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Still Time - Fall Anthology 2023 - Leap of Faith Due 10/1 ×
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Better to Reign in Hell - 2. Examinations and Executions

Examinations and Executions

Chapter 2



(One month after the events of Better to Reign in Hell)


The first strike had frightened and elated some, but it was nothing in comparison to what must be achieved. Mark and Jodi needed to analyze their own patterns and figure out any missteps that they made along the way. Even with a presidential pardon, it is best not use such a favor during the term of the sitting president due to both public outcry and realistic ramifications from certain segments of the political establishment.


A normalcy had been created in the vineyard as it regained its vitality after all the horrors that were witnessed. However, there was something different in the current vitality that the former splendor did not possess. There was a sense of movement, an unexplainable pattern of force.


Dave was growing closer to Mark, but they were also growing more distant. Dave acted as a nurse, housemate, and friend for Brian, but Mark did not wish for Dave to know the extent of his plans. Dave was far too idealistic in his naiveté to approve Mark's ideas for justice. Dave did not question the oddity of the "Archery Range" nor the renovated gym, because he truly could not see the depth of Mark's need. Dave's greatest concerns were for Brian's welfare and Mark well being, which he had assumed was romantically pursuing Jodi due to the time they spent together and he had accepted that.


Brian was recuperating, but there were no miracle cures for his condition. He was having limited progress controlling his motor function. The delayed reception of visuals was a significant issue in almost everything the boy perceived. He could hear things happening faster than he could see them occurring. This duality would be horrifying to an adult; however, a child did not know the world as deeply as an adult, so Brian took the strange temporal perception in stride with an imaginative idea that he had developed super-powers.


Mr. Buchannan was operating his empire now through computer link ups in his old home; he was acting like an omniscient God, but he knew he was quite human. In his former life, he wanted to control, or know what was happening, as much as he could. Perhaps that was one reason he could not accept his son's sexuality as youth; it took his old friend Gene a lot of debate and hard words over bourbon shots to make him see the truth. Then, he chose to protect his son against what he knew would eventually come. He had the inclination to warn Mark of the possibility of reprisal from his media exploits before the attacks. He even installed camera systems and a panic room to protect his son before he left his former home, both additions that Mark never used until that fateful day. Mr. Buchannan's mind thought of contingencies, but he had never thought that they would fail. The paralysis had taken its toll on him, which he realized over time. He wanted to be out there taking the fight to these bastards and driving home the blows, hut he knew his limits. He had wanted something simple in revenge, even for those partially responsible for what happened to him and his family. In contrast to his earlier thoughts or inclinations, he still acted as a compassionate grandfather to Brian, challenging and teaching his grandson to adapt in order to strengthen the boy for his future struggles. He acted as a father to Mark, advising and pushing him to seek justice.


Jodi was the eye of the hurricane through his calming influence amidst a torrent of turmoil. The early joy that he felt in the execution of Lewis had passed. The bitter reality that he was still without his partner was still haunting him. Discipline can only go so far; human beings are still emotionally fragile creatures. Jodi was realizing how deeply he missed everything that his partner meant to him. The moments of endearment, the arguments, and even the times of hardship were much more acceptable than the emptiness. Jodi needed purpose in his life and these actions filled the conscious need, but they did not fill the unconscious desire. He trained with Mark and he acted as a friend and confidante, because he was the only one that truly understood the depth of emptiness. Their friendship went much deeper than shared experiences and shared emotional pain. There was a coalescing between the two as if they knew each other for a long time. It was effortless for both to work together and their feelings for mutual support grew.


Mark felt conflicted about what he was doing after the first kill. Guilt, conscience, and every other means of human rationalization were flooding his mind. He questioned his actions on Reverend Lewis; did that man deserve to die? Mark remembered the first discussion between his father, Gene, and himself over the issue. He remembered his own fears after the funeral and his protective stance over his family.




Gene came back to the vineyard with success. He had pushed the presidential pardon behind the doors of power brokers and extreme pressure tactics. He was amazed at how much activity was taking place around the place. The old iron gates had been changed to solid steel and the walls around the perimeter were being reinforced and raised. The house had been expanded, but he did not know the depth of Mark's future "renovations." He was greeted by Mark's father at the door and they exchanged pleasantries. Then they both went into the old panic room, where Mark had silently seen his old father-in-law arriving. The panic room had the smell of old musk and dried blood. There were cans of energy drinks, pills, and other things lined against the table on which Mark was staring at the monitors.


Mark's father whispered to Gene, "He's been like this since the funeral; I worry about him too."


Gene approached Mark, who noticed his approach, but his concentration remained on a certain screen. Gene saw Mark's focus and understood the importance of his watchfulness.


"Mark, you need some rest before we talk about what happened in Washington," Gene said.


"I have keep an eye on things; Gene, just tell me now," Mark responded visibly and audibly tired.


"Mark, I can watch Brian for you," Gene suggested.


"I don't know," Mark spoke with his focus still on his son's room.


"Dammit Mark! You got to let someone help you. I can understand why you wouldn't want me to help you out, because of these damn legs, but Gene is here and you've always trusted him and so have I. Just get out of this room and get some rest," Mark's father told his son with a dispassionate knowledge that he was incapable of aiding him more.


Mark eventually left the room, after three straight days of sleepless watch, and after much insistence from Gene to go to bed.


"Bobby, you think you were a little rough a few moments ago?" Gene asked his old friend.


"You never call me Bobby anymore, Gene. It has always been Mr. Buchannan throughout my adult life, and I hope you don't change it, because I am like this now," Mr. Buchannan told his friend.


"I think you were rough on yourself, too. You couldn't have known what would happen and as I kept telling you throughout our years as friends, there are certain things in life that no one can control," Gene responded.


"We've lived through all these decades and we know what people have done in our time. This type of stuff isn't new; hell, it isn't even anything special. You put your face out there, go on TV, and proclaim that you are proud of being part of a minority, while giving some people of the same minority hope that life can be great. The majority that live in the status quo looks at you, while being fed bull crap, "Truths" from radio and television pundits that are doing it for ratings. Here's a real truth in life, when people see you as poor, dirty, and beaten down, they will feel sympathy towards you. When people sees you as rich, clean, and aspiring, they will feel hate for you out of envy. Yeah, you get a catch-22; you portray people as "poor, dirty, and beaten" that's how they view themselves and continue to live. If you portray them as rich, clean, and aspiring, they'll have the impetus to move ahead in life and maybe end up better than your average Joe, because they are inspired. Public perception is a double edged sword," Mr. Buchannan said with a deep spite in his voice.


"Well, Mr. Buchannan, I have to disagree with you. The American people have changed over time. Yes, it might not have been fast or smooth, but we have changed. Maybe these guys behind the money are just a rare case out of the entire country. We can't let a couple bad eggs ruin everything," Gene noted without his usual good humor. Part of him acknowledged his friend's truths, but he did not want to believe it. Politics is a profession of idealism; you must hang on to some basic ideals or else you have nothing left in your mind and heart to fight with. Gene was equally angry over Steve's death and he placed the blame on corruption within the system rather than the system itself. He sought to right the wrongs and correct the errors from within his idealistic framework.


