Worlds to Conquer
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by Jonathan Moeller
Category: Fantasy/Science Fiction
Description: Guns and black magic alike can raze nations, and a dark bargain will destroy worlds. In Chicago, the corrupt Senator Thomas Wycliffe rises to power, aided by the soul-rending black magic taught by his master. In the distant, medieval world of Carlisan, the armies of Marugon, last of the Warlocks, tear a bloody path of carnage and horror. The lances and blessed swords of Carlisan's defenders are no match for the guns of Marugon's armies, guns provided by his apprentice Wycliffe. Now both the people of ancient Carlisan and modern Earth must join together to stop a dark force that seeks new WORLDS TO CONQUER.
eBook Publisher: Mundania Press LLC/Mundania Press LLC, 2008 2008
eBookwise Release Date: May 2008
3 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [412 KB]
Reading time: 265-371 min.
Prologue Anno Domini 2001
"I'd say it all began in a Wal-Mart," said Thomas Wycliffe. He folded his arms and looked over Lake Michigan's choppy waters.
"Congressman?" said Eddie Carson, fingering his tape recorder.
They stood on the far end of Chicago's Navy Pier. The waves lashed at the concrete. The pale blue sky faded to purple as the sun dimmed to pink, outlining the skyscrapers of downtown. Past Eddie and Wycliffe wandered couples arm-in-arm, groups of teenagers walking to the Pier's Ferris Wheel, and businessmen just off work and heading for the bars. Eddie supposed that he and Wycliffe looked like just another pair of corporate drones strategizing over coffee. He disliked the idea. He wanted nothing to do with Wycliffe.
"My political career, that is," said Wycliffe. He stood a head shorter than Eddie. His lower jaw jutted beneath his upper lip and small scars pockmarked his face. Dull brown eyes rested beneath thick glasses. Eddie wondered how such an ugly man had gone so far in politics. "It began that day, in that Wal-Mart. Please, Mr. Carson, do you mind if we sit? My back has been troubling me lately."
"Of course," said Eddie, gesturing at a table near the railing. They sat. Wycliffe sighed in relief and rubbed his shoulder. He stared at Eddie for a while, a small smile on his lips.
"Why don't you come work for my campaign, Mr. Carson?" said Wycliffe.
Eddie glared at him. "I'll tell you. Because," he began to tick off points on his fingers, "first, your ideas on tax reform are absurd. Second, your foreign policy views are racist, aggressive, and downright silly. Third, your views on abortion and gay rights are archaic. Fourth, there are your alleged ties to the Russian Mafia. And fifth, Mr. Wycliffe, I find you personally offensive."
"Ah," said Wycliffe. "That, and you're firmly committed to Senator Fulbright, as I understand."
"Yes," said Eddie. "I think Senator Fulbright will do what is best for the people of Illinois. I'm not so sure about you."
Wycliffe chuckled. Something about his smile annoyed Eddie. "Yes, yes. We all know of handsome, dashing Edward Carson, the Chicago Tribune's most popular political columnist and reporter. That razor-sharp pen of yours has caused me a lot of damage, you know."
"Good," said Eddie.
"Whatever happened to objective journalism?" said Wycliffe, spreading his arms to the sky. "Did honest reporting die with our fathers? William Randolph Hearst no doubt smiles benevolently upon you from his place in hell."
"I didn't come here to be insulted, Mr. Wycliffe," said Eddie. "You said over the phone you wanted to give me an exclusive interview."
Wycliffe folded his hands. "Yes. I did, didn't I?" He smiled. His teeth needed braces. "I'm a man of my word, Mr. Carson." Eddie tried not to laugh. "I'll answer any questions you want ... but first, let me give you a bit of background. No doubt it will make a fine story for your paper's readers."
Eddie reached into his jacket pocket and clicked on his tape recorder. "Go ahead." * * * *
Anno Domini 1994/Year of the Councils 954
I really wanted to be a college history professor.
My career in politics, shall we say, began when I was twenty-three. At the time, I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago, working on a program in Greco-Roman history. I still read and write Greek and Latin quite fluently, and occasionally contribute articles to various historical publications. You know that, Mr. Carson, if you've done your research.
