Saturday, March 23, 2013

Change of Protocol "part 2"

 Change of Protocol
Tobias White

Despite the fact the new ritual stated that the Witching Hour did indeed account for
daylight savings, Henry wasn’t so sure if it also accounted for different times zones, so once
again he waited until it was 1am before starting. As beads of sweat formed on his forehead,
Henry nervously knelt down in the center of the triangle of protection, not liking that the
protection diagram was centered in the summoning circle. With his arms outstretched in
supplication, Henry began the new incantation, “Iä, Iä, Parallax Fhtagn — the forms have been
met — Iä, Iä mass tu vita — the time has been allotted — Iä, Iä mass tu vita — the service is
required — Iä, Iä, Parallax Fhtagn — I petition you — I requisition you — I contract you
Parallax appear” . . . nothing happened, Henry became confused, but then his eyes lit up and he
said, “Oh ya, — Ticket 42!”

Henry’s eyes widened and his hair stood up on end as he felt the room charge with heavy
static and filled with the smell of ozone. Arcs of blue white energy crackled the air as it
randomly traveled out from the arcane circle to the walls of the room, but would linger now and
then on metallic objects. Henry felt a phantom breeze which transformed into a maelstrom with
the arcane circle as its vortex. The maelstrom created a rushing wall of Henry’s papers and
books which in turn obscured the rest of the room. After what seemed like an eternity from
within his whirlwind prison of literature, the wind abruptly stopped, the books fell with broken
spines, and like leaves in autumn, all of his loose research papers slowly drifted down; what was
revealed, was shocking.

Henry, while still kneeling within his diagrams, found himself no longer in his apartment,
but in what looked like a dimly lit, musty and peculiar looking office. There were no windows to
be seen, but on the walls were hundreds of pretentiously framed documents and portraits. The
walls seem to be a combination of stonework and hard wood but it was hard to tell as it was
covered with soot from years of smoking and neglect. The towering walls led up to a vaulted
ceiling that sported brass lamps at its summit. Up against the left-hand wall was a couch
upholstered in expensive dark leather. Along the right-hand wall were rows upon rows of giant
filing cabinets, each standing forty feet high. Above and below these cabinets were rails, on
which, a wheeled ladder would glide upon; . . . it all smelled very republican. From behind,
Henry heard a loud tick, a rusty crank, and then an echoing stamp. Henry looked behind him to
see a door that opened up to a hallway perpendicular to the office. In this hallway, he saw an
antique punch clock, at which, aged time cards were continuously being punched by a cue of
zombies dressed in tattered business suits. Henry exclaimed, “Well I’ll be damned — ” and then
an antediluvian voice, old, dry, slightly nasal and with an odd accent was a reply,
“Not quite yet Mr. Beechcroft . . . not quite yet.”

Henry whipped around to be surprised by a figure at the opposite end of the room —
which was strange . . . no one had been there a few seconds ago and there was only one door to
the office. Up on a two-foot high platform was a cluttered business desk that was a perfectly
normal size and shape. Sitting cramped and crouched over this desk was a perfectly normal
looking old mouse like man. He sported perfectly normal coke bottle glasses, a striped long
sleeved shirt, old world shirt armbands, a vest that hung open with a gut that would prevent it
from ever closing, a comb-over of thinning hair and a look that spoke that he had been defeated
by life. Well, he would have been perfectly normal if it were not for one simple fact . . . he was a

On the giant’s desk, in the clutter, was a name plate that read: M.C. 2nd Class Parallax
Esquire. Parallax was indeed the name of the demon he was trying to contact, but this was all
wrong; he was trying to summon Parallax to his apartment . . . not to be summoned to . . . to
wherever this was. With a nervous delay Henry spoke up, “Um, excuse me? With all due respect,
I — I think there has been some kind of mistake here.” On the other side of Parallax and along
the back of the wall was a complex system of pneumatic tubes that all funneled into either an
“in” or “out” substation which was just in arms reach of Parallax. One of the tubes vibrated
furiously as a shuttle descended down its intricate path and then stopping at the “in” substation.
Parallax plucked out the shuttle tube, opened it up, rolled out a parchment, made a few tick marks
with a long, clawed, and liver-spotted hand. Without lifting his gaze, Parallax said, “There has
been no mistake Mr. Beechcroft. Didn’t you get the memo? — There has been a change in

“Oh . . . I see — ” said Henry confusedly as Parallax made a few more tick marks, signed
the bottom, released the scroll, which then promptly bounced off the desk and back into the
shuttle tube. Parallax placed the shuttle into the “out” substation and this time turned to Henry,
while smiling just a little too broadly, said, “Oh — you see huh?” Parallax turned back to his
paper work and then said impatiently, “So, Mr. Beechcroft . . . what kind of service can we
provide you . . . hmm?” The shuttle in the “out” station vibrated vigorously then shot up the
pneumatic tube while another one shot down to the “out” station. Parallax continued, “Will it be
for power, for glory, perhaps — a woman — for revenge maybe . . . or would it just be for a
change in gender? As it seems you are already a little pussy to begin with! Hurry up Beechcroft
— my time is precious and you are wasting it!” Parallax snatched another shuttle from his “in”
substation, whipped out its contents, snorted at what he read, laughed out loud which caused ram
horns to sprout from his head, looked at Henry, smiled like a shark with far too many teeth and
laughingly said, “Man, I just love those Gary Larson comics, don’t you?”

