Authors: Chase Webster
Copyright © 2014 Chase Webster
All rights reserved.
This book and the parts therein are protected by United States copyright law. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the author with the exception of reviews, journalistic purposes and cases protected by fair use law.
ISBN-13: 978-0615977935 (Chase Webster)
Printed in the United States of America
Typeset in Garamond and Big Caslon
Edited by Dallas Webster
Cover design courtesy of Milan Jovanovic
Title page courtesy of Benjamin Roque
This story is fiction. All of the characters are from the writer’s imagination. Any similarities to real people, aside from where specifically stated otherwise, is entirely coincidental.
For Mom, Dad, Sissy, Dr. D, Auntie A, Little P, Brookleberry, Monkey, Bug, and Bubba
Looking at the charges against me, it’s easy to assume I had a terrible childhood. Twenty-one counts of first-degree murder, how could I not?
But I wasn’t a weird kid. I wasn’t awkward or abnormal. I ran track and played baseball. I liked to draw. I had friends. My family cared about me. I was an average student and did my best to stay out of trouble. I certainly wasn’t a social outcast. Truth be told, I failed to stand out in any way whatsoever. Everything changed a few days after my fifteenth birthday. The day I met a demon. A demon I would come to know as Eat’em.
“Can I have this?”
The question stood contrast to my dreamless sleep. I startled awake and clapped the darkness away.
A small red creature stood on my end table, no taller than the Victorian lamp beside him. He held a bottle of Pepto-Bismol antacid tablets tightly to his chest. In his arms, the pink bottle looked cartoonish and large.
The creature had porcupine thick hair and a prehensile tail. Bronze fur framed his large quizzical eyes – eyes icier than the most frozen blue, encapsulating triangular pupils as dark as the ocean’s depths. I didn’t immediately pin him for a demon. At the time, I was more interested in Animal Planet than mythology. He looked more like a simian to me, a word I’d learned from watching Planet Earth. Still half asleep, I figured he was a spider monkey of sorts.
“Human child,” he said, shaking the bottle, “Can I have this?”
Perhaps I should have been more surprised, even scared of the imp shaking the bottle of antacids, but the creature could not have seemed less threatening. His piercing eyes, almost translucent, were captivating and hypnotic. I found myself more mesmerized by his presence than frightened.
“I’m sorry,” I sat up. Tucking my blanket onto my lap, I said, “But, you can talk? I mean. What are you?”
“Me?” his eyelids blinked outward from the bridge of his flat nose toward his indented temples. It reminded me of some kind of reptile, like a tree frog or something. “I’m me. You. I’m asking you, yes. Can I have this container of small delectable candies?” He rattled the container dramatically.
“The Pepto?” I asked.
“The Pepto,” he sighed and read the label. “Yes, the Pepto. This, yes. The candies. They’re in here. I found them, yes. I found them here. You. You were sleeping. I found these. They’re yours, yes? I want them. If I can have them. These. These Pepto. Oh… yes. If I can have them I’d be grateful, yes… I’d follow you. I’d follow you now until the day you die. From now until then, yes. I’d follow you and I would be your one true compatriot. The Don Quixote to your Sancho Panza, the Batman to your Robin, the Huckleberry Finn to your Nigger Jim. Yours. You. And… hm… yes. From then on I’d do what you ask of me. As your one true ally to do what you need. I’d be the best friend you have. Best. All I ask for, to be yours until forever, is that you bestow upon me these delightful morsels I have found of yours for my consumptive pleasure.”
“Yes,” I said, not thinking twice. “Take it. Eat’em.”
“Eat’em, great,” he said. “Yes. A strange name, but I like it. That’s what you will call me then. Eat’em. Thank you for this.” His long tail whipped around him and wrapped around the lid to the medicine bottle. He twisted hard, his face turning a darker shade of red. “What’s this? A trick! You’ve bought me for a container that doesn’t open? Oh… young human child, this is not becoming of you. No. Not. At. All. Bad start… bad start.”
I reached for the bottle and he yanked it back, clutching it tighter to his chest. “It’s a child lock,” I said.
“Whoa there, child!” he said. “You gave this to me. It’s mine. Mine, yes. Trick or not, I want it. It’s mine.”
“I’m just going to open it for you.”
He squinted at me, the quills down his spine puffing out before relaxing back flat. “Okay,” he said. “But if I don’t get it back in… I don’t know how long. How long it takes you to open and return it. That long. If that’s not how long it takes to get it back. If instead it’s longer, yes. Then the deal is off.”
