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A court jester wakes up at the bank of a tucked away, hidden river bank after water is splashed upon his face.  As he wakes, startled and cold, he looks into the river, towards the direction where the water came from, and sees an au natural water nymph staring upon him, smiling gently. He sits up quickly, ironically looking at himself to make sure he was at least dressed. He looks back at her, amazed as she is half submerged, black hair drenched with water, and watching him while not saying a word. No other sound – not even the rustling of trees by the somewhat cool summer breeze - could be heard in the wooded area where they both existed, almost frozen in time. The jester was the first to speak…
  **Am I drunk?**
The nymph laughed sweetly. **No,** she said.
**Dead then, surely.**
**No, you are not dead.**
**But, you must be an angel, yes?**
Her skin bore an olive tint to it and shined ever so delicately within the sun*s rays.
**May I ask you something, then?**
She tilted her head slightly. **Of course, you may…**
**Who are you and why are you here? Why am I so lucky as to be able to see such a visage standing before me?**
**That is why.**
**What is why?**
**Because you know the value of what you see.**
**Sorry, it might be because I have just woken up, or am hung over, or am…dead, but, what?!**
**I bear no name. I am merely a member of the forest that you see before you. I am only known to be a nymph, or for some, a woman, just as a bear may be known to be a bear, or a deer is a deer, or a bird is a bird. You are the only one who will ever see me.**
**Uh, followed you all the way to where you said that I am the only one who will ever see you… Sorry, lost it after that. Why now am I the only one who will ever see you?**
**Because, you are he who brings joy to all. You are he who understands all, observes all, appeases to all, entertains all, etc. You are the only one who understands the connection of one living creature to another. You are the only one who would ever be able to fully grasp the beauty found within, the beauty found without, and the beauty present  before you here.**
(To himself - **You got that right…**) To her - **Well, then, where do you go from here?**
**I return back that way.** She pointed towards the tree line.
**Well, uh… Before you go, may I ask one more thing?**
**Of course.**
**Why did you show yourself to me, you know, this way?**
**Because, as in déjà vu, sometimes a man needs to know he is doing the right thing, that he is on the right track, that he is following the plan the way it is meant to be.**
**Sorry, what plan?**
**I must take my leave… I bid you farewell.**
**Yeah, you too.**
**Take care sir Jester.**
**Sir? I am not knighted…**
**In time.**
**Much obliged, then, Ms. Nymph.**
**Live well…** And with that, she faded into the reflection of sun against the river before the jester. He stood, and gestured in a sort of respectful salute directed towards the tree line.
The jester returned to his town of habitation beyond the trees behind him, gave up drink, gave up smoke, and cleared his mind from any hate that may have ever filled it. He had an artist paint a small depiction of the woman whom he had seen that day. He wrote below the image, on a small piece of paper, **Déjà vu visits us all… Who knows when it will visit you?** He left the image in the town-square and ventured off to begin a life anew, free from his own mind, to bring joy and peace unto others…as he had always done.
'Spindle' from 'The Forgiven (Wheel of Torture)' by Jokermagic
'Spindle' from 'The Forgiven (Wheel of Torture)'
Hey there one and all!

This is a sketch of one of the characters, Horus' mechanized arachnid, Spindle.

Hope you enjoy it and please feel free to check out the new serial that I've created entitled "The Forgiven (Wheel of Torture)"

Take care and thank you all for the support!

 - Jokermagician

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The Forgiven
(Wheel of Torture)
Part 2


