Aphelion Issue 279, Volume 26
December 2022/January 2023
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Murderers Anonymous

by Aaron Bass

Derek took the last drag of his cigarette, dropped it into the dirt, and crushed it with his Converse. Slowly, his gaze drifted up to the phrase written above the door in red spray-paint: Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here. A little chill ran up his spine. Cautiously, he looked left, right, then left again as if he were a child crossing the street, and walked through the door of the church.

Derek walked cautiously into the basement of the First Presbyterian Church on the outskirts of Shinomish, a suburb of a suburb of Seattle, Washington. The church had obviously long since been abandoned. Its decor had become littered with splashes of red paint and satanic graffiti. Where it had once said "God Loves You", someone had crossed out the "You" with red spray paint and written "Slayer". So upon entering the church everyone was made well aware that indeed, God Loves Slayer. After a few steps inside, your nose was assaulted with the information that over the years the church had served as a shelter, and apparently, a bathroom to many homeless people, a few runaways, and scattered semi-satanic teens.

The source from which Derek had gotten the information about the night's purpose for the church was about as close a friend as someone like Derek makes, but it still seemed too good to be true. He had seen half a dozen cars and vans scattered alongside the road leading up to the church, and had added his own to them about a quarter mile down the road. As he cautiously eased down the stairs and into the basement, he met the occupants of those vehicles, along with a few others. All of them had been warned not to park in front of the building.

The crowd that had assembled so far was surprisingly diverse, in every aspect. The youngest was just 16 by the looks of him, and the oldest was at least 70. The youngest (standing at the sink making coffee) was red-haired and freckle-faced, just a kid. For a moment just the sight of him almost caused Derek to reconsider. If this kid was here this meeting couldn't really be what he thought it was. But then Derek caught a flash of something in The Kid's eyes, something vaguely familiar, something he couldn't place, but it kept him there all the same. He had a sly smile that caused Derek's heart to skip a beat.

After carefully surveying each member of this strangely put together little group Derek finally decided that it was safe and found an open seat in one of the back rows. As he sat there in his folding chair in this dark, stinky, little basement he decided that he had to ask someone if this meeting was really what he had been told it was. He slowly and discretely got up and headed towards the man standing in front of the coffee pot.

Derek eased beside him, poured himself a cup of coffee, cleared his throat and asked, "Hey, uh... is this...uh, really what I think it is?" Time ceased to exist while he waited for the answer.

"Well, that depends on whatchu think it is." the man answered, half glaring at Derek. "Nah, I'm just fuckin' with ya. My name's Earl, and yeah, this is what you think it is," Earl guffawed.

Derek felt calm and surprise wash over him at the same time.

"So I'm guessin' that this is your first meeting of Murderers Anonymous," Earl said.

"Yeah, first time," Derek replied, a little embarrassed.

"Oh, well we got a real good group here tonight, everybody's real nice." Earl said before adding, "At least in here they are, that is." And then Earl exploded with deep hearty laughter.

"Okay," Derek said, beginning to walk away. "Thanks."

Earl gave him a little elbow and said, "Well, just remember, you can't spell slaughter without laughter."

That actually made Derek smile (despite his fears). Feeling a little better about things Derek took his seat again near The Kid and lit a cigarette. Derek looked over at The Kid and decided to talk to him.

"So everyone here is really..." But he couldn't bring himself to finish.

"Addicted to killin'," The Kid finished for him. "Yep, all of us. My name's Leonard by the way."

"Oh, hi. I'm Derek. Is this your first one of these?"

"Oh hell no! I've been comin for a couple a months now. I've only relapsed twice since I've been comin' to these meetins. But honestly, I feel a big one comin' on real soon."

Derek saw that hideous smile and that flash in his eyes again. A chill ran through his body.

Then The Kid added, "If you like it here you can get a service position, just somethin' to help out around here. Me, I make the coffee. You like it?"

"Uh, yeah... pretty good." Derek replied.