“What deal?” I asked as I opened the bottle and handed it back.
He looked into the open bottle, eyes wide with pleasure. “Oh, the deal where I’m indebted to you forever. Don’t worry, no. That was plenty fast. Very fast. Oh… these are so worth it. More than worth it. I’ve been waiting all but the last ten minutes for these. I thought you’d never wake up… Then if you did… I was only half sure you would see me. And if you did, yes, I was only then about one-point-two percent sure that you would say yes to my having these. Which, one-point-two percent of half of never… wow. The odds were so stacked against, yes. But here we are.”
The imp held up a couple tablets, they took up his whole hand. He smiled widely and popped them into his mouth and began to chew, crunching loudly.
“Oh, yes… yes… yes,” he said. “The odds were so high against me ever getting these since I saw them ten… maybe eleven minutes ago. But fate had it that all those harrowing mathematical improbabilities would contradict the reality I had perceived which was you silently sleeping forever and me never getting these… Pepto. Which aren’t very good, by the way. Not at all. But so worth it to defeat the odds.”
He popped more pink pills in his mouth and chewed, then offered me one.
“No thanks,” I said.
“You are missing out,” he said before crunching loudly on another tablet. “To honor our new friendship, I will eat your share and my share, yes. Man, human child, you don’t know what I had to go through to get these. I was behind this house and a huge beast. You. You have a huge dumb beast. Oh how I hate, hate beasts. They hate me though, yes. So that’s mutual. And I had to hide in the dirt behind the house and the beast kept digging until, man… you wouldn’t believe it if I said human child, but the odds are strikingly improbable. More so improbable than you waking to give me these!” He bit a tablet in half, chewed vigorously and continued. “That beast got yelled at for digging. Someone yelled, ‘Reena!’ and the beast went away.”
“Reena?” I asked. “The neighbor’s Chihuahua?”
“Yes, that,” the imp said, “Horrible thing. It went away and I climbed through a hole in the wooden barrier blocking that house, this house, yes. Climbed through, and the door was open. All the doors. Every door, usually shut, all of them open, yes. Leading me to this. This bottle of Pepto! And you. And odds were good I’d be standing here holding the bottle and you wouldn’t wake. Wouldn’t see me. Wouldn’t respond. And odds were against all the good things that had to happen. All the doors. All the waking and seeing and responding. Yes… I was going against all odds and so I bet it all. Bet myself to you. Oh man, human child, worth it. Worth it so much. Even if these. Pepto. Really bad, awful stuff.”
The demon sold himself into servitude for a bottle of really bad, awful stuff. And as promised, he never left my side.
Perhaps he stayed with me because I saw him. Perhaps he stayed with me because he was lonely. Perhaps he stayed with me because he needed me. Whatever the reason, Eat’em stayed with me. Not quite the Batman to my Robin, but he remained my invisible sidekick nonetheless. My not-so-imaginary best friend.
Seven years later, as I stand trial for the world to see, Eat’em remains at my side. After all, he’s at least part of the reason I’m here.
It’s easy for the media to point at me now and say, “There he is. There’s the crimson-eyed killer of Texas. The Assassin of Arlington.” Whatever they’re calling me. I get it.
But Eat’em and I didn’t set out to kill anyone. We meant to save the world from a threat only I could see. If we couldn’t stop the apocalypse, we at least wanted to postpone it.
July 2020 – Opening Statements
“Jacob is not the monster you’ve been told about.”
The culmination of all I’ve done landed me here. My every action is under the magnified glare of countless eyes. Their emotionless gaze judges without compassion and without remorse. And for the first time in my life I’m not so worried about what I see as I am about what they see.
Them… The people… The State of Texas vs. Jacob Brook… The State of Texas vs. Me.
My past is a public autopsy and my future is dependant on a paunchy lawyer paid by the state.
“A lot of words have been thrown around about Jacob. You’ve been told he’s responsible for countless atrocities. Atrocities committed over the span of several years. Violent. Apprehensible atrocities.”
My first look at the fifteen people on whose shoulders my life rides on and I know immediately… I’m screwed. I spent the last two and a half years in prison – presumed innocent. I would probably spend the rest of my short life there.
I would share my confinement with a restless red demon.