Horus was always fond of the technological pursuits. When he was a child, he jumped at every opportunity to venture off into the wilderness of computer programming stemming into the initial steps required to create and simulate artificial intelligence. There wasn’t much that he could do at that young of an age, but beginning at such a time when most were still learning the commonalities of society’s grasp did allow him the ability to conform his studies to successful and impactful applications when it came to his future goal. Spending so much time with computers and the ideals of programming in relation to computer science paid off, giving him the credibility necessary to work with companies and corporations in his late teens and early twenties that both directly and indirectly lead to his eventual signing on with the government by the age of twenty-five.
This signing on, as the government referred to it, was not so in Horus’ mind. In fact, this particular phrase that was welded to his past history was far from what Horus would ever agree to remember it as. At the age of twenty-four, a year prior to his signing on, Horus had been working for about a year’s time designing new operating systems at a company that allowed him a comfortable salary and enough freedom, plus time on his own, to work on pursuits of his own choosing. It took him six months to complete, but, Horus had finished constructing and implementing a working prototype of what he felt would be the perfect technological companion for him in time to come while he pursued bigger and better opportunities outside of his place of employment. This companion, at the time, was about one foot tall and one foot wide, weighing in at around seven pounds. Horus had replicated the structure of a spider, a tarantula to be specific, in a metallic alloy form, bestowed with artificial intelligence, almost to the point of true sentience. Horus struggled and writhed within his mentality to find the key to sentience, though his efforts left him with the equivalence of writer’s block…
His initial reason for creating this metallic organism was to aid him in both designing and implementing new and highly stylized metallic infrastructures for other mechanical organisms as well as finding acceptable work-arounds when he would be faced with some sort of bug in the system (pun intended for those who think of other insects when the thought of an arachnid pops up) during the time he was held captive while programming at work. Soon, his intentions and motives would grow and evolve with a fierce hunger hitherto untapped by his mind’s necessitation. Not only did he want this being, which he truly adored beyond any living and breathing organism, to reach full sentience, but he wanted to further his capabilities, further his intelligence, and further his accomplishments in this highly technical realm.
So, he began to work on a project that he codenamed “Forest.” It began slowly, nonetheless, as Horus needed to gather and piece together the wiring, circuits, motherboards, and housing apparatus for all of his creations from scratch. Every day after work, he would retire to a location within the basement of his apartment complex and take on the monstrosity of a task of building, tweaking, re-calculating, re-calibrating, and the like. How was he able to work on such a project without the landlord of the complex knowing? Well, he wasn’t exactly able to without a little bit of help from Fate, or as Horus referred to it – calculated heroism. See, Horus had offered to help his landlord, for free nonetheless, when the wiring on the main garage door to the apartment complex began to fail as it had done, predictably, for years. Why had he done so then and not before? Usually, the wiring would fail, the mechanics of the garage door would short out, and the manager/landlord would call for the normal mechanic to come and fix it for a bitter tasting price. Horus, realizing quickly that the door’s mechanics would fail soon (he had a good eye that could catch small intricacies others might miss within the components of the machine that aided in the gears’ movements), had his small spider like creation stationed in the cement rafters of the underground garage. The spider was trained on the door, monitoring the integrity of the gears. When they finally failed, the spider alerted Horus who ran home from work and awaited the manager’s arrival that night. They conversed when the manager finally came home and Horus offered to fix the system for free, given that the landlord would allow Horus to utilize the spare storage room that no one would touch or enter due to its rodent and, ironically, heavy spider infestation. And so, a wondrous symbiosis was born where Horus was able to work as he pleased with enough space to plant the trees and/or seeds, shall we say, of his “Forest.”
This worked beautifully for quite a while. Seven months down the line, Horus was still working tirelessly on his creations, forming fully operational birds, insects, fish, and other creatures. As soon as he would build one creation, he would test his mind and his abilities by building another creature, more majestic and more involved than the last.
