The Essence: Chapter 1: The Only Cure is Death

Updated: Nov 2

i

 

A piece of his fragmented skull laid to rest in an ashtray full of cigarette butts. Blood splatter painted the wall like abstract art. A shotgun laid on the floor beneath his limp legs and hunched lifeless body. He had finally come to pass.

 

His cold body had already started to break down. A broken dream, a broken heart. She had crushed his soul. He had so much potential, had dreamt of bringing light into a world starved with darkness. So much had died within his heart. He thought she had loved him. Maybe he could save her from herself, maybe together they could save the world. He had given her all that he was, every last drop. Like his destroyed body, she had destroyed his heart, it was empty when he died. She had betrayed him. The pale ones were not about to let his light, light up the world, so they snuffed it out. His light was out, like a withered wick on a birthday candle. There would be no more wishes, no more dreams come true.

 

Misery goes by another name, and we will get to her later. In the bottom drawer of a chest in his bedroom was a book full of all his secrets. The pale ones would seek that it never be opened, but it would be opened. The truth might see light someday. The pale ones had preyed on her dark depression, they had played her on her misery. This wasn't a suicide, it was a murder.

 

ii

 

At the time, early 1990's Apple Valley, was still very much undeveloped. A small community outside of Los Angeles on the way to Vegas, part of the greater Victor Valley. It was a place where people moved to get away from the busy city, where people went for the quiet, where people went, when they did not want to be found. Though quiet, the shotgun blast from the night before hadn't gone unnoticed. A covey of Quail had scurried out of a bush, and a light had flipped on, down the way, on another property, and it was reported.

 

Deputies Larry Smids, and Tim Gray from the local Sheriff's Department were the first two on the scene that next morning. It was a routine welfare check, but they weren't having any luck at the front door. It was 48 degrees out, and lightly wet, which was bizarrely cold for Apple Valley. It was usually warm and dry in the spring.

 

Larry lifted up the heel of his boot to wipe some mud off onto the porch. "This some shit weather we're having." He said. He knocked on the door again, and again nothing.

 

"Well, we did our part, let's get out of here." Said Tim. Something there felt creepy to him, and he wanted to be done with it.

 

"Yeah... sure," said Larry. "I'm just going to go around the back and have a peak in the window. Then we'll get on out."

 

Larry was a short man, and at first he could only see the ceiling when he peered into the window. He grabbed a discarded empty bucket that was on the side of the house and stood on it to get a better look. That's when he saw all the blood on walls. Just as he looked down to see the slumped lifeless body, the bucket came loose from the gravel, and he fell to the earth. This was not going to be a routine welfare check afterall.

 

He got up and dusted himself off. They broke in the front door, called for backup, and began to take in the whole picture. The dirty dishes in the sink, the floor littered with dirty laundry, empty cans of cola on the coffee table. The smell of a freshly smoked pack of cigarettes. A shotgun on the floor. Then there was all the blood, and the empty vessel. Neither one of them in their line of duty, had seen a dead body up close like this. There's a first time for everything. They had it in them though, they were wired for the job at hand.

 

"Jesus." Said Larry. "Who kills themselves with a shotgun?"

 

"We don't know that yet." Said Tim. "I'm gonna have a look around in the bedroom and see if I can't find a note, or something."

 

"You do that, I'll search em for an ID."

 

The bedroom was more of the same. More dirty clothes, more empty cans of cola, more signs of a man who had given up on life. In all the clutter there wasn't a note to be found, but one thing did stand out. There was a chest of drawers with clothes stuffed in and creeping out at the seams in every drawer, all but one. The bottom drawer was perfectly closed as if nothing were in it. That stood out to him, and that's where he would find the book with the leather cover. "The Journal of Dr. Kevin Donald Cain."

 

Deputy Gray knew exactly who that was, everyone did. Dr. Cain, who was once a respected psychologist, was now a tabloid sensation, and rejected by his peers. He had self proclaimed to have not only discovered the cure for cancer, but maybe all major diseases in the form of a pill. "The Essence" is what they called it. It wasn't a normal pill with a scientific cause or effect. One would take it and immediately become entranced, with a strong sense of euphoria, an outer body experience, stronger than any other drug known to man. Once out of the body, one could see the whole picture, the meaning of existence, the origins of purpose, and then ask anything of the body with fierce faith. If one wanted to be cured, they were.

