Here's my entry for the contest, it's a piece of writing I've been continuing for my college creative writing class. Reviews are muchly appreciated! ----------------------------------- If it werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t for the soulless iron bars and bolted doors, the place may have been poetic. However, a police station wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t meant to be dramatic or stylish. Why be inviting when no one wants to be there in the first place. Clicks and clacks rang through a hallway lit with poorly functioning light bulbs as an officer strode authoritatively, his cuffs and ammo rattling in his belt and his boots resonating with each heavy step. He carried a small collection of manila folders under his arm with names scribed in black sharpies on their tabs. He walked into another similarly lighted room and spotted a short black man, a fed, a suit, the FBI. The room was the reverse side of a mirrored one. On the opposite side was a place in darkness. In the room, sat a man whose build and complexion were hidden. He was being held for questioning. He was strapped down with a straight jacket and chains around his wrists. The officer handed the FBI investigator the collection of folders, each of which had been taped shut and labeled Ã¢â‚¬Å“CONFIDENTIAL.Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been locked up since we found him six days ago,Ã¢â‚¬Â the officer reported. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We found him amongst three corpses in a factory in Frenton, a town a few miles outside of here in the mountains.Ã¢â‚¬Â The fed was still and unnerved. He was obviously trying to size up the man in the other room. The fed snapped open the folders and started skimming the bland reports and evidence found in the warehouse where the man had been found. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Triple homicide. Two bodies were in at least four pieces and the third had a bullet clean in the forehead . . . Jesus Christ . . .Ã¢â‚¬Â The agent cursed under his breath. Ã¢â‚¬Å“A top-notch loon, just what I needed today,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as he picked up a cup he had been drinking coffee from and left the room. The agent walked back into the hallway and into the interrogation room, where he paused in the doorway, like a matador approaching a stadium. Each stride meant to tempt the bull on the other side. However, the bull in this ring was calm, too calm. Ã¢â‚¬Å“State your name for us please,Ã¢â‚¬Â said the short agent, who was now seated at a metal table across from the man overwhelmed by shadow. The darkness of a cold steel room engulfed Senior FBI Agent Travis Barnes and his interviewee, a patient from Trinity Park Mental Institute. Nighttime had set in as only the moonlight and a small overhead light slightly illuminated the room. The man across the table from Barnes had his hands tied behind his back, bound in chains, and was restrained additionally with a straight jacket. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Inmate 392. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been sentenced to life in solitary confinement, a place where I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t harm anyone ever again.Ã¢â‚¬Â He spoke in an unearthly tone, one that told of unknown troubles and terrifying experiences. Inmate 392 had a voice that was so calm and lacking of any worries. To some, fools donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t worry about anything. However, people who have nothing to lose are frightening. 392 was such a man. Yet, he was the one in the restraints, sitting across from investigator Barnes, two very heavily armed guards and was well aware of the automated machine guns outside the doorway to the rooms and behind the mirror glass. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Why are you here?Ã¢â‚¬Â The investigator readied a clipboard of papers. Ã¢â‚¬Å“For the murders of Dianne Stone, Jack Miller, Corey Daniels, Michelle Carlton, Dennis Rearing, Melissa Johnson, Seth Smith, Jacob Carpenter, Lindsay Hagerty, Jason Thatcher, Moreen Thatcher, no relation of course-Ã¢â‚¬Â He stopped mid sentence and looked up at the balding black cop. A look of immense fear had overcome him. He now stared at Inmate 392, as if spines were to spring from his skin and fire from his eyes. In thirty-two years, the investigator had never heard someone list off victims so haphazardly. The sounds of crickets chirping outside from the moonlit window fluttered in. Barnes was under the impression that he killed only three people. This man had just laundry listed people as if they were an itch he could just scratch away. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Are you afraid of me, sir?Ã¢â‚¬Â 392 spoke in that same godless voice, his face still hidden in darkness. Trying to butch up, the man responded grittily, Ã¢â‚¬Å“LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cut through the crap. How many people did you murder?Ã¢â‚¬Â The twirling metal fan above the table screeched a bit, causing Barnes to twitch. The patient remained still. As if calculating the totals in his head like a child playing with marbles, the darkened outline of 392 looked upwards, pondering his answer. The interrogator took his best shot at intimidating the patient with a mean stare. He attempted to twitch his eyes and crunch his face. It was a futile effort though; a man with no visible expression is no real challenge. It had to be deliberate, the lack of need to be seen by 392. His ghostly aura seemed to penetrate the blackness that surrounded him. Ã¢â‚¬Å“One hundred and seventy-two.