As it has been said, this worked for a while. Through Horus’ work, Spindle, the name of the tarantula that he had created first, was now about two feet long and two feet wide, weighing in at around twenty pounds. As Horus would work on his newest creations, Spindle was given the ability to scour the internet, via tapped in wireless connections, and study up on common behaviors for arachnids, so that he may learn to act as that which he was defined to reflect. He was also given the ability to research the psychoses and psychological nuances of human beings to learn to read, mimic, understand, and interact with Horus and other humans he might come into contact with on a deeper level. Though his understanding and application of the said information wasn’t perfect, by any stretch, he was well read and researched on the subject. There were two other delegated tasks of Spindle’s. One was to monitor energy signatures of the “Forest,” so as to make sure that Horus wasn’t utilizing and drawing in too much energy for his projects which might give away his position and intentions to prying eyes and minds. Another task was to watch for any people who might pass by the entrance or get near the entrance of the “Forest” from the garage through monitoring heat signatures that might advance above the normal range found within the usually empty parking structure.
The problem that Horus didn’t count on was a power surge that had occurred just before he started working the night that everything changed. Spindle was still connected to the charging station that Horus had previously built to allow Spindle the ability to reach the optimal level of energy necessary so as to easily operate at the highest capacity possible. When the power surge hit, it blew a much needed fuse and circuit combination deep within Spindle’s wiring that ran the heat monitoring system. Horus didn’t realize this, as it did not seem to impede Spindle, operationally speaking, in any way, unhooked Spindle from the station, and initiated his start up process. When Spindle was up and running, Horus began Spindle’s normal protocols that ran his main operating system and allowed for Spindle to run through and execute his tasks successfully. As the heat signature component of Spindle’s programming was a last minute add-on to aid in watching for any potential spies or rogues who might try to steal a glance at Horus’ work, Horus had forgotten to program in fail-safes and/or error codes to let him know should that particular system fail. A horridly stupid mistake on his part, he still remembers well and feels terrible about, nonetheless.
That night, the manager of the complex took a stroll into the garage to investigate several complaints about failing electrical outlets, flickering lights, unexplained power losses, and surges within the building. One can imagine his surprise seeing a mobile metallic tarantula working alongside Horus within the storage room that no one dared enter before. The door was slightly ajar, and Spindle’s fragmented and temporarily inoperable heat signature system failed to pick him up. Definitely at a loss for words and fearing for what else may be hidden inside the room, the manager quickly called the authorities to come down and take a look. Oddly enough, upon the 911 operator hearing about the issue and documenting it, she didn’t say that an officer would be sent down to meet the manager. No, for the first time that the landlord had ever heard of in his life, the operator calmly stated that he should return to his apartment, the right people would be contacted, and he would not have to worry about the situation any longer. The landlord was in awe at the strange turn of events, but followed directions as he did not wish to be on the wrong side of the law.
As for Horus… Not knowing that this had unfolded, he continued working well into the night until lights broke through the door behind him, which Spindle was supposed to be monitoring, and he was told both loudly and firmly to get down on his knees with his hands interlocked behind his head. He did as he was asked and was promptly arrested.
Now in jail, he was approached several hours later by a man in a quite expensive black suit.
“Are you Horus?”
“Boy, I’m speaking to you. I’ll ask you again. Are you Horus?”
“Regardless, you listen, and you listen well. My name doesn’t matter to you. I’m only an intermediary. My job was to come down here and speak with you. You’ll be moved to an interrogation room where we can speak freely and openly about your current…situation.”
Moments later, one of the jail’s officers came in and proceeded to lead Horus out of his cell and into an interrogation room, just as the man had said. The officer left and the man in the suit joined Horus, shutting the door behind him.
