Posts Published by Alex Moth

A writer from Canada

Ivory

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The sound of dripping.

It wakes me up suddenly, breathlessly, as loud as an enhanced echo meant for my ears and no one else’s. I first assume the babysitter left the water faucet on. I grow irritated—how many times have I told her to be careful with utilities? I sit up, but the frustration quickly vanishes.

I’m not home.

This isn’t my bed. It’s… a bunk bed. Like the iron ones they have in the army, except there’s no top mattress above my head and I can spot the yellow-stained ceiling through the holes in the bed springs. I shift in place, and the rusty frame whines in response. I pat myself subconsciously, perhaps to look for my keys, perhaps because it feels like a dream, or at least, something far away from my plane of reality. Regardless, I find nothing but the clothes on my back—the same suit I went to work with this morning, minus the jacket and, for some ominous reason, my socks, and shoes. I blink, rub my eyes, glance around.

It looks like I’m in someone’s basement. It’s sparse. The floor is made of cement—it’s shockingly cold when I press my foot down, and it makes my hair stand on end. I can spot one of those tiny windows, located right above the ground and too small to actually open or climb through. There’s no natural light pouring in from it. Only darkness.

A neon light buzzes, a rocking chair sits in the corner of the room, its fabric worn out, overlooking my bed in such a way that I can’t help but find disquieting. Without warning, I’m reminded of my younger self swaying Sophie to sleep in one of those, back when she was no older than twelve months and I was still figuring out how to be a half-decent paternal figure. The image begs me to let go, like it’s too good a memory to be revisited here, like it doesn’t belong in such a place. It’s probably right.

Instead, I comb through my surroundings in search of my belongings. I look under the bed, beneath the mattress, inside the thin-as-a-sheet pillow. Nothing. No sign of my wallet, my phone, my briefcase.

I deflate, if only a little. My breathing quickens as I start to consider the list of possible explanations for my predicament, from most to least likely. I try to convince myself any one of those options might be plausible, but ultimately, it’s futile. I know better.

Mentally, I start to retrace my steps. Six o’clock this morning—assuming today is still today—my internal alarm clock rings, I get up, hit the shower. Stephanie calls from LA; we argue for approximately fifteen minutes before I decide I had enough and hang up. I smoke a quick cigarette on the balcony to decompress. I wake Sophie up, helping her get dressed, brush her teeth, and we head downstairs for cereal. Frosted Flakes, but it’s a Friday, and on Fridays we deserve sweets. Seven thirty, I drop Sophie off at daycare, dry her crocodile tears as the worker pulls her little fist away from my jacket. My heart aches as usual, but I can’t be late for work, so I kiss her goodbye and leave before I can change my mind. Eight o’clock. I get to work, coffee deprived, and pass Joan at the reception desk on my way to my cubicle.

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The Outlet

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“I’ve had a revelation, Doc,” said Jacob Allan Gibbs, suspended in an empty white room, “I don’t trust my father.”

“That’s quite… that’s quite the revelation,” replied Dr. Natalie Dower-06, almost as if she was seated in the air, levitating across the room, adorned with minor but significant cybernetic enhancements, imprinting the words unto a projected digital page with her blue mechanical eye.

“I’ve always admired my father,” said Jacob, levitating an inch from the floor, pivoting in the air with the metal implants around his joints – unable to stay still.

The white walls around Jacob projected images of Raymond Allan Gibbs, a pioneer of Neural-engineering, “I admired his incredible intellect, his wit, charisma, and accomplishments, both as a family man and a scientist.”

The projected image lingered on an engram, a preserved narrative of Raymond opening presents with his family – the memory slowly began to play across every wall before gradually transitioning to Raymond’s crown achievement – The “engram” microchip.

“By every conceivable definition of the word,” Jacob placed his hand on the back of his head, caressing the glowing ports attached to his cerebellum, “he was the perfect human being.”

“Was? As in, the past?” asked Dr. Dower gently, attempting to establish eye contact with her patient, “what caused the distrust– this rift between you and your father?”

Jacob pauses for a second, carefully contemplating the intent behind his words as the white walls turn blank as he struggles to come up with an answer.