Ã¢â‚¬Â Inmate 392 responded, his voice echoing a bit. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I see. Do you know all of them by name?Ã¢â‚¬Â He seemed not to believe him. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Only a few of them. Mainly the ones I just named, but thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s because I knew them,Ã¢â‚¬Â he replied with what seemed like a hint of remorse. However, his face remained unidentifiable of emotion or life, yet still hiding some forbidden secret, like a blood-soaked rock. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Tell me what happened. Everything. I want to know what led you to this point,Ã¢â‚¬Â the investigator spoke. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have a feeling I will be leaving this facility tonight,Ã¢â‚¬Â 392 said, clearly ignoring what had just been asked of him. Ã¢â‚¬Å“What makes you think youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to go free?Ã¢â‚¬Â The agent, becoming for frustrated as time went on, said impatiently. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I will tell you what happened, sir, on one condition. You must visit me tomorrow, after my story has haunted you. When you are eating at your dining table, a filling meal, my face will be in the reflection upon your china plate. When you step into the TV room, the room with the big comfy couch and cheesy paintings on the walls, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll see me again. When you lay in bed next to your wife, warm with love and body heat, my figure will dwell in the mirror. Shake it off and you will fall asleep. Amongst your dreamscape, I will be there, my story will be there. IsnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t it funny that when you hear something that impacts you, whether itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s funny or disturbing, you need to tell someone?Ã¢â‚¬Â 392 said, pausing to chuckle. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yeah, actually I do,Ã¢â‚¬Â Barnes said. This man was sick; Barnes knew it and this proved it. This was a tactic; Barnes had to level with 392. He had to try to be able to relate to a convicted murder, a sociopath who seemed to take joy in the suffering of others. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, you're going to have to come to me to tell of what you saw and how it haunts you. I warn you, this is not your presumed story of Ã¢â‚¬Å“crazy man kills people for funÃ¢â‚¬Â, this is much more. I can sit here all night and argue with you that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not crazy, but here I am with a straight jacket on and chains around my wrists. So what am I to do? Deny such a great opportunity to tell a tale of death, lies, romance, and bravado? I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think so. It is you who will free me tomorrow, Lieutenant Barnes,Ã¢â‚¬Â 392 said. Barnes twiddled his thumbs with fear and impatience. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I had an uncle once, he was a weird guy. I remember as a child, watching him mix drinks in our kitchen. I was the only one who saw this and it bothered me. There was no reason for him to be in our fridge, let alone mixing our drinks. Turns out, he had been spiking my fatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s whiskey. My dad died and my uncle, being his favorite brother, made off with half of his stuff. The point is, that man had motive for everything he did. All men have motive. No one walks out their front door every morning because they have nothing to do. I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see it then, but IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve learned to spot it. I know youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got something to hide, punk. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve dealt with sick kids like you before,Ã¢â‚¬Â Barnes said, continuing his campaign to frighten the patient. In the shadow, Barnes thought he saw a slight movement. He heard 392 reposition himself in his chair. The sound was enough to get the investigator's blood racing. His primal instincts of fight-or-flight activated. It was as if Barnes were a daring mouse and 392 the cunning viper hiding in the thicket, sure of the mouse's death. The viper's fangs dripped with unnecessary venom, for the shock alone would surely stun the rodent into submission. Ã¢â‚¬Å“When it comes to wine, age improves it, enhances its qualities. Unfortunately, it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t work that way with us humans. Your skills of observation, whether they ever existed or not, are rusty, officer. I have no motive of cruelty as you probably think. My single motivation was to survive," 392 said, leaning back in his chair, farther into the shadow. A deep sigh left the sweaty chest of Travis Barnes, who felt his fear and anger rising in unison. He could just imagine what the patient's face would look like. He could see a