“Well, here we are. I was told that you are Horus, the man I’m looking for, and that you haven’t said a god damned word since you entered this here jail. I’m surprised, really. Wouldn’t you want to say something for everything that you’ve been working on? Man, I think I might have said something. You know you’ve really given ol’ Big Brother, as some refer to my employer, a run for their money. They’ve got no idea how you have been able to craft everything that you have. I mean, my god, when we raided your place down there in the uh, cellar, or uh garage, whatever, we were blown away! Tell me, how did you get all of that stuff?”
“Damn. You really are the silent type. Well, listen, we’ve got your stuff locked away safe and sound, so don’t worry about that. And your uh eight legged…uh…thing. Yeah, don’t worry about that either. It’s safe with us.”
“It’s a fucking arachnid. A spider. A tarantula, you god damned fool. And he’s my partner. You harm him and I will come after you all.”
“Ah, he speaks! Well, don’t worry my friend. He’s safe and sound.”
“I’m not your fucking friend. Your people arrested me and here I sit having to deal with your fucking dumb ass.”
“Huh. Alright… Creative and colorful word choice nonetheless. Well, guess you want to stay here in this rotting place and never see your work, or your partner again. I’ll leave you to it, but before then, I’ll let you know who we are and why I’m here, so I can at least say that I kept my part of the deal. Sound alright with you?”
“Whatever, you fuckin’ idiot...”
“Right. So, my name, though it probably doesn’t matter, is Detective Burnor and I am here on behalf of the Special Defense’s Division of the government. We are here, approaching you, with your obviously unhindered enthusiasm and positive support for our cause, asking you to join us.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
“There’s that word again. Yeah, well, no. I’m not kidding you. We’ve been watching you for some time. Well, watching is such a strong word. We’ve been aware of your presence and your work, though we haven’t always been able to track your accomplishments as thoroughly and closely as we’ve wanted to. Listen. Kid. You’ve got an amazing talent and we’d hate for it to go to waste. You catch what I’m sayin’?”
Horus sighed and looked away from the man’s eyes to the ceiling.
“Look. We know you’ve got no family. Your mother left you and your brother passed away just this past year. You also haven’t seen your dad after the last war broke out. We get it.”
“No, you fucking don’t get it. You started the fucking war.”
“Well, right. Understood and duly noted. But, don’t you want to be a part of something greater than yourself.”
“And die, or be used, or have my creations thrown into a place where they can destroy others’ lives? No thanks, man.”
“Well, let me tell you. If you don’t join up with us, you’re going to be put in jail for your lifetime, never to see the light of day again, and never to see your creations again. This is your only chance. Take it or leave it. If you take it, you’ll get to have the freedom you truly desire while working for and with us. You’ll also be able to be the head of your own specialized division.”
“Fuck that. I know how that works. Here you go! Here’s your own place, which we will have deciding control over.”
“No, we mean it. Total control. We will work with you as we know your capabilities and desperately wish for your talent to join us. The world needs you right now. Understand that you will be given the freedom you desire and any transgressions will be laid null within the wind. Your record will be wiped clean and –.”
“Wait, wait, wait. I don’t have a record!”
“Not if you join with us you don’t. If you don’t join us, consider yourself an inmate forever. This is your only chance, son. Will you join us?”
Horus sat and thought, tears filling his eyes for being in such a horrid place and with such a suffocating decision to make. Either way, he was trapped. Either way, he was in a place that mirrored the fire and brimstone privy to Hell that society mentions in its sermons and threats. He could only think of the work that he put into Spindle and his other designs and how much potential would be lost if he didn’t take the position and help this hitherto unheard of, to Horus at least, government body. “Will they utilize me for unthinkable destruction and/or the creation of beings that would or could bring about death for multitudes of peoples and cultures?” “Will they be the harbingers of terror and destruction in my mind’s eye?” “Or are they something not to fear?” “Will they actually bring about the opportunity to find the peace that I’ve been desperately searching for…for so long?” “How do I know if this is the right decision to make?” “What do I do?” “How could this all have happened so quickly?”
In the end, it didn’t matter. Horus felt that his hands were tied as he nodded silently towards the man, eyes dripping. That was the night, well, the very early morning, when Horus signed up to be a part of the specialized, government defense task force that Ming was also a part of in the past and returned to today.