***

A rustling noise echoes through a dark room – an office decorated by a slew of medical diplomas and Avant-garde paintings. There are four security cameras in every top corner of the room with beeping red dots – save for one, which turns purple between every three blinks. The beeping stops as the cameras lower their head towards the floor. Jacob gently opens the door with the help of an implant – emerging from his finger like a swiss-army knife.

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Ephesians 4:4

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September 24th

The phone rings at 4:44 a.m. sharp.

It’s Dempsey, calling me to a crime scene that was discovered by a civilian just ten minutes ago.

“Get your ass over here now,” he tells me while I’m slipping into a pair of pants. His voice is grave, somber.
“Oh, and Holland…”

I pause, my ear taut.

“Don’t eat anything beforehand.”

I hang up, and mentally ready myself for what I’m about to witness.

The sun is just about to pierce through the night sky by the time I pull up on the street corner. The air of late September is cold, making me crave that cup of coffee I didn’t have time to stop for even more. I exit my jalopy and speed walk past forensic vehicles and brown police cars—due to the early hour, the scene isn’t yet packed with morbid curiosity from the public, something which we’ll need to take advantage of as much as possible.

Sliding past the yellow DO NOT CROSS tape, I spot Dempsey in the distance, and I allow the bleak alleyway to envelop me like a spider’s web holding its prey captive.
I brace myself as I walk forward, but nothing could’ve quite prepared me for this.

Two unclothed corpses, both seemingly female, have been positioned on the ground, their backs leaning against the walls opposite of each other. From where I stand, I can already tell they’ve been mutilated, limbs and faces alike. A few light stands have been set up, giving the corpses these eerie, shadowed expressions—it feels like I’m standing on the stage of a twisted, life-size puppet show.

I approach Dempsey’s crouched down shape, taking a deep breath through my mouth to compose myself. He acknowledges my presence with an almost imperceptible tilt of his chin but stays quiet. Something of a telltale of his: he doesn’t want to be disturbed. I can only imagine how many theories are swimming through his head right now, and silently move in to conduct my own observation, whipping out a notepad and a pen.

The two women seemed to be approximately the same age—mid twenties to early thirties, if I must guess. The first corpse, dark-haired, has had both of her legs amputated. The absence of stubs and the presence of burnt flesh indicate the remains of her thighs might have been cauterized to limit excess bleeding, suggesting one of two things: the victim was still alive when the limbs were sawed, or the perpetrator didn’t want a bloody mess on their hands. I inch myself closer, noting the lack of trauma on the arms, torso, and face. Then I notice the back of the head; hair tangled and grimy with dried blood. I retrieve a pair of white gloves from my pocket and slip one on. Gently, I push the hair back, revealing a deep, crude cut that’s been afflicted to the back of the skull. It’s been split open, nearly cracked in half all the way from the nape to the apex of the head, but what makes me feel like I’m hallucinating is what I find inside.

Absolutely nothing.

I position myself at a different angle, perhaps in denial, perhaps in fear. After a few minutes, I conclude the evidence in front of me cannot be ignored: the brain has been completely removed, in one way or another, leaving the inside of the skull unnaturally empty of any matter.

My stomach churns.

I move on to the other corpse, the one with hair that’s been dyed the color of amethyst gemstones. This one, as opposed to its predecessor, has had both arms severed without any mitigation—there are no signs of cauterization as far as I can tell. Whether that was deliberate or not remains a mystery, and I add ‘exsanguination’ to the list of possible causes of death.

I quickly take note of the intact legs, torso, and skull before reluctantly tackling what’s been done to the poor woman’s face. The eyeballs seem to have been completely gouged out as all that is left are two hollow sockets, covered in mangled flesh and coagulated blood, possibly what proved to be a more arduous job than what the perpetrator had expected. Still, the trauma is just as gruesome, the technique used very similar to the other, and it leaves no doubt in my mind.

These murders are linked; performed by the same person, or people. They were carefully planned, and oddly executed.

Nausea waves its familiar flag, one I have no choice but to ignore.

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