grim face, with scars and contours that would tell of this harsh life he's lead. It undoubtedly began with an abusive child. Perhaps a touchy father, something that would truly damage him to this point was the reason. "Have you ever wondered that I may not be insane? You've probably thought at some point about a place in my life that would explain my case. I remember psychology in college. It was only about ten years ago. I assure, my parents were very good people," He spoke calmly. Probably with a slight grin, too. "Sometimes, genius creates the monster. How do you know I'm guilty? You only have accusations," 392 continued. "Alright, shut it creep. I came here to hear why you did because some people think that you'd be better off sizzling in an electric chair," Barnes said, once again pursuing a means of shaking 392's confidence. "You didn't answer my question yet. Are you afraid of me?" 392 said. "How can I be afraid of a man without a face?" Barnes replied sternly. A second sound of a chair scraping the ground arose as the shadowy man shifted in his chair. He stood up, parts of his face visible through fractured light and the straps of the jacket brushing lightly against the table. There was a tense silence. The most dangerous man Barnes ever confronted was standing over him. Restricted as he was, there was still a fear of this specter. "Make yourself comfortable, this story is long. I guarantee the authenticity of this story, even though you may not accept it. You may also want one of your little guards over there sit next to you so he can hold your hand because as you can see, I can't do it for you." Ã¢â‚¬Å“What do you think, Barnes?Ã¢â‚¬Â A rookie agent said to senior FBI Investigator Travis Barnes. Barnes pivoted from his position in the small steel room to see his new visitor. Ã¢â‚¬Å“So you decided to show up, Castle. Well, this will be good experience for you because itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a new one for me and I thought IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d seen and heard everything,Ã¢â‚¬Â Barnes responded in an authorial tone. Both agents stood facing a double mirror, looking into the newly renovated and very dim asylum interrogation room where two guards kept watch over a man tied to a chair with a combination of chains and a straight jacket. Barnes was a short black man and Castle a tall white one. While both highly trained, neither of them was armed because it riled up the convicts and would surely end in deaths if the crazies managed to get one. Castle had obviously been sent to Barnes because of BarnesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ two decades of federal work. Barnes had just returned to the room after interviewing the odd man, whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s calm and intelligent stature unnerved him to no end. Barnes had been told that 392, who was known by his number only because the confidential file claimed his name was of no importance, had killed only three. A single murder is bad, a double murder is horrible, a triple murder is psychotic, and anything higher is pure motive and genius. In his many years of dealing with homicidal lunatics, he had never met one who openly denied the charges against him, only to admit to increasingly terrible ones. Ã¢â‚¬Å“So do you think he killed that many?Ã¢â‚¬Â Agent Castle spoke. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He seems like he could have mental incapacities, something that disturbed him into believing he actually did kill that many.Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“Could be,Ã¢â‚¬Â Barnes responded quickly and uninterestedly. He shifted his arms in his dark brown blazer. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t sound convinced,Ã¢â‚¬Â Castle replied with a small grin. Ã¢â‚¬Å“YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re the rookie, do what you do best and go learn something,Ã¢â‚¬Â Barnes said with a hint of annoyance. He raised his arm and signaled to the glass, to the room. Castle followed his armÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s movement and stared into the room. His look was like that of a recruit Barnes remembered training. The trainee had shot himself in the foot no less than two minutes after Barnes had made the exact same gesture. Castle however knew immediately what was expected of him. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You honestly think IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be able to get anything out of him?Ã¢â‚¬Â Castle said, his new-guy confidence now slowly dripping away and a look of unease upon him. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Experience, son, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what you need,Ã¢â‚¬Â Barnes said in a fatherly tone. He handed Castle the folders of files and headed towards the door with one swift movement. Ã¢â‚¬Å“So youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re just going to leave me here with him?Ã¢â‚¬Â Castle said, now genuinely terrified of entering the room. After all, Castle was the rookie prospect who was being put in to close the World Series. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t talk to me anymore. He said all he wants to say to me,Ã¢â‚¬Â Barnes spoke, still moving towards the door. