PREVIOUS: I Am the Harbinger of Death
XXXXX Daily News
December 13, 2014
XXXXX, Calif. – Detective XXX Holguin of the XXXXX Police Department was lauded posthumously with the Douglas Kirchoff Medal of Honor for exemplary service on Friday.
Det. Holguin’s widow, XXXXXX Holguin, wiped away tears as she accepted the award from Commander XXXX Pinkerton at a packed ceremony held on the steps of City Hall. The award, named after Sgt. Douglas Kirchoff who was shot and killed in 1974 during a motor vehicle stop, is typically given to officers who have been killed in the line of duty.
“Det. Holguin was a tireless champion for justice,” said Comdr. Pinkerton. “He always gave a hundred and ten percent to ensure the safety of this community and its citizens. Before he paid the ultimate sacrifice, Det. Holguin was instrumental in helping us redouble our efforts to put closure in the Middy XXXXX case. We will forever be in his debt.”
Det. Holguin, who passed away from a brain aneurysm before seven-year-old Middy XXXXX’s body was discovered in the backyard of her home on December 9, was the only detective to press for a renewed search of the XXXXX home. He also fought to change the focus of the case from the murder of Gerry XXXXX to the murder of his daughter. Although Comdr. Pinkerton thought it was unlikely that Det. Holguin knew that Middy had been killed by her father, Gerry XXXXX, or that Gerry XXXXX had also murdered his brother Terry XXXXX and assumed his identity, Pinkerton stated that without Det. Holguin’s efforts, they would not have been able to solve the case as quickly as they did.
Comdr. Pinkerton provided no comment when asked if the rushed ceremony to honor Det. Holguin was intended as a publicity stunt to bolster the tarnished image of the XXXXX Police Department.
Conducting perhaps the most bungled investigation in California since the O.J. Simpson case, the XXXXX Homicide Unit has come under significant fire. Comdr. Pinkerton has admitted that an internal affairs investigation is underway, but critics who have been asking for Comdr. Pinkerton to step down are not satisfied. Aside from Det. Holguin’s death, the tragic suicide of the lead investigator on the case, Detective XXXXXXX McPherson, has shocked the community. So far, Sergeant XXXXXX Alexander, the department supervisor, is the only person who has voluntarily resigned his post, but additional police officers may be….
News reports always omit certain truths. Truths that can undermine society and upset comforting notions of what constitutes good and evil.
I guess that’s why I continue to read them – I want to be deluded. I want simple illusions of heroes and victims, victories and tragedies, redeemed souls and guilty minds. Or maybe I’m still reading the news reports because they distract me from one horrible truth.
Despite all my love, I have lost my friend, Tina.
Last Tuesday, my worst nightmare stood in front of me. My friend Tina was dead and I was staring at, and conversing with, her discomfiting specter.
“Can’t you tell? I’ve been dead for over twenty-four hours.”
After I heard Tina say those words, I fainted and fell hard to the floor. It had been too much for me to take.
When I woke up, it was early morning. I was still lying on the living room floor. I must have been asleep for almost twenty hours. That was more than I had ever slept before, even when I had doubled-up on my medication. But I didn’t take any pills – my prescription had run out. What had happened to me? Was the shock of seeing Tina too much for my mind and body to take? Had I reached my ultimate breaking point?
My head was throbbing and my stomach was bubbling, but I managed to rise to my feet. There was no sign of Tina. I looked out the nearest window – there were only two police cars parked outside. Maybe they were done with their investigation next door. Or maybe it was too early and the investigation crew hadn’t arrived yet to begin another day of searching for new evidence.
The past few days replayed in my head. The scenes were jumbled, confusing. I felt like I needed to lie back down. Cautiously, I headed to my room. Would I find Tina inside my closet again? Or something else? Wasn’t Middy supposed to visit me? What would her ghost do to me?
As I approached my room, the air grew more chilled. I thought about turning around, fear seeping into me with thoughts of something more horrible than Tina or Middy waiting for me inside. My bedroom door was open. That would enable me to take a quick peek before anything had a chance to surprise me.
I stopped a couple of feet from my door. I craned my neck so I could extend my head to take a look inside. I saw no one, and immediately realized why the air was so cold. My window was still wide open and without its screen. I stepped inside and peered around. I saw nothing. No one was hiding in my closet. Relief flooded into me and my upset stomach started to abate. I closed my window and walked back out of my room.
My mind was still a tangled blur of images. I kept replaying the past few days as if my brain was trying to force me to remember something. Something important. So I walked back into my living room and grabbed my laptop. I turned it on and started writing, despite my headache. Hours later, I had organized the scenes that were flashing in my head and come to a conclusion. I shared this story in my post last Wednesday.