The two continued their debate over the nature of American ideals and social relativism.


Mark was having some very bad nightmares. He woke up hours later in a cold sweat. He went into the bathroom to take a hot shower. He took off his shirt, shorts, and boxers in succession and stood naked before his bathroom mirror. If Steve were still around, they would be stripping each other in front of this mirror. Mark noticed his facial hair was unkempt and his weary eyes were covered in bloodlike red. Through the mirror, he noticed something hanging on the towel rack and turned around. It was Steve's towel, which had not been moved since the night of the attack. Mark's housekeeper did not want to disturb Mark's bedroom, knowing the emotional significance Steve's belongings would have on him.


Mark stared at the towel for a moment: it was dark forest green with little patches of brown. He slowly went up to the towel and tried to sniff it. There was the distinct odor of his former lover; although, it was weak and faint. Mark had not really grieved at all before or after the funeral, because he was busy worrying about his son and wanting someone to pay for the attack. A simple green towel was enough to drive him to tears.


It took Mark an hour to go through the process of grief until he had worn himself out. He realized his tears had drenched Steve's towel and eliminated what was left of his lover's faint odor. From this act, he grew angry at himself for destroying something so priceless, but he knew how trivial the towel was compared to his husband. His mind was left in thought and contemplation as he entered the shower.


Mark completed his shower and headed towards Brian's room. He was surprised to see his son sitting still without even the smallest fidget. Gene and Mark's father were in the room guarding the young boy as Gene had promised. They noticed Mark coming in with a worn out look.


"Hey Brian," Mark said.


"Dawd!" Brian screamed flinging his body wildly. Brian's motor control was still unstable, but he understood how to stop everything by focusing on a single point. Brian quickly tried to regain control through focus.


Mark noticed his son gaining a slight control, but the knowledge that his son immediately lost it with his arrival was depressing. Both of the older men had seen their grandson's newest trick to gain control of his body through focus, but they thought Mark would be pleased rather than depressed.


"Guys, can we talk outside? All the contractors and crews have gone home for the night," Mark addressed his two fathers. They followed him out and Brian listened as their footsteps wandered away from him with a visible reaction.


"My body was bad and nobody wants to be with me," Brian thought at that moment, but he felt something surround him. His visual perception was delayed by about twenty-five seconds and he saw his father walking toward him in slow, distorted motion and his dad hugging him tightly. Brian flailed a bit trying to return the hug.


"Don't Brian, just let your daddy give this hug to you," Mark said with a deep amount of sentiment. Brian stopped trying to hug back and just enjoyed the feeling of being held by his father. He loved his dad and wished one day that he could be just like him.


Mark ended his hug and allowed Brian to watch his cartoons in silence as he headed toward the hallway to meet his fathers.


"Gene, how was the trip?" Mark asked as he stepped outside his son's room.


"I got a blanket pardon, but my guys warned that we should try to avoid using it during this administration," Gene said.


"Easy enough, but who does this pardon cover?" Mark pressed.


"Everyone authorized in this operation under me will be pardoned if the operation is blown," Gene said, which gained a quick glance from everyone.


"You're taking responsibility for everything, Gene?" Mr. Buchannan asked in shock.


"Someone has to play the fall guy if everything goes to hell," Gene responded dispassionately.


"Gene, you're the one that had reservations in our early discussion, why are you doing this?" Mark asked, but he knew the answer.


"Steve," Gene said in a low tone of voice. The hallway was silent, except for the noises from the cartoons that Brian was viewing. Mark and his father had reservations about putting Gene in the line of fire if anything should happen. They were going after some very powerful organizations and people, who would very likely hunt them down if they ever knew. Gene felt that he was making the correct choice, since he wanted to do something for Steve. Love motivates us to great heights, but despair may motivate us to even greater depths.


"We have to discuss how this will play out. What should we do and who should we go after?" Mr. Buchannan tried to focus his mind after Gene's revelation.


"Listen, Mark, most of these guys that gave money and support to The Lord's Crusaders either knew little or just basics about what they had signed up for, so it's hard to pick out anyone in particular," Gene added.


"It was not just us that they harmed; it was a lot of other different people, too. If we let this go, then what's to stop someone else, or even their own organizations, from doing it again? There is a word for coordinated murders against a minority group; it's called ‘genocide'. The average American might be giving them money and support, so we have to eliminate their will," Mark said.


"How would we do that?" Gene asked.


"My dad had the right idea; we need to show the American people the truth. We need to pick our targets out as the worst of their lot. Embezzling religious figures, pyramid scheme creators, pedophiles that stalk their congregation, and even worse characters that can be linked to their organizations. We need to gain the support of the people at large and push them away from these groups," Mark answered.


"Then, all of this is a PR war?" Gene asked.


"No, it can't just be a PR war. I've been thinking about what I said, too. Look at what happened in 2002, when the Catholic Church had the big media frenzy over their priests screwing little boys. Sure, people pushed for more accountability afterwards, but the well-oiled machine of Catholicism that has survived two thousand years was not changed and several lesser publicized cases were ruled out due to lack of evidence. Extraordinary measures must be made in conjunction with public relations if we have any hope of forcing public opinion to move against certain ideas," Mr. Buchannan added.


"By ‘extraordinary measures,' you mean killing some people," Gene asked with the knowledge of the meaning, but he wanted confirmation.


"Yes, you can't have half measures, Gene, it's either you do it all the way or not," Mr. Buchannan responded.


"We were just talking about taking down their organizations. Yeah, I was guessing we might have to do some dirty things along the way; that's why I suggested the presidential pardon. I even contemplated that we might have to kill one or two guys to make a point, but you're now asking everyone to go further than that. Bobby, you don't want to do that...You can't ask Mark to do it either; it's simply wrong," Gene spoke, somehow pleading that his childhood friend would still hear him out. "Bobby" was still within Mr. Buchannan; albeit, he was a faint voice. Mr. Buchannan argued with his inner self, who could not fathom the need to kill these people for the greater good. We as human beings have been taught from youth not to kill; however, all nature is based on life and death. The honest truth is that human beings use their higher brain functions most of the time to fight their instincts, because human beings believe they are superior to nature.


Abruptly, Mark entered the verbal fray, "We can't let them get a chance to pull the trigger, again. Even if they didn't fire the gun, they still bought it and gave it to the ones, who did. My dad's right; there are no alternatives to dealing with an issue this ingrained within the American, or hell even the world's, consciousness. I once thought that peaceful coexistence and hope could win out in the end. Maybe human beings are just lying to themselves about their peaceful efforts. Gandhi's peaceful non-violent movement was just a carrot that inspired people to rally; the repressive massacres that followed in their wake inspired people to revolt. You can't change anything by just marching and letting peace take its course; real change happens with a pen in one hand and a sword in the other."