The Embers Ignite

Ming, still more than unsure what exactly to do trapped between a behemoth of a mechanized ape and a quickly approaching metallic tarantula yelled at the man who emerged from the doorway near where the ape had just passed by.
“You! Jesus Christ! You, sir, help me! Get help or get someone who knows what to do with these things! Grab a gun or a weapon or something! I’ll be dead if you don’t!”
Horus looked at the soldier and then to the ape.
“Michio, stand down my friend. You’re frightening him. Spindle! Same with you. You’re scaring the hell out of him. Spindle, stay put a moment. Sir? What’s your name?”
Ming, now able to catch his breath and in a bit of a state of shock, shakily returned vocalization with the information that Horus had asked for.
“My name….My name is Ming. I’m a ranged weapons specialist – retired – who was called back in for some reason. And y-… And you?”
“Horus. Pleasure to meet you. I sincerely apologize for Spindle and Michio. They sometimes don’t realize the effect that they may have on others. Would you mind if Spindle was to walk by you to return to me? He won’t harm you, I promise. He won’t even get near you.”
“Uhm… Yes… Yes, I believe that would be alright.”
“Alright then. You heard him Spindle, c’mon back. But, slowly, please.”
The two by two foot being slowly rose back to its feet (it had slumped down, near to the ground when Horus had told him to stand down) and walked towards the corner where Ming had once stood as he watched Michio down the hall. Spindle then took one step…two steps…three legs now attached to the wall and as he gained a foothold, walked as slowly and quietly as possible along the wall, as far from Ming as possible, towards Horus. When he reached Horus, Ming, who had caught his breath by now, began conversing with Horus once more.
“So, that, uhm, spider is yours?”
“Yes, I built him quite a while ago. Beautiful, isn’t he.”
“Surely, yes. Gave me a fright, let me tell you. Incredibly life-like.”
“Fully sentient now, as well. Took me a while, but given my resources, I finally was able to give him the gift. If you didn’t hear me well before, his name’s Spindle.”
“And the ape?”
“That would be Michio.”
“I heard screaming before and noises beyond compare. I came to investigate and -.”
“Yeah… Sorry about that. Like I said, they sometimes don’t realize the shock that they can give to us human beings.”
“Right, but, the noise?”
“Oh! Yes, sorry. That was Michio. He’s been helping me load in parts – circuit boards, transistors, motherboards, gears, pistons, mechanically operable arms - and other sorts of things. Usually he’s not out of the “Forest,” and the other employees of this building don’t see him, but this time I had asked my superiors if he could help with loading in some materials. They said it was fine and we started working. Well, a female employee who was filling in for another who called in sick caught sight of him and jumped a mile, screaming the whole way, which caused ol’ Michio here, who would never hurt anyone that he didn’t have to, to drop what he had in his hands. It scared him too!”
“It scared him?”
“Well, sentience does breed emotion and the application of such emotion, given a human relative psyche, to human interaction.”
“Any ways, I apologize sincerely.”
“No need to. Glad that everything is okay.”
“You said Crimson called you in?”
“Well, I said I was called in, though I never mentioned who. How did you know?”
“Uh, access to the technology running this place. Kind of a given for me. I know who’s comin’ in and who’s comin’ out.”
“Really? Everyone?”
“No, actually I was just kiddin’. I do have amazing resources to pretty much any technological artifact I need, but that’s about it. I was briefed earlier that you’d be coming in as we might potentially be working together. Either way, I see Crimson headin’ down the hall there. Looks like he wants us to head on over to him.”
As Ming turned around, he saw General Crimson, sporting a smirk, waving him over. Ming and Horus walked together, as Michio and Spindle, who was now back on the hallway floor, followed. Ming, forgetting about Spindle for a moment, nearly stepped on him and upon seeing him, jumped again slightly. Horus took action immediately.
“Hey, Michio, Spindle. Why don’t you guys go on back and keep bringing things in. We’ll be back shortly I think. Can’t have Ming here suffering from a heart attack! He’s not used to you guys just yet. Like I said, we’ll be back.”
Like obedient soldiers, they ceased their advance and retreated back to the door where Horus was seen emerging from before.
“Sorry about that, Ming. Maybe after this, we can get acquainted a bit better. Oh shit. Gotta go wash my hands real quick before we all talk. Tell Crimson I’ll be there shortly.”
Ming met General Crimson, saluted him, and even gave him a handshake as he entered the room which Crimson was standing just outside of.
“So, Ming, I see you’ve met Horus and a couple of his minions. Trippy shit, huh? Ha ha… You ought to see his uh, the hell did he call it… Ah, his “Forest.” Ho-ly shit man. Would blow your mind. Blows my mind to see what he’s capable of. Ridiculously brilliant mind. Glad he’s on our side! Ha ha ha. Please, have a seat. Guess Horus will meet us in a sec here.”
“Yeah, he said he had to go wash his hands or something.”
“Sounds about right.”
“He’s a little obsessive compulsive, if you know what I mean.”
“Sounds fairly clear. He’s got OCD?”
“Yeah. Brilliance can have its cost sometimes. Any ways, let’s get to why you’re here. I called you in, from retirement I understand, because we’ve got somewhat of a situation. There’s a small village, or city up Northeast of our position about -.”
“Sorry I’m late.”
Horus walked into the room quickly and stood in front of the conference room’s desk, next to Ming.
“No worries my friend. Sit. I’m just beginning the briefing with Ming here.”
“Oh, alright.”
Horus took his seat next to Ming and gave Ming a quick nod of acknowledgment.