At any rate, my goals in life were rather meager. I desired to complete my Ph.D., obtain tenure at some university, perhaps turn out a book every few years, and spend the rest of my days boring my students. I had no real ambition; just an unfocused desire to obtain a cushy position and coast through life.
Of course, everything changed that November afternoon in my twenty-third year.
With my meager earnings I was renting a miserable little apartment in the South Side. It was a filthy squalid little hellhole, yet I took a certain pride in it. It was, after all, mine. The biggest problem was the rats. Filthy little buggers.
Anyway, at the time I was working on a paper ... about Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus. Two rabble-rousing demagogues. You should find that an interesting comparison to my present career, Mr. Carson. I had my desk in the corner, across from the closet, and was typing on a computer I had leased when I heard the rattling in the closet.
I assumed it was the rats. They had chewed a tunnel through the baseboard in the closest. Plug it and poison it as I tried, they still kept finding their way through. I picked up the tennis racket I kept for the express purpose of rat-whacking and went to the closet. The rattling had increased to a banging. I grimaced. It was probably a big one.
The 'rat' was far bigger than I had assumed.
I yanked open the closet door, raised my tennis racket with a yell, and found myself face to face with another man.
"What the hell?" I said.
Heavy black robes, the sort medieval monks wore, cloaked the man from head to foot. His face was angular and looked as if it had not seen much sun. His eyes were large and black.
"What the hell are you doing in my closet?" I screamed. I was furious and more than a little scared.
The robed man looked at me. "Where am I?" He spoke with a slow, measured voice. He sounded like Bela Lugosi in those old Dracula movies.
"My apartment," I said. Keeping the tennis racket raised, I backed towards the phone on my desk. "My closet." I lived in the South Side, and so of course kept 911 on the speed-dial.
"Your ... apartment?" said the man, frowning. "Your ... domicile, your abode, I assume?"
"Yeah, buddy," I said. I reached for the phone.
"This information is of no use to me," said the man. He glanced around the apartment. "I do not recognize this style of architecture." He frowned, as if something had just occurred to him. "What world is this?"
"World?" I said. I knew I had a nutcase on my hands now. "World? Oh, yeah, I know who can tell you. Let me just pick up the phone here, call some nice men in blue shirts, and they'll tell you..."
The man's face hardened. His black eyes widened. "You will not contact anyone!"
My hand cramped. The phone's receiver fell from my fingers and bounced off the cradle.
"Listen, buddy," I said. I was scared now. God only knew what kind of weapons he had hidden in that robe. "I don't have any money. You can take the computer, if you want. Hell, it's leased, it's not even mine..."
"Silence!" said the man. His eyes seemed so wide and deep. My jaw snapped shut of its own volition. "I have not fled across the miles and the cosmos to listen to the babbling of a witless peasant. You will tell me what I wish to know! Where I am?"
"Chicago," I said. I considered running for the door.
He frowned. "She-cow-go? A strange name." He considered this. "It this She-cow-go a nation?"
"No," I told the crazy man. No way I could make it to the front door before him. "It's a city."
"A city? Of what nation?" he said.
"The United States of America," I said. I wondered if I could stun him with the tennis racket.
The man flinched. A dawning expression, either horror or amazement, spread across his features. "I ... I have never heard of such a nation. Quickly, tell me. What is the name of the world?"
The man strode out of the closet. His eyes seemed like pits into infinity. "The name of the world! Now!"
"Earth!" I said, backing away. At that point, Mr. Carson, I was so frightened I would have recited the Magna Carta for him, had he asked. "Earth, the world is named Earth!"
The man gaped at me. "That ... that is not possible. But ... but..." He began to laugh. "Then it has worked. All these years of study and toil, and it has worked. I have found the way!" He laughed again. He sounded mad as a hatter.
"Right," I said. "Listen, I'm just going to leave now..."
"No, you shall not, peasant" said the man. He drew himself up. He was much taller than me. Of course, Mr. Carson, most people are. "I am Marugon the Warlock, last master of the Black Council. A few months ago, I fled from the masters of the White Council to the Tower of Endless Worlds. In desperation, I dared to navigate the Tower's maze." He smiled. "It appears I have succeeded."
"Warlock?" I said. This guy wasn't just a nutcase. He was a full-fledged raving psycho-loony. "Right, right. Warlock. Well, then..."
Marugon smiled. "You think I am mad, no? You think I have been touched by the gods? Well, my skeptical friend, let me show you something!" He stepped away from the closet and pointed.