"How far do we go?" Gene asked, looking at Mark with an unrecognizing gaze. Mark was his son by all rights, too. He remembered Mark's life. The conscious boy grew up as a vegetarian due to his fears of harming another living thing. The teenager became his son's lover and companion, when his father could not accept the truth due to his own issues. The man, who had left his father's wealth and power behind to construct his own destiny and wealth, became an inspiration for others like him. Now, Mark was another man to Gene; he had grown cynical in a short time that most would need a lifetime to establish.


"We will go as far as needed, but avoid collateral damage. We will find the targets of opportunity and punish those people that our legal system could not. We're not going after the individuals or simply the groups, but the ideas that they embody. We must start by hitting the ones that reach out to the people with their hate, and abuse their authority in order to drive a wedge between their ideas and Truth. This thing we are doing is not just about revenge; it is about Truth and Justice," Mark told the two, who saw not a human being seeking revenge purely for reason of retribution anymore, but someone that sought real change.




The debate over Reverend Lewis' death was on his mind; Mark finally agreed internally that something dramatic had to occur, but he realized it was not enough. The dramatic outcry over the embezzlement scheme was a pittance compared to the need for greater overall social changes that must happen.


After dinner, Mark asked Jodi and his father to accompany him to the "gym" for a conversation, while Dave took care of Brian. Dave thought it was strange, but he did not ask questions of Mark.


The "gym" in actuality was more like an all-terrain course with streets and other different terrains lining separate rooms. Each had their individual obstacle courses, which consisted of vertical wall climbs or sniping posts. There was standard gym equipment in the entrance room which most guests, including Dave, would observe, but beyond the locked doors were many hidden worlds. Mark chose to speak to them inside the street simulation room.


"I've been thinking about Lewis," Mark began, "I don't feel like we did it correctly."


Mr. Buchannan and Jodi both nodded at him.


"It was a good first attempt, but there were certain aspects we did not plan too well and we simply got lucky on it. If he had been meticulous that day then even with our phone calls we would never have had the records to prove how extensive his embezzling operations were. For our safety, we hid the main reason for our cause and people simply attributed our actions to some disenfranchised parishioners. It also had very minor impact on their organization's approach on social policy; they suffered a small defeat at most," Jodi addressed his friend.


"Dad, what do you think we should do next time?" Mark asked his father, who was deep in thought on the very question.


"Chopping his hands off scared people, but we aren't in the business of simply torturing for no reason, leave that to snuff film makers. We need to connect the crime to the acts and the acts must be made much more fearsome to deter future action. However, I think if we go on just the ‘gay cause' idea; we might be asking for another round of copycats like The Lord's Crusaders. We have to make sure the cause is addressed, but the main focus must be on their crimes and their organization's policies which allowed it. If you keep the people questioning the motives behind these groups, then it will force the change that you seek," Mr. Buchannan responded.


"We can try to ascribe certain punishments to certain crimes. We did do one thing right by not tipping our hand early. The next target must be selected with care and we may have to find a way to connect the perpetrator with his crime. He or she will not admit to things so quickly as Reverend Lewis. Surveillance has to be improved; even if our current surveillance technique was successful, the chances of our surveillance being discovered will increase with each mission. Following a target is going to be difficult if he is high profile and tracking other things like criminal activity will require more stealth. Torture might not be off the table either, since we need an admission of guilt or at times force the person to provide evidence. There were so many things that we got lucky on with Lewis; it won't happen twice," Mark spoke with an uncharacteristic astuteness in his observations. Mark had taken the month to retrace their previous mission and learned several truths from examination.


"We should also consider changing operationally; even with our friends in Washington, there is still law enforcement that will try to find a unique pattern to our movements. Keeping things varied will be difficult. However, if we keep up a pattern similar to the past, then we risk exposure. Our method of operation must be adjusted accordingly," Jodi addressed.


"I agree that certain details have to change each time; you guys can't keep operating out of flea bag motels outside of the city. The issue with changing M.O extensively, Jodi, is people will not have as much fear for what Mark is trying to accomplish within these organizations. Fear motivates them to change their ways, and fear of an unseen, unified enemy is better than random acts of violence. The blogging and internet uploads must continue; we can change how it is done, but not what we are doing," Mr. Buchannan added.


"There's one thing I am worried about; our entire list of targets came from the FBI/ATF report. The more people that we take out, the more likely that a pattern may be created," Mark said in a worried tone.


Mr. Buchannan was not worried over the link. "Gene has some people on the inside and you don't have to worry about Washington. I've known enough politicians through my years; they are smart enough to keep a clean act, especially when it comes to something this big. Believe me, they will bury the report right next to the ballistics analysis on the Kennedy assassination."


(One week earlier, Phoenix, Arizona)


The FBI has regional headquarters in most major metropolitan areas. Phoenix, Arizona was part of the national system that tied to the central bureaucracy of Washington. The murder and financial fraud of Alexander Lewis were riveting on news reports, but the FBI had more paperwork to file than anyone can imagine. The fraud examiners were looking over the documents with their IRS colleagues like French scholars reading the Rosetta stone in Egypt. The trail of money was vast and large; it encompassed off-shore accounts and investments into several businesses that would have to be investigated.


The criminal side of the case was a bit less hectic, but louder over the numerous "criminal investigative analysis," more popularly known as criminal profiling, being raised.


Daniel Davis was among the group of semi-psychological and sociological experts placed on this case. He was an intelligent man, who had a desire to prove his worth to the world, but he was plagued by a successful assessment early in his career concerning a serial killer that escaped his grasp after the successful profile. He also had many failed romantic engagements with both men and women, he considered his sexual orientation to be asexual for periods in between each romance.


A group of law enforcement and criminal analysts were arguing in a conference room for a satisfactory profile.


"I tell you, this guy is one of the names on his donation list that got fucked over. The antecedent could have occurred by accidental discovery of the fraud and the planning could have been done in advance," a short, stout man said.


Daniel quickly raised a counter, "You're basing that on circumstantial evidence; I mean we have no proof that the guy or guys that killed him were even part of his church. How can we assume an antecedent, when the killer's planning cannot have temporal basis. The guy could have been planning this for a long time. Look how meticulous the crime scene was at the hotel; there was no trace of foreign fibers, fingerprints, or even hair samples that did not belong to Lewis."


"Sociologically, based on his methods and manners, this guy most likely has some fair educational or technical background with software, as it can be concluded in his skill with internet messaging. He also has some kind of weapons training, so most likely ex-military. He had a manner of someone directly harmed by Lewis. We have eye witness reports that there was a suspicious Black or Hispanic male in the area. The profile is simple," said an African American man with a baritone voice.


Daniel countered again, "Look at the big picture, sociologically data is incomplete to render an adequate criminal analysis. We can't jump to a conclusion due to a few old people with racist attitudes that live around the church."


"Look at the video for God's sake, the killer most likely knew Lewis before the murder. The severing of his hands before the murder indicates a personal connection which would be explained through the killer's warning about people like Lewis. He even cut off his hands as an act against theft. The guy was obviously one of his victims," a dark haired woman added.


Daniel did not change his mind. "Look, I think we are dealing with more than your average vigilante out to rid the world of crooks. The hand cutting was far too fine and clean, along with the gun choice; I think we are dealing with some professionals."


