Thursday, March 21, 2013

Change of Protocol Part 1

Change of Protocol
Tobias White

Change of Protocol was a short story that I wrote in college and some day I may illustrate what I wrote, but in the mean time I thought it would be nice to share with everyone.

Appraising his handiwork, he wiped the blood from his knife onto his jeans; she was his
victim; she was his . . . sacrifice. He had stolen, or it is better to say that he appropriated, the
female goat from the Chicago petting zoo and nearly got caught in the process by a Hispanic
security guard. The security guard never reported all the details of the incident, for he thought
that Henry Beechcroft was the ill-famed chupacabra and of course he wanted to keep his job.
Henry drained the goat’s blood into a shallow bowl and brought it to a circle filled with arcane
runes. Carefully he placed the bowl into the center of the circle while being sure not to spill any
onto the diagram lines. With a squeal of giggling expectation Henry exclaimed, “I will make
them pay — I will make them suffer — they will pay the price for all those years.” With a
sudden epiphany of forgetting something important, Henry shuffled through scores of old tomes,
high school note pads, and yellow sticky notes, all filled with incomprehensible scribbles.
During his search, he whispered with venomous spite, “I think Jenny shall be the first, the way
she scorned me . . . the way she ignored me . . . the way she humiliated me in front of everyone!”
“Ah, — here it is,” Henry said with relief as he grabbed a chunk of chalk and then proceeded to
fill in a few more symbols in his arcane circle.

Henry wiped the sweat from his brow as he sat back on his ankles while looking about
his small apartment and at years of effort. The room was actually quite large but it was a
bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom all rolled into one room, thus it had a
claustrophobic effect; of course this was all he could afford if he wanted to exact his revenge.
The room was a mess, littered with stacks of old tomes, idiot-guides to demonology, do-ityourself-
magic-kits, dozens of pizza box empties, and a computer that was hooked up to a
tripod mounted video camera. The camera automatically swerved and focused on Henry’s every
single move; if this was going to work, then he wanted to record it. A burst of giggling and then
with a near failure to repress another fit of the same, Henry said with a gleeful whine, “Then I
think it will be Jake Thomson next — Mr. BIG SHOT QUARTERBACK — I will never forgive
how he and his cronies would torture me in the school’s men’s bathroom . . . the worse part —
was the toilet bowl.” His preparations were now complete and Henry was happy to see that he
was ahead of schedule by a whole hour, so now he just needed to wait between midnight and
3am, the witching hour.

Henry waited an hour past midnight; you see he wasn’t really sure if the witching hour
accounted for daylight savings, so it was better to be safe than sorry. In an arcane triangle of
protection, just outside the circle, Henry knelt with his arms outstretched in supplication. In a
mere whisper he invoked the incantation, “Hey, hey, what do ya say, come on down for some
time to play — Iä, Iä mass tu vita — Hey, hey, what do ya say, accept this offering to end my
suffering — Iä, Iä, Parallax Fhtagn — I summon you — I invoke you — I command you Parallax
appear!” He waited, waited and he waited a little longer til then finally . . . nothing. Louder this
time, Henry began chanting again, “Hey, hey, what do ya say, come on down for some time to
play — Iä, Iä mass tu vita — Hey, hey, what do ya say, accept this offering to end my suffering
— Iä, Iä, Parallax Fhtagn — I summon you — I invoke you — I command you Parallax appear!”
He waited, waited some more, and then . . . nothing. With anger and frustration that all his
efforts would be in vain and that he may never get his revenge he rapidly shouted, “Hey, hey,
what do ya say, come on down for some time to play — Iä, Iä mass tu vita — Hey, hey, what do
ya say, accept this offering to end my suffering — Iä, Iä, Parallax Fhtagn — I summon you — I
invoke you — I command you Parallax appear!” He waited only for a short time when he heard
it, it was a pounding, the floor below the circle was shaking as if something was trying to break
through the paneling. A gruff and very irritated voice boomed from below the circle,
“Beechcroft, is that you who has awakened me!” Henry’s spirits rose, it worked, he couldn’t be
his ears and replied loudly, “yes, yes it is I oh evil one!” The voice boomed back, “Evil one? Oh
you are pushing your luck Beechcroft and if you don’t keep it down — I will kick your sorry ass
out on the street and sell your shit to the local pawn shop — you’re still one month past due!”
Henry sighed, he recognized the voice; it was his landlord Mr. Charmurs who was pounding the
ceiling with his baseball bat from the floor below. Under his breath and with teeth clenched
Henry said, “Just another asshole who needs to pay.” “ I just can’t figure out what went wrong.”
Henry poured over his note book, leafing through every page saying check, check, check
for each thing he did right. Then he notices the last page was actually two pages stuck together
with sauce from last night’s pizza. Prying these pages apart with embarrassment, he said, “Oh,
well . . . that will definitely be cut from the recording.” Clearing his throat he read aloud the
single word on the page, “Kabara-futa!” The air became charged with static and the room
dimmed into darkness. Henry thought he was passing out , but instead he saw the arcane
markings illuminate the floor with unearthly blue light. Henry’s skin crawled with goose bumps
and his ears rang like a victim of a KISS concert. The room echoed with a clicking, a whirring
and a metal like cranking as a plastic tube emerged from the center of the circle, rippling the
floor like water. It emerged from the circle at an angle that pointed right at Henry’s head.
Vibrating furiously, the tube began to emit a thumping and thwoomping sound. Before Henry
could react, like a fraternity potato gun, something blasted out of the tube and smacked him
squarely on the forehead, knocking him out.

