True Stories

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Robert2046 spends a day researching media accounts of horror and violence and gains a haunting self knowledge in the process.

Robert 2046 felt abstracted from himself and lost in his own little bubble of dissociation, facilitated by codeine, alcohol and cannabis. So distracting were his attempts to integrate himself in subcultural online communities that he felt himself denoted by the email handle and standardised user name commonly adopted in his virtual life. Robert 2046, a mildly pretentious melding of his first name and the title of a Wong Kar-wai film he admired. It was late afternoon and he stared out the bedroom window into the bright Autumn sky as it subtly darkened, morphing into a black mass on a bed of the sunset's orange glow. He enjoyed watching dusk fall, it had a melancholy effect on him he found soothing and reignited the faint hope that not everything was bound to the drear flesh. 

 

Robert2046 had spent most of the day smoking cigarettes, drinking endless cups of tea and pondering his own insignificance and loneliness. The moleskine notebook he had spread out on the bed contained the few notes he had scribbled throughout the day. A failed academic well into middle age he had seen a call for papers on social media and causality, though he had not written a research paper in years it had inspired a modest flicker of ambition in him. He thought of a cynical and macabre angle, one he thought could possibly gain attention, social media grooming and murder. It was something he'd touched on briefly in his Phd thesis nearly a decade ago. He had absolutely no thoughts on methodology or critical framing but it had given him an illusory sense of purpose for the best part of the day. He'd come across a couple of stories, minor tragedies now fading to obscurity, that had got under his skin and fogged his mind, layered as they were with shattering little details, at least to the vaguely empathetic. 

 

As horrors go mere specks but there was something about the two stories  that, unlikely and tasteless as it may seem, returned him back to the starker memories of his teenage years, though the victims and their repulsive fates were far from his identity and experience. In adolescence death affronts the ego, you feel physically strong and still full of desire and it seems absurd that you should end and the world carries on with indifference . In middle age the terror is more sharply in focus, but now the thought of extinction becomes a dark comfort and it is the thought of pain  that carries the greatest fear . Cancer eating you slowly from within, your heart folding you up like an old rag doll, the pain was coming for you one day, one way or another.  Robert2046 lit a cigarette and read over his notes. A young East European orphan adopted by a good family far from her birthplace but rejected by her new community.

 

Bullied and friendless at school and with a hearing problem, it didn't stop when she got home, it all began again on social media. When her mother told her to simply to stay offline and spare herself the hurt the girl said, "I can't. It's like I'd be dead." She had a channel on YouTube where she did make up and beauty tutorials and had a 100 subs.  In one of the videos' comment sections someone had posted the opinion that she needed to die. Then again, if anyone's online profile hovered above anonymity on social media a stranger will wish you dead. 

 

Two boys pretended to befriend her, lured her to a deserted rodent infested barnhouse near a derelict farm and raped and beat her to death. The rats in the barn provided a grisly postscript that was reported by news outlets with unnerving relish. Her mother immediately knew something was up because no one ever called for her daughter. It was something that would haunt her adoptive parents until they consummated their own mortality. They said they looked forward to a heavenly reunion, and really given their annihilation you had to indulge the sentiment and fantasy, they must think of the pain and terror she experienced, and what must have seemed an unreal moment when she realised she was dying so soon. Also, you knew they would think about the prelude to the brutalisation, when the boys' niceness was suddenly gone and the girl realised was it was  merely an affectation to get her there, on this spot, inside this barn, a prop in a stage show, to be desecrated for sport. Down the hole he went, and soon he had come across another similarly enervating story.

 

An overweight teen, who wanted to go into care work and was said to spend most of her time with her dog and grandparents, was flattered when a good looking boy became attentive on Facebook and told the insecure fifteen year old she was attractive. She was so excited when the boy asked to meet her. Thrilled as she was she didn't mention anything to anyone, feeling they would think the boy was too good looking for her. Despite her nervousness, she was frightened of him not liking her in the flesh, they arranged to meet on a summer evening at the local park. She waited for him and just when she thought he wasn't going to show up she got a text to say change of plan, he'd had to go and check on his nan who was ill and was running late. She could come to his house. His dad was on the way to pick her up. 