"What a mob hit in Tucson? It's possible, we don't know where all the money actually went yet," a blond woman asked from across the table.


"There was something about this case that seems like it's about more than money, the mysterious blogger that appeared and disappeared out of nowhere with videos, and evidence of the embezzlement. It seemed too well planned for a standard vigilante," Daniel said


"Come on, DD, it's so simple; the reverend stole some money and someone out there was pissed, so they killed him and revealed his dirty laundry. The gun could have been stolen military grade for all we know. After the two Middle-Eastern wars, the private contractors had dozens of weapons that their soldiers of fortune kept post-war as souvenirs, while other guns were just "misplaced" and found their way into the black market. The killer was either an ex-military contractor or an assassin hired by his business partners," Sam Stephens, the head agent on the case, told Daniel.


"Okay, I will succumb to "group think," but mark my words, this guy or guys may strike again," Daniel told everyone.


"Even if these guys are serious about hunting down crooks, we've got their profiles: most likely Hispanic or black, military experience, middle-class social background, and possibly criminally linked due to the secrecy of the reverend's money trail," Sam responded.


"If we are right that money was the motivator," Daniel added silently. The rest of the meeting was on how to disburse this information out to local law enforcement to find the killers.


Based on the evidence, Daniel should have agreed with his colleagues, but his intuition was acting up. The case had too many points of incongruity; the gun, the internet blogging, and the descriptions were all suspiciously circumstantial. Criminology learned two great truths in the early Twenty-first Century: 1). Never trust eyewitness testimony completely, because they are usually clouded by sociological bias and stigmas and 2). You should not trust any single psychological assessment based profile, when your killer could be anyone.


The first was learned after 9/11 during the wave of ethnic finger pointing at people with middle-eastern backgrounds. It was godsend that no one was sent to prison due to tainted witness testimonies, but it proved an important sociological fact. People are bias under many circumstances and from their own personal dislike of certain minorities.


The second rule was learned by the Beltway Sniper incident, when preliminary psychological profiling erroneously indicated that the perpetrator was a middle-age white male. Criminal pathology analysis was closely linked with past incidence observations and the psychological profiles were based off experts, who were working under the same notions as they had after The Oklahoma City bombings in 1995.


Daniel spent the rest of his day writing up his report for the case and reviewing the evidence further. His colleagues had asked him to go out to lunch at around 2pm, but, as always, he passed on the offer of human companionship. Instead he grabbed a small candy bar and a Pepsi from the vending machines.


Daniel was capable of working in a team, but he was not someone that would agree with a team completely. He would contradict certain colleagues without a second thought. Sam liked that quality and expected Daniel to keep the team thinking. Although, Sam also wished that Daniel would be more sociable, and act less like a lone wolf hunting in a pack.


Daniel headed back to his small apartment on the outskirts of the city after work. The apartment was sparsely decorated with a large framed picture of a distant beach and some miscellaneous awards for academic or athletic pursuits. A small plastic couch with a dark brown cover and a small coffee table were situated on the left side of the room, while an under-used 32 inch LCD television was on the right. There was nothing spectacular or special about such an apartment; it was simply a reflection on the owner's preference to keep things simple in his personal life.


He lived alone by preference, not choice. Daniel could best be described as a jaded romantic. His first relationship as a teenager, with another boy, did not go over too well. He basically abandoned his lover, when his lover's sexuality became compromised to public knowledge because Daniel did not want any trouble from being linked to him. His private fears pushed him into numerous relationships throughout his life, both open and secret. He never desired to harm his lovers emotionally, but his attachments usually had too much romantic sentimentalism that could not be squared off against certain fears. It really didn't matter if it were a woman or a man; he simply could not allow himself any long-term attachments. If it were a woman, then he feared that he was compensating for being a closeted homosexual. If it were a man, then he feared that he could not accept homosexuality. He was also a career law enforcement officer and criminal pathologist, which was far too masculine and domineering to ever show a sign of weakness, especially bisexual interests that may very well be treated as latent homosexuality. Thus, he chose to stick with asexuality most of the time as it was the best compromise anyway since his fears limited his general attraction to either sex.




High school is a very weird time in life. Everything stems from it and reaches deep into the future. Daniel Davis grew up in a small town, where little things had a lot of impact. Jack Lincoln had been his best friend since the two were toddlers. They were also secretly involved romantically behind the scenes. Daniel was a true romantic at heart; he wanted to be the type of lover that everyone dreams about. He truly loved Jack with all his heart. They started out slow with little games of "show and tell." Eventually, they evolved into more daring games as they reached the cusps of puberty, when their sex drives started kicking in. Daniel had never found anyone else sexually attractive other than Jack and placed him as his only love. Jack reciprocated with equal emotion toward Daniel, whom he wanted to stay with for the rest of his life. However, everything ended when they were sixteen.


Everyone at school found out that Jack was gay by his own admonition. Daniel wanted a confrontation about this fact in private. Daniel had been moving back and forth in his mind throughout that day. At first, he wanted to tend to his lover with all the love that he had. He thought of grand romantic notions like taking out his "official" boyfriend to the movies or even the school dance. He thought up an amazing amount of possibilities staring in front of him after this revelation. Then, he realized what it would mean to be with Jack. He was paranoid, as most teenagers are, about the changes affecting his life. His family would likely never acknowledge him again; his future would be cast aside. He had dreamed about being a police detective ever since he was a kid. He thought that Jack could be his partner in solving mysteries, just like Sherlock Holmes and Watson. How could Jack ever fit into his future now?


As he drove his small Chevy compact his mind began to race with horror at what Jack had done. He was being a teenager rather than a child or an adult; his mind moved in a million different directions all at once. He thought about the disparaging remarks he heard from classmates about Jack and the hidden gossip that might be circulating about he, himself through extension. He grew angrier and angrier from the taunts that he was imagining. His fears and hatred for what this new reality meant for him were driving away any compassion or romantic ideal that he had earlier in the day. When he reached the spot where Jack was, Daniel was fixed on anger without any ounce of love remaining.


"You asshole! Why did you just out yourself?" Daniel, who was usually docile, screamed at Jack when he reached the private spot where they had chosen to meet.


"I just don't want to hide anymore; I thought you would support me. We can like leave and head off to the west coast," Jack spoke in his soft ethereal voice.


"Support you! Support you! Jack, I am not going to say I am gay, bi, or whatever I am. My old man would kill me, and my future would be shit. What were you thinking when you outed yourself? Didn't you even think about me?" Daniel demanded angrily.


"Then, I guess our friendship and everything else is over?" Jack asked, almost pleadingly, for a no.


"It's done Jack. I can't be around you anymore. Hell, if they start calling you a faggot at school, then I'll just join in. I'm not going down for this, you hear me, cocksucker?" Daniel retorted in deep anger. No words were exchanged afterward and Daniel left the scene. Daniel never heard what happened to Jack afterward. He never would.


Self-centered moments occur in life usually without much emotional damage afterward. Daniel felt responsible for Jack's death; no matter how one rationalizes one's actions out of fear, there was nothing that could rationalize this. It was a betrayal of trust and more than that it was a betrayal of love. It was a tragedy that someone could willingly give someone else their heart, yet that person could not reciprocate those same affections with courage.


