endless night

The Novel With No End

                It whispered…

The sun set and another deadline flew by. Increasingly impatient editors demanded he produce the promised manuscript. Their e-mails and texts buzzed in his ear. Yet, no matter what he wrote, despite the fact that every scene and action found its way into his novel, he was no closer to an end. The next great American project, his multi-genre magnum opus wandered lost, totally separated from cohesiveness. The book was about everything, about nothing, a monster now approaching 200,000 words. No matter how hard he tried, no matter how rigorously he outlined and storyboarded the action, he drew no closer to a conclusion.

                Through the fog, a shape wavered. A dark and ominous presence in the mist. Somehow he knew it, but could not find its name. The creature reached for him in the dark, with prehensile limbs and uncertain intent. It whispered… it whispered…

                The author stopped typing, stymied. What did it whisper, and why? What even was the ‘it’? Where was this going? This coda seemed so unnecessary so unrelated to the rest of the plot, and yet some force compelled him to affix this passage at the end of an otherwise complete text. It demanded he obsess over this seemingly needless paragraph, a vestigial appendage dangling from his manuscript.

                Complete with introduction, rising action and climax, the plot of his book had resolved. Characters' nuances and motives made plain by 400 pages of perspicacious text. Lovers were joined and lost. They died and in death found themselves in the other’s arms again. Wandering the indefinite fog of plot, battling antagonist and protagonist alike, they endured. They changed; they grew. And the more they grew, the more their essence remained the same. And then the tale ended. The tale ended… until into it wandered fog, his lost protagonist far from home and the creature whispering faintly in the night. There at the precipice he sat, trapped by infinite possibility.

                Desperate, the author pored over every page, searching his own words for clues to the finish. Where had he gone wrong?

                Through the fog…

                Years passed. Publishing houses abandoned him to his self-imposed exile. A brilliant mind succumbed to the madding dark, they muttered. What a shame, such a loss. Still he stared, oblivious to the civilization that left him behind, at the same forty two words, a paragraph with no end. A thesis with no conclusion. Marks on the page, time robbed them of their meaning. Now they were little more than mere totems of his failure.

                He closed his eyes, and, as he did daily, tried once again to visualize this creature in the dark. This beast, it whispered a message of the utmost importance, both for his protagonists and for himself. If only he could hear, if only he could see. But alas he heard only murmurs, saw the barest hint of form. The indefinite creature loomed over an unsure end. The author wept.

                Then, out of the blue, as inspiration is wont to do, an idea struck. One only born in a man divorced from his senses.

                "This… doesn't have to end," He spoke, wheezing in a voice rusted by disuse.

                So inspired, he slapped his laptop back to life and typed:

                Through the fog, a shape wavered. A dark and ominous presence in the mist. Somehow he knew it, but could not recall its name. The creature reached for him in the dark, with prehensile limbs and uncertain intent. It whispered… it whispered…

                "I cannot hear you," The hero spoke. ”Come closer…"

                The creature did not move, nor did it raise its voice. He entreated it again.

                "Please, I must know what you say."

                Stock still it stood; features still obscure. Its outline was just barely visible in the night's gloom and the fog.

                "Please."

                Please…

Endless Night -- Chapter Two

            He sat in silence, bound and tumescent, waiting. Anticipation was all part of the game. A good dom lets your imagination wander, wonder at what’s coming. He allows you to imagine his touch, gentle at first, and then rougher. He lets you sit in the dark, too dim to see the door, but with just enough light to see the shadows of the tools of his trade. He lets you wonder how they might be used, how your limits might be tested. How far you are willing to go…

            The door opened, and Rodgers, left to his devices for almost too long, nearly spent himself then and there.

 

            Rodgers sat in the dark. His only companion distant, constant dripping. The room was damp, the air foul, like whatever sins committed here again and again could never be completely washed away. They had dragged him into this room, the rough hands, stripped him, bound him to this chair and then left. Left him alone for hours. Anticipation was all part of the game. Most men, he imagined, spilled their secrets into that silence. Most men feared what came. Rodgers was not most men. He had already been tested, and though from the shadows of the tools that lay in the quiet he knew this match would start way past his limits, he would not give up so easily.