My eyes followed his finger. I gasped, staring in amazement. The tennis racket fell from my hand and hit my toes.
The back wall of my closet had vanished. In its place I saw a great vaulted corridor of polished black stone that led away into infinity. I saw statues of strange and fantastic creatures, great fluted columns, and thousands of doors. I had tried some drugs once, in high school. Unlike that hick from Arkansas, I had inhaled, and deeply. Put that in your paper, Mr. Carson, if you wish. Had that come back to haunt me?
"Quite a sight, is it not?" said Marugon. "The Tower of Endless Worlds. I seem to have found my way to one of these Endless Worlds. Those fools from the White Council cannot hope to follow me."
"Uh," I said. My brain had stopped working due to an overload of shock.
"I shall stay in your world for a time," said Marugon. "Long enough to convince my foes that I perished." He looked at the computer screen and raised a thin eyebrow. "Your possess strange artifacts, peasant. Perhaps there is much that I can learn in my time here."
"Um, listen," I said. "I don't know if you're with the government or the CIA or what, but I don't want any trouble. Just go back through your tower of infinite planets, and I won't tell anyone I saw you..."
"Of course you will not." Marugon reached into his robes. "Like all peasants, I suspected you are easily influenced by the presence of money." He tossed something at me. "Perhaps we can reached some accommodation, no?"
I managed to catch it. My eyes got wider. He had thrown a gold coin at me. I didn't recognize it. The markings looked vaguely medieval. But the thing was heavy. It must have weighed at least four or five ounces. I didn't know what the price of gold was, but the coin had to be worth a lot.
I looked at the stack of bills resting next to my computer. Graduate school isn't cheap. Neither is the cost of living. I didn't have the slightest idea what was going on. I assumed it was some secret government project. But in my addled state, I figured that if the guy was handing out gold coins...
"Mr. Marugon," I said. "You can stay here, for a little bit."
"Excellent," said Marugon. "You shall act as my guide. Conduct me through your city of She-cow-go, peasant. I wish to learn more of your world. Will that be any difficulty?"
"No," I said, still staring at the strange coin.
"To avoid suspicion, you shall refer to me as a relative, visiting you from a distant land." He smiled. "In some sense, it is the truth. Are there any Wizards in your city, peasant?"
"Wizards? Uh ... no, I don't think so. I don't think there are any wizards, or warlocks, in the city."
"A backwater, I see," said Marugon. "I shall avoid attention. Excellent." I suspected he would attract attention wherever he went, but this was Chicago. We have many strange people here, Mr. Carson, as your presence proves.
"And I'm not a peasant," I said. "I'm a historian."
"Historian," said Marugon, frowning. "Loremaster, I assume? Splendid. You can relate to me the history of your world at a later date. What is your name?"
"Tom Wycliffe," I said.
"Well, master Wycliffe," said Marugon. He folded his hands in his robes. "Conduct me through your city."
"Yeah," I said. I looked at my computer, then back at the gold coin. The Gracchi could wait. "This way."
I led him down the back stairs to the garage behind my building. My car, a battered old Yugo, rested in the corner. It was all I could afford at the time. Marugon looked at everything with fascination. "Is your She-cow-go a populous city, master Wycliffe?"
"Yeah," I said, digging for my car keys. "About three million, I think, maybe eight million in the whole metropolitan region."
"What?" said Marugon. "Eight million?" He did not seem to believe me. "You jest with me, loremaster. That is not wise."
"I'm serious!" I said. I didn't want to set him off. "Eight million people. I'll show you."
"That is not possible," said Marugon. "There are nations smaller than She-cow-go on my world. How is it possible to feed such a multitude? Eight million?"
"Well ... they go to the grocery store, I guess." I opened the passenger side door and held it out for him.
He stared at me. "What is this?"
"My car," I said.
"Car," he said. He craned his neck and looked at the seats. "A ... carriage of some sort, I assume?"
"Yes," I said. "Please get in. I can show you the city faster with this."
He looked around. "Where are the horses? I see only other carriages. Or do you have slaves to pull this ... car?"
"No, no," I said, laughing. "It pulls itself."
"It is a magical device, then?" said Marugon.