When I had finished writing, I felt very sleepy again. It was only six in the evening, but I didn’t feel like doing anything else besides going to bed. Maybe I was sleeping too much now, but I was content that I hadn’t received any unwelcome visitors and I only wanted to try and sleep the rest of my pain away.
As I climbed into bed, I heard my phone chime. I had left it on my dining room table. I considered ignoring it, but since it wasn’t that late, I decided there would be no harm in checking the message. Besides, I would feel better if I brought my phone to my nightstand in case someone, or something, arrived and my only recourse would be to call for help.
When I reached my phone I saw that it was a text message. From an unknown number.
I’M BACK. MISS ME?
My heart sank into a simmering vat of dread and misery. I dropped my phone back onto the table. What was I supposed to do now?
“You’ve had enough rest. Middy’s on her way.”
I spun around to the sound of Tina’s voice. Her soul-wrenching ghost was back, sitting on my living room couch. I dropped to my knees.
“No. You can’t be dead. This isn’t happening.” I sat down completely on the floor, dejected.
Tina crouched down to the floor. Her bony arms and legs bent unnaturally as if her joints and ligaments had eroded. Her stake-like fingers scraped the ground, and she resembled a spider poised to attack. “Are you scared of me?”
I shook my head, but I scooted my body backwards, pushing myself along the floor with my shaky legs.
Tina crawled towards me. As she got closer, the ashen skin on her face began to flake and disintegrate. “You should be scared. It’s your fault I’m dead.” Fetid bits of sinewy fat and muscle tissue dripped off her face, revealing a scorched yellow skull.
“No, Tina – No! I’m sorry! I’m so sorry.”
Tina stood up with a little girl giggle that sounded like it had come from Middy. Tina’s face rematerialized and she walked back to the couch. “Stop being ridiculous. Middy’s here.”
I sat on the floor, terror still clinging to me like the unseen strands of a spider’s web. “What? Where?”
“Over here.” A little girl’s voice echoed in my hallway.
I turned my head around and saw Middy skipping down my hall as if she had just been invited to play a game.
I managed to get back up to my knees. “No! Leave me alone.”
Middy took a seat on my couch next to Tina. They held each other’s hand and intoned the same order, in the same cheerful manner. “Come sit next to us.”
I made it to my feet. “No!” I had to get out of my house. I had to get help.
Middy spoke with a saddened voice. “Don’t you want to meet the Man Who Wakes Everyone Up?”
My body began to shiver. A wave of nausea hit me. Followed by rip currents of dizziness. Even though I was just standing, I started to lose my footing. I was sick and disoriented. For some reason, I started to laugh. That was confirmation. Confirmation that I had truly lost my mind. I spotted my phone on the dining table. If I dialed 911, would they send someone to escort me to the mental health facility? Was that on their menu of services?
As I picked up my phone, it chimed again. Another text message from an unknown number.
UR NOT CRAZY. NOT YET.
I looked at Middy and Tina. They were both staring at me as if they were expecting me to do something. I shouted at them. “Stop doing this to me!”
Middy shook her head. Tina muttered. “What’s wrong with you?”
Another text message: IT’S TIME.
Middy spoke to me again. “Is he texting you? He likes playing with you.”
Thoughts and language were deserting me. I amassed all my remaining energy and shuffled to the front door. Maybe there were police still outside. I could get one of them to help me.
I had only taken three steps before I heard a knock at my front door. A third text arrived.
LET ME IN.
Middy shouted. “He’s here!”
I threw my phone at the door. I couldn’t speak. I silently prayed to God for help, praying for a miracle to take me away from all of this.
Middy lectured me like I was the child. “You’ll feel better if you just open the door.”
Did I have any choice? I took a few steps and reached for the door knob. If opening the door ended my misery once and for all, I had every reason to comply.
I turned the knob and swung the door open.
There was no one standing outside. I saw a police officer walking out on the street. He glanced in my direction. As I was about to wave and shout to get his attention, Middy bounded up next to me and shut the door.
Middy started giggling and Tina joined her. The ghost of the little girl twirled around me. “Fooled you!”
I reached back for the door knob. I couldn’t take it anymore. But Middy latched onto my arm. Her frigid fingers seared my skin. Her grip was unnaturally strong and I shrunk away from the door in pain. Middy’s voice turned serious. “I’m the only one who can help you. You don’t really want to meet the Man Who Wakes Everyone Up. You just need to answer his question.”
I struggled to break free from Middy while Tina shouted at me. “Stop fighting! Listen to what we have to say!”
But I couldn’t break free. I fixated on the door knob, focusing my remaining wits and strength on one single goal: escape. Middy tightened her grip and she began dragging me away from the door. She whispered. “OK, Tina. Go ahead. He won’t listen.”