Daniel never went to comfort Jack's family over the death because he could not bear it. Daniel never defended Jack in front of their friends at school concerning rumors about his homosexuality leading to his death, because he knew the truth far too well. Daniel never visited Jack's funeral where it was Jack's dying wish for him to give the last eulogy because he had no words to give out due to his own shame.


Daniel left the small town behind and went off to college on a scholarship. He studied psychology at Georgetown and later was accepted into Quantico, the FBI's training facility. He never went back home, nor did he write.




Daniel understood his psychological distance from people; he was afraid as a teenager and he was still afraid as a man. His loneliness was acceptable in his mind due to this reasoning.


Daniel opened the fridge and took out some old Chinese food that he had not finished the other night. He placed the food on a plate with some plastic wrap for microwaving. He grabbed his laptop computer from his bag and began scanning through the files that he had on the current case. There was something he was missing throughout the entire ordeal, but he did not know what.


(The Vineyard, present)


How does one spy on someone without that person knowing? How can one use this information to prove that the other person is guilty of committing a crime? Then, how can one bring about change through this reasoning?


Most people would consider this line of thought impossible, or beyond the current ability of human beings. Luckily, Mark had a better imagination and the skills to reach his goal.


The answer would be a digital hack into a target's cell phone, which was something they had started with Reverend Lewis. Israeli scientists in 2003 had already demonstrated that the first generation issues with A5/A3 algorithm cell-phones and their GSM network could easily be hacked through combination descrambler and pinpoint tuning system. In the past, only the government had access to sophisticated devices that could penetrate a cellular phone's signal, but recalibrations and adjustments on how next generation phones operated had made it effortless to hack into a targeted signal. Even without Mark's resources, anyone with a basic understanding of signal transmission could theoretically eavesdrop into a call. The complicated part is hacking into a cell phone in the receiving position, so that it will broadcast a signal to the receiver without the bearer knowing. Smart-phones can be hacked utilizing a harmless algorithm through either the telecommunication system or a Bluetooth connection. The algorithm or viral code was developed through a theoretical effort of computer scientists. Mark created the software independently with limited aid from his R&D people on theoretical concepts of transmission and broadcasting frequencies.


Most people would consider this type of programming difficult to grasp, but Mark began his rise to his current fortune through the resurgent technology sector after the tech bubble burst in 2000. Like his father before him, he had seen a downturn not as a period of destruction, but as a chance for rebuilding. Steve inspired him to make this move despite Mark's fear that he would not amount to much in the competitive field. It was ironic that the same skills that Mark acquired through Steve's inspiration would be the same skills that Mark would use today.




Steve had just arrived back from class to his apartment, when he noticed the shower was running off. He knew instinctively what he would do next. He threw his backpack to the ground and stripped off his clothes as quickly as possible, then headed into the unlocked bathroom to jump his boyfriend.


Chaos ensued as Mark tried to fight off the surprising entrance of his boyfriend in his later-afternoon shower. The match was as sexual as it was sensual. Tender caressing and skin contact between the two were exactly what both needed at the time. Mark turned around with the water from the faucet hitting his back and began to embrace Steve in a deep, passionate kiss. A kiss can last for seconds, minutes, or longer depending on how close you are to the person that you are kissing. For Mark, the kiss stopped only after the cold icy water began to affect his senses despite the warmth from the embrace with Steve. It wasn't exactly comfortable or the most sexual experience either had ever had with the other, but it felt good for the moment.


They both got out of the shower and began to dry each other off.


"Why do you always use the green and brown towel?" Mark asked mockingly at his boyfriend, knowing the response.


"Dude, it was this same towel that I cleaned off our first orgasms with; it's a keeper," Steve answered as Mark made a false expression of disgust.


"Ugh, my boyfriend is going camp. If you start collecting John Waters' Odor-Rama cards, then I'm officially going straight," Mark teased. Steve threw his towel towards Mark and another round of playful tussling began.


Afterward, Mark and Steve got dressed and began talking about their day with a focus on the classes or professors. Mark mentioned something of particular interest that sparked Steve's curiosity. It was an offer for an assistantship with a well-known computer science professor, who had taken a liking to Mark's analytic skills during one of the freshman electives classes.


"Dude, you should do it. You've been saying the recent technology downturn was really a huge opportunity for consolidation. I know this assistantship could help you develop your ideas on where to focus," Steve said.


"Steve, I'm a business major; there are tons of guys with better understanding of technology and computers than me," Mark responded as he slid his sweatpants on.


"Yeah, but the professor thought you were an ideal research assistant, because you actually took things above and beyond everyone else. A lot of people know about programming, but how many people, especially freshman to boot, have the same passion and desire to learn. You are one in a million, Mark," Steve told his shocked boyfriend, who had not expected such high praise from Steve.


"You really think that I am good for it?" Mark asked, as he stood motionless with a shirt in hand and his flat, mousy-haired chest showing.


"Hey I'd do it too, if I weren't so blond," Steve joked, which earned him a sock in the face, literally.


"Steve, I still got a job at the café, you know," Mark said, remembering that he only had thirty minutes to get to the campus café.


After telling his father the truth about his love for Steve, Mark was given an option; he could either leave Steve and get set up with some woman or be disowned by his father. Mark chose the latter. His father kicked him out and he lived with Gene Breckenridge, who welcomed Mark into his home. Gene had known about the love between the two for some time, but he was surprised by Mark's reluctance to give up Steve. Gene would support Mark through his private schooling along with his son without ever explaining why to them. Mark hated the feeling of using Gene and tried to keep odd jobs for his own support whenever possible.


"Dude, you don't have to keep that job," Steve said. He understood why Mark wanted to keep the job, but he also knew that Mark must take the opportunity.


"I don't want to be a hassle on your dad, Steve. Gene has been too good to me; I feel awful for everything good," Mark told Steve with a hint of self pity.


"Look Mark, my dad thinks of you as his own son, too. I understand why you can't accept all the money my dad gives us both for college, but you can think of this opportunity as a future investment," Steve replied with a smirk.


"Even if the professor's research into wireless technologies is commercially viable, there will be a million other guys aiming for the same field. I know it can be a really awesome sub-industry and by the end of the decade chipset makers will be adjusting for a new standard of wireless, but I am not sure if I can be like Bill Gates," Mark added as he tried to distance himself from the notion.


"You don't have to be Bill Gates and you don't even have to use my dad's money later on. People like venture capitalist will want to do business with you. Think about it this way: you are working in a café, where you can learn at best to emulate a new Starbucks, which has thousands of franchises already firmly established with huge market share. By working with your professor, you can possibly learn more about the complex issues of wireless technologies that have bankrupted competitors and low market shares. It's a rule of business: go into the booming sector," Steve sagely advised.


"When did you turn into Warren Buffet?" Mark asked with a nod at where Steve had gotten the idea from.


"You told me your ideas about a week ago," Steve answered with smile.


