Report 13: Tell Me About the Owls

“Tell me about the owls, Alexandra.”

“I don’t– What? Listen… Do I know you?”

“I was there when you effected your escape from Jase Peterson’s house. Otherwise, no. I don’t think so. But, please. Tell me about the owls.”

“The owls? Well– They’re the ones who– …the ones who killed Chris. Those women. The lesbians.”

“Lesbians?”

“Well… That’s unfair of me. I don’t know that. They were just so… butch.”

“Butch?”

“Masculine. Broad shoulders, hard muscles… I don’t know. They could have just been athletes, I guess. Body builders. Soccer players. I don’t know.”

“But they had the heads of owls?”

“Yes. They were wearing masks, like… some kind of team mascot?”

“So, you were attacked by a group of muscular women wearing owl masks.”

“Yes. Look, I know it sounds strange–”

“It doesn’t sound strange at all, Alexandra. Now. Tell me more. Tell me about the owls.”

“Well, I couldn’t see them very well. It was so dark. And confusing. I was with Chris…”

“Go on.”

“They attacked– him. They attacked him, and grabbed me, and dragged me off up the mountain.”

“Up the mountain. Not into the woods?”

“No. No, we went up. They carried me most of the way. Tossed me back and forth between them. Like– Like I was a sack of potatoes. That… doesn’t make sense, does it? Now that it’s coming out of my mouth, it doesn’t make sense. They’d have to be so strong…”

“They would. They are. Now, tell me more. Tell me about the owls.”

“Well, they– I don’t know how much more I can tell you. They were women–”

“How do you know they were women?”

“Well, they were naked. They had breasts.”

“I see. And it was dark. Go on. Tell me about the owls.”

“Look, I don’t– Fine. They were muscular women in owl masks. They killed– They killed… my boyfriend… dragged me out of the car, and carried me up the mountain. There were places where we were climbing, and I was dangling over their shoulders, lifted up and down by hand. It’s sort of a blur. I was covered… covered in blood, and I was afraid that they’d drop me because I was slippery. But they didn’t. Maybe almost, once, but no. Then the blood started to dry, and they were covered in it, I was covered in it, we were all covered in blood, his blood, and climbing and sticky and they didn’t care, and–”

“Alexandra. It’s alright. You’re alright now. You made it. Now. Tell me what happened next. After the climbing. Tell me about the owls.”

“ They. They took me into this cave. And there was a man there. An old man. He was very kind. He– He spoke softly. Made me feel calm. Then he– He had a cloth, and a basin, and he washed me. With warm water. He washed the blood off. He– Oh, god. Oh god, I was naked. I laid there naked in a cave while an old man rubbed me with warm water, and it… It felt so good. Like the most natural thing in the world. Even now, I think about it, and I think my skin should be crawling, and it’s not. It was good, a good thing, and… I liked it.”

“Did he… molest you in any way?”

“No, no. It… It wasn’t a sex thing. I mean… He touched me. All over. He washed me even where there wasn’t any blood. Even… Down there. But it… It was like a father washing a baby. He hummed to me the whole time, softly, something gentle. Some kind of lullaby, I guess. It was nothing but love, and… And cleansing. That’s the word. Cleansing. It was like he washed away my cares, my sins. It was bliss.”

“I see. Good. Now. Tell me what happened next. Tell me about the owls.”

“The owls? Well, they… When the washing was done, they lead me out onto a ledge overlooking the lake, and laid me down. I remember looking up at the stars. Then they gave me something to drink. It was bitter. Black and sweet. I… didn’t like it. I spat some of it back out at them, and they screeched at me. I started getting upset again. But then the old man was back, talking softly, and he washed me again. Washed off the dribbles of black, and held up my head, and tipped back the cup, and I drank. I drank deep. Then…”

“Yes?”

“Then… Something happened.”

“What happened, Alexandra? Tell me. Tell me about the owls.”

“The owls had nothing to do with it. It was me. I drank the black drink, and it burned in my belly. It burned in my belly, and ignited something. Something… in my spine. Something coiled up tight at the base, something that burst into flames and shot circling up like a firework into my head. It was… It was like sex in my head. I exploded, cried out. Off in the distance, I heard an answering howl. So I cried out again, louder, wilder, beckoning. I had to have it. I had to have that howl. It answered again, and when I called back, the fire shot shuddering down, along my spine between my legs and out. I gushed, a river running out of me, down, pulled down into the lake below.

“Then it all started over again. Fire in my belly, fire up my spine, in my head, and down. I screamed. I hissed. I writhed on the rocks. I felt slithery. Dangerous. Alive. And I wanted that howl. I wanted it so bad. So bad. But it wouldn’t answer again. I cried, I screamed, I begged, but the wilder I got the farther away it seemed to be. And all the time the fire cycled, up down and out, up down and out, until I thought I’d go mad.”

“Did you?”

“A little, I think. It was all so… So intense. Like… Like this unending painful orgasm, you know? Something that felt so good it hurt? Does that make any sense at all?”

“It does. Now. Tell me what happened next. Tell me about the owls.”

