Charlotte was a good dog by all accounts.
She played fetch, she rolled over, she was house trained and rarely, if ever, had an accident in the house. Most importantly, though, she loved her family unconditionally, most of all her very precious little boy.
A border collie mix, Charlotte was loyal, kind and warm to the soul. Her eyes were a cold, bright blue and a soft, chocolate brown both of which twinkled with an acute intelligence well known in the breed. She had been part of her boy’s life since he was a baby and she was a puppy some five years ago. Growing up together they had become inseparable, they were each other’s lives as a child and their pet often are.
They explored the nearby woods together, joined mom on Grocery Store outings and even would go to the dog park together to meet other interesting children and dogs. She always knew how to look after her boy, how to keep him safe.
She was also a very good judge of character. She knew the people who were safe for her boy to be around and those who were not.
Lindsay, a young woman in her mid twenties was one of those people.
The boy’s parents needed a babysitter on occasion for their young son and in those cases they usually relied on the neighbor but in this once instance it was Lindsay, on the recommendation of the neighbor, that was selected..
Tears ran down the young boy’s face as he stared at the bathroom door. That terrible noise that had filled the house earlier had abadded leaving only that deafening silence and the occasional sobs of a child. The boy dared not approach the bathroom for fear of what it might mean for him, paralyzed by the constricting sensation of anxiety gripping his heart.
The door was kicked open unceremoniously as the bright lights of the bathroom cast a long, dark shadow down the hall, blanketing the young boy in darkness. The sound of water dripping across the carpet joined with the heavy footfalls of the shadowy figure lurching forward until it came to a stop just in front of Max.
“She was a bad dog..” the voice of the shadow stated, familiar to the boy somehow but he was unsure how.
The wet, lifeless body of Charlotte fell into a heap in front of the child as a woman’s voice spoke down to the child in a mocking voice. Five years of growing together ended in a cruel and brutal stroke, the young boys first taste of a dark, uncaring world. The shadowy figure moved around the boy as he knelt down and scooped the corpse of his dearest friend up into his arms, his love replaced with pain.. And hate.
So Much Hate.
The boy closed his eyes as a new pair of eyes opened inside his mind, born of fear, suffering and cruelty..
Max opened his blue eye and stared forward as the distant voices of his lawyers slowly cut through his fuzzy memories that danced in his twisted brain.
“Mister Kael are you even paying attention?” croaked Alton Shitemoore, Max’s grotesquely obesse lawyer. “This is a very, very serious matter, we need you here and present with us.”
The admonishing didn’t seem to phase the LSD Champion as his blue eye lazily rolled toward the rotund lawyer; his mechanical breathing being the only verbal answer Shitemoore would receive from the Lord Supreme Dictator.
“It is true, Mister Kael, if you want to make sure your contract following the LBI is getting you everything you deserve we need you focused on working with us.” Alton Fartharder said in his typical nasally voice, the kind that made you immediately think of a snob whose family was likely shaped like a small bush.
A low robotic grunt escaped Max’s mask as he rolled his head around, stretching his neck out while his spine let loose a few unpleasant cracks.
“Gentlemen aren’t we getting a little ahead of ourselves? The renegotiations aren’t even being announced yet, Cecilworth just got the chance to jump at them since he was the World Champion. Before we get there I’ve still got to defeat either Red or Ted and before even that match I will need to face and defeat that horrible traitorous bitch, Lindsay Troy..” Max said in a low growl while pushing back into his seat. Both of his hands danced across the surface of the table before they ran into each other, folding neatly into a resting position.
“We are operating under the assumption that you will do what you do and, you know, win your match, hah-hah!” Shitemoore’s gut rumbled as he slammed a hand down on the table in an excited matter. Max’s continued victories had do well in lining the betting coffers of one Alton Shitemoore who, much like Lee Best, bet primarily on the Lord Supreme Dictator leading to major gains.
“Yes, Mister Kael, what my associate is saying is that the odds do seem to be in your favor. Even Lee Best, the man whose company you have been dead set on killing, endorsed you to win the Lee Best Invitational, as though you were the chosen victor for this in his own mind. That is confidence if ever I’ve heard it, Mister Kael.” cooed Fartharder as he nodded his head in agreement with Shitemore, a flat, shit eating smile worn on his thin face.