Mark was processing some thoughts and had a brilliant notion, "You just gave me an idea. With all the bankrupt companies in the tech bubble, there is going to be a market for patents. The patented technology can be sold or consolidated, kind of like energy and natural resource trading."


From that spark, Mark had the basic theory to create his business empire. Low cost patents were plentiful in 2000 after the technology bubble burst. People like Mark took the time to aim at specific patents and developed them or sold them, creating a minor technology patent market.




Memories of Steve were extremely painful and everything that Mark did reminded him of his former husband. It seemed that the pain would never go away.


Dave had seen Mark working by his computer daily, but Mark's depressed expression was a strange sight today. Fiction and reality are intertwined; the facts of one moment may be the fiction for the next. The comparison between the man of vision and the man of depression was incredibly troubling. For heroes, fate is never kind, but they are admired. For villains, fate may be very good, but they are often despised.


"Mark, are you okay?" Dave approached Mark, who instantly saved and turned off his programming.


"What's up Dave?" Mark tried to act as cool as he could; he was sweating profusely. In Mark's mind he was cursing himself for not locking the door before he began his work. On the table were several pieces of electronic equipment: some parts of descrambler, a Bluetooth component, and a mock cell phone which was the same brand that their next target would be using. Dave would not understand what the equipment meant, but it was still something that Mark did not want Dave to know about.


"I saw you just freeze up, Mark. I know you are still dealing with Steve, so if you want to talk..." Dave started, but Mark quickly grew defensive.


"No, I don't want to talk about Steve," Mark was very aggressive in his tone and he realized how harsh he was being to Dave. There was something unsettling about his behavior toward Dave which was odd for Mark. He had progressively grown to like Dave as time went by. Dave was the type of guy that Mark had struggled endlessly in the past to help. Like the down-trodden gay guy, who had his dreams deferred due to family, Mark too struggled after his dad had disowned him. If Steve had not been there to support him, both emotionally and financially, then he would have ended up a mess.


Mark felt indebted to Dave for being his friend and helping him with Brian. Now he felt completely foolish in front of Dave and did not know what to say.


Mark tried to reason out an apology and explanation, "I'm sorry Dave, but I don't know how to react right now."


As a nurse, one sees a lot of things in a hospital. People will curse out a nurse and be extremely emotional over the slightest thing, so Dave was accustomed to verbal abuse. On a certain level he understood Mark's feelings and felt his own idiocy for bringing the subject up in the first place.


"I'm really sorry, Mark. I should not have brought up the subject," Dave lamented about his foolish act of caring.


Mark realized that Dave was worried about him and he felt something stir in his soul. Mark realized that Dave had feelings for him beyond friendship and he wanted to reciprocate. Yet, it would have been a betrayal of Steve, and Mark still could not fathom such a move so early in his mourning.


Mark began, "Dave, I know you care about me and that was why you came in. I have been afraid of being alone without Steve for a long time. You have helped me get through that by being my friend and helping me with Brian. I know you care about me. I want you to know that..."


Jodi had come into the room with a file and a few associated folders. Mark stopped cold before he said something that he might regret later. There was something between him and Jodi that he could not explain. It was complex and built on layers of emotions. Mark felt it was a connection with a kindred spirit, similar to that he felt with Steve.


The three stared at each other, motionless, and without asking, or answering, a single question. Each was stuck in his own emotional sphere. Dave could not openly admit any intention of love for Mark, because he felt it was wrong to do so after what had happened a few moments earlier. Jodi felt that Mark and Dave were perfect for each other and he did not want to intercede due to the fact that he felt inadequate to ever love another person. Mark was the one stuck in between, feeling the divergent emotions and guilt over what he felt after losing Steve.


It was Mr. Buchannan, who dispelled the motionless stares. Dave went out to see how Brian was doing because he knew that the three usually desired privacy. Jodi locked the door after Dave left.


"Who's the next one?" Mr. Buchannan asked after taking note of the precarious scene between the three. In his mind, he knew his son must move on after Steve's death, but he saw the dynamic relationship between all three men. He wanted to avoid any confrontation between the three as long as it was possible and allow Mark to make up his mind.


"Franklin Douglas, former psychiatrist and advocate for the Utah Family Advancement Coalition," Jodi blurted out.


"What are his vices?" Mr. Buchannan asked.


"The bastard might be a family advocate, like he personally shows off his teenage son, Joshua, as an example of his tender reparative techniques for homosexuals. The reality is much darker; the kid was taken out of middle school after teachers started asking questions about several bruises on his arm. They moved from Brigham City to Salt Lake City and his teenage son has been home schooled for years since. The neighbors haven't filed any complaints about child abuse, so we don't know what we are dealing with," Mark added.


Mr. Buchannan was visibly uneasy at the thought of executing someone whose homophobia towards his son mirrored his own actions toward Mark. Yes, he never beat his son nor did he hurt him physically, but he had rejected him due to a complex set of circumstances. He would always feel sad about his prior actions. It was a disturbing turn for him; he knew about the people that they would be going after, but this guy felt very personal to him.


Mark saw the expression in his father's face and realized for a second time that he had overstepped his reactions. Mark had forgiven his father years ago, but there was still lingering animosity between the two men which might never heal.


Jodi observed the impasse from outside the relationship. After working with Mark and talking with Mr. Buchannan, he had learned about the complexity in their relationship. Also, there was something else that Mr. Buchannan has hinted toward, but would never reveal to his son about his reasoning for disowning Mark and casting him out.


Jodi interjected, "His wife will be out of town for the next few days for business reasons and his schedule will be open. The only other person in his home will be his teenage son."


Mr. Buchannan had a startling realization, "If we take out the bastard, then what will happen to the kid?"


Mark had not thought about that truth, "I guess he will be sent to live with relatives or put in the foster care system. We will try to keep him out of the punishment segment of the operation, but other than that I don't know."


Mr. Buchannan with emotional sympathy and nostalgic pain, asked, "Can we do anything to help him?"


Mark's mind was racing with thoughts; the kid deserved better than the life he had. It would not be an issue financially and he still wanted to help others. It could be great, like some magnificent online gay epic that Dave read to him during his lonely period in the hospital. Kids like Joshua deserve a better life than the one given to them by fate. Mark was still a crusader inside his stoic heart.


"We could help Joshua; maybe I can pull some strings and have him adopted, maybe..." Mark spoke in a ramble of hopes and possibilities to help others like Joshua. Mr. Buchannan, in hopes for a second chance to be a better man, was enthralled by the idea.


Jodi had to dash Mark's wishful dreams with cold facts, "We can't help him, because we cannot leave a trail for anyone to follow. We're not in one of those stories, where we fight the villain and save a few gay kids. Real life doesn't work that way. We will be killing the kid's dad and publicly exposing years of abuse done to him. In reality, there is no such thing as add a kid syndrome every time we take out one of these guys; you both have to realize this fact going forward because we will be dealing with worse guys. Some will not only be abusing their kids' physically or mentally; they will be abusing them sexually, or exploiting other children in some other way. Based on the facts, the best thing that we can do is probably to create a better environment for them to grow up in."