“The owls? Well… Once I was done. Once the fire stopped cycling. Once all the water in the world had run out of me and down to mix in the lake– God, that sounds so insane. But it’s how I remember it. I just… I couldn’t hold it all in, and it ran in a stream down the side of the mountain into the lake. But that’s not possible. It… must be the drugs talking.”

“The drugs?”

“You know. In the drink. Whatever was in that stuff, it obviously did a number on me.”

“I’m sure it did. But, please. Continue. Tell me about the owls.”

“Right. Well, when I finished, I coiled up on that ledge in the dark, and just lay there whimpering for a while. It… It still kind of hurt, you know? Sort of an… empty ache inside? Do guys ever feel like that?”

“Sometimes.”

“God, I can’t believe I’m telling you all this. You must hear a lot of weird sex stuff in your line of work.”

“Sometimes. But this isn’t weird. It’s extraordinary. Extra-ordinary. You had an extra-ordinary experience, Alexandra, and now you’re telling someone about it. That someone just happens to be me. Now. Again. Continue. Tell me about the owls.”

“Okay. Well, like I said, I just kind of coiled up and lay there a while. I couldn’t tell you how long. I heard the old man talking to the women in the cave behind me. He sounded sad. Disappointed.”

“What did he say?”

“I’m not sure. I… think he was speaking a different language.”

“Was he speaking Alo?”

“No, I don’t think so. I’ve heard them speaking that on the mountain, sometimes. This sounded different.”

“I see. Alright. Tell me what happened then. Tell me about the owls.”

“You’re– Alright. After a while, they came out and got me. The women, I mean. They brought me my clothes. From the car, I guess. I got dressed, and they lead me back into the cave. The old man asked me to sit down, so I did. He sat talking to me for a while… About what, I… don’t really remember. But I must have been exhausted, because I passed out.”

“And when you woke up?”

“I was in a shack. Tied to a chair.”

“I see. How did you lose your finger, Alexandra?”

“What?”

“Your finger. How did you lose it?”

“I… You know, it’s funny, but… I don’t– Oh, god.”

“What?”

“The old man.”

“What about the old man?”

“He took it. He took my finger. He sat there and he hummed and he cleaned me, and then he took my finger. He pulled out this goddamn cigar cutter, and he cut off my fucking finger! And I just laid there! I laid there and took it like– like some kind of…”

“Prey?”

“Yes! Like some kind of prey! Like– What the hell did he do to me, to make me like that? I laid there and stared up at him like he was my fucking grandpa while he fondled me and butchered me and– And– And then he put a goddamn bandage on it! What the fuck? What the fuck is wrong with people? I– Goddamn it!”

“Alexandra.”

“What?!”

“Tell me about the knives, Alexandra.”

“You and your fucking– Wait, what?”

“The knives, Alexandra. Tell me about the knives.”

“The… The knives?”

“Yes. The knives in the dark.”

“Oh, god.”

That was when I saw the hands coming out of her pillow, and I didn’t get to ask her any more questions.

*************

And that was where he left off, Chief. This is Denise, by the way. X-23’s in with Cheveyo and a sketch artist, giving a description of the old man he saw in the dream up on Mount Pannawau. But he’d been dictating his interview with Alexandra Melmoth to me, so I thought I’d upload what I had of it to the intra-blog.

Now, I know the timeline’s getting confusing here, so remember: this took place the night after X-23 found the hunting cabin where they held Melmoth. He tells me he spent the rest of the day there, collecting evidence, and then he went to the hospital. He had his encounter with the possessed Possum Reynolds, and then he went in for this interview. Busy day.

Funny thing about that night in the hospital, sir: X-23 was so delayed in getting to see the girl that he finally pulled rank and went back to speak with her doctors. The problem, as it turned out, was that they were having trouble getting an MRI of Melmoth. She was in for her third and final one when X-23 showed up, and as far as I know they never got a reliable scan. They thought there was something wrong with the machine. But I’m not so sure.

I’m going to go down there this afternoon and get copies of those scans. I won’t be able to make heads or tails of them, but I’ll send them along to you. Give them to Phil down in Lab D. Or is Lab D Lab C, now that the old Lab C’s gone? Anyway. Phil. Get them to Phil, and he’ll tell us what we need to know.

Huh. Who’d have ever thought I’d be telling you where to take the paperwork? I could get used to this field reporting thing…

– Denise, signing off.

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About Mark Brett

Shaved Yeti. Alien. Writer of stuff. Read my fiction at https://reportsfromthefieldblog.wordpress.com/. Read my thoughts on comic books and other dork culture ephemera at http://dorkforty.wordpress.com/. View all posts by Mark Brett

2 responses to “Report 13: Tell Me About the Owls

  • Mark Brett

    Don’t get too used to it, Denise. I’m gonna need you back here eventually. But thanks for the update. I think X-23 needs a Girl Friday more than I do right now. And, yeah. You’re exactly right. Get those MRI results if you can. I’ll have Fred take a look at them soon as they’re here.

    I’d also like for you to have a word with Alexandra Melmoth. Sounds like that black drink woke up the Serpentine Fire in her, and I need a judgment call on her from somebody who’s not going to be too distracted by her charms. So if you have proclivities you’ve never mentioned, now’s the time to speak up.