“So, like I was saying, the situation is this. The small village that lies about two thousand miles or so Northeast of our position has had some claims lately of missing townspeople. We’re not sure what’s goin’ on, but we’re more than concerned. The population of the area bears quite a religiously devout context, and some of the reports say that the people believe that Satan himself is taking the people away, never to be seen again. But, it gets stranger still. The only people missing are members of the clergy. Even stranger than that? Some sort of huge, and I mean massive, bunker like structure has shown up several miles outside of town in a heavily wooded area, secluded from the masses for who knows how long. A heavily treaded trail leads there, but, due to the growth of trees and the woodland plants around it, our sources are lead to believe that this thing has been there for quite a while untouched. We’re not sure how long that is, though. Throwing us further into confusion, though, are the facts of the latest disappearance. Two children were seen running toward the structure. They found an opening, a metal doorway, at one end of the quite lengthy building, and proceeded to enter. One of the Fathers, or clergy members, of the church reportedly ran in after them, after being begged by their mother to keep them safe. Oddly, after three hours, the two small boys were noted to have emerged from the other end of the structure unhindered and unhurt. Smiling, in fact, was the word used. The seemingly philanthropic clergy member? He was never seen again. Further, about an hour after the boys were out and after many of the townspeople had arrived, contemplating what to do, they all heard the distinct sounds of screaming…like those of a man in severe pain. They left the scene and sent word for help immediately. That’s where we come in.”
Horus and Ming looked at each other, stuck in a mixed state of confusion, trepidation, and inquisitive fascination with the case.
“We have a lead, regarding a man whom everyone seems to know as Father Grim. He’s one of the clergy members of the church and he was the first to go missing. Strangely, his disappearance coincides with the estimated time of arrival of that bunker out in the woods. People from the town have said quote, “he didn’t seem himself,” a couple days before he went missing. And it wasn’t just him. He was married to a woman by the name…Uh… Let’s see…Oh, well, we don’t have her name at this time. But, whoever she is, she is also reported to be missing. That’s about it. We don’t have much more than that. Oh, wait, I’m sorry. We do have one document collected from outside of the bunker. It’s partially charred from we’re not sure where and it’s also brittle to the touch. But, we believe that it may be from one of the missing clergy members.”
Ming sat up in his chair and cleared his throat.
“How many are missing in total, sir?”
“Good question. Sources say about eight clergy members, nine if you include this Father Grim, are missing. Right, so, I’ll give you this document for you both to read over and I’ll be back in just a minute. Looks like I have something that needs my attention for just a moment. Be back shortly.”
With that, General Crimson left, leaving a yellow-tinted, partially charred piece of paper behind for Ming and Horus to look over. It was written in black ink, in script, and had dirt all over it. They unfolded it more, as it was wrinkled and slightly wadded at its lower half, and read what was written as follows:
“…don’t they get it? …won’t be…away with this anymore…is over. Sel...and not…for something we’re…not…of. We are... We are people. Human beings! Nothing…and…less! We deserve…be able to… Would not He accept that? Is it…as we support…this Earth?”
Horus looked at Ming who stared right back, eyes fully open and with a startled look upon his face. Ming spoke first.
“So, what do you make of that?”
“I don’t know. Seems a bit dark, doesn’t it? Whoever this is, sounds like they’re a bit troubled, maybe?”
“Or at least severely bothered by something.”
Ming and Horus looked away from one another and then back towards the piece of paper. Contemplation abounded in the space between them and silence fell in the room. What did it mean? Who wrote it? Why was it written?
As General Crimson reentered the room, he sat back down, apologizing for his absence. He looked at both Ming and Horus who looked bewildered with the thoughts surrounding that which they had just read. General Crimson, noticing the immense silence, spoke again.
“Well, what do you guys think?”
Ming spoke first, “Well, sir, we’re not sure.”
Horus continued, “Yeah, I mean whoever wrote this seems, well, bothered.”
“Right, as Horus said, General Crimson, whoever wrote this sounds bothered and maybe a little bit defensive as well, looking at a couple of the word choices used there. I don’t know. I don’t believe either of us know what this means yet, sir.”
Crimson looked at them both and smiled.
“Well, gentlemen, that’s where you both come in. You, as well as a couple of other operatives, will all travel to this village and find out what’s going on. We need to know what’s going on as we’re concerned that it could blow up into a national security crisis. Alright? You’ll have just a bit to gather your belongings and you’ll be sent out as soon as possible. We’re glad to have you both here gentleman, and we’re happy that you’ll both be aiding us in this time of need. Now, go gather your belongings and move out.”
General Crimson stood up and shook hands with both Ming and Horus. He then took his leave out the door behind them, leaving the crumpled letter behind for Ming and Horus to take with them to study. About a minute later, they were approached by Christine, the secretary with whom Ming had spoken before, who told them to wait together somewhere while she gathered the briefing papers/documents for their trip. She also said that General Crimson had ordered that their trip would include two preliminary stops where they would pick up the other two operatives, currently stationed at their own facilities.
Horus told Ming that they could go wait in the “Forest” and that Christine would know where to find them as it wasn’t too far removed from their current position. Arriving at the door where the “Forest” was housed, Horus stopped in his tracks, a worried expression painted about his countenance.
“What’s wrong? Are you alright?”
“Yes… I guess I’ll be…alright… It’s just…”
“What’s going on Horus? Tell me what you’re thinking. I’ll help if I can.”
“It’s just…I’m not…I’m not a field agent.”
The Forgiven (Wheel of Torture) Part 2
Afternoon everyone!