"No," I said. "It ... has an internal combustion engine. It ... burns fuel, and the gases spin the wheels and make the car go." It was a crappy description of an engine, I suppose, but it seemed to suffice. Either he was crazy, or he was putting on a very good act. "It is science, not magic."
"Amazing," said Marugon. "The alchemists of my world have tried to build such a device for years. Science, you say? Astonishing. Your She-cow-go must possess master craftsmen to build such a device. And you must be wealthier than I had assumed to purchase such a machine."
"Not really," I said. I laughed. "Wait till you see a Jaguar or a Mercedes."
We got in and I started the car. Marugon almost jumped out of his seat when the engine started.
"Such high buildings," said Marugon, as we drove past a five-story apartment building. "The skill of your engineers is indeed remarkable." He gaped out the window. "And ... and so many other vehicles, these cars! Such mighty magic you men of She-cow-go must wield."
"No magic, Mr. Marugon," I insisted as I pulled up to a stoplight. I couldn't decide if he was crazy or not. Then I remembered how I had dropped the phone at his command. I have pretty steady hands. What if he was telling the truth? I decided not to think about it. "No magic. These are all built in factories, with machines and technology and science."
"No ... no magic?" he said, stupefied. "But ... were it not for magic, on my world, we could not survive. You ... you men of She-cow-go have built all these things with ... machines, and science ... and this ... ah, what is the word, this Tech-Knowledge-Gee?"
The light changed. I drove through the intersection. "Yes, sir."
"Astonishing," Marugon whispered. "So huge, and tall!" He laughed. "I am making a fool of myself, like a peasant who has come to the great city for the first time, wandering about gaping at the cathedrals and the Wizards' towers."
I laughed. Scared as I was, some of his utter amazement was contagious. A sudden idea took me. "Wait till you see the Loop, Mr. Marugon." I got onto the freeway for downtown. Soon the skyscrapers came into view, the Sears Tower, the John Hancock building, and all the others.
Marugon leaned forward. "Is She-cow-go built around mountains? I have never seen such strangely shaped peaks."
I grinned. "Nope. Those are buildings." The Sears Tower loomed closer. We drove over the Chicago River bridge and past the Tribune building, where you no doubt were already starting your career in yellow journalism, Mr. Carson.
"Buildings?" breathed Marugon. "Men built these towers?" His black eyes were wide with awe. "My gods. My gods. Stop this vehicle."
I looked over my shoulder. "There's no place to park."
He pointed at the sidewalk. "Stop on the path of gray stone."
"Stop!" he snarled. "I shall ensure we are not troubled by the city guard."
His eyes were like black pits again. I shuddered, pulled over the curb, and parked on the sidewalk. Marugon muttered something under his breath, his fingers tracing circles in the air. I shut off the engine, got out of the car, and waited for the police to come.
Dozens of pedestrians passed. No one pointed. No one said anything. No one even noticed. A pair of cops walked past. I waited for the ticket. They did not spare me a second glance. They walked around my Yugo without noticing it. I felt the hair on my arms stand up.
Marugon stood on the sidewalk, his head craned back as far it would go.
"Pretty cool, eh?" I said.
"My gods," he said. He looked at me. His face had gone even paler. "Such a magnificent city. Such mighty buildings." He gestured at the street, busy with midday traffic. "So many of these cars. I ... I had always thought true might, true power lay in the black magic. But I was wrong. True power lies in your Tech-Knowledge-Gee, Tom Wycliffe of She-cow-go. Power such as my slain fellows on the Black Council could never imagine, power such as the fools on the White could not envision." He shook his head. "Command your car to convey me to a marketplace. I am hungry, and require food."
"Um," I said. I had nine dollars in my wallet. I hoped he wasn't too particular. It was going to have to be McDonald's or Wal-Mart. "Yeah, sure. Back in the car, Mr. Marugon."
We climbed inside. I started the engine, pulled off the sidewalk, and got back into the flow of traffic. No one noticed my irregular parking.
I decided to drive to a Wal-Mart superstore across the city, the kind that has groceries and other crap under the same roof. It was in my price range. Marugon peppered me with questions the entire way, about cars, roads, engineering, technology, government, money, and history. I answered as best I could. His questions scared me. What if he was for real? Silly idea, of course. He probably just had amnesia or something. But I couldn't stop thinking about the way the cops had ignored my Yugo sprawled across the sidewalk.