 

Dr. Cain had first used it on his wife Carol, his "amore", as he called her. Otherwise known as misery in the flesh. She had only been given weeks to live with terminal cancer. She was immediately cured, and it had become a headline for the world. Many more would be cured, and they would become outlaws. He had kept the wonder drug a guarded secret, away from being tested. Giving out drugs without FDA approval was a crime. The tabloids had glorified them, while the mainstream press vilified them.

 

The mainstream had called it a "hoax", and that the doctor and his wife Carol were nothing more than con artist that had preyed on the hopeless. There were false claims that Carol had faked her illness, but that didn't stop the hopeless masses. Many more were cured, sure some were just attention seekers, but many more were real. The pale ones couldn't stop it, so they had changed the game. In recent weeks, many deaths were being reported, as an apparent late side effect involving those who had taken the Essence. It was the work of the pale ones, killing off a few to create a hysteria. Carol, Dr. Cain's "amore", had been reported to be amongst the few that were now deceased. Dr. Cain had been on the run, and was the most wanted man in America.

 

Deputy Gray, knowing all of that about this celebrity doctor, opened the leather cover and turned the pages to the very last entry. It was dated with last night's date, and he read it to himself.

 

"Tuesday April 5th, 1994

Today is the absolute worst day of my life. I am completely broken. There are no words to describe the pain I'm feeling right now. I've even started smoking again, and I had quit twenty years ago. My lowest day, I'm out of breath and I can't think. Feels like my soul is dead. It is killing me what has happened, and know this, I would never do anything to harm anyone. NEVER. Turns out the woman I was in love with was nothing but a sham. She never loved me. Was only pretending she did, so she could get close to me, and ruin me. I'm not much sure of anything any more. How could she betray me like this? I loved her with all my soul. I would have done anything for her, and she betrayed me, and I'm at my lowest. Don't believe everything you read or hear about me. Remember what Joseph Goebbels did. My cure didn't kill all those people, nor did it kill my wife. She is alive and in hiding. They faked her death, and I know she turned on me. Somehow the energy suckers of life got to her, or maybe she was in it with them from the beginning. I loved her so much, and even knowing what I know now, the bad things she has done to me, I'd forgive her on the spot if she asked for it. My life is gone, everything I've built is over, but know this, I won't be down forever. I will not run forever, and I would never hurt myself, so if you are reading this, and something has happened to me, please know that's not who I am. I buried the rest of the Essence in secret spot. If something has happened to me I hope someone worthy finds them. To my family and true believers, I have nothing but love and I love you all.

Kevin Donald Cain."

 

Tim closed the leather cover, and did something he had never done before, as an officer of the law. He broke his oath, and put the book into his inside coat pocket. Something in his gut told him that he needed to keep it, and not to enter it as evidence. This would not be his case anyways. This was the most wanted man in America, the higher authorities would be taking over. The town of Apple Valley would soon become a circus.

 

At that same moment Larry had found the deceased's identification. "Holy shit Tim! You need to see this!" Tim zipped up his coat and scuttled back to the front room. "This is that Jim Jones doctor from the news, that the Feds are looking for. I'm not liking the smell of this at all. The front door was locked from the outside, and being able to pull the trigger for a self inflicted head shot with a shotgun? I want nothing to do with this. I say we secure the area and let the FBI do their thing.'

 

"Agreed."

 

The FBI took over the scene completely. Both men were told to take the rest of the day off and instructed to not talk to the media. The media and it's twenty-four hour around the clock news coverage, was still in its infancy, and this was the biggest story since the first Gulf War. Word was starting to get around that there was a major development in the hunt for "Dr. Death". Choppers crowded the skies above the property, competing for coverage. Unmarked black vehicles were parked in formation, and the house was now covered by tarps. A body in a zipped bag was rolled out on a cart. A la carte, the main dish was served, as the media frothed at the mouth to get the story.

 

iii

 

Anxiety is like an all seeing eye on a dollar bill, a hidden camera behind a television screen, a thought that everyone can hear. "Can I trust anyone?" It's easy not to trust when you've been victimized. "Did I say hi to her the right way?" She hates you now. "Why hasn't he called me?" He doesn't want to know you anymore. "Is everyone watching me, can everyone hear my thoughts?" Your life is one big practical joke, and everyone is in on it but you. Everyone hates you.

 

Anxiety, had Tim.

 

He couldn't sleep. He was up watching the coverage, flipping through the channels with his remote. The story had broke. The body of Dr. Cain had been found. The cause of death was reported as a self inflicted gunshot to the head.