I want to thank you so much for viewing this second piece of a larger project in progress! This is the second section/chapter of a novel that is being put out in a serial format. This selection is free! Feel free to enjoy it and show it to others who may enjoy it as well! The project itself is called "The Forgiven (Wheel of Torture)".

Please leave a comment, favorite this project, watch my deviant art profile for more sections to come up, leave questions, pm me about the project and more!

I look forward to being able to take you on a journey unlike any other!

Take care and I hope you enjoy!

 - Jokermagician

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“Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has… It has been two months since my last confession. I accu-. I accuse myself of the following sin…”
“Don’t tell me you’re doing it again, Father Miller! Please tell me you’ve not done it again! You know this faith as well as I. How many more times can we go through this?”
“I know, Father Grim. I. I just couldn’t help myself this time.”
“This time! Have you no recollection of your past? I guess not. Either way… Please, speak unto me your sin.”
“The call of the flesh is so….so….intoxicating. It was the same woman as before. You know who I mean. I found her on the same corner at around 4 a.m., as per the usual. I gave her the payment she required and she allowed me my time. Unfortunately, I cannot say that this was the only time since our last…confessional.”
“Well, I’m sure it wasn’t. How many times, then?”
“Oh… I do wish you wouldn’t ask that! In the past two months, I’ve seen her about five or more times. Please! You cannot breathe a word to those whom hold assets involved with the church’s wellbeing! You know how important they are to this place. I…I beg of you!”
“Father Miller… Be calm, my friend. I will not cast such stones upon you for that which you cannot stray from. I understand that the temptation is as such. You know I do. You also know that I haven’t condemned you, nor told a soul of anything that you have confessed to me before now, right? Then, any breath containing those words that may relate to these instances shall not pass my lips. You are safe, as long as that is the worst of what you have done. Is it? I do hope so. Beyond that, do you understand my position?”
“Yes sir. I shall remember this, your kindness, as always…”
Father Miller left the confessional, heading quickly for the stained glass door that lead out to the dirt road which he took to get home… Father Grim left only a moment later. Grim looked at the stars, slowly inhaling the cool night air tipped with just a hint of moisture and sat down on the front steps.
“They always come to me. I know each and every secret, every sin, every intimate detail of these seemingly pure members of our clergy. Pure only to those who attend, that is. How cruelly they live their lives in the radiating beauty of the sun as the night brings about their darker intentions. Why do they all trust me so? I could ruin this institution (shall I call it that?) in the blink of an eye. I consider the fact that my work and my clear reputation speaks for me. Why else would they entrust such damning evidence to a man of my stature. And to think, a man, barely thirty years of age, being given the ability to be a part of such a wonderful and ultimately peaceful place so early on. I am truly blessed…”