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But, but, I, well, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what to do,Ã¢â‚¬Â Castle said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m supposed to be learning from you here!Ã¢â‚¬Â Barnes paused, hand on the doorknob. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Tell him a joke, but make it a good one,Ã¢â‚¬Â Barnes said grimly. Castle watched as Barnes left the room and soon enough, the building. He would be heading home for the night. Stunned and rather upset at his current situation, Castle ran his hand through his short, sandy brown hair. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You did good kid,Ã¢â‚¬Â said an elderly man walking into the room no less than a minute after Barnes had left. He was of average height with gray hair, glasses, and had on a gray tuxedo, much like a man you would see telling James Bond what to do. Ã¢â‚¬Å“And you are?Ã¢â‚¬Â Castle said confused. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Jonas Magnum, but you can call me Jones,Ã¢â‚¬Â he spoke with a cool and direct tone. Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m from a separate government organization and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m here to look in on this case. Certain people want to know what is going on. I heard you did some pretty impressive work on the Hollinsdale case,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said outstretching his hand in greeting. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh . . . yeah, thank you. I just got here and my senior officer left me with these documents. He just interviewed the detainee but didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get much out of him other than some gruesome fairy tale. The killer, who was charged with triple homicide and several psychological disorders claims that he has taken more than one hundred and fifty lives in the past month alone,Ã¢â‚¬Â Castle fired off his words quickly, seizing the opportunity to impress a high official. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I see. Have you asked him about how he committed the murders?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jones replied, turning his attention to the shadowy figure in the adjacent room. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t answer any of our questions. He seemed much rehearsed in his reactions. 392, as he is named here, claims he is not insane and that we are the ones that should be taking advice from him, not the other way around,Ã¢â‚¬Â Castle said, unable to hold back a grin as he flipped through the various red ink-blotted files. Jones returned a smirk, but very faintly. His focus was very clearly on 392. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Do you mind if I have those? IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to speak with this individual,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jones asked, motioning for the two manila folders in CastleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s arms. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Be my guest. He isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t very friendly, so donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect a warm greeting,Ã¢â‚¬Â Castle joked. Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll take some observational notes from here.Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“Excellent,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jones proclaimed, snatching the folders and exiting the room in a joyous fashion. 392 remained motionless in the room, his figure in darkness except for his eyes and chest. His face was hidden from clear view. Jones walked in as the security door clicked open and the heavily armored guards let him in. The heavy door locked and sealed itself after it closed, but Jones barely noticed. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hello 392, how are you this evening?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jones said jovially. 392Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s head shifted slightly upwards, now in line with JonesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ eyes. There was a brief pause, as if the convict was sizing the man up. Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll have the chicken tenders please with some steak fries and honey mustard sauce. Hold the coleslaw, that stuff is disgusting,Ã¢â‚¬Â 392 stated. He spoke in a toneless voice. It simply had no emotion that Jones could identify. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You are the butler, right? You guys are supposed to protect and to serve, so serve me my dinner,Ã¢â‚¬Â 392 said sarcastically. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Have you ever heard of the Pureviox Initiative?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jones said, ignoring the blatant insult. 392 was surprised. For the first time in the several hours that Castle had been in the facility, watching the interrogation and jotting down meticulous notes, he had never seen an emotion cross the convictÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s face. His expression now however, showed horror, surprise and disgust. His face was also in the light now. 392 was bald, had a tuft of hair on his chin, and handsome. An Abercrombie poster child no doubt, Castle thought. 392Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s face crunched into a scowl. His anger rising. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I promise you that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll kill you before you leave. You can have the pleasure of being number one hundred and ninety three,Ã¢â‚¬Â 392 said evilly and coldly. FBI investigator Barnes drove his Jeep into the driveway of his house, located on a quaint middle-class street. As he removed the car key, he sighed deeply. The story he had been told was getting to him, just as 392 had said. For the bulk of the four hours Barnes had been there, 392 had recollected a story of his past three weeks. It was disturbing, bloody, and downright wrong in many respects, yet he claimed all of it fact. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need to deal with this shit at two in the damned morning. He quickly but quietly entered the house, changed clothes, and heated up a frozen dinner from the barren refrigerator. As he sat in the large living room, adorned with paintings and a nice sofa set, Barnes flipped through the channels and slowly fell asleep on the lazy boy chair. A loud smash woke him, or so it seemed. BarnesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ home that he had left for only a moment in sleep was now in ruins. The furniture was on fire, a few walls were knocked down or broken through, and the ceiling was clearly about to fall at any moment. Barnes jumped out of his chair in an instant and ran to his bedroom, hoping his wife would be okay. The hallways were falling apart as well and Barnes had only his pajama pants and beater on as he threw his arms up to protect himself. He dove into the room, dodging a large piece of the ceiling that most certainly would have killed him. As he steadied himself, he began scanning the room. His room was disturbingly untouched. Everything was the way he left it. Except for his wife who lay dead at the foot of a man standing in front of his bed, blood pouring from a large open wound in her abdomen. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You son of a bitch!Ã¢â‚¬Â Barnes yelled. He wanted to lunge at the man, to tear at his innards and see them spilled upon the floor, to taste the sweet taste of revenge. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I told you I would be here,Ã¢â‚¬Â 392 responded. Barnes could not bear to look at his wife, whose face was in shock. Her eyes and mouth were opened in surprise and her wound still gushing blood. All incoming sadness quickly transformed to anger. Without thinking, he ran full speed at the man, who still retained his stone stature. 392 raised a hand and Barnes stopped dead in his charge. Wha-What the hell? 392Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s hand rose in the air, bringing Barnes off the ground, following its movement. BarnesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ body moved unwillingly, invisible hands stretching his arms out to the sides and legs straight down. Ã¢â‚¬Å“What is this all about, damnit!Ã¢â‚¬Â Barnes yelled in protest, his body paralyzed and motionless. Ã¢â‚¬Å“To accept the story I told you, you must burn down and destroy your very foundations. It is through this will you gain truth,Ã¢â‚¬Â 392 spoke airily. Ã¢â‚¬Å“What if I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care? YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a crazy sonuvabitch with a mental record comparable to that of Hannibal Lector. Leave me the heck out of this! And put me down!Ã¢â‚¬Â Barnes demanded. With no warning, the walls exploded into flames, burning photos and plaques off of the walls. Barnes fell to the ground, free of whatever mental grip 392 had on him and dove at his dresser, pulling out a Desert Eagle Magnum. 392 stared in curiosity. Without hesitation, Barnes fired a shot at 392, who was struck dead between the eyes. However, he remained unphased. His hand motioned towards the gun and it was pulled out of BarnesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ hands and into the corner of the burning room. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Listen to me very carefully; I shall only say this once,Ã¢â‚¬Â 392 said unnerved. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Look for a man named Darius Pruve, the leader of the Pureviox Initiative. Only when you find him, will you realize what the truth I speak of is. Remember, you must forget all that youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve held as true and disregard your teachings, burning your foundations so to say,Ã¢â‚¬Â 392 said with a cruel type of grin. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Who are you?Ã¢â‚¬Â Barnes yelled over the sounds of the churning flames. Ã¢â‚¬Å“My name is Magnum, Special Agent Thomas Magnum,Ã¢â‚¬Â He said as he lowered his hand. Before Barnes knew what had happened, he awoke with a start in front of the TV. The house was perfectly still and nothing was out of place. The usual ESPN reruns were on and only a few minutes had passed. Barnes shook with fear. The dream was vivid and it was burning in his mind. He wiped his forehead of a cold sweat. He sat up and as he looked down, he saw a box of matches on the table next to his chair, open, with one match dangling out and very much aflame.