheep’s clothing? A or B, my friends, because some seem confused.

For a while I was worried! Yet some still say, “I believe in the wolf in sheep’s clothing, but please don’t show us that wolf! Don’t let the serpent beguile, don’t let the wolf bite.” Sly wolf, seductive serpent, alluring vampire, they are all one. They walk amongst us, and we do not want to see; but I will unmask him that you might bind him with me. Yet some will still say: NO WOLVES! NO SERPENTS! NO VAMPIRES! Sigh.” —Ted Dekker, via Facebook

For a limited time, Kevin Kaiser had posted The Bride Collector cover on his blog, but our investigative photographer from the Circle (living_aLOUD), got it for us, and you can check that out in our previous post HERE.

Last but not least, Ted will be debuting a piece of flash fiction as soon as he comes back, so stay tuned for that!

“Ted sends his greetings and wants you to know that he’s doing well, but hasn’t left the hotel room where he’s been holed up for days. He’ll see you all soon, and when he returns he’ll bring back a little offering of thanks for letting him disappear for awhile: a Dekker original piece of flash fiction that he’s titled “The Gunslinger.” Coming in a few days.” –Kevin Kaiser, via Facebook

And now here’s your weekly recap.

Music Monday: “Invincible” – Muse
Ted-Inspired Tuesday: It Came From Other-Earth! and When Retailers Get “Inspired”
Wacky Wednesdays: Green Power
Thoughtful Thursdays: To Hold His Hand
First-Look Fridays: TBC Preview

Sorry for the lack of updates over the past few days, folks. You can totally blame that on Green. I was holed up in my room until I finished it, and now I have dared venture out into the light of day for some measly crumbs of food and a bit of Grace Juice to quench my thirst. To make up for this though, I’ll bring you not one but three updates today! For the first post I bring you a peak at The Bride Collector, Ted’s next novel with mainstream publisher Hatchette coming out in April 2010.

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Chapter One
“Thank you, Detective,” muttered Special Agent for the FBI Brad Raines. “We’ll take it
from here.”
Raines stood in the small barn’s wide doorway and scanned the dimly lit interior.
Dusk fell on an ancient wood floor covered in dust disturbed by numerous footprints.
Shafts of light streamed from cracks in a sagging roof.
Long abandoned. A natural choice.
“With all due respect, Agent Raines, my team is here,” the detective replied. “They
can work the scene.”
“But they won’t, Detective Lambert.”
Raines turned his head slowly, taking it all in.
One rectangular room roughly fifteen by forty, covered by a tin roof. Interior walls
formed by six-inch graying wooden planks. Ten, twenty, thirty, thirty-two on the narrow
side. Fifteen feet, as estimated. Two shovels and a pitchfork on the floor to his right. A
single window with dirty, tinted panes, crowded by empty cobwebs.
A dust-covered wooden bucket rested in the corner, its rusted handle covered with
filth. . Several old rusted tin cans—Giant brand peas with the label mostly missing, Heinz
canned hotdogs—scattered on floor, left by camper long gone. An old farm plow blade
lay against the near wall. An even older work table sat to the left, near the far wall.
Anything else of interest had been taken by visitors.
All but what had brought Brad.
The woman’s body was glued to the wall to his left. Like a mannequin: arms wide,
wrists limp. Like the other three.
“…Chief Lorenzo for clearance.” The detective’s voice edged in on his thoughts.
Lambert was still here.
Brad looked over his left shoulder where Nikki Holden, a leading forensic
psychologist, stood staring at the woman’s body with those wide blue eyes of hers. She

Chapter One

“Thank you, Detective,” muttered Special Agent for the FBI Brad Raines. “We’ll take it from here.”

Raines stood in the small barn’s wide doorway and scanned the dimly lit interior. Dusk fell on an ancient wood floor covered in dust disturbed by numerous footprints. Shafts of light streamed from cracks in a sagging roof.

Long abandoned. A natural choice.

“With all due respect, Agent Raines, my team is here,” the detective replied. “They can work the scene.”

“But they won’t, Detective Lambert.”

Raines turned his head slowly, taking it all in.