            Too much was at risk. The secrets he hid were far too deadly.

 

            As Tomas the Inquisitor marched up the Chapel steps, his mind buzzed with worry over what awaited him. What could be so vital that only he could attend to it? Parson flocked him in respectful silence, aware of his pensiveness and not wishing to interrupt for he knew the rancor it would bring down on his head. The night was still and cold, and only the wind’s soft whispers pierced the stillness. Tomas wrapped the robe of his station tight around him, though it was inlaid with warm fleece, he still felt the chill penetrate.

He wondered if that was the wind’s doing, or if it was fear. Such was the life of an Inquisitor, constantly hoping to inspire a fear in others that might approach his own. Such was the precarious station one held, living in the shadows and hypocrisy.

Charlaine, the Inquisition’s head amanuensis, barely looked up from her ledger as he entered the chapel from the dark, throwing open the wood doors, as if their creaking loudness would chase away his doubts.

“Tomas,” She smiled thinly, though the warmth in her eyes was genuine, “You’re late.”

“Char, dearest, do you ever sleep?”

“Administering Justice is a 24 hour job I’m afraid.” She spoke with her eyes on the screen, notes from the latest confession, leads to be forwarded to the Hermandade, and either confirmed or discarded by their inspectors. “The boss wants you. *He* said to send you up as soon as you arrived.”

Instead of heading up straight away, Tomas lingered. “How was, uh, His mood?”

“All business, even moreso than usual. I wouldn’t keep Him waiting. More likely than not, He already knows you’re here.”

“Okay then. See you on my way out?”

“I doubt it, after I finish here I’m rushing home. I have to at least get a little sleep before morning.” Charlaine looked up from her work briefly and smiled, “Although, if the whispers are correct. You may still be here when I return. They got you a tough nut to crack this time.”

Tomas leaned down and tried his most winning smile. White teeth on a brown face, smooth skin and handsome features beneath hair buzzed close to his skull, framed by a buzz that ran down along his jaw and back up sideburns on both sides. He knew it was a difficult face to deny. “No hints for your favorite Inquisitor?”

“You know better than that. Go ahead now, I’ll buzz you up.”

As Tomas walked down the hall toward the elevator, he could not stop his hands from shaking. Fear gripped him and he knew not why. Though some sixth sense told him it was threats of the past roaring in his ears now, and not the distant wind. The Chapel was at once ornate and austere. From the outside it looked like a normal Church. In the modern day, with proscribed atheism the norm most churches were archaic, they still remained. Now the government’s buildings instead of God’s. Inside was a mix of new and old. The hallway he walked down now lined with stained glass, depicting the Inquisition’s proud history. Yet instead of candles, as was once traditional, fluorescent bulbs provided the hall with low, consistent light.

Where once the Inquisition extracted the confessions of heretics, they now pronounced guilt on dissenters. Where once they fought for the Lord, they now lurked in the shadows, protecting king and country. Some longed for the good old days, but in a secular world, these were necessary changes. And so still they thrived.

As he proceeded down the hall, the images changed. From the past to the present, from foul sinners on the cross, to political prisoners, on their knees in the black, begging the King’s (Or Queen, as it was in this day and age) third, darkest, and most deadly arm for forgiveness. Forgiveness that was nearly never forthcoming. From crucifixions and beheadings to quiet disembowlings and mass graves. Here artists proudly depicted the horrors of the Inquisition, necessary horrors—some might say—that protected the Kingdom from those who would help it consume itself.

The stainless steel elevator doors opened as he approached, no doubt He was watching Tomas approach on the cameras lining the corridor. Tomas entered, and they closed behind him and immediately he was born upwards. There were no buttons, no screen signifying what floor he traveled to. Only one finger controlled this carriage, security necessary for one of the most quietly hated functionaries of the King’s governance. Him, Lord of the Inquisition.

The doors opened in his office, no need for further security. Only those He allowed could get this far. And like most Lords of the Inquisition, this one valued seclusion above all else. All the better for pronouncing treachery, sedition, for issuing edicts of execution, if one renounces all emotional ties. Life was a luxury few in the Inquisition could afford.

“Tomas, sit,” The Lord’s high voice came from His turned chair. Tomas entered the office, and sat in the chair on the opposite side of the Lord’s desk, trying in vain to dispel his worries.