He looked around, surveying the crowd further. There was a tattooed biker in his early fifties. In the far corner two black men in their late twenties sat and talked quietly, and around a dozen middle-aged white men were scattered throughout the room. Derek noticed a few other people looking around, nervous and sweating, this obviously their first meeting of Murderers Anonymous as well. Everyone else was chatting like old friends. He couldn't make out exactly what they were saying but occasionally would catch a word or phrase like "hacksaw" or "stomped her fucking teeth out". In one corner there was a man, sitting all alone, wringing his hands and talking angrily to himself. The last person to come down the stairs was in his early thirties, dressed all in black clothes, black boots, black baseball hat, and a black back pack. He grabbed a cup of black coffee and sat down.

"All right," a man in his fifties said, slowly getting to his feet, his hands on his knees for support. "Let's get started." He slowly shuffled toward the podium which had the "M. A." logo silk-screened on the front of it. The logo consisted of a large capital M and A with a rifle and a machete crisscrossed in a deadly X behind the letters. The letters were done so that they looked as if they had been written in a spray blood (probably done by one of the more artistic psychopathic killers in the group). He cleared his smoke damaged throat and began.

"Hi, my name is Greg S. and I'm a grateful recovering murderer."

"Hi Greg!" Applause from all around. Greg was apparently the leader of this group. He was a slightly heavy bald man with a blue down vest over a white shirt and tie. He looked like a business type.

"I will now begin with the twelve steps of Murderers Anonymous."

Is he serious? Derek wondered.

"Step One, we admit that we are powerless over murder, that our lives have become unmanageable. Step Two..."

Derek had been to more than a few AA meetings in his life, both to control his drinking and to look for new victims, and this speech was not new to him. After the old man had gone over a few of the steps Derek realized that all they had done was take the principles of AA and apply them to murder. Just one of those things that's so simple, it's brilliant, Derek thought.

After the twelve steps the old man continued on. "My name is Greg S. And I'm still a grateful recovering murderer."

"Hi Greg!" The crowd answered in unison.

"I started using this program to stop killin' o'er twenty-five years ago, all by m'self. I was in a bad way I tell you what. Before I started this here program I was killin' two, some times three hookers a week. Heck, twenty or so of the victims they blamed on the Green River Killer was mine. But through M.A. I haven't killed in twenty days, three months, and nineteen years." More applause. "I'm finally done talking. Now let's hear from some of you." It was silent for a long moment and then The Man in Black spoke.

"Ya know, thanks to this program I had been clean for over two years, but unfortunately I relapsed tonight..."

He had a surprisingly gentle way of speaking that would make you comfortable leaving him alone with your kids. But it was then that Derek realized what it was that he had seen in the Kid's eyes earlier because he also saw it here, in the man in black. It was the killer instinct.

The Man in Black introduced himself as Dylan smoked and sipped his coffee as he talked. At one point Derek noticed a single remorseful tear sliding smoothly down his cheek. He finished by saying, "Learn by me. I threw away two years of clean time. I stopped coming to meetings. I stopped calling my sponsor, and I stopped working the steps. If I had just kept it simple and followed the program I can honestly say that I don't think that I would have relapsed tonight. But here I am, starting over, again. So I say again, learn from my mistakes. Thank you."

After the Man in Black, the tattooed biker spoke and then one of the black men in the corner talked. Several of the middle aged white men followed. After all of those people spoke, an old man (probably close to seventy) sat up in his chair, cleared his throat, and began to speak softly. He began like everybody else.

"My name is John and I'm a murderer."

"Hi John!" his voice was deep and his tone was quite steady despite his frail, hunched over appearance. John continued.

"Ya know, I started killin' over fifty year ago, puttin' arsenic into sammiches and givin' em' to bums. By thirty I'd moved on to whores. Killing passively just wasn't cutting it anymore. And I wish I could tell you that after all these years clean I no longer have the urge to kill, but I can't. I still feel the compulsion from time to time. After all, all of us here are what I like to call 'Cain's children', we were born and bred for killin'. But that's not what this program does. It doesn't free you from your urges and cravings, it gives you the tools to work through them. Just remember, easy does it, and don't forget to keep it simple... One. Day. At. A. Time." John continued on for another five minutes spewing forth several more twelve step cliches (sick and tired of being sick and tired, let go and let God etc.).

