We boarded the plane and sat next to each other. Jon fell asleep before we took off, and I watched him sleep for a long time. I have a policy in life, maybe more like a philosophy, that I don’t get close to people. Jon’s different; he doesn’t need me. He can protect himself.
When we first met, he was so clean cut, efficient, everything a Navy man was supposed to be. Even though I like girls, I just wanted to talk to him and be near him. He has a wolf’s face: wide across the cheekbones, wide nose, and a pouty little mouth. It’s reinforced by these muttonchop sideburns he wears.
I can’t usually sleep on planes, but with him I was out in a few minutes. I awoke with the chime of the “fasten seatbelts” bell. My neck was cricked to the right, and I had a line of drool extending from my mouth.
I sat up slowly, covering the wet on my cheek with my hand. Jon was awake, and he handed me a cup of coffee and a napkin. Nice, Lita, I said to myself. “What time is it?”
“6:16 pm Cemagi time. We’re landing in a few minutes. You got some rest?” He sipped his own cup of coffee. I nodded. “Good,” he grunted.
I stretched my arms and my back. Years of riflework had been hard on my shoulders, so I had to keep moving them, otherwise they lock up on me. We landed, deplaned, got our luggage, and loaded into the shitty old red truck Jon had rented. He started driving, and I thought about everything he’d already told me.
“How do you keep everything straight, Jon? I mean, you’ve got all this evil you’ve seen in your life floating around in your head, and you’re trying to see your way through to doing something about it, trying to improve something. All this stuff fills up my head and my brain just tries to make connections, and it’s a non-stop mind fuck. It doesn’t go anywhere.”
He paused. “I guess I just decided a long time ago that I already know what they right answers are. I don’t need to have all the pieces in the right order or anything, I just need to know enough to get me to the next thing I can do to make one thing better. I just try and fix one thing, and that’s all I can do.”
“Do you think things are getting worse? Like the violence, the murders, everything you hear about and see. It feels like it’s getting worse. I’m this hard-ass detective, ex-sniper, I’m supposed to have a heart of steel, but the stuff I see just sticks with me and I can’t let it go. I’m afraid, Jon. I’m afraid for my family, I’m afraid to have kids, I don’t know, I wish I could figure out what was going to happen.”
“Tell me one thing you’re afraid about, and I’ll tell you what I think.”
“OK, OK,” it was on my tongue before I finished speaking. “The fucking Navy. You were in for fifteen years. I just read the whole transcript for that hotel debacle the Navy had. One hundred forty officers celebrating in a hotel, and they created hell on earth. I’m no puritan, but I read that shit and my stomach turns. A woman is walking into a restaurant in the hotel with her husband and mother in law, and they yank her skirt up, pick her up and jam their hands between her legs. A drunk college freshman walks through “the gauntlet,” ends up naked from the waist down. They’re biting each other on the ass, they’ve got rooms and rooms full of prostitutes and porn. I mean, what the fuck? Is that what you guys did? I gotta think about the men who serve our country being actual demon rapists in blue uniforms and white hats?”
“That’s not one thing, Lita. Shit, I wasn’t prepared for all that.” He took a breath, and looked at the road. “Yeah, that kind of shit happens. There’s guys who get everyone together, and they like to push everybody around and start shit. They fucking hate women, and they do everything they can to humiliate them. They …” Jon dropped his voice to a whisper, and paused a long moment before he continued.
“They worship the old gods, Lita.”
The hair was standing up on my arms and both my shoulders were all the way up to my ears. “The old gods? We never learned about those.”
“You were in the army, and they didn’t do shit like this there, I know. I stayed out of it, but I knew it was happening, and I guess that makes me guilty too. There’s … other gods, spirits, demons, djinn, giants, ogres, evil angels and death curses. The Navy guys, they get together, and they call on the old ones. This shit, that everyone tells you is frat guys going crazy, it’s more than that. They train each other on how to kill and how to kill a lot of people, how to hurt them and break them and destroy them. The sex stuff, where they fuck each other and everyone in sight, it’s just another part of it, it’s how they learn to use their sex to hurt.”
“Fuck, Jon, that’s some heavy shit.”
“Yeah, I know. I know. There’s a specific demon they call out. There’s a church teaching called the ‘Mystery of Iniquity.’ There’s a spirit of wandering, of delusion and bloodlust that goes out into people and causes them to commit unspeakable acts of cruelty and evil, an ever multiplying bloodlust, where things get worse and worse. It’s restrained partially, up till the end times, when it’s let loose.”
“It’s an old god?”
“Yeah, it’s the spirit of the first murderer, Cain. He killed his brother, and his blood ran out into the ground, and the ground became his brother and rejected him, so he could never rest. He became a wanderer, and God put a mark on him, a curse. It was that anyone who killed him would have vengeance times seven on their heads. Cain’s spirit goes into people, they go out and kill, and then the next murder is seven times worse. It’s getting exponentially worse.”
“What do you call this? Cain’s spirit? The mystery of iniquity?”
“Those of us that know about it and don’t participate in it have another name for it. We call it the Ultraviolence. You can see it in their eyes when it comes over them.”