    Alright. I still owe Clint the straight story on what happened at HQ. You know most of this, Denise, so feel free to skip it if you want. But I’d appreciate it if you’d just point him toward it when he’s free.

    Now, Clint, if you’ll remember, I had found my friend Ernie down at the bait shop pregnant, and under the influence of some kind of jarred fetal circus attraction. “Billy the Psychic Fetus,” it was called, and it had gotten its claws into Ernie pretty deep. Before I could stop it, the thing had transferred itself from its old body into Ernie’s unborn child, and I had to call out the troops to contain the thing. Ernie went into labor, and we rushed her back here to HQ.

    Now, unbeknownst to any of us, we had a stowaway: Jackson Curry, a fella who’s crossed my path more than once here lately. He’d been in touch with Ernie about buying Billy from her, and had evidently arrived at the bait shop to make another offer just a few minutes after our people. While they were busy corralling Billy, he slipped into a truck and came back with us.

    And so that’s where we were. We rushed Ernie down to Lab C, and slapped a full team of PsychOps agents on the case to keep Billy under control. Even had the Somnambulist Overmind itself on him. Which was a lucky thing as it turned out, but at the time we thought we had him clamped down. Of course, we couldn’t have been more wrong. Billy was playing possum. Gathering energy, and burrowing down deeper into his new body.

    The first hint I got of that came about an hour after we got here. Once Ernie had been stabilized, I came upstairs to check in with the Somnambulist Overmind. I had hoped they’d have some ideas on how to remove a psychic leech. Instead, they’d gone completely round the bend. Turns out their initial reading on Billy had overwhelmed them. Soon as I entered the Overmind Chamber, I got smacked with waves of panic. They were so upset that they couldn’t even explain what was wrong. All I got was the raw feed, this psychic impression of primitive intellect. A powerful mind trapped in an infant brain, unable to develop past basic desires. It was all confusion. Terror and deceit. And hunger. Deep, endless hunger.

    I’m not embarrassed to admit that I ran, Clint. I ran out of that room before the Overmind drove me as nuts as it was. Still took me another good ten or fifteen minutes to get my bearings as it was, and then another ten to make sense of what they’d told me. I’d gotten as far as “What do you do with a hungry baby?” when the fire alarms went off. Then I was back running down the stairs, full tilt, When I got to Lab C, the smoke was already filling the hallway faster than the filters could pump it out. Sprinklers were going off all over, lab techs were running around… It was chaos. But I pushed through. Ran right past the actual fire, which was two rooms down from where we were keeping Ernie. And when I got there, I kind of wished I hadn’t.

    As everyone went to douse the flames, she’d been left mostly unattended. One lab tech and two PsychOps guys. The tech was so busy finding a gas mask for his patient that he didn’t notice when the PsychOps boys collapsed, blood squirting out their noses and ears. I saw the tail end of that when I got to the door. Then something started happening to Ernie. Her back arched, and I started towards her, but it was too late. Through a smoky, wheezing haze, I saw Ernie’s belly split right open. Nice and neat, the long way, starting at her belly button and working out in both directions. Two bloody little hands came up from inside, grasping at either side of the wound. They grabbed hold and clenched, pulling up, and a misshapen head forced its way out.

    It was too big for the rest of the body, that head. Looked like the skull bones might have been free-floating around a brain that had gotten too big for its confines. The face was wrinkly and red, kind of scrunched up and frowning. And also dripping blood, of course. The whole body was dripping as it rose up out of its mother, coming along easily once that giant noggin had ripped its way through. It rose and kept rising, floating up about ten feet off the floor, tethered to Ernie by the umbilical.

    I looked up at it hanging there, both of us in a trance. The face wasn’t Billy’s, but you could see him in there. The body looked more or less the same. Under-developed, and slightly frog-like. It occurred to me that I should find something long and heavy and use it to bash his brains out right then and there. But my legs felt heavy. My arms refused to respond, my eyes wouldn’t seek out the weapon. Truth be told, I couldn’t tear them away from Billy.

    Then Ernie let out a long rattling moan, and the spell was broken. I started forward to grab that umbilical. Not sure what I was thinking. Maybe to swing him around on the end of it, smash his head against a wall. Didn’t matter, though, because Billy’s eyes snapped open at the same time. There was a flash of light, and I found myself sailing back through the door and slamming hard against the wall on the far side of the hall.

    It knocked the wind out of me, and as I fell to the floor, gasping and wheezing, my eyes watering from the smoke, Billy floated on out behind me. The umbilical pulled tight at the doorway, but he just moved on, slow and sure, and it pulled loose. He didn’t even spare me another glance. He just went floating off down the hall, toward the Black Library, and as I was getting to my feet, it dawned on me that I had no idea how to stop him.

    Which is, as always, a bad place to leave off. But I’ve got work to do, and so do you. More next time.

    – Chief Bill Roberts, signing off.

  • Mark Brett

    Uh, Chief… That’s Phil. Not Fred. PHIL. Give the MRI results to PHIL.

    Unless Phil is Fred now. I guess that could have happened. Dammit. I hate Manhattans…

    – Denise

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