“Over the next few weeks you’re going to hear from several interesting people. You’re going to hear from friends of Jacob. Neighbors. Family. Renowned doctors and psychologists. Smart people. Very interesting. You’re going to hear from a police officer. Jacob’s arresting officer.”
I feel the spiteful eyes as they observe the slightest facial tick. A twitch as I swallow back the taste of stomach acid. The repetition of the words “interesting” and “officer” bring about a sour taste to my mouth. My stomach lurches.
“It’s all interesting because of what these people will have to say. What they will have to share with you. It doesn’t support what you were told yesterday.”
Mike, my attorney, walks around with his hands folded across his abdomen. He is like a cartoon character trying to keep his ascot from smacking him in the face. Yet, as helpless as I am at the mercy of a lawyer funded by taxpayers, he is slightly more eloquent than I originally feared. In conversation Mike is a stammering fool. Yet, somehow he manages to convey his point to the jury somewhat competently.
Mike gestures ever so slightly toward the prosecution, his hand gliding outward like a penguin that, just briefly, thinks it can fly. His counterpart, District Attorney Dale Gomes is ice. Gomes’ eyes follow Big Mike around the room. He sees Mike as little more than prey. He’s not entertained by Mike’s presence. Nor does he look bored. He is simply attentive. He is studying.
“Now the defense is going to present you with stories. Stories of a man who hunted and killed innocent people. These stories are largely based on the observations of a single man. You will not be presented with DNA evidence… because there isn’t any. One man. The testimony of one man is the only evidence you’ll be told to rely on. Like a trail of breadcrumbs, the prosecution will piece together observations in an attempt to link my client to a series of events. Observations from a man who readily admits to stalking the defendant for months under the pretense of a hunch. I shiver to think of the conclusions someone might come to if they followed me around for several weeks, observing. Observing… That is a key word you see. The word they would prefer to use is witness. However, there is no witness. Therefore, you are going to be asked to trust without physical evidence.”
I glanced at Lieutenant Bellecroix as Big Mike escorted me into the courtroom. His grayish skin is cragged with age lines and sorrowful sunken eyes. I am not the one he feels pity for.
“You’ve been told that - because the evidence is circumstantial. Circumstantial is a term you’ll come to hear a lot over the course of this trial. There are also a couple concepts that were explained to you. Concepts I’m going to remind you of right now. These are concepts I want you to think about when you’re hearing these testimonies. Concepts like ‘burden of proof’ and ‘innocent until proven guilty.’”
Mike stabs his hand at the air as if these phrases are a magical weapon that dissolves prejudice.
I catch the eye of a middle-aged woman sitting in the jury pool. She wears a turquoise dress she most likely bought for the occasion. It’s dark with moisture and sticking to her bosom. Her eyes match the color of her outfit, a piercing ocean. For a moment I feel lost in the non-blinking sapphires, tainted by heavy makeup and fake tan. I look longer than I should. She has decided I’m guilty.
Her head turns dramatically back toward Big Mike.
My pulse spikes. This room is purgatory. My last hope relies on a group of people that are just going through the motions. Hoping to score a free lunch before returning to their boring lives. I hope the blue-eyed woman is an alternate.
I hope she falls out.
“I think when you hear what these men and women have to say. When you hear their testimony. Facts. Science. Not opinions and conjecture. You’ll come to the same conclusion I have. Jacob Brook is not guilty of murder. Jacob Brook is not the perpetrator here. Jacob Brook is the unsung hero.”
Eat’em, my foot-tall demon, matches Mike step-for-step. He paces at his heel, his arm up and finger cutting through the air like a miniature Napoleon Bonaparte.
I shouldn’t be so easily sidetracked with my life on the line. I should be trying to appear innocent. I should be attentive on Big Mike. I am lured by a swaying tail only I can see. How often do people wonder what it is I’m staring at? How often do they wonder who it is I’m talking to?
“To understand,” Mike continues, “we need to stop trying to look into the mind of a killer and instead look into the heart of hero. We have to go back to these moments Mr. Gomes is going to say. He’s going to say it’s these moments that paint the picture of a monster. We’re going to visit these moments and you’ll surely agree with me when we do. This is the story of how one man is using his misunderstood gifts, gifts he received as as a child, not to destroy life, but to save it. Contrary to the story of another man. A man whose story you’ll come to realize cannot be trusted. A criminal in his own right who unlawfully began this misguided manhunt.”
“This is the story of Jacob Caleb Brook.”