Max regarded both men with his blue eye with a hint of surprise. His eye narrowed shortly after as he folded his arms across his chest.
“Lee Best is a terrible gambler and more to the point he never.. NEVER sends out any of those kinds of announcements without having some kind of ulterior motive so I wouldn’t read into that. Lee knows I’m a threat otherwise he would have reached out to me to join him.. Which he hasn’t.” Max’s mechanical voice has an amused tone to it when he speaks about Lee. “..as for my chances of winning.. I don’t think you’ve been paying attention to the product. Lindsay Troy, as much as I needle her, as much as I attack her credentials, of the Industry is the one I feared the most.”
He slowly stood up, his arms unfolding like an praying mantis preparing to strike. His fingers wriggle excitedly in the air before he slams both hands down hard, much harder than Shitemoore’s previous attempt.
“She is so fucking unassuming, right? Generic I’d even hazard the word.. It’s like Bobbinette Carey but better, more focused, structured. Ever stabbed someone in the back before?” the Lord Supreme Dictator hissed through his mask, his wild blue eye looking between both men.
Both men speak as one, much like you would expect two men who have been partnered for over thirty years might. A thoughtful expression fills Max’s face before he shrugs.
“The analogy I’m planning on using I’ve been working on since this morning, I really think it’ll work in both cases but I was more going for betrayal between associates.” Kael grunts before his turns dramatically away from the table, his hands clasping together at his waist.
“We’re Lawyers, Mister Kael.”
“Never a client but.. Morales being morales..”
“Yes, yes, I understand of course. No judgement here.. Heh-heh.. I’ve betrayed several people, I dare say I even liked doing it a few times. That also means that you understand, just as I understand, what it really takes to betray someone. What it really takes to get the knife between the ribs, to take someone down and see the look in their face.. Mmm..” The Lord Supreme Dictator began to pace, his harsh, mechanical voice echoing around the small room all three men were occupying. “Especially after the year she spent getting beaten and brutalized by Michael, Cecilworth and I? Big Off as the kids say. Someone that dangerous, that good at hiding their true intentions? She’s not someone anyone should write off, least of all me just because Lee said something. I’ve fallen prey to that old trick far too many times.”
Turning to look at both lawyers, Max’s hands swing to his hips where he strikes a dramatic pose.
“I hate Lindsay Troy. It’s not a personal hate..okay, well, it’s actually a very personal hatred. Some dumb bitch babysitter named Lindsay murdered my dog when I was 5 or 6. Since then I’ve seen the face of evil, I’ve seen the face of the treacherous hellbeast buried in the deepest pit of Hell and their names are Lindsay! Each and everyone of them, it’s fucking Science guys. And that is why I’ve hunted down my old babysitter, Ms. Lincka O’lee, which in hindsight is a really weird name. I think I just called her Link, she was Austrian or German or something.”
Turning Max strode toward the door, chest out, dick forward, a man of burning want and need.
“..she lives here, in Tampa, I wanted to talk to her about Lindsay, she recommended her to baby sit me.. I need to know why. Why trust a Lindsay? It’s been nagging me now for the last week. If I can get her insight into why then maybe.. MAYBE.. I’ll be able to formulate a game plan to take down Lindsay that doesn’t amount to, well, you know.. Just hitting her repeatedly with my head until she stops moving or the blood stops flowing if you pick up what I’m slamming down!”
“You mean that metaphorically of course, yes Mister Kael?” Snorted Shitemoore as his face paled a little at the prospect of defending Max in criminal court.
“Yes, Mister Shitemoore, Mister Kael IS simply speaking in soliloquy.” Chimined in Fartharder turning a hard eye on Max.
Shrugging Max winked, or perhaps just blinked, at his two lawyers before exiting the small meeting room.
A young Max Kael stared at the shadowy figure who stood in the kitchen opening and closing cabinets hunting for something. Seated next to him, protectively wrapping her neck around the boy, was Charlotte. Ever the protector the dog sensed something off about the shadowy figure that banged about the kitchen with little care or concern for the two of them.
“Kid, where does your parents keep the liquor?”
The shadow’s voice snapped from the kitchen causing the young Max to jump slightly. Charlotte let out a warning growl, her hackles raising slightly.
“I.. I don’t know.” young Max sputtered as fear began to creep up his spine.