One rectangular room roughly fifteen by forty, covered by a tin roof. Interior walls formed by six-inch graying wooden planks. Ten, twenty, thirty, thirty-two on the narrow side. Fifteen feet, as estimated. Two shovels and a pitchfork on the floor to his right. A single window with dirty, tinted panes, crowded by empty cobwebs.

A dust-covered wooden bucket rested in the corner, its rusted handle covered with filth. Several old rusted tin cans—Giant brand peas with the label mostly missing, Heinz canned hotdogs—scattered on floor, left by camper long gone. An old farm plow blade lay against the near wall. An even older work table sat to the left, near the far wall. Anything else of interest had been taken by visitors.

All but what had brought Brad.

The woman’s body was glued to the wall to his left. Like a mannequin: arms wide, wrists limp. Like the other three.

“…Chief Lorenzo for clearance.” The detective’s voice edged in on his thoughts. Lambert was still here.

Brad looked over his left shoulder where Nikki Holden, a leading forensic psychologist, stood staring at the woman’s body with those wide blue eyes of hers. She caught his ‘get-rid-of-the-cop’ glance and turned to face detective Lambert. Brad returned his gaze to the shed’s interior as she spoke.

“I’m sorry, Detective,” she said in her most reasonable tone of voice, “but I’m sure you can appreciate our position here. Give my team a few hours and we’ll know. If this isn’t our guy, you’ll be the first to know. The police department’s been more than helpful.”

Brad looked up to mask his knowing grin. One of the rafters was cracked, its gray husk revealed a lighter, tan core. Freshly broken.

“I don’t like it,” Lambert said. “For the record.”

Brad pulled his eyes from the crime scene and smiled at the detective. “Thank you, Detective. Noted. There’s quite a bit about this job not to like. If your men could secure the perimeter, that would be helpful. Our forensic team will be here any minute. Just give us a couple hours.”

Lambert held his gaze for moment, then turned away and addressed a man behind him. “Okay Larry, cancel the forensics, this is now an FBI investigation. Tell Bill to secure and hold the perimeter.”

Larry muttered a curse and flicked away a bit of straw he’d taken from a pile of old bales. A white unmarked van rolled over the yellow perimeter tape and slowly crunched over the gravel driveway. It had taken the forensics team an hour to reach the scene, just south of West Dillon Road, from the Stout Street field office in downtown Denver. A farm had evidently once occupied this empty field in Louisville, twenty plus miles northwest from Denver up the Denver Boulder Turnpike.

Brad glanced at Nikki. “Tell them to start on the outside,” he said flatly. “Give us a minute. Bring Kim in when she arrives.”

Kim Peterson, the forensic pathologist, would determine what the body could tell them post mortem. Nikki headed for the van without comment.

Brad turned his attention back to the small barn. The shack. The farm shed. The killer’s nest. The rest of the story was here, in the dark corners. The walls had watched the killer as he’d methodically ended a woman’s life. The work table had heard his words as he confessed his passions and fears in a world turned inside out by his compulsions. It had witnessed her pleas for mercy. Her dying moans.

Careful not to step on the exposed markings in the dust, Brad entered the room and approached the wall on which the woman was fixed. He stood still, filtering out the sounds of voices from a dozen law enforcement personnel outside. The hum of rubber on asphalt from the main road two hundred yards down the driveway settled in with the sound of his breathing. Both faded entirely as he brought his senses in line with the scene before him.

Her nearly nude torso rose pale in the glow of a single light shaft. As though by magic, her body seemed perched on the wooden wall behind her, both arms stretched out on either side. Two round dowels that supported much of her weight protruded from the wall under her armpits. Her heels were together, each foot angled from the wall at the same angle to form a V.

A white veil of translucent lace had been carefully placed to cover her face, like a bride.

The outthrust posture sent a collage of art-history remnants cascading through his mind––the Venus de Milo, a thousand renditions of the Crucifixion, the Louvre’s Winged Victory statue, her marble bosom preening forward like the prow of an ancient ship against a Mediterranean surf.

But this was no museum. It was a crime scene, and the mixture of cruelty and ostentation pouring from the garish exhibit filled him with a sudden wave of nausea.

Slowly, his analytical faculties began to reassert themselves.

She was naked except for thin cotton panties and the veil. Blonde. White. Everything about the placement was symmetrical. The position of each hand, limp at the end of each arm with thumb and forefinger touching, set in identical form. Each knee, each shoulder, each hip carefully manipulated into perfect balance. All but her head.

