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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

The Brotherhood #9

By Mark W. Meier

Part 9

Act II

Prophet of Death

Chapter Two

The next morning you noticed the gray, nondescript sedan parked on the street across from your building. Inside that car were the two men, no longer in police uniforms, who had been with Marshal Woods the previous day.

Even though you weren’t surprised, the police surveillance angered you. You’d done nothing to justify them watching you.

You went back to spewing your drivel about Mercury in retrograde, Leo ascendant, and Rigel in opposition. Anyone with a third-grade education could perform an internet search and blather aimlessly about a person.

A man who wrote was asking about a woman he wanted to marry, and a moment later you found him on social media. Then you simply extrapolated his persona based on pictures. Scrolling backwards you found birthday wishes which provided enough information to run a natal chart.

While you were researching I asked a pair of imps for background on his girlfriend. Only one returned, but with very interesting information. Your waiting mind took my suggestion.

Dear Mystified:

You are a natural athlete and tend toward impulsiveness. You want your special aspects noticed without you drawing attention to them.

Love is not something you are good at. You are too easy-going and follow another’s lead too readily. You utilize deceit far too much when with a potential partner.

Another danger in relationships is clinging to an image of what you want to see, allowing your partner to take advantage of you.

Though you are considered lucky in the love department, rejection brings out a nasty streak. Beware of who you target with your ire.

You published that around noon. Ten hours later Mystified was dead – killed by his girlfriend in self defense. She claimed he’d attacked her when she turned down his marriage proposal. Mystified hadn’t known the subject of his romantic intentions was a martial arts expert.

Beautiful. It had taken me only a moment to make her laughingly reject him. She didn’t even know why Mystified, after a three-year relationship, suddenly seemed so ludicrous. Perhaps it had something to do with the out-of-style corduroy suit coat nobody could recall him wearing before.

The next day the number of subscribers to your website doubled. So did the price of ads on your blog. Since the death happened a thousand miles away, you weren’t even a suspect for local law enforcement.

But Marshal Woods would notice.

Similar things happened over the next six months. Every couple of weeks you’d post an answer with a hint of a warning, and within a day or two the person seeking answers would die. Some of the more bizarre included a pilot walking into a spinning propeller, a cardiologist dying of a heart attack during a radio interview, and a game warden who went missing in Kentucky.

The warden’s body wasn’t discovered until hunting season two months later. That is what brought Marshal Woods back to your apartment. He arrived the day after the warden’s widow was informed of her husband’s death.

“Mr. Reymond.” He sat in one of the slightly better chairs you’d purchased at a garage sale the previous weekend. “Do you know an Amanda Deeks?” At least this time Woods hadn’t brought any uniformed officers with him. They were waiting in their sedan across the street.

Though your furnishings had improved a bit, you still lived in the same crummy apartment. “I don’t really know anyone, Agent Woods.” You leaned back in the other pine Ivar.

“Marshal. My title isn’t ‘agent.’ Call me Marshal Woods.”

“Okay, Marshal. I don’t really have friends because people don’t respect what I do.”

Woods nodded with a hint of a smirk. “I understand, but I didn’t ask if you were friends with Deeks. Do you know her?”

“I’ve never heard of her.”

The television popped. Though you had a new – new to you – flat screen unit, this one emitted the same annoying “pop” as your old black and white.

Woods raised a questioning eyebrow at the apparatus. “Is that a new TV?”

“Yes. I’m doing a bit better now.”

The marshal looked back at you. “How much do you make now?”

“Enough.” You knew exactly how much, but then Woods probably did, too. Your income had doubled, but if it doubled again you still could only move from this roach-infested efficiency to a roach infested one-bedroom.

Woods looked at you with inquisitive skepticism.

“If you have an accusation, just say it.”

Woods nodded. “Okay. Did you make predictions about deaths, then murder people to drive your subscription numbers up? You’re called the Prophet of Death almost everywhere now, and your posts are getting a lot more attention since Flummoxed in Fairmont died.” He flipped open his notebook. “You told a Kentucky game warden, ‘Don’t let your coworkers badger you to death.’ He was later killed by a pack of badgers that aren’t native to the state. Doesn’t that seem like too much of a coincidence?”

He handed you a newspaper clipping of the story, which you skimmed. The first two paragraphs told you all you needed to know.

“Badgers?” You crumpled the page and threw it at him. “You can’t be serious.”

The ball of newsprint bounced off Woods’ patterned tie.

You stood and paced the three steps across your apartment’s worn green carpeting, then back again. “Nobody would even consider doing that, much less think it would work. I’m not making enough money to risk prison.”

The marshal stepped into your personal space and nearly jabbed you with his red Montblanc fountain pen. “It might be worth the gamble if Iowa doesn’t have the death penalty.”

“You’re insane,” you shot back. “It wouldn’t work, even if the concept occurred to me – which it didn’t. Where would I get the badgers, how would I know where to place them, and what are the chances someone could be killed by them?”

Woods replaced his pen and tucked his ever present notebook into the pocket of his Brioni suit jacket. “We’ll see. Don’t leave the city.” He spun on his heel, pulled open the door, and marched into the hallway. He’d left the hollow core door open.

“I can’t afford to leave!” Your shout echoed off the walls, and you added, “And I have nowhere else to go!”

You gave an inarticulate scream and slammed the door, then bashed your fist into the door hard enough to leave an indentation in the veneer. Your heart raced as you struggled to calm yourself.

My plans were on schedule, and nobody had a hint I was involved. Perfect.

If you appreciate this story, please consider supporting the author's ability to write more stories by purchasing The Brotherhood, available in print and on Kindle. Please share on social media, and leave a review on the page linked above.

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