My energy was depleted. I had to give up my struggle. As I turned away from the door to tell Middy I was ready to acquiesce, I saw something indescribable. It was impossible to describe because of the fear it elicited within me. Fear greater than imminent death. Fear that no one should ever have to endure or remember.
Middy wasn’t next to me, holding my arm. It was obsidian. It was shadow. It was death. A winged humanoid. Silver oval eyes. Hot, rancid breath. Grotesque nubby skin. Clawed feet. Serpentine fingers, coiled around my arm like burning razor wire.
Before my mind shut off the world and ushered me into the safety of unconsciousness, I heard Middy’s voice.
“I told you, you didn’t want to meet him.”
The NATIONAL ENQUIRER
December 13, 2014
The investigation into the death of a woman in Burbank, Calif., whose neck was broken and face torn to bits, may be related to the “Murder, Middy and Mystery” case!
Sources have told the ENQUIRER that the dead woman, Charlotte Bustos, died in the exact same fashion as Gerry XXXXX, the father and murderer of little Middy XXXXX, and his brother Terry XXXXX. In another shocking similarity, Charlotte Bustos’ nine-year-old son was killed by his father, Ernie Bustos, three short years ago. In that case, police implicated Ernie in the murder of his son, and exonerated Charlotte for killing her husband, in what they called a “clear-cut example” of self-defense.
“[Ernie] was friends with both Gerry and Terry,” said a neighbor of Charlotte Bustos who did not wish to be identified. “I seen them all at the house years ago. They were creepy. Into some sick [stuff] like devil worshipping, I think.”
The ENQUIRER has also learned that the FBI has gotten involved in order to look into possible ritualistic overtones that surround both cases. A shrine to the murdered child was discovered in both instances, each one adorned with several items related to the occult. Reports show that the murder of the Bustos child may have been a human sacrifice with his body cannibalized by his parents! Did the same thing happen to Middy XXXXX?
The specter of the occult hovers over a lot of celebrities who some say have used secret Satanic rituals in order to obtain their success. Terry XXXXX had some notoriety back in the mid-1990’s, playing bass for an alternative music group that was known for its blatant use of occult-like symbols. The band, which had the clever name of….
My eyes opened to the sound of Tina’s voice.
IS THIS HEAVEN?
I was lying in my bed. The early morning sun was pouring onto my face from my window. The air in the room was freezing because my window was wide open. Hadn’t I closed that yesterday? More importantly, how did I get back into bed? Hadn’t I been in the living room? Where I saw Middy and Tina sitting on the couch?
Where I saw that abomination….
I rubbed my aching head – maybe it hadn’t happened. I had gone to sleep like I had intended and had suffered another nightmare.
The sun on my face was blocked by something. I turned back to my window.
Tina was standing outside. Her head was leaning inside and her hands gripped the window sill. I shut my eyes.
“No. You’re not real.”
“Would you prefer the unmasked version of me?”
Tina’s voice transformed into the raspy, scratchy voice a dying man. The voice I had heard when I first deciphered the IS THIS HEAVEN? message. The voice I had mistaken for Gerry’s. “I’m not Tina. I’m the Man Who Wakes Everyone Up.”
My heart rate increased. It hadn’t been a nightmare. “Oh, God. You’re a demon.” I spun away from the window.
Tina was now standing at my bedside, facing me. “I’m nothing of the sort. I’ll admit that I have a wicked sense of humor, but I’m a simple man tasked with a simple job. It is my duty to wake people up.”
I closed my eyes. “Please, God. Help me. Make it all stop.”
“God helps those who help themselves.”
“What do you want with me?”
“I want you to answer my question.”
“Because not answering it upsets the natural order of things. I won’t tolerate that. You also heard my voice and remembered it. That’s not entirely your fault, but it is also an aberration.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Of course you don’t. I wanted to explain things in a much more civil manner yesterday with Middy’s help, but you would have none of it. When I don’t get what I want, I tend to take certain measures, some more extreme than others. Shall we try again now?”
I opened my eyes. Tina, or more accurately, the Man Who Wakes Everyone Up, was now standing at the foot of my bed. I nodded.
“Very good. When I wake people up with my message, I’m asking them the most important question in the world. After they answer it, they don’t remember a thing. That’s the way it is supposed to work.”
“What’s the answer?”
“The answer will flow from your heart. It has to be the truth, your truth. Most of the time, your brain isn’t even aware of how important the question and answer are. But in your case, the answer is open for you to consciously decide. There are only two acceptable answers: yes or no. It’s all very simple.”
“Does the answer even matter?”