Her head slumped gently to the left so that her long blond hair cascaded over her left shoulder before curling under her armpits. Through the veil he could see that her eyes were closed. No blemish, no sign of pain or suffering, no blood.

Only blessed peace and beauty. She could as easily be an angel painted by DaVinci or Michelangelo. The perfect bride.

Brian Jacobs, seventeen, had brought his girlfriend here after school for reasons unrevealed and found the Bride Collector’s fourth victim. Brad preferred to think of them as angels.

He peered closer and felt strange words of empathy well up inside of him.

I cry with you, Angel. I weep for you. For every strand of hair that will never again blow in the wind, for every smile that will never brighten someone else’s day, for every look of desire that will never quicken another man’s pulse. I am so sorry.

“She’s beautiful,” Nicole said behind him.

He felt a momentary stab of regret for having been pulled away from his connection with the woman on the wall. Nikki walked past him, eyes fixed on the woman, touching his arm gently with her fingers as she passed. Her breathing was steady, slightly thicker than usual. He knew the cause: the dark waters of the killer’s mind she now probed by staring at his handiwork.

Like an avalanche, the poignancy of his relationship with Nikki crashed through his mind… and then was gone, replaced by the image of her standing next to the woman. A blonde angel hovering over a brunette. One with arms stretched wide in complete resignation, the other with arms folded. One nearly naked, the other dressed in a blue silk blouse with a black jacket and skirt.

She’s beautiful, he thought.

“Dear God.” Kim Peterson’s voice cut softly through the room, gasping what the other two were too proud to verbalize. The forensic pathologist stepped up next to Brad, withdrew a pair of white gloves from her bag then set it down. “What do we know?”

Brad would have preferred to spend more time alone with the victim, but the opportunity had passed. “No ID. Discovered an hour ago by two teenagers.”

They stared in a moment of silence.

“She’s beautiful,” Kim said.

“Yes.”

“This makes four.”

“Looks like it, doesn’t it?”

The pathologist approached the body opposite Nikki, who remained quiet, lost in thought as she studied the body with searching eyes.

Kim sank to one heel and gently lifted the woman’s toes for a better view under the foot. “Care to tell us how you think it happened before I begin my preliminary examination?”

He wasn’t ready, of course, not yet, not without a complete analysis of ungathered evidence. But he’d been credited with an uncanny ability to accurately judge events from the thinnest of evidentiary threads, and not without reason. He’d cracked three major cases in the Four Corners region since leaving Miami and joining the Denver field office a year ago. At thirty-two years of age, he was on the fast track for high ground – much higher ground, if you believed his superiors.

But he believed none of them because he knew that, unlike them, his motivation had nothing to do with climbing an organizational ladder.

“Male, size eleven by the shoe prints. They were here for a while, maybe a day…”

“How so?” Nicole asked.

A distant murmur carried to him: an officer speaking to the curious driver of an approaching car outside, instructing him to head back to the main road. The over their heads ticked as it began to cool in the late afternoon.

“That smell. It’s baked beans. He was hungry so he ate. You won’t find the can. He wouldn’t leave any DNA evidence in here.”

“She was alive when he brought her here?”

“Yes. And he killed her like the others, by draining her blood from her heels. No struggle. He either gained her cooperation before he brought her or while she was spread out on the table, listening to his reasoning. Like before. A tarp under the table caught most of the trace evidence––bodily fluids, skin cells, hair. He was careful not to use too much force, keeping her on the edge of control and submission. She was lying prone, sedated, conscious and fully aware when he numbed her heels and drilled up into them. He was forced to clean up the blood on table and floor where it ran off the tarp. Then he sealed the wounds, lifted her into position, held her long enough for the glue on her shoulder blades to cure on the wall, reopened the wounds on each heel, and watched her blood drain into a three-gallon bucket.”

All of this, Brad had guessed from the markings on the table and floor, the ring from the bucket beneath the woman’s heels, and the lack of bruising. The physical evidence had painted a picture in his mind as clearly as if he was staring at a Rembrandt.

“He did it out of respect, not rage,” Brad said.

“Love,” Nikki said.

He nodded, even willing to go that far. “Love.”

