I tracked the son of a bitch along the creek for half a mile. Towards the end he was dragging her. Her shoes fell, one after the other, along the way. Like one of those Helmut Newton soft-core scenes, it could have been. High heels, the muddy Mississippi, and fear; what a turn-on.

He took polaroids along the way but he must’ve known I was close. I found them next to her body. By the time the rain hit, I’d caught up with him. He fucked up his final defiant act, the asshole. His first shot missed, breaking his jaw. He could barely get the gun in his mouth to pull the trigger a second time. But I let him try.

What a freak thefez turned out to be.

God damn this internet lie. Leave it to the most talented bunch of nerds I’ve ever met to fuck it up for everybody.

All I wanted to do was help put E2 on the map, like it deserves to be. Throw some filthy lucre at a Good Idea Gone Bad. Buy bones and nate a house and a car apiece for their troubles. Play a little golf with dannye and Brawl. Instead we'll all be front-page news in the morning. With pictures. And you—clever Everythingians—you’ll know all about it won’t you?

Cause You Were Virtually There.

How’s it feel to witness rape, murder and insanity and not be able to do anything about it? Oh, you didn’t know? Did some of you even think about calling the cops maybe? Calling nate? Calling thefez’s mother for gods’ sakes?

I didn’t think so. You sat there, kings and queens of your virtual world, all safe and secure in the dark like you were watching an episode of Eight is Enough and you thought you could will it into a happy ending. Well good fucking luck. This ain’t the Sunday Night Movie, and no, you can’t have your money back. So much for "on-line community." It’s still dog-eat-dog in this sweet old world, isn’t it?

Welcome to the Real World, boys and girls and others. Survivor, Big Brother and The Weakest Link, not to mention Candid Camera, all rolled up into one.

Everything is more than the sum of its parts isn’t it?

They’ll blame it on the drugs, the press. They always do. The Time magazine cover will use that shot of bones I got that makes him look like Che Guevara. Maybe I’ll do the work for them right here, in Photoshop, while I’m waiting for Barney and Gomer and Channel 69 to show up. Give him that haunted look that screams tragic victim in journalistic shorthand after the fact. Multi-task this, motherfuckers.

The inside eight-page story will feature knifegirl’s legs. Ailie’s cleavage will be on prominent display, as will the crazed look in thefez’s eye. Yeah. Front page news and a feature story with sidebars. Just like the Manson girls and their crazy puppeteer.

Perspective is the thing they’ll be looking for. Perspective will keep this story in the public eye for weeks. Perspective will spawn a couple hundred thousand words from local columnists and feature writers too.

Some fuckwit, in the name of perspective and to make a buck, will turn it into a book.

In Hot Chat: a non-fiction novel.

And then will come the movie. There will be two hot love scenes and a rape and the blood will flow like the cheapest wine.

But before that happens, let me tell you what went down. What really happened at the Summit in Savannah. Cause I’ve eaten enough acid in my life to last another ten go-rounds. No way I’m gonna touch that grey-green gruel that that nutcase jinmyo whipped up. You could smell the bad mojo comin’ off that stuff.

I’ve been drinking tonic water all night, baby. Canada Dry with a Schwepps chaser. Iced. Yeah, I’m fucked up on quinine. To soothe the fever-dreams of the future of the Internet.

You think you know somebody just because they spit their guts up in a daylog on your website? Wrong. You’re assuming they can even get to what it is they’re about, deep-down. You’re assuming they know who they are in the first place and you’re assuming they can write about it in the second.

And you think your first face-to-face encounter with these collections of electrical impulses, gases, and temporary carrying-cases is gonna get you any closer to who they really are? From the evidence presented here tonight, doesn’t look like it, does it?

Who among us could have known?

I had trouble finding my way back. The rain had let up but there was no moon and I was trying to figure out what to tell the police. What was the most honest story I could give them that wouldn’t make these kids’ parents gag on the thought of how terrible, finally, it must have been?

There was light in the sky from the fire and I could smell the gasoline and I knew whatever I’d find, it had to be worse than the freak-scene I’d just left. Nobody else was insane were they? Other than me I mean.

I thought I could hear ailie screaming "No! Brawl! Please! Don’t," just like that, but the words rose and fell on the wind, along with what turned out to be dannye’s final request, on the box back at the shack at last:

No reason to get excited, the thief he kindly spoke,
There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.

And there, where Dylan's voice fades and Hendrix’s undead guitar begins to wail, a sound I never heard before literally flew at me from the left, forty-five degrees off my heading to the fire. Like a rush of cosmic freight train across an icy plane of fear, I thought it was some godhead stereophile’s idea of what the end of everything should sound like.

I flicked my flash in the direction of the sound, and—all at once—instead of falling off into the black night, the beam illuminated a wall of insects, high as an ocean liner in dry dock, a million of them maybe. A hundred million. A hundred million million.

Locusts. Thick as God’s shit. Solid, like fate’s fractal harbingers. Before I could compute it at all they were on me. Surrounding me, wings batting crazily, invading every orifice of my body, those stupid green grasshopper legs. Up my nose. In my ears. Tearing their way senselessly into my mouth. On a mission.

I beat stupidly at them, running in the direction I thought the fire was because the insects had stolen all trace of light from the sky.

And quick as they’d come, they were gone. No food here. Just passing through. Freak of nature. Move along.

The car was smoldering still. Though we'd met scant hours before, I'll never forget those two black-blistered crispy critters, the driver and his fateful shotgun. Wharfinger and dannye were dead as anybody I’ve ever seen. Rain began again to patter softly down.

The house seemed to ooze satiety, as though it had demanded and received the final installment on a profane contract, a primal debt. The husks of locusts who hadn't got the word lay spent on the old wood porch. Live and disoriented bugs fought their way back out the door as I pushed inside. dem bones lay in a pool of thick black blood swimming with insects who must have had a taste for it. Every once in a while a bug would tear itself free and bat senselessly into the air.

Bones’s head was not attached to his neck. Bones’s head was nowhere in the immediate vicinity.

And this bothered me. Not just a little bit.

"Where’s Brawl?" I demanded of the little knot of new-best-friends who gasped and heaved as one helpless organism.

Everyone tried to talk at once, and with that emotional rush came an outpouring from the heavens. A rolling—and then a crash—of thunder. And ailie, bless her, patient thoughtful ailie, pointed past me back out into the night now filled with rain.

The lightning caught our Good Lord Brawl as he fell to his knees out front, howling into the storm, eyes ripped from his face.

Lord Brawl, blood-boltered in the rain,
singing the horrible end of a song we called


I arrived too late. I can add nothing here. See Savannah, the aftermath. Demeter