The shadow slammed another cabinet shut and took a step toward Max. Charlotte sprang into action, jumping between Max and the shadow barking aggressively.
“Shut this fucking dog up!” The shadow roared as he took another step forward.
Max couldn’t move, he could speak, he couldn’t say anything. He just stared forward as the shadow drew closer and closer. Charlotte wouldn’t back down, wouldn’t retreat, wouldn’t leave her boy as she bore her fangs.
The shadow took another step forward crossing an invisible threshold that Charlotte had decided upon when this conflict began. He had come close enough, he could feel Max’s fear and anxiety. She would protect him.
The dog jumped forward, claw and fang colliding with the Shadow.
The small retirement community outside of Tampa where Ms. Lincka O’lee called home was the tacky sort of thing you’d expect from a place like this. Pink Flamingos filled the lawns of the pink and yellow houses that all sat in perfect unity, each looking exactly like the last save for color.
There was the sound of movement inside the house and the call of an older woman though the words Max could not make out. The clicking of several locks disengaging could be heard through the door before it opened.
A small woman peered up at Max through a pair of thick glasses, her large, bright brown eyes studying the twisted, masked face of Max Kael as he stared down at her with his cold, strange blue eye.
“Who are..y-” the woman’s voice cuts out after her eyes widen, finally recognizing the man standing in front of her. “..Max?”
The LSD Champion snaps his finger and offers a low bow, a chortle of amusement wheezing out of his mask.
“Lord Supreme Dictator Maximillian Wilhelm Kael to be precise! You used to baby sit me waaaaaay back in the day and I have hunted you down to ask you a very, very important question.” Max says as he pushes his way past her and into her house which smelt of old perfume and pineapple. The walls were covered in paintings and photos from around the world including a black and white picture of a young couple over the fireplace. They seemed familiar but Max let it slide for now. He was a quest.
“Yes, I remember babysitting you Max.” Ms. Lincka said, stumbling over her words as the shock of seeing Max still appeared to be weighing on her. “I figured it would only be a matter of time.”
She looked solemn as she followed Max into the house, not even attempting to stop his progress. She looked broken, perhaps sad as she stared at Max from behind her glasses. The LSD Champion pivoted on his heels, his arms held out wide as he giggled through his mask.
“YES! Excellent, my journey is almost done! The answer to my very rational, well documented and deep seeded hatred of people named Lindsay is almost at an end! You hold the final piece of the puzzle, Ms. O’lee! Why..” Max took a step forward looming over the much shorter woman. Surprisingly she didn’t seem in the least bit intimidated, more.. Sad. And also suddenly confused when Max mentions a hatred of Lindsays. “Why did you recommend Lindsay to be my babysitter?! Why did you tell my parents to hire someone who killed my dog?!”
The expression on Lincka changed once again, hardened and cold. He took a deep breath as she shook her head looking back up at Max.
“I never recommended your parents hiring anyone named Lindsay. I have no idea why you think that’s the case. Your father demanded I hire him because.. Because he knew what he would do.”
“I KNEW IT.” Max’s hands raised to the air before his expression changed, much like Lincka. His hands dropped to his side as he lowered his eye to be eye level with her. “..wait what?”
“Yes, your father had me hire that drunk because he wanted that dog gone.”
“My.. my father? He loved that dog!”
“No, Max.. your REAL father. Wilhelm Kael.”
Max’s face grew pale as his heart stopped. It was too much. Too much too quickly. He stood up again, his face contorted in anger, his mask’s raspy breath increased.
“..no he was my Great Uncle. Wilhelm.. he..No. no. If it wasn’t a Lindsay you got to babysit me.. Then who the fuck babysat me?”
The older woman removes her glasses and sighs, shaking her head.
“Some town drunk named William. He made a few bad bets and ended up owing your father..”
The cloud cleared in Max’s head as the shadow became a man. A lumpy looking man with liver spots and puffy cheeks. The red nose of a drunkard stood out as the voice in his head became more clear. His hate.. His hate found a new path. Then there was the possibility of his actually parentage..
“HE’S NOT MY FATHER!”
“..Wilhelm Kael.. he ended up owing Wilhelm and he called in the favor. I.. I had no choice. I hate Wilhelm as much as you but.. But we all owe somebody.”
Max stood in the center of the room as his rage built.. But you know who he didn’t hate anymore?