 

She texted him back asking why he wasn't in the car. He replied he needed to shower and get things ready for her.  This was all pieced together later when her phone was recovered. A man, later described by a former work colleague as creepy with bad teeth and poor hygiene, turned up in a battered little car. She got in the car. The man sexually assaulted and strangled her, dumping her body in a muddy field miles away. Her killer later said in his confession that she had screamed when she got in and quickly surmised he lived in his car, the pillows and blanket on the back seat and canned food were a giveaway.   When she realised she had been groomed and the boy and all the photos and messages a mere invention of someone who was focused on violating her she became zombified. He said she was strangely resigned to it all, and there was an element of pantomime about him throttling her, it was hard work and her lack of fight disquieted him, she being a big girl he had worried about physically subduing her. Life had atomised her to the point she allowed herself to be rendered extinct. Robert2046 stopped reading his notes. He'd already given up on the research paper. Maybe he could write something on shock sites instead. He turned off the bedside lamp and stubbed out the joint. In the darkness he perused Death Addict. 

 

There was no context, subtitles or real explanation accompanying the video, it was simply captioned 'Los Zetas Chop up Four Women' and was so obscenely cruel and ludicrously violent it took on a hyperreal quality. Watching how perfunctory and banal the gang made it look, hacking up four women while seemingly gripped by ennui, aside from the excitable commander, was soul freezing once you'd absorbed the initial visceral shock. It was all done for no tangible purpose other than to say don't mess with Los Zetas, just for jolly, done only to pass the time. Twelve men dressed in paramilitary gear point semi-automatic weapons rifles at four defenceless women in a kitsch display of macho theatre, the commander standing hands on hips in front of them in outsize sunglasses and what resembles a safari suit. They're in a muddy clearing next to a wheatfield, a couple of jeeps parked up in the background. The women are upright on their knees, hands bound behind their backs, staring blankly at the camera . All have been obviously beaten, their faces puffy and bruised. The three younger women have their breasts exposed, their shredded tops flapping from their waists, the older woman spared the indignity. After the commander gives a ranty speech to his imagined audience, the women are pushed face down into the dirt. To the accompaniment of muffled wails and guttural screams, the women are chopped up with long handled axes. 

 

It's shot from a distance of about twenty feet which along with the graininess and poor sound lends it a dislocating effect for the viewer, it would be unbearable to watch for all but the truly ghoulish if  it had been up to the technical standard of Isis' glossy HD ready horror shows. There is an ironic lifelessness about the carnage, in common with most atrocity videos it betrays the dreary materialism of extreme violence against the corporeal form, the women reduced to tokenistic meat, as they mechanically swing at the bodies like they were firewood. It's all just a flesh ritual, any propoganda value, which amounted to a derisory don't fuck with Los Zetas, was divested by its essential mundanity, just much of a numbing muchness. 

 

The gang have a bit of a laugh throwing the arms and legs about and there's larkiness centred around one of them struggling to remove the legs of the heavy set older woman. Four human beings, daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmother, reduced to a notional scattering of heads, torsos and limbs. The commander gesticulates at the ruined corpses and shouts at the camera then it's all over. Cut to black. Robert2046 clapped the laptop shut and lay down on the bed in the darkness. He thought of what it must be like  in that moment of stillness, when you knew that pain and death were coming soon, and that there would be a visual record of your degradation and suffering out there for as long as eyes existed that wanted to see it. Feeling an existential chill run through him, Robert2046 climbed under the quilt. His aimlessly titillating  research had not gleaned him new knowledge but rather confirmed the suspicion that he was a trivial and meretricious creature, and that the only way he could reclaim any dignity would be a fade to absolute obscurity, his remains dissolving when he was ushered into nothingness. 

 

 


Submitted: April 17, 2021

© Copyright 2021 MaxConvex. All rights reserved.

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