“So,” The chair turned and the Lord, a blonde and gray-haired woman of indeterminate age, could be as low as late-forties and as high as mid-sixties, regarded her most successful Inquisitor. ‘Him’ and ‘He’ we just titles, archaic remains from an age where one’s gender limited how far one could rise. Yet they remained, vague words for a vague position of power in the Monarch’s bureaucracy. Man or Woman ‘He’ was not a person to be trifled with.

“How much do you know about Fifth Column?”

Please, please no.

In a voice belying the fright that built within him, Tomas answered. “Not much more than anyone, half-myth, half-rebellion. Anytime a bomb explodes; bouillon is ‘liberated’; the queen’s stores are pillaged, et cetera, et cetera, their names are whispered. I know we’ve captured several men and women suspected to be operatives for ‘the cause’, but they managed to get themselves killed before they talked. I know some suspect they do not exist at all. That it’s just a name we invented, to keep the populace complacent…”

Tomas trailed off. That was really all he knew. Well, almost all.

“Yes, that’s all any of us know. But we have a break. Recently we heard from numerous reliable sources that Fifth Column was working with the media to spread dissension. One name in particular came up again and again. We didn’t want to move on this info until we had several corroborating sources, but that time has come. We struck before he got wind of our interest and fled the country. A newspaper editor named…” *He* consulted the file open on her desk.

No, please not-

“-Chuy Rodgers.”

And that was it, the terrifying prospect made reality. He became stone, face completely still, hoping nothing betrayed the visions of the noose that danced before him. Visions of his own vain attempts to stuff his insides back where they belong, the hot, white pain of death at the hands of one like him, the Queen’s most deadly tools.

But still he played the fool. “That name sounds familiar. Some sort of newspaper editor?”

“And blogger, yes. Known for saying things that are somewhat insightful of dissension, but nothing that would merit risking his extraction before now. He has a very wide following. Very popular online. And, our whispers say, he is, if not directly involved, aware of what Fifth Column is plotting next. Our whispers say it could be…” And here *He* paused, and for a moment, Tomas saw just how stressed the Him was, how big this was, and in that moment he sniffed hope, opportunity. “…an attempted assassination on Queen Aluecia.”

Tomas allowed himself to balk at that openly. “I see.”

*He* nodded. “So you can see how serious this is. We need our best. That’s you. I’m hoping we can have actionable intel by the morning. I don’t want his fans to grumble, and if they do, I want to give them verifiable proof Rodgers is a traitor. Think you’re up to it.”

Tomas paused a while, pretending to consider the implications here, really considering how he might get through the night without himself becoming target for questioning.

“I can certainly try,” He finally says, “Anything for the Queen.”

 

Rodgers sits in the dark, bound and tumescent, aroused by what awaits him. Beguiled by the smells of old sex, sins that can never be fully washed away. Leather belts strapping his naked, sweating form to a wicker chair that left all exposed. After what could have been minutes, or maybe even hours, the door finally opens. And a robed figure enters. The clothes a mockery of the station its wearer holds by day. Dark face and gleaming smile hidden by a mask, yet he smiles still.

“So,” The masked figure begins, hands tracing and caressing each tool of his trade. Pain and pleasure, confession and discovery, all sides of the same coin. “Tell the truth. You’ve been bad haven’t you?”

“Yessir.”

“And do you know why I’m here?”

“Yessir.” Rodgers answer comes, a quiet moan, leaking from him. He leaks all over.

“You’ve been bad,” The masked man’s rough hand comes to rest on a cat o’nine, and he smiles again sight unseen. “Tonight we’re going to see how bad you really are.”

 

Tomas watched through the door, watched Rodgers quietly whimpering, awaiting an Inquisitor’s wrath. He watches the dark secret of his past, returned to bear on the present. Tomas, remembering their time together, exciting himself despite the fear, pondered how best to escape the vise closing around him.

You can do this Tomas. You can survive. You just have to be smart. You just have to be careful.

Tomas, you can survive… you’ve spilled innocent blood before. You can survive.

Endless Night

Every morn and every night, some are born to sweet delight. Some are born to sweet delight. Some are born to endless night.