After the old man was done, the man who was chairing the meeting said that he would like to hear from The Kid. Derek looked over his shoulder at The Kid and saw that smile again.

Derek had seen "a lotta shit in his day", as he would put it, but that smile chilled him to the bone.

Right on cue with The Kid's smile a tall lanky white man in the back began to have a coughing fit. This only increased the size of The Kid's smile. He looked at the coughing man and said, "There but for the grace of God go I." He grinned, followed by a round of hearty laughter from the crowd. The tall lanky man was still coughing and then three of the others who had been laughing began to cough violently. The Kid, still grinning that grin of his, continued. "My name is Leonard and I'm a murderer."

"Hi Leonard!"

"Ya know, earlier tonight before the meetin', I told Derek here --" He gestured at Derek, who was now slightly slumped down in his seat. "-- That I felt a relapse comin' on, and I was right." He paused looking around the room like a lion looks at herd of gazelle. Looks of puzzled bewilderment rose from the crowd. "I guess I should just be straight forward with you guys and spit it out." He paused again, obviously relishing every moment of this. That grin now so big that it looked as if it might become to large for his face; his cheeks looked as if they were ready to crack. By now almost everyone in the crowd, including Derek, was deeply involved in a coughing fit.

"Earlier," He continued. "I said that I was right on the verge of a relapse, but now I'm there. I can't help but notice that several of you, most of you now have begun to cough up blood. Well, that's just the first of many delicious symptoms of the poison that I put into the coffee that you've all been sucking down." He burst out in maniacal high pitched laughter.

At that moment the old man, John, pulled a short sword from his cane and began to slowly amble towards The Kid, sword clutched in one hand, his throat in the other. Halfway there he stopped, coughed up an enormous spray of blood, and collapsed on the floor. One of the black men in the corner pulled a gun, but his hand was unsteady due to the coughing. He fired a single round but hit the man three rows in front of him right at the base of his skull. His victim's face exploded, drenching the back of the man in front of him in a strangely beautiful pattern of blood, brains, teeth, and skull. The man hit with the spray reached backward but instantly vomited up a seemingly endless amount of blood, fell forward off his chair to his knees, and died on the spot, slumping forward onto the floor.

Through all of this Derek had sat, coughing in stunned awe. His survival instinct kicked in, finally, and he tried to get up. He remained standing for all of three seconds before dropping to his knees, blood running from the corner of his mouth, and all he could think of was that he'd had three cups of coffee. He spewed forth his own monstrous jet of blood and collapsed on the floor dying a very unsatisfactory death, as far as he was concerned.

After that it was mayhem. The Kid, Leonard, pulled out a handgun, a semi-automatic .45, and killed the remaining people who vainly attempted to take him with them, still grinning that grin of his, which was bigger than ever but looked even fiercer because of the blood splattered across his freckled face. He waded through the bodies, finishing off the last of them that were still writhing in agony on the blood drenched floor. He looked around and took in what he had just done. After about a minute he slowly walked towards the stairs, gun in hand. As he slowly ascended the stair case his blood splattered grin grew so big that it looked as if it might burst right off of his face. As he walked back to his truck he whistled and thought about how smart he was. I'm one wily motherfucker, he thought, killin' a room full of killers. He reached his truck, got in, turned the key, and was, very literally blown to bits. A shower of steel and flesh rained down on the streets.

The next morning the scene was discovered and the entire Shinomish Police Department was dispatched to the area. After a long day of clean up they decided to move the vehicles off of the side of the road. Seven officers of the Shinomish Police Department were also turned into a shower of steel and appendages. At the same time an officer inside the church discovered what the Man in Black had in his backpack, the makings of a few dozen car bombs.


© 2007 Aaron Bass

Bio: Aaron Bass is a 24-year-old 'new' writer from Everett, Washington... He demands FEEDBACK, so please give him some comments in the Forum. Otherwise, he might start missing his meetings and ... backslide right over to your house.

E-mail: Aaron Bass

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