“Absolutely! If someone answers my question incorrectly, they will die before falling asleep again. Some unfortunate dawdlers make the wrong choice and start to fall back asleep right away, and they die almost immediately. The world likes to call this ‘dying in your sleep,’ but it’s such a misnomer. And believe me, it’s not always the most peaceful way to go. Especially in this day and age, when so many of you use artificial means to suppress or induce sleep. I really don’t appreciate that. It’s not my fault if you happen to be doing something like driving and you start to fall asleep. It will happen when it’s supposed to happen.”
“So I have to pick the correct answer.”
“If you do that, I will grant you your greatest wish: you will get to live. At least until the next time I wake you up and we resume the normal process. However, at this moment, you are in violation of this process because you haven’t answered my question. You’re not alone. Several people you know were also violators of the process. But the longer you remain in violation, the more upset I become. Like I said, I use certain measures to compel you to answer. It’s happened before and much to my chagrin, it’ll happen again. My measures usually start off gently, I’ll deliver the message in a voice that sounds like someone you know or love. If you still refuse to answer, I will ratchet up my methods. I enjoy a good nightmare, don’t you? Sometimes my methods can drive a violator insane. I’m really sorry, but I have no other option. You’re luckier than most, Middy has been trying to help you. She’s quite an interesting child.”
“What does Middy have to do with any of this?”
Tina’s body was now sitting on my bed. “Her spirit is very strong, very unique. I’m quite happy I claimed her.”
“I apologize. I didn’t tell you that part. There is a penalty for hearing and remembering my voice. If you choose the incorrect answer and die, your soul doesn’t float away into the afterlife. I get to claim it! And put your soul to work for me. Even though I am everywhere and all around you, I can’t do everything! And Middy has done some outstanding work. I’ve been quite impressed.”
“You are the devil.”
Tina’s body now floated above my bed, her enraged face inches away from mine. “Enough with that nonsense! You sound just like Middy’s father and uncle. They and others like them actually try to summon or invoke me with silly little ceremonies. Some even resort to cannibalism to protect themselves –that is so barbaric! I’m eternally grateful that Middy has been able to dispense of these fools. I was growing weary waiting for them to provide the wrong answer to my question.”
“I didn’t invoke you. Middy told me about you.”
Tina’s body returned to the foot of my bed. “That is true, and Middy did try to retract her error, but it was too late. You had already begun straining yourself to hear me. That means there’s something you want. That’s how those silly satanic rumors spread because I’m more than happy to grant other wishes besides life. If there’s something you want as badly as your life, possibly even more than your own life, I can also give that to you. As long as you answer the question correctly. Typically, the request is for riches or fame, but it doesn’t matter. Eventually, you’ll provide the wrong answer to my question and that happens sooner to those who make such material requests. Sometimes it happens so soon, the gifts don’t materialize until after you’re dead. That’s what happened to that police detective who desperately wanted respect and honor. It also happened to our dear Middy who only wanted to be famous. She didn’t even know she had already given me two different answers to my question until long after her father had killed her after she had refused to participate in his inane ceremony.”
“I don’t want money or fame.”
“Really? I have my doubts about that.”
“I don’t want to die! I want to be left alone!”
“All you have to do is answer my question correctly and you can have both. Middy’s mother JoAnn knew the correct answer. She used it to make a fantastic request: she wanted her husband dead! Middy took care of that one for me – marvelously! Then JoAnn gave me the wrong answer. I think she did it on purpose. She had become exhausted and wanted to relinquish her soul. I still haven’t decided on the best jobs for her and that detective.”
“What about Tina?”
“Poor girl. I felt bad claiming her soul and I’m disheartened to be using her as my mask. But you never should’ve have told her about my voice. She was so inquisitive. And she loved you dearly. All Tina wished for was for you to understand what was happening. As you might have guessed, I’m granting that wish right now. Unfortunately, it’s being fulfilled after she changed her answer to my question. I truly hope someone finds her car at the bottom of that canyon. The place where she ran off the road may become obscured if it starts to rain.”
I closed my eyes. It was my fault. Tina was dead because of me. I shouted as if it would rattle the universe and force it to bring my friend back to life. “I don’t care what you say! You are the devil!”
Tina’s voice whispered in my ear. “Give him your answer.”
I didn’t care how I answered. In fact, I wanted to make the wrong choice so I could die and be done with everything. But I remembered that if I died, the Man Who Wakes Everyone Up would claim my soul. I had to live. I had to answer correctly. And I if I did that, I could get another wish that I wanted more than my own life.
I wanted Tina to be alive again.
IS THIS HEAVEN?
What was the correct answer? Yes or no?
I tried not think as I uttered my response.