Henry came back to consciousness, the light in the room had return to a normal level, the
tube from the circle was gone and he saw that all of his papers, books and pizza boxes were
blown helter-skelter. Henry sighed, for over in the corner he saw that his video camera had
tipped over and was now smoking with an untimely death. Henry winced as he rubbed at a
large, red and slightly skinned circular mark on his forehead. He then picked up the object that
struck him, it was an odd tube. The tube was made of clear plastic, was about a foot long, with
greased black rubber caps on the ends and lastly along the side it sported a catch release door. It
dawned on Henry that this was an old pneumatic tube shuttle, once used in old business
buildings long ago before e-mail, fax-machines or even intercoms became the standard; it used
an inverted pressure system to zip these cartridges back and forth through a complex system of
pipes, in which the shuttles, commonly containing messages or documents, would then end up at
specific floors or offices. Henry popped open the catch release and withdrew an old parchment
scroll. The scroll was tied with hemp and at the end of the string was a manilla tag; the tag read
— change in protocol.

Henry frowned at the tag while untying the hemp. There were actually two scrolls rolled
into one another. The first scroll was a new summoning diagram which showed the old
summoning triangle of protection resting within the summoning circle; this made Henry feel a
bit confused and nervous. The second scroll had a header that read — “Change of Summoning
Protocol, effective year 1942 AD.” Below the header were instructions for a new ritual and
incantation. Henry looked at his clock and saw that it was already 4:30 a.m., too late to begin the
new ritual . . . he would have to wait. Henry tried to get some rest, but simply couldn’t; he was
close, oh so very close. He gave up trying to sleep and decided to clean up his hovel of an
apartment. He threw out the pizza boxes, mournfully gave his video camera a dumpster funeral,
sorted through and stacked all his loose research papers, old tomes and other guides. Still he
couldn’t sleep, he was too excited because he knew that this time everything was going to work
out, because he had made contact, well of a sorts. He cleaned up the old summoning markings
and then drew the new markings from the first scroll. He checked and double checked, he wasn’t
going to foul this up, this time everything would go according to plan. About 11:30 a.m. Henry
felt exhausted and fell into his only chair, an old high back with floral patterns and a build up of
stains from since the 60's, he was sound asleep within moments.

Henry awoke screaming and nearly catapulted from his chair; the nightmare was so
utterly horrible, uncomprehensible and yet so vividly real to be, but a mere dream. Looking at
the clock, with groggy and bloodshot eyes which were encrusted with sleep, he saw that it was
1pm. With a hoarse voice Henry said, “Damn, only an hour and a half of sleep? I am so very
tired, but I simply can’t go back to that — dream.” Henry thought, perhaps a change of scenery
would help calm things down, besides Henry still needed to study the new ritual and incantation,
so he headed down to Vinnie’s coffee shop. As he walked down to Vinnie’s he muttered, “Who
else, who else . . . oh yes . . . how could I forget coach Kerrigan — that righteous bastard would
never let up and was always demeaning me, every — chance — he got!” . . . “Oh yes, he is
going to pay dearly as well!”

Henry was only a block away from Vinnie’s when he saw them approaching. Ducking
into an alley, Henry hid between a garbage can, a filthy dumpster and under a drapery of refuse
as he watched nervously while Mike and Vic Lorenzo sauntered on past the alley. The Lorenzo
brothers were chuckling about today’s agenda, which of course was nothing good as they were
cheap muscle for the local mafia. Slinking out from the gallery and brushing off the refuse he
muttered under his breath, “I still remember my long stay in the hospital . . . oh you two are so
on my list as well — I wouldn’t want to make you feel left out.” Henry grinned wickedly and
continued on to Vinnie’s.

At the coffee shop, Henry felt he could finally relax, he felt safe here and he liked
Vinnie. Vinnie was that straight up kind of guy, who seemed to know everyone’s name and was
well liked by the entire neighborhood. Henry ordered his cup of coffee, a 16oz house blend
spiked with Irish cream, and when he looked up to pay Vinnie for the cup of joe, Vinnie was
shocked with concern. Vinnie asked, while pointing at Henry’s forehead, “Hey Henry, what
happened there?” Henry reached up and winced as he touched his forehead and said, “huh,
what, oh this?”
“Ya that, where and how did you get it? Was it from the Lorenzo boys?”
“Haha, no it wasn’t them — at least not this time.”
“Then how did ya get it?”
“Well it was sort of an accident.”
“Accident huh? And what was this, accident?”
“Haha, well would you believe I got hit in the head by a pneumatic shuttle cartridge?”
Vinnie just gave Henry a stare that said, “Ya I am not going to believe that for an instant.”
“Look Henry, even if it wasn’t the Lorenzo boys this time, you can’t keep letting people
push you around like that.”
“I know, I know Vinnie — but you know things just might change.”
Vinnie raised his eyebrows at this and then scowled a bit.
“Well Henry, whatever trouble it is — I don’t want to know about it but just do one thing
for me, OK?”
“Ya sure, what is it?”
“Keep your wits about you and don’t doing anything stupid like rush into something you
don’t understand.”
“Sure, no problem.”
Henry gave Vinnie a weak smile and then sat down at his usual table, rolled out the scroll and
started to study the incantation. After only five minutes, he looked up and said with a
disbelieving chuckle, “Is this serious — it has to be some kind of joke, — but how I got it was
real enough.” Six hours later and wired from twelve cups of coffee, Henry headed back to the
Arcadia, the apartment high rise where he lived. Henry slowly sneaked past Mr. Charmurs’s
office, made his way up to his apartment, went inside, locked the door, stared down at the new
summoning circle and said with determination, “Now, time for the main event.”

Part 2

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