 

Something inside Tim had the remote control to his brain. It was flipping through all the channels of his mind, and he couldn't find the off switch. "Does anyone know I took the book with the leather cover?" You better hide it.

 

He pulled the book out of his inner pocket and experienced instant regret. He wanted to return it, but there was no possible way. Returning it would mean losing his job, it would mean jail time for obstruction of justice. Hard time for a cop was a death sentence. This wasn't just evidence in some random case. Everyone in the world would know what he did, everyone would hate him.

 

He had to burn it! No he couldn't burn it. He didn't have that in him. He would bury it in his backyard, in a tin cup where no one would find it. Maybe someday someone would, after he was dead and gone, and the truth would be revealed. But it couldn't happen now. That would ruin his life. Dread and misery throttled his core with every scoop of earth. He buried it deep and wanted to forget. He put a planter with marigold in it on top, to cover the spot.

 

iv

 

He lain down exhausted. He was so tired he didn't even wash his hands. They were still dirty from the soil. When extremely exhausted and stressed he would sometimes slip into sleep paralysis. He would hear voices sometimes, faint whispers he couldn't make out. Sometimes he'd hear music or children playing outside. Sometimes he could slightly open his eyes and would see dark figures moving about. It was like his body was asleep but his mind was awake. A terrible feeling.

 

Tonight was going to be one of those nights. He struggled in panic, desperately trying to open his eyes. He felt a weight on his chest. He couldn't budge it! Then came the soothing soft voice of a woman in his ear. "It's okay, it's alright, you are loved. Come with me, there is something I want to show you." And then he slipped effortlessly into a dream.

 

He dreamt that he was in the middle of the arctic. It looked very cold and desolate, yet he felt warm, safe, and loved. There was a snow cave that led to a library. The woman with the soothing voice was there with him. She was very tall with long flowing red hair. Her hair radiant with shine illuminated the cave. Her presence was wise and patient.

 

"In this library are the stories of everything that has ever lived. Go ahead and pick one. We will read it together." She said.

 

He picked one at random, it was the story of a wolf that had lived a very long time ago. The wolf was the leader of its pack. As they read, it became visual. It was like he became the wolf, yet he was not the wolf. Snow was everywhere and it was very cold. Most of the wolves had starved out and this was the last pack, an animal on its way to extinction. The climate had become cold and its prey had evolved to become much faster than the wolves. They could no longer catch their prey to survive. This wolf was a witty one though. It had taught his pack to hide as he alone would chase the prey from behind into a den where the rest of the pack would be waiting. Tim began to feel very guilty for the animal that had been caught and eaten.

 

"Don't feel bad." Said the wise woman with the soothing voice. "That wolf, taught those wolves, and those wolves taught others. Because of that one moment, they didn't go extinct, and changed the history of life, to become life as you know it today."

 

v

 

It was 6am, Tim's alarm was going off. That annoying pulsating beep. Large green numbers on a box plugged into the wall. A hot shower felt so good, he scrubbed his dirty hands, cleaned out the dirt that was trapped in his fingernails. He had already forgotten about the dream, or that he had dreamt at all. He put paste on a brush, and started scrubbing the yuck out of his mouth, but he couldn't scrub away the yuck from the day before. Reality was kicking back in,

 

The local "Circle K" was where he went for his morning coffee. Today's paper was on the counter and had the headlines of the day. He already knew what they would be, what they would be claiming. He scanned the tabloids, and there she was on one of the covers. The "amore" Carol Cain. The tabloid was called, "Strange Weird News" and the headline read, "Carol Lives! the good Dr. has been framed." The weekly tabloid had not yet been updated with the new developments. The smaller headline at the bottom read, "How to protect yourself from pale skinned, light Blue eyed energy vampires."

 

He picked it up to purchase it with his coffee, instead of the gazette, which was what he normally got. The woman behind him at the check out rolled her eyes. "You know they found that scumbag's body yesterday just a few miles from here." Tim avoided eye contact with her and went about his business.

 

The young clerk checking him out also had an opinion. "Nice choice dude, don't believe the mainstream media. Cancer is big business. I bet they set him up, then killed him and made it look like a suicide."

 

Tim purchased his coffee, and a copy of "Strange Weird News." Then he made his way back home to put on his badge, then gun, and get ready for his debriefing.