We got to the Wal-Mart half an hour later. The parking lot was crammed with cars, many of them in worse shape then mine. Marugon and I climbed out. People gave him and his black robes strange glances, but he seemed not to notice.
"Is this an indoor marketplace of some sort?" said Marugon.
"Uh ... yeah, you could say that," I said.
Marugon shook his head, his eyes roving over the building's length. "Gods. In my world there are villages smaller than this market. Let us proceed."
He stopped and looked with suspicion at the automatic doors. The old lady greeter approached him, a roll of smiley-face stickers in her hand.
"Welcome to Wal-Mart..."
"Speak to me not, peasant!" said Marugon. He swept into the store. I offered a shrug the to woman and followed him.
Marugon wandered in the direction of the groceries. He froze, his hands twitching, his eyes staring. He looked over the rows and rows of food-laden shelves, meat freezers, produce, drinks, and vegetables.
"Master Wycliffe," he whispered. "There is so much food here. Is ... this a national market, perhaps, where the farmers of your nation come to offer their wares?"
"Uh ... no," I said. "It's just a Wal-Mart."
"So much food," he said. "With such bounty, I could feed an army of thousands for months! Surely ... surely this must be a larger market?"
"No," I said. "There are thousands like it, all over the country."
"Thousands?" said Marugon, his face slack. "Thousands. So much food ... in my nation, peasant mothers sometimes leave their children to starve, for lack of food." He shook his head. "It is..."
I spun. A man in a leather jacket ran through the automatic doors. His face was taut with fear. A pistol rested in his clutched fist. Six steps behind him were two police officers with drawn guns. The greeter at the door shrieked.
Marugon looked at the man. "Ah. A common thug, I see. Such vermin are endemic." He whispered something and fluttered his fingers.
The thug stumbled and hit the floor. The police officers leveled their guns at him. "Freeze!"
The thug howled and raised his gun. Both cops started shooting. The thunder of the shots filled the store. Blood splashed across the white linoleum. A half-dozen people screamed. The thug's gun flew from his limp hand and spun across the floor. Marugon watched it with fascination.
"That wand," he said. "That black wand. What is it?"
"A gun," I said. I could not take my eyes from the dead man. Smoke still rose from the cops' pistols.
"A gun," said Marugon. "Tell me, is such a thing an item of Tech-Knowledge-Gee?"
"Yeah," I said.
"All right, everyone!" yelled one of the cops, holstering his gun. "This place is sealed off. We're going to need depositions. No one's leaving."
"Come," said Marugon. "Let us be on our way."
"But ... but the cop said ... uh, what about your food?"
"Bah," said Marugon. "I have more to ponder than hunger. Mundane matters do not trouble one such as I." He muttered a word and walked for the doors. I followed him. He passed between the two police officers. They did not see him. I screwed up my courage and ran after him.
"Convey me back to your domicile, peasant," said Marugon once we had reached my car. "We have business to discuss."
I climbed and in started the engine, still numb with fear. "Business?"
"Yes, business," said Marugon. I pulled out into the street. "Tell me, these ... guns, the weapons the city guardsmen wielded. Are they as common as cars, as the sky-scraping buildings?"
"Oh, yeah," I said. "Hell, you could have bought a dozen shotguns at Wal-Mart, if you'd wanted."
Marugon blinked. "You mean the lords of your world permit the sale of mighty weapons in the Market of the Wal-Man? They permit common peasants to own these guns?"
"I think you mean Wal-Mart," I said.
"It is irrelevant!" said Marugon. "Answer the question!"
"Yes!" I stuttered.
"Incredible. I have never seen such a potent weapon," said Marugon. "Such power, such deadliness."
"What are you saying?" I said.
"Power is relative," said Marugon. "Here, guns are deadly, but not powerful. Everyone has them, do they not? Even common ruffians. Their numbers negate their power. Similarly, magic is not so powerful in my world. It is potent, yes, but too many people use it." He leaned forward and grinned. His breath was very foul. "Give me one gun, and I shall kill all my enemies. Magic cannot stop a gun, nor can a sword. Give me twenty guns, and I shall conquer a small country. Give me a hundred guns, and I shall rule an empire. And give me five thousand guns, and I shall conquer my world."
"I don't understand," I said.
