Something Went Really Wrong
By Jordan Muncz
Instead of Forward
If you’re afraid of what you might learn, stop reading now – this isn’t for you. Furthermore, I have no proof. It was quick and mostly quiet and by 5AM all that was left was the sound of helicopters leaving the city. Anyone that might have heard anything, gunshots, screams, sirens, wouldn’t have gotten very far into it – internet searches yielded error messages, and there was nothing on TV but the usual: gang shootouts, potheads causing traffic jams on the GWB and Columbia University sprucing up their campus for graduation.
I’m here to tell you, the military dumped sick people into the Hudson River. Call the Pentagon and they’ll reassure you, they’ve heard the rumors, but isn’t it ridiculous? And they’re not in the business of spreading crazy rumors. The newspapers will do the same, exactly the same…
After you read what I’ve written, you…, well you might think I’m crazy, or jealous, trying to take down academia because I’m not Ivy League. I have my opinions, but that’s not what this is about. It’s just where it happened.
What this is about: people disappeared that night. I did what research I could. I called the NYPD but when I told them I had a blog, and it wasn’t the New York Times, they could neither confirm nor deny “the rumors”.
Like I told you, I can’t prove anything, but there are facts. Ollie Kun-He is missing. His father is owner of The Founding Father’s Burger Joint, where the explosion at the center of the mayhem took place. I tried contacting his parents but Ms. Kun-He’s answering machine says she’s travelling in Korea indefinitely.
So, a day that won’t live in history. The few media outlets that heard about what might have been happening didn’t run the story. Then there’s the floating head. „American Beauty” on Instagram and the story is that ISIS is claiming it. Right. They infiltrated NYC to put a hit on one guy, if you want to believe those opportunists…
Of course my book has a hero. He’s a security guard. I know his family, well, I used to know them. After what happened, when I asked for news about „Tony,” his job, his new girlfriend, my friend, his uncle, replied „Tony who.”
Finally, don’t try to find me because I’m in hiding. Anyway, it will be hard to find me because you don’t know my gender, age, not much of anything. At least I hope, because there are people looking for me who know how to look.
In my book you’ll meet an assassin. I’ve called him John Rambo, nice name, no? Doesn’t matter, what does matter is that he’s real and at large. General Pistone has a clear interest in him, as does Congresswoman Calder. This should be enough for you to understand what’s at stake for me or my future family, if I live long enough to have one.
So, how does that sound to you? A crazy person with no evidence telling you the world you live in is worse than you thought. Still, I’m writing so I have to imagine there are readers curious enough. But if that’s you, please consider this a coming of age book. Your own coming of age.
Inside Tony’s booth, things were heating up. The fight between the two brothers, Vlad the Impaler and Radu Bey was ready to start.
Pacing his Lady’s chambers back and forth, Vlad resembled a caged untamed lion when a quick, sharp sound made him alert. An arrow burst in through the hole in the window. Vlad’s hand reached instinctively, grabbing the arrow as it flew in the room. Unfazed, the Lady, strangely determined, stood up. His hand, still crushing the arrow, was shaking.
The attack started when Vlad and Lady Anastasia were crossing the secret bridge connecting their cliff to the outside world. Under the cannon fire, the bridge was shaking and rubble started to fall all around. Vlad rushed ahead of her and, jumping on solid ground, turned to help her out.
Lady Anastasia had stopped standing right in the middle of the bridge, looking down, at the cascade below.
“Pray for us, my Lord,” she murmured touching her pregnant belly, as she flung herself into the stormy water.
“To hell with you God!” he screamed. Torch in hand, he found his way to a dark passage. Soon creatures appeared and flocked to him. In the light their faces looked bloated or eaten by decay. Their marching and moaning soon changed direction, for they were attracted by the noise and the outside lights. Vlad grabbed one as it passed by and whispered into his rotten ear,
“Be my impaler!”
He received an inattentive groan, and a stare into the night instead of a commitment. Still that was enough. He watched them disappearing among the enemy, dressed deceptively in the enemy Turkish outfits, and soon they were feasting violently and urgently on the thighs and arms of healthy looking Janissaries, the infantry made of young Christians abducted and forcefully converted to Islam.
Within moments after having been attacked, a previously healthy soldier started to shake. At first he had a small tremor which then became rather large convulsions, only to finish in a standstill. His new but lesser self suddenly pulled his half-eaten limb out of his attacker’s mouth and, spontaneously, joined his attacker. Then, they moved on to satisfy their newly insatiable appetites out of a motionless but even younger and juicier Janissary, who stopped in mid scream when he realized the change in his Muslim convert brothers.
Appraising the situation, Vlad came out from his hideout. Radu was readying himself to bludgeon skulls when Vlad stopped him. The distraction was over. The brotherly fight would engulf the battlefield. Time would stay still. Life and death would be interchangeable.
He did it! An impish smile fought Tony’s motionless lips, bloody from so much biting. Vlad’s secret was out: “Impalers”! Vlad had successfully transformed the contagiously sick into devoted soldiers. Nothing could stop Tony from re-writing history and becoming famous. Instinctively, his hands curled up into fists of determination.
“That’s it my boy. Show me your Rocky fist,” his dad liked to call his tiny baby fists when he would refuse to repeat words beyond his years. Not now, dad, not now, Tony pleaded with his memories of his father, Reilly Gallant, still dominating him. Confined to Staten Island, Reilly Gallant had lived a heroic fire fighter’s life, and when he died, he died a hero. He was rescuing a kitty cat which had refused to get off a tree branch. Staten Island kept whispering for a week:
“Did you hear how Reilly died? No, he was not drunk. I saw him leaving his brother’s tavern to take the call for the kitty rescue, and he walked fine. He fell all the way to the rocky ground filled with tall and thin sharp-ended tombstones.”