 

vi

 

In 1994 cell phones were not yet the phenomenon, and rare. Smart phones were a thing of the future, and not heard of. Most had pagers like Tim had. For the most part if someone needed to get a hold of another they had to leave a message after the beep. Tim tapped the flashing button on his machine as he holstered his weapon and grabbed his badge.

 

"Hey Tim it's Larry. I just wanted to give you a heads up, someone from one of the alphabets came by and was asking me a lot of strange questions. The guy had creepy pale skin, was pretty creepy, anyways giving you a heads up. Give me a call when you get this message."

 

He grabbed his cordless phone and went to dial Larry back, but the phone was already ringing, one of those strange moments. He had a feeling of dread when he answered the call. It was his Chief Deputy. The Chief explained to him that Larry had been in a terrible car accident. He was dead. And that Tim needed to get to the precinct now. He was just about to call Larry. How?

 

The case of Dr. Cain's suicide was too big for Tim's career. It was the story everyone was talking about. Many were glad that the doctor was dead, but he also had his true believers. Hundreds had been cured and still were cured. Those hundreds had thousands of friends and family. Millions believed that it was all one big government cover up. Next week's edition of "Strange Weird News" would out sell the gazette. The cover would read, "Deputies that discovered Dr. Cain's body: One dead, one fired. What are they hiding?" Tim was fired after he went to the precinct, and Larry was dead as dead. It had been a terrible car accident. A garbage truck had run a stop sign. He never saw it coming.

 

vii

 

Tim drove home without a badge and in shell shock. His partner was dead, and he was now unemployed, his purpose in life was gone. Outside on his porch there was a man dressed all in black. He was old, with pale white skin, and light blue eyes. There was a coldness about him. He had a lit cigarette in his hand, and blew out smoke, like mist from the mouth on a bitter day. He squashed it like a bug, in the palm of his hand putting it out. He put the smashed butt into a pocket in his trousers.

 

"Terrible thing what happened to your partner. Do you believe in accidents Mr. Gray?"

 

"Huh?"

 

"I believe there are two types of people in this world. Those that believe that life is just one big series of accidents, and those that believe that everything happens for a reason. Which one are you?" The pale one's eyes seemed to become a darker shade of blue, his skin tone with slightly more color. It was like he was feeding.

 

Tim was usually a man with thick skin and confidence, quick on his feet, but not at this moment. In the last twenty-four hours he'd seen a dead body, lost his job, and lost his partner. He was feeling anxious, cold, and scared like a child with no life experience. There was also that book with the leather cover he had buried in his backyard.

 

"I'm not sure which one I am." Said Tim.

 

"I guess there's three types then. That's one of the perks of this job. I get to learn something new every day. I know one of you went into that bedroom. At first I thought it was your partner, but I'm pretty sure it was you now. Shouldn't have done that. You may have compromised the crime scene."

 

"I'm sorry, who are you? Which agency are you with exactly?" Asked Tim.

 

"Which one do you want? FBI, CIA, NSA.... Homeland Security." Tim looked at him perplexed, he had never heard of that last one. "I'm just pulling it, yanking on your chain. I'm the one they call Richard Labble. With the national investigation. Little inside joke on the job on that last one. It don't exist yet, but it will someday. Something big is coming, something to take everyone's mind away from this fake cure called the Essence." He grinned with gritted teeth, with what seemed to be an almost lipless mouth. "So was that you in the bedroom?"

 

Tim was feeling weak, like a wounded deer caught in some headlights. Was he having a panic attack? "Yeah, it was me. I was just looking around to see if maybe he left a note."

 

"Well, did you find one? Did you find something in that room? Maybe something in the bottom drawer?"

 

An alarm went off in Tim's mind. Panic, dread, and terror! He kept it together as best as he could. "No, it was clean, found nothing."

 

"It would be best if it stays that way, if you catch my drift. Condolences to your partner. Terrible, terrible, accident. Always look both ways before you cross Tim. There's a circus coming to town, hope you are ready for the shit show."

 

viii

 

The pale one had left. That was it for now, he was free. The pressure had suspended. The feeding had stopped and he could breathe a little. He unlocked his door and entered his home. The message on his machine had been erased. Had it ever been there? Had he imagined it all? He looked out his window and saw the marigold undisturbed on top of the grave he had dug for the leather book. Then he looked at the tabloid, it was sitting on his coffee table. "How to protect yourself from pale skinned, light blue eyed energy vampires." Reality was staring him in the face. This was no dream. It was April 7, 1994, and today was the worst day of his life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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