“Both heel wounds are plugged with the same fleshy putty we found on the other three,” Kim said, standing. “And what kind of love is this?”

“The groom’s love,” Brad said, savoring his response.

Special Agent Frank Closkey spoke from the door. “Sir?”

Brad held up his hand without looking back. “Give us a few more minutes, Frank.”

The agent retreated.

Kim continued her initial examination, gently prodding the woman’s flesh, checking her eyes, lifting her hair, inspecting the back of her shoulders. But Brad already knew what she would find, for this was the fourth body the Bride Collector had left them.

The question was why? What motivated him? How did he make his selections? What good or evil did he think he was doing? What had been done to him to motivate his taking of life in such a manner? Where was he now? Who had he decided to kill next? When would he take her?

Where was he now?

The questions spun through Brad’s mind as one, yet unique. Some were clearer than others, but all whispered from beyond, tempting him to listen because each question already contained an answer. He simply had to find it and unpack it.

Nikki paced with one arm pressed against her belly, the other propping up her chin. It struck him that like her, two of the victims had been brunettes. Like her, all four had beautiful complexions.

What would enter the killer’s mind if he were staring at Nikki through a hole in the wall at this moment? Brad pushed back a fleeting impulse to check the wall behind them to see if there might indeed be a hole there now, filled with a single eye peering in at them.

A dozen reasons as to why this would be absurd presented themselves to him. He summarily dismissed them all, returning to what the killer might think if he was watching Nikki the way Brad watched her now. He let himself wander––her calves well defined beneath the hem of the black skirt.

Her wavy long hair cascading on her shoulders, her eyes bright with question. Her forefinger absently brushing full lips. A perfectly symmetrical face.

Would the killer feel any desire?

No. No it wasn’t desire, was it? She was beautiful, but beautiful women filled the world. Something else drew the Bride Collector, in the same way that something else was drawing Brad now, though he had a difficult time putting a finger on it.

Of the numerous women he’d dated over the past ten years, only four relationships had lasted two months or more, each ending sooner than the previous one. Nikki had once accused him of playing the role of bad boy. He thought picky was a better label. He had taste, after all.

After what he’d been through, he needed to be picky.

Nikki was thirty-one, married once at age nineteen, divorced six months later. A forensic psychologist with a doctorate in psychology from CSU. Highly intelligent, witty, reduced to deep introspection by scenes that might have left most people heaving.

This would excite the killer, wouldn’t it? And if Nikki came on to the killer, would that excite him?

No, Brad thought.

“He would like you,” Brad said.

Nicole glanced back at him, arm still around her waist. “Excuse me?”

He caught himself. This was one of those frequent times when brutal honesty might not be so wise.

“I was just thinking that he liked her. You. That is, speaking to the victim. He. He would like you, meaning he would like her.”

Kim saved him. “Speaking to cadavers now, Bradley? Don’t worry, I do it all the time.”

“You were looking at me when you said it,” Nikki said.

“So I was. I tend to do that.”

“What, stare at women? Or specifically at me?”

“Both, on occasion.”

A faint smile turned the corners of her mouth up. She winked, not a full wink, but the movement in her right eyelid was unmistakable. Or was it?

Nikki turned to face the wall, leaving Brad to feel somewhat dirty. In an attempt to help the woman on the wall, he’d somehow violated her privacy. Yet her story was still unknown, and demanded respect.

Silence. Remorse. Shame.

“Sir?”

Brad turned from the wall and walked to the door. “Bring the team in. Photograph every inch, dust every exposed surface. Blood, sweat, spittle, hair; bag and tag the air if you have to. I want preliminaries from the lab this evening.”

“Um… It’s getting late. I don’t—”

“He’s staring through a peephole at another woman already, Frank. We have less than a week to stop him from showing that woman his love. Preliminaries tonight.”

Brad left the shack thinking he might have chosen better words to express the urgency burning across his nervous system.

Today’s Wacky Wednesday brings you some humorous images in celebration of Green’s release! Enjoy! Leave a comment.

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And watch my Green Water advertisement if you already haven’t here! Don’t forget to run out and buy your copy of Green, by the way! And if you have your copy already, send in a picture of you with it to scribesofOE@gmail.com and we’ll post it on Sunday. :)

–Phen