That half-truth produced more half-truths:
“Yes, the Irish luck had avoided him all his life. Hastily, he had ignored fastening his security harness, and some new-age non-denominational African tomb stone impaled him. Poor Giovanna, now by herself with that affected mute boy of theirs.”
Everybody showed up at his dad’s funeral. And for a whole year Staten Island graveyards were filled with tomb stones lying on the ground rather than sticking out into the thin air. It was the least the Borough President could do for his dear departed friend, a moratorium from death by impaling.
Tony pushed away his memories and opened his fists letting his blood warm up his fingers. His thoughts finally shaped up into words which he hurried to type on the screen, when a small screen suddenly popped up on top of his word document, the same screen he was supposed to use to monitor the quad.
What an unfortunate event, Tony frowned, irritated. It was the image of the young Kun-Hee, Ollie, the son of the co-owner of the Founding Father’s Burger Joint. Ollie was sitting in his red Fiat 500 parked catty corner from his father’s restaurant. Tony zoomed in. Ollie stopped reading. How long had he been reading there? Tony wondered and noticed the time stamp of 11 o’clock. Something was amiss with the campus cameras. But seeing Ollie exit the car his gaze followed Ollie’s moves.
A group of gesticulating students approached Ollie as he was coming out of the car. They were returning from a clandestine tour in the underground heating tunnels. They were upset because one of them got hurt in the section under La Maison Française which was very narrow and tough to go through.
“Who cares about you, Gemma. We lost Eric under the Earl Hall section a few days ago. It is by far the creepiest.”
“It has no light and the vestigial wall separates the tunnel from something no one dares to explore.”
“It is foreboding.”
“The water drippings resemble heavy breathing.”
“There, where there is no light we lost our fellow spelunker. I think he jumped over.
“You don’t know? Over the vestigial wall.”
“Nonsense. There is nothing there, just an unfinished wall.”
They did not stop to talk to Ollie. They entered his father’s restaurant.
Ollie’s phone rang.
“Yes, mother. I am practicing. No. I am not. I am waiting for dad. No, I do not need money. I’ll be home soon. I love you mom.”
Tony fast forwarded forcing Ollie to hurry back into the car. Surprisingly, it was not a live feed. Tony pressed play again when a rosso corsa Ferrari ff stopped in front of the restaurant. Tony followed Ollie’s moves: he opened the door to his Fiat. The camera mike caught the tune. It was Carly Rae Jepsen “I Really Like You.” It came from Ollie’s iPhone. He had been watching Tom Hanks in her clip. The phrase “…really really really like you” could be heard so loud, the volume emptied it of any positive meaning. “I really really really really really really really like you” sounded like a bark or even a bite.
Ollie stretched his legs and then pulled them back in and closed the door. Inside his Fiat, he was leaning over the wheel, looking more and more strange. A smile or a smirk was hanging painfully on his face. Tony zoomed in and followed Ollie’s finger guns pointing somewhere. Following their direction, Tony noticed senior Kun-Hee kissing someone in the front seat of the Ferrari. Tony zoomed in further. Kun-Hee senior was kissing Arnold Jones, the masculine director of the Columbia University History Library, the one with his own show about leather and medieval artifacts; Tony remembered all too well his favorite midnight TV show.
“Aha,” Tony murmured. “Young Kun-Hee suspected only his father’s indiscretion. Now he witnessed it.”
Tony felt a sudden acute pain in his stomach reminding him he was still hungry. Again in vain. Eating was so overrated for young Tony. He ignored it and fast forwarded the recording in an attempt to reach present time. He noticed the couple in the back seat, a woman wearing a festive dress holding the arm of a man who looked familiar. Both followed Kun-Hee and Jones into the restaurant. Then, the man who looked familiar returned outside to talk on the phone. His stylish suede jacket looked “Made in Italia” to Tony, and that detail startled Tony so much he forgot to press forward.
“Samantha, listen to me. Sam. I understand Brian is not at home, but I’m not coming to your apartment. Sam, I know your apartment is a block away. I am not coming. Never. Okay?” Then after a brief moment, he added, “Okay. We could go to our regular place.” Another short silence followed. “Yes, right now I am with Lena, my fiancée, as you know very well.” Another moment of silence was broken by a taxi zipping by down Broadway. “Of course, I am addicted to your oral talents. No. Not tonight Samantha. No, don’t come. Good night Sam.”
Tony was stunned. He had a feeling he finally put a face on the man whose back he watched for months going into the tunnels every Wednesday at midnight accompanied by a very tall and boyish looking blond. Could it be him? Through the window Tony observed his video acquaintance taking a little box out of his pocket, and tenderly placing in on the underdressed young woman’s hand, whose eyes bulged out of their sockets in disbelief.
“What?” Tony mumbled, and for a moment he looked puzzled not knowing what to think.
He zoomed in more to see her profile. Erect she radiated confidence. When she turned and looked outside the window for a moment, Tony froze the image to study her face.
“Marylyn,” he mumbled. She did resemble Andy Warhol’s Marilyn. Her wondrous smile, plump mouth, and moon-like face minimized the impact of the chestnut hair. Mesmerized, Tony missed her gaze at Ollie.
Tony’s heart beat faster, and faster. She was being engaged to the campus womanizer. His boss, Campbell, alerted him to the professor’s weekly tryst with that Sam. Tony saw them on tape entering the heating tunnel so many times.
He felt terribly hot and uncomfortable. He stood up, pushed down his headphones, undid his tie and took off his jacket throwing it on the stool. He opened the door and stepped into the fresh night as the camera continued rolling. He missed Ollie taking off, perhaps afraid of having been recognized.