Nervously Henry said, “Ah . . . yes — yes I do, he is very funny. Um — It — it was the
second to — to the — last one I wanted.” Pretending to mishear and with a smile Parallax
replied, “Huh, the last one? — Bob, get the number nine scalpel.”An imp wearing a green visor, a
vest and spats but no shoes jumped out of Parallax’s desk, scampered over to the ladder and
rapidly searched the file cabinets while scattering an assortment of odds and ends on the floor
when a cabinet drawer failed to have the scalpel. Henry’s eyes widened in horror and quickly
said, “No — no I meant — the second to last one — you know the — the revenge one!” With
great disappointment the imp returned to the desk drawer, but just before disappearing into the
drawer the imp stuck out his tongue and gave Henry the raspberry.
With a sigh, Parallax withdrew three parchments from a shelf and said, “Very well Mr.
Beechcroft. We have three different contracts for you to choose from. The first is the standard
contract for your soul in which we will handle all the details, no fuss or muss, quick, clean, easy,
and without a trace. The second requires you to murder a virgin woman for every three acts of
revenge, but we handle all details and with the same great coverage. The third is rather banal if
you ask me, but it only requires you to perform little deeds of anarchy on our behalf now and
then, but while the results are guaranteed, satisfaction is not. It has almost no coverage at all.”
Nervously and a bit agitated Henry said, “I think I will go for the third contract.” Parallax leaned
really close and said, “Are you sure — that you don’t want to consider the first or the second?”
“Yes — yes I am sure. I have never killed anyone before, which is why I performed the
summoning and I think it is wise to avoid losing my soul.”
“Really, are you sure you will not consider the first? — You wouldn’t miss it for the
world, it is such a small thing, such a diminutive part of who you are, a mere mote of your
essence. Why, you wouldn’t even know that it had gone missing. Besides, my dear Mr.
Beechcroft, it provides the best coverage with . . . no messiness to clean up afterwards.”
“Well . . . let me think . . . no I think I want to keep my soul for now.”
“Really? Is that really your final choice?”
“Yes, yes it is.”
Parallax sighed and said, “Well I tried my best. Please read the contract and sign with the
pen provided.” From somewhere above, a vellum parchment dropped heavily before Henry. Soon
afterwards a pen fell and bounce off of it to land right into Henry’s hand; the pen felt strange to
the touch. Henry tried to read the document, but his head began to ache from the confusing
legalities, protocol changes, escape clauses and the fact that the small print seemed to get smaller
and smaller toward the end of the page. He gave up trying to understand the contract and decided
just to sign it since he had already come this far. As Henry signed, he saw a pentagram form on
the skin of his wrist for every stroke of his name. After the last stroke of his name, the room
began to spin, Henry’s vision began to darken, and as he slowly passed out he heard Parallax

Henry found himself outside of his apartment, he didn’t know how he got there, but he
knew he was dead tired from his ordeal. He walked into his apartment, locked the door, fell like a
tree onto his bed and was instantly asleep. The nightmare returned, Henry saw himself as a
monestrous wolf that was ravaging each and every person that ever did him wrong. He saw
himself tearing out the throat of Jenny, gouged the eyes of his landlord, stuff one Lorenzo brother
into the other and numerous other horrible acts of savage murder. The dream both thrilled and
horrified him to the point he couldn’t tell one from the other. The nightmare repeated over and
over again, seemingly forever.

Henry awoke to the horribly annoying jingle of the channel three news; despite the fact
the TV set had been broken for two months. Groggy and full of bed sores Henry sat up and began
to focus on the date shown on the news. Three days . . . had he really been sleeping for three
days? The chipper newscaster was talking about something important, but he just couldn’t figure
out what she was saying just yet. Henry ran his hands over this face, trying to rouse himself and
was surprised that his hands felt wet. He looked down at his hands, and they were covered in
blood. Henry rushed over to his sink mirror and gasped as he saw it covered with small cuts and
streaks of blood . . . someone else’s blood. Henry spun around in panic, slipped on something,
came crashing down and then saw it; they were bloody wolf prints that led from the front door to
his bed. Henry slowly turned his head and focused on what the pretty newscaster reported, “. . .
including Jenny Terrence, Jake Thomson, Mike and Vic Lorenzo, coach Phillip H. Kerrigan and
Terrence Charmurs, just to name a few, were killed within the last three days. They were
savagely mutilated as if an animal had attacked them.” Henry heard a knocking on his door and
heard, ”Mr. Beechcroft will you please come to the door?” The newscaster continued, “Police
have now narrowed their suspect to adult book shop owner Henry A. Beechcroft. If you know the
whereabouts of this man, you are to notify the police immediately.” Henry’s head spun back to
the door as he heard more knocking and shouting, “Mr. Beechcroft, we know you are in there!
We have a warrant! . . . Alright knock it down!”

For the first time in Chicago’s history, judicial paper work was moving fast, his Judge was
to be Clarence “Hang Them All” McClancy, his defense lawyer only just passed his bar exam and
there wasn’t a jury in the city who would ever give him the benefit of the doubt. Alone in a single
jail cell, Henry sat in stunned silence. How could this ever have happened and how could he ever
get the blame for something he didn’t do. A janitor wheeled a cleaning cart slowly passed
Henry’s cell and then, after a small pause, tossed in a length of rope. The janitor said with a
mouth filled with far too many teeth, “You could always take the escape clause.” Horror-struck
Henry at the sound of the voice and then said, “Parallax, what did you do. I signed the contract so
that I wouldn’t have to kill anyone but still get my revenge. You cheated me — you were
supposed to do the job!” and Parallax with feigned sympathy replied, “And so I did Henry . . . I
killed each and every person for your revenge.” Henry grabbed the bars of his cell and yelled,
“Then why am I in here?” With devilish glee Parallax replied, “Well . . . probably because I
possessed your body to do the job.” Henry squeaked, “Why — why did you do that?” and fell to
his knees sobbing. Parallax’s grin got even wider, showing even more teeth than ever before and
said, “Why Mr. Beechcroft — I am shocked — I am very sure it was mentioned several times . . .
there was a change in protocol!”

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