Marugon laughed. "Of course not. I shall provide you with funds, you shall acquire guns for me, and I shall take them back to my world."
"Why should I do this? For gold?" I said. I was thoroughly confused.
"No," he said. His dark eyes glimmered like collapsed stars. "Hirelings are unreliable. You possess a cunning brain, Wycliffe of She-cow-go. I had planned to kill you once your usefulness ended, but instead you showed me the bounty of your world. I shall make you my partner. I shall give you power." He laughed. "Together, we shall conquer. I shall conquer my world, and you shall rule yours."
"Power?" I said. "How can you do that?"
Marugon grinned. "I shall make you my apprentice. I will teach you magic."
"Right," I said. "Yeah. Sure."
Marugon laughed. * * * *
Eddie clicked off his tape recorder. "That's enough." The cool night breeze tugged at his clothes.
Wycliffe raised his eyebrows. "You haven't even begun the interview."
Eddie stood. "I've heard enough. This is bullshit. I'd heard you treated reporters with contempt, but this is beyond the pale. Magic? Warlocks? What, are you going pull a rabbit out of your hat next? Good day, Mr. Wycliffe. I look forward to your defeat in the election."
Eddie stalked away.
Wycliffe sighed. "Mr. Carson."
Eddie spun. "What?"
Eddie sat. He blinked. He had meant to keep walking.
"Don't do that," said Wycliffe.
"What?" said Eddie, confused. He started to rise.
Eddie raised his hand and slapped himself across the face. "What the hell?"
"Sit. And don't stand again until I'm finished with you." Wycliffe's eyes were hidden in pools of shadow beneath his glasses. Eddie sat. "You've been quite a problem to me, Mr. Carson. I need to win a Senate seat, if I'm to take the presidency. I'd hoped to convince you to see reason. But now I realize that you are a fool." Wycliffe smiled. "I'm going to turn a problem into an asset."
"What is this?" said Eddie. He tried to stand. His legs would not move. Eddie stared at them in horror. "What did you slip in my drink, you bastard?"
"Don't be absurd," said Wycliffe. "Do you own a gun?"
"Yes, a revolver," said Eddie. He blanched. He hadn't meant to answer.
Wycliffe sneered. "Such a fine liberal, aren't you? This is what you're going to do, Mr. Carson. You're going to help me win this election. You will drive to your apartment. You will write a letter, a suicide note, describing your longstanding homosexual relationship with Senator Fulbright. You will express your guilt and anguish over your perversion." Every word hammered in Eddie's brain like thunder. "You will also describe the occasional acts of pederasty you and the good senator committed."
"No!" said Eddie. "This is nonsense! I won't write lies!"
"You will," said Wycliffe. His eyes seemed like pits into the void. "Leave the letter in plain sight. Then drive to Senator Fulbright's campaign headquarters. You will take your gun and shoot the first five people you see." Wycliffe grinned. "Except for Senator Fulbright, of course. We wouldn't want him to miss this, would we? Once you have shot five people, you will place the gun to your temple and use the last bullet on yourself. Tell no one of this."
"No!" said Eddie. "I won't do any such thing."
"You will," said Wycliffe. He sighed. "One of Marugon's imps came through the Tower today, carrying a letter. Marugon's armies captured the king of Narramore and slaughtered all his Wizards. The poor old king was hiding in the smoking rubble of his last stronghold. Marugon had a public execution, I understand. It lasted for hours. The rabble loved it. Two pieces of good news in one day. My old friend and ally has triumphed, and you will win my election for me." He grinned. "Marugon will be an emperor. In six weeks I'll be a Senator, and in another decade, I'll be President of the United States."
"No," breathed Eddie.
Wycliffe fluttered his fingers. "Go."
Eddie ran for the parking lot. His mind felt filled with black ice. Wycliffe was insane. Eddie decided to call the police. He ran past the pay phone, got into his car, and drove off for his apartment. Eddie cursed. Why had he not called the police? He decided to drive to police headquarters.
Some time later, he pulled into his apartment complex's parking lot.
He ran up the stairs. He would call Springfield, he decided, and warn them of the threat on Senator Fulbright's life.
Eddie reached for the phone. Instead, he sat down at his desk and began to write the suicide note. His hands flew over the paper. He couldn't make them stop writing.
Eddie began to cry.