-- William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

                Most nights, Rodgers enjoyed the sensation of his life slowly draining away, of being brought as close to the edge of death as he could stand. Most nights he enjoyed being bound. He enjoyed the feel of leather—cool against his clammy flesh—the disassociating feel of lost circulation in his hands and feet. Most nights he enjoyed losing himself. He enjoyed rough hands rousing him from bed to use him how they chose. He enjoyed ceding control, being pushed to the edge of his limits and maybe a little bit beyond. Most nights he enjoyed the dance between dominance and submission, suffering punishment at the hands of a stranger. Most nights he endured these tortures of his own will.

                Most nights he pursued these things… but not this night.

                It was late when they roused him from his slumber, from erotic dreams, those calloused hands. And for a moment he smiled before the truth of the matter snapped him into the moment. Those hands worked a hood over his head, and whispered, a low menace:

“Make a noise, and we end it right here.”

                I’ve been found out.

                He did not struggle, he did not protest his kidnapping. Resisting always made it worse. One lesson that held fast in both pleasure and pain. These faceless hands forced him into the back of a car, with great efficiency and never a word and they were off. Off into the shadows, off towards, he supposed, the end that had haunted him for so long. The end reflected in his lusts.

                You’ve been found out. Boy, this is it. This is it…

 

Halfway across town, another man was roused, though not nearly so roughly. A light tapping at his door. The inquisitor woke immediately, accustomed as he was to callers at all hours of the night, gently extracting himself from the slumbering figure in his arms. He threw a robe around his nakedness and walked to the door. Through the peephole he saw his apprentice, Parsons, and he opened the door.

The young man, stuttered, eyes averted, but he could not hide the excitement in his voice. “Inquisitor? Sir. Er, sorry for the late hour, but… we got a live one.”

“So why am I being bothered? Arvan’s on duty tonight, isn’t he?”

“Yeah, but,” Parsons gave a never look around, “We’ve been requested specifically. *He* requested us.”

This revelation gave the Inquisitor pause. “Him specifically? Are you sure?”

Parsons nodded, in his eyes gleamed excitement… and also fear.

The Inquisitor sighed. “Give me five minutes.”

He closed the door and went back inside. The young man in his bed had woken, and still yawning, lit a candle. The flickering light twinkling in his green eyes. He watched, not speaking as the Inquisitor dressed: A humble homespun looking robe (one he did not mind getting dirtied), the wide-brimmed hat, with a buckle about the base that bespoke his station.

As the Inquisitor finished, the young man smiled. “Handsome, even in that get-up. I don’t know how you do it.”

The Inquisitor did not respond, instead reaching for his wallet. At this the young man walked over to him, put a gentle hand on his wrist. At this the Inquisitor started, but did not pull away. Not like he used to.

“I told you,” The young man sighed, “You don’t have to pay. Not anymore.”

The Inquisitor looked at him, with hard-dark eyes set deep in a brown face, pursing his lips. The young man met his gaze, unwavering and unafraid. Then the dark man reached into his wallet, grabbed some red and blue bills, forcing them into the young man’s hand.

“And I told you. I’m not ready for what it means when I stop. Not yet.”

So saying, he walked over to the door, opened it. Standing in the frame he turned back to the pouting man, still so much a boy despite his profession. Despite how ably he accounted himself in said profession.

“Lock up when you leave. Or… you can stay if you wish. I don’t know how long I’ll be. Hours, maybe longer.”

His back turned to the Inquisitor, so that he would not see the tears that threatened the corners of his eyes, the young man spit, “What kind of whore stays after the job is done?”

“Anthony, I-“

“Go, Tomas! I’ve done my job.” And at that Anthony turned, and the Inquisitor, Tomas, saw that he was weeping, “Time for you to do yours!”

Tomas tried to think of what to say to the boy—for that’s what he was, a boy—that would comfort him. But the one thing he wanted was the one thing Tomas could not give.

“I’ll call for you, later.” He said, hollow words for a hollow moment.

And Anthony, despite his tears, smiled. “And I will come.”

With that, the Inquisitor followed Parsons into the night.

Unbeknownst to him, ahead lay a collision with his secret past. One he thought long dead.

Alas, secrets rarely die.