Both men knew the truth, but their past experiences had clouded their judgment. Everyone wants to fix the past in some way, but no one can do anything about the past except learn from it and move on to the future. Jodi was right, they could not feasibly gather up kids and take them away from their abusive homes or homophobic families. It was kneejerk reaction to correcting a mistake, but it had passed and father and son would have to be ready to move forward on their terms.


(Douglas Residence Salt Lake City, Utah)


Another day in the life of Franklin Douglas, a man who claims he can cure homosexuality. He's been seen on some controversial talk show or a conservative panel discussing the issues of reparative therapy. It might intrigue some to think that homosexual activity can be cured by providing more heterosexual outlets such as the homosexual joining sport teams, having the homosexual attend church, and forcing the homosexual to engage in heterosexual sex. Sounds logical, if one does everything opposite of what homosexual people do one would then become psychologically heterosexual. If it were so simple, who would ever want to be a homosexual?


Franklin Douglas knew his reparative therapy did not work, but years of fame and fortune through such claims had made him blind to reality. His son Joshua was the blind spot that he trumped up as the golden product of his therapy. Franklin had discovered his son naked in the bedroom with a friend engaging in sexual foreplay at the age of twelve. He was not alarmed, nor did he stop the act. His career had been side tracked due to his ethical violation of the APA codes of conduct, when dealing with homosexual subjects. Franklin saw his son as his golden opportunity to do something no psychiatrist has ever done, reverse sexual orientation. At first, he tried his theories on basic reparative soft touch approaches by introducing heterosexual elements into his son's life. He got him into sports like football and hockey, which were masculine counters to his son's feminine homosexual urges. He kept a written journal of the activity for posterity and later publication, which sold well in certain elements of society.


However, it was ultimately a failure as his son developed a closer relationship with a certain boy on the football team named Davey. This frustrated Franklin. The soft touch reparative therapy became more and more aggressive until it became apparent to Franklin that his original reparative treatment would not work. Also the aggression had been noticed to a few cautious teachers, who had sent letters home warning Franklin of possible abuse. The teachers never expected Franklin to be his son's abuser, since he was well respected in the community through parent fundraising and youth sports despite his extreme stances against homosexuality. Franklin thought he needed to change his approach and moved the entire family to Salt Lake. There he reversed the direction of earlier masculine reparative therapy with a harsher approach of isolation. Joshua was thirteen years old at the time.


Joshua was given friends, not by chance or personal preference, but by selective categorizing from his father. Franklin had observed progress in his son's isolation as Joshua no longer displayed anymore homosexual desires. Franklin immediately seized on the opportunity and showed his journal and findings to the public, omitting all of the excessive child abuse that he had had to use to force his son to leave that lifestyle. His findings were circumstantial, but they gained a good following, and his books sold well over a million copies worldwide. Joshua was fourteen years old.


However, Joshua wasn't completely "cured." Franklin allowed his son more leniency and freedom after the declaration of "mission accomplished." Joshua would go out for long periods of time and not return for hours. Franklin found it peculiar and followed the boy to a local mall, where he assumed his son would meet one of his father's pre-selected girlfriends. To his dismay, Franklin observed Joshua affectionately hugging a teenage boy, which he attributed to a romantic gesture. When Joshua returned home that day, it was the last day that he would be allowed any type of freedom. Franklin had made too much of a reputation for himself and his "cure" to have his son compromise everything. He forbade Joshua from leaving home and began another round of aggressive procedures. At present, Joshua is sixteen years old.


Franklin's wife looked the other way, when her husband acted against their son. She was a moral woman and hoped that her husband could "fix" Joshua. Her ignorance and implicit acceptance allowed her husband to do things to their son that any other mother would rather die than see happen to her offspring. She also enjoyed the status of being an executive member to several organizations, which prompted long trips out of town. Her success depended upon her husband's success and so she turned a blind eye, not asking or thinking what Franklin might be capable of.


During this day, Franklin woke up in his usual morning malaise and followed the conventional routines: brushing his teeth, showering, shaving, eating breakfast, and reading the morning paper. It was simple and common for many people.


However, Joshua had a different routine. He would wake up in a haze from prescription drugs, which were not actually prescribed by anyone. His first waking thought came from a recorded message that his father made and placed in a small mp3 player for his son during sleep:


"You desire to be masculine. You desire to be strong. You desire to be loved. Being feminine is wrong. Being weak is wrong. Being in love with another boy or man is wrong."


The recording was looped to replay continuously with a soft ocean-like background soothing Joshua in his sleep. His father kept the device hooked up to his son's ears before he slept and, in the morning after the routine, his father would wake his son and end the recording. Afterward, Joshua was ordered to take three separate pills before he begin his daily activities.


Joshua had a light breakfast of oatmeal and dry wheat toast with a glass of orange juice instead of his father's standard pancakes and sausage. Franklin thought sausage and sticky pancakes would remind his son of homosexual acts.


Franklin made calls via his cell phone during Joshua's morning intermission between sleep, home schooling, and active therapy. Franklin kept the cellular phone by his side in case he was booked for another interview or some type of book signing deal. The attention being given to his research had become amazing over the past year announced he had announced his findings. The false results and publication of his journal were used by the Utah Family Advancement Coalition to prove their point and finance special projects including The Lord's Crusaders subsidiary charity fund.


Franklin left his dutiful son to his morning contemplations. Franklin went to his 1st floor study and placed his cell phone on the desk.


Today, his cellular vanity would be his undoing as a viral call was made to Franklin's phone by Mark and Jodi, while Franklin was in his study. The virus was programmed to act in the background and send out a high frequency recording of what Franklin was saying to Mark's laptop with the Bluetooth receiver. Franklin had also unsuspecting left his cell phone with the camera facing him as he read his treatment logs on Joshua. Mark was able to pick up every word and every picture. They knew the room and specific information to look for, when they entered the house later.


A few moments later, Franklin took his cell phone and left the study.


(Franklin began his home schooling session in the noise proof basement)


Franklin: "Joshua, we discussed the Renaissance yesterday and I asked you to deliver an oral report today on one of the famous artists. Now, tell me what you have learned about Leonardo da Vinci."


Joshua: Leonardo da Vinci was an inventor, painter, and scientist. He was famous for his paintings of the Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. He is renowned for his foresight into the oncoming creation of mechanical devices and the flying machine. He developed theories on scientific observation and different elements of biology.


Franklin (with a slight stir in his voice): How did he deal with his latent homosexuality?


Joshua (gasp, not wanting to answer due to fear): I did not know he had any homosexual inclination.


Franklin: You are lying to me Joshua. In your research, there should be hints through his sodomy charge in Florence and "supposed" celibacy throughout his life with multiple partners. You know the punishment for failing to express noted homosexual behavior.


Joshua: Yes, father.


Franklin: Drop your shorts and stand absolutely still. I will use the yard stick.


(Silence was heard for a period of time, suddenly loud groans of pain could be heard)


Joshua (speaking between groans of pain): I want to be masculine. I want to be strong. I want be loved. Being feminine is wrong. Being weak is wrong. Being in love with a man or boy is wrong.


(The groans continued along with the chant for a long time)


Franklin: Joshua, you know your father only cares about your wellbeing. I am helping you. The pain is my expression of love to you.


Joshua: Yes father, I thank you for the love you've shown me today.


Franklin: Let's continue.


(Outside the house)


Mark and Jodi had recorded more than enough evidence to indict the man on multiple counts of child abuse. Over the course of the day, Franklin also gave Joshua another dose of drugs, which kept the boy's attention and focus. Franklin had never stopped his experiment; he needed real success. If his son went out into the world only to become a homosexual again, then Franklin's fame and prowess would be lost.


"This is sick, Jodi," Mark said in deep disgust.


"You understand now why we can't help this kid; his mind is warped in so many ways. I doubt he will be able to have a normal relationship with another guy," Jodi replied.


"I want to help him, damn. If I had taken the offensive earlier, maybe I could have prevented this from happening," Mark lamented.


"There is nothing you could have done, Mark. What we can do now is to stop this monster from continuing this type of experimentation. Think about it, if he can do it to his son, who wouldn't he be able to do it to? We're talking about brainwashing on an even bigger scale with worse results. If his ideas get legitimized, then you can imagine how many more kids will end up like Joshua," Jodi extolled with strong inflexion.


"Let's toast this bastard," Mark spoke.


Day became night. The mission was set to occur at around 3 AM, when no one would be out in the neighborhood. Mark and Jodi donned their masks and got the equipment ready in a bag for their brand of punishment against Franklin. Entry into his home would be simple; Franklin's wife had "accidentally" lost a pair of keys, while she was on business in Nevada. Franklin did not change his locks, because he thought his wife just lost it at home. Jodi's quick and nimble hands had successfully acquired the key to success.


They entered the home and walked up the staircase to the master bedroom. Mark took a peak at Joshua lying asleep in his bed with the headphones attached; he wanted to remove those awful things flooding Joshua's mind with confusion. Yet, he had to complete this mission. Franklin was lying asleep in his bed as Mark gagged Franklin and attached handcuffs. Franklin awakened in shock as Mark and Jodi dragged him to his feet. He was pushed down the stairs and into his own hellish basement classroom.


Whereas before, Mark and Jodi could only hear what was happening, but seeing this pit of human depravity was beyond imagining. Even if someone could think of the worst sadomasochistic fantasy, then it is only one percent of the horror. The walls had writing and imagery reinforcing Joshua's programming with six phrase chant. A single desk was in the middle of the room, where dried blood could be observed on the seat. Dried bloodstains were everywhere; one had to imagine how many times Franklin had shown his son "love" through pain.


Mark removed Franklin's gag and the psychiatrist pleaded, "Please, I have plenty of money and other things upstairs."


Mark, masked and using a voice alternator, spoke, "We are the Justice Seekers and your time of judgment is at hand."


"You have brutalized your son, used false information to spread propaganda against an innocent group, and you are involved in a grave conspiracy against mankind," Jodi listed the charges.


"I did everything for the right reasons. I didn't do anything other than help my son avoid a life as faggot, you have no right to judge me. You have no proof to judge me," Franklin quickly retorted.


Mark went to his laptop and replayed what Franklin had said to his son earlier. Franklin was shocked and scared, but he would not yield. Meanwhile, Jodi had been searching Franklin's study and had immediately found what he was looking for on the desk. He quickly returned to the scene before the entire recordings were finished.


"You only have words, you don't have hard evidence. Sure, you can prove someone was abusing my son from the bloodstains around here, but I can just as easily claim it was you. Yeah, I am the well respected researcher in my field, whose research brings hopes to thousands of people afflicted with this illness. What have you done?" Franklin responded in anger.


Jodi came up to Franklin and showed him the log book that he kept, "We have more than just audio; your private handwriting and the ink dating can prove this has been going on for years. Your meticulous research notes are the clearest evidence of all! For those thousands, you claim to help; have you ever done follow ups on them afterward? How many of them live with guilt of their sexuality for years after? How many will commit suicide? You consider ruining people's lives a cure."


Franklin was stunned and silent.


"Justice shall be done," Mark said and he approached Franklin with a knife in hand. Franklin was scared, but Mark's intention was not to kill him with the knife. No, that would be too good for Franklin. Mark shredded Franklin's night clothing.


Franklin pleaded for mercy, but it was to no avail.


A vial with clear liquid was removed from the bag. Mark had already donned some plastic gloves and he now approached Franklin. Then, he pulled the lid off the vial and he placed it under Franklin's nose. It smelled foul with a burning sensation that Franklin immediately recognized.


"No, acid!" Franklin screamed as Mark tipped the vial slightly so that the liquid would flow out. The first drops hit Franklin's chest, which immediately caused a slight tingling sensation. Moments later the pain would strike and his skin would slowly peel off. The second drops landed on Franklin's testicles and flaccid penis; being circumcised he had no extra layer of skin to protect his soft tissue.


Franklin screamed as the acid began to take effect and his body experienced excruciating pain, "Ah! Stop! Please, Stop!"


One does not need a large amount of sulfuric acid to burn through human skin. A few drops are more than enough to punch through. However, Franklin's pain was not over.


"Sulfuric acid is one of the strongest and most hazardous acids in the world, but it can be made worse on human corrosion through the addition of water," Jodi took out the small bottle of water and began splashing little bits of at the affected areas.


In moments, the heat generated by the addition of water on the concentrated industrial acid had its desired effect. Thermal burn marks were now stretching across Franklin's chest region and created a wide swath of destruction.


However, the pain from that reaction was nothing in comparison to what was occurring over his penis and testicular area. It was like someone had lit a literal fire over the entire region and smoke was puffing up. The thermal burns penetrated the urethra and the scrotal tissue. The more water splashed, the more intense the thermal reaction on his affected regions.


All that could be heard from Franklin at this moment were "AH!" and "No!" while his penis and testicles began to scrunch up and shrivel, now that the acid had destroyed the major tissues. He was beginning to bleed out slowly through these affected regions and he fell to the floor in agony.


"Your son suffered in pain and bled on this very floor as you are now doing, you are reaping what you sow," Mark said and he watched as the agonized man bled slowly until he could bear no more pain and fell unconscious.


"Justice shall be done," Mark took out a gun and shot Franklin in the head to end his misery.


They cleaned up the scene and made sure there were no fibers or other evidence linking to them. After they felt assured, Mark sent instructions to Franklin's cell phone virus to self-terminate and eliminate all trails of its existence for the past twenty-four hours.


Before they left, Mark made one last view of Joshua, who was sleeping softly. He wanted to remove the headphones, but Jodi was right; they could not help him without compromising themselves and the mission. They left the house at around 4:30 AM and sent a police tip about what happened to Franklin.


The deed was done; now they hoped that this mission had had the desired effect.

Thanks Kevin for editing.

Editors Note: (Kevin)

Awesome chapter! Very graphic and intense and it grapples with quite a few major moral issues. It was also very exciting and very readable. I think you did a fantastic job, portrayed very vivid characters, and I can't wait to find out what happens next!

Copyright © 2011 W_L; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

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