Time and time again, when Ming was called upon by the same phone number, untraceable if you even thought to make an attempt, nonetheless, he knew that something had either happened, or was about to happen. With a heavy sigh, he would usually get up at 3 a.m. sharp, grab the phone off the receiver – yes, he had one of those olden type, cordless, hard wired phone systems so strangely foreign to many today – and answer, awaiting that familiar female voice that always called him in.
“Yes, my dear?”
“Why do you call me dear?”
“Well, because I figured if I was to be thrown off kilter at 3 in the fucking morning, I might as well throw you off kilter as well. Should I not?”
“Christ. Just come in. You know the drill.”
“I’m retired for shit’s sake. I’m not comin’ in.”
“Please don’t do this, Ming. You know what will happen.”
“Ah, fuck it. I’m not doing it this time. I’ve told them multiple times already that I’m done, and damn it, they should respect that, shouldn’t they?”
“Don’t make me do this. I don’t want to have to report you.”
“Then don’t. They’ll never know the difference.”
She sighed. “Yes, they will.”
Ming looked at the floor, tired at the consistency of the arguments always being the same.
“So, knowing that, I’ll be waiting. You’ve got an hour. Gather your stuff and come on in.”
The click of the phone was always the same. Something else to add to the repertoire, or resume, if you’d like, was to commence shortly. What could it be this time? Nuclear attack to be thwarted? Terrorist bombing to prevent? Kidnapping of another president’s wife or daughter? Alien spacecraft to be investigated? Okay… Ming knew the last one more than likely wouldn’t be it, but, speculation and anticipation for it to actually be that just one time made him smile. Thankfully, the base he had to reach wasn’t that far away, so, gathering his stuff and jumping in the shower wouldn’t be that big of a deal before heading off to see what he was to be involved with this time.
There was something, though, that was different this time… He couldn’t put his finger on it. Christine, the receptionist, if you wish to call her that, sounded different…somehow… Why? She sounded quieter. She was usually a bit more enthusiastic, especially about exchanging jokes on the phone. Being a bubbly, congenial sort of employee was a given with her. But, she was more subdued this time. Maybe Ming was looking too far into it. Actually, that was probably it. It had to be it. The real problem he had this time with going in to the base was the fact that he was retired.
Wait. If he was retired, why would they call him in?! That was what was different! The base had called before, spoken with him to check up on him and see how things were going with retired life, but they had never actually called him in a time of need. In fact, though Ming had told them over the phone several times that he was done with that kind of life, Ming was the one who initiated the conversation about going back and his declination of such a situation. He wished to make sure that his stance was clear on the topic. The fact that they had finally asked and that he was giving them exactly what they asked for hadn’t really hit him until he was in the shower and getting ready to get out, dry off, suit up, and move out. Why were they even calling him in the first place? It had been, what, seven years since the last gig, the last mission? Something must truly be wrong. It didn’t bother him anymore that he was being called in. It bothered him more what might be wrong. Either way, it wasn’t like he had anyone to kiss goodbye - a child or a wife – or any family to speak of for that matter. He was a single man married to his job, with the invisible ring of the government around his middle finger. He knew the ring finger was the right one to have an invisible ring on instead of his middle one, but he used his middle finger just a bit more. It aided situations where gesticulation outweighed conversation in his mind.
In his truck and on the road, finally off to the base. Usually, when he was on his way, he would run through the common things he needed to remember and utilize to get into the base and report his presence properly. This included his badge, running by the reception area, signing in at his supervisor’s office, checking in with the General, etc. A lot of it became second nature over time. Even when he might have felt nervous about whatever the future mission might have held for him, he still knew he could count on repetitious activity alighted to these tasks from memory. For whatever reason, these normal, habitual thoughts weren’t being run through as a cascading rolodex, like usual. He was off. He began to feel that he was out of the game.
Quickly pulling up to the base, he became even more anxious. Why should he be nervous? Hell, when he left the place, it was as though he was the fucking king! Returning to his previous place of rule should not have borne any negative consequences other than feeling a little out of shape seeing the newly formed recruits casing out his past and current reasoning for being there. Even with that being the case, as he remembered from time gone by, those very recruits held such reverence and respect for him that Ming had nothing to worry about. Still, something was nagging at him from the start and wasn’t loosening its grasp upon him. He took to a haste filled flight of foot so as to reach his superiors without any more loss of time.
“Morning Christine! How’s it been holding down the fort while I’ve been away?”
Christine rose from her chair and quickly walked towards Ming to give him a hug that told him how dearly she missed him.
“It’s been so long, Ming. It’s wonderful to see you again. Take no more time with me. They need you now. Speak no more – go!”
Ming’s suspicions arose further that something was different. Christine, normally so serene and calm, now bore trepidation and an unsettled gaze. Ming said he’d be back later to catch up and headed off to his superior’s office down the hallway and to the third door on the left. He rapped his knuckles on the wooden door with the name “Crimson” inlayed in gold and awaited the General. Within less than ten seconds, the door opened and Ming was face to face with General Crimson once more.
It had been quite long since Ming had seen General Crimson, yet the reunion and resulting period of recollection and remembrance lasted less than twenty minutes. Ironically, both Ming and Crimson had their own ways of keeping tabs on one another, though they never made contact with one another via phone call, email, or face-to-face conversation since Ming had left his post. This wasn’t a separation of anger, of dishonor, or of anything mirroring an overarching cloud of negativity. Ming knew it was his time to leave, as he had worked for many years and many hours, and Crimson easily accepted Ming’s resignation, welcoming him back at any time he wished. Even so, Ming still felt that any time to go back to war was too soon.
It wasn’t the fact of what he did that marred his mind so. No, in fact, it was how he did what he did that altered his perception of what he was as a soldier. Though he loved to serve his country and aid the government in providing safety and security for all, he didn’t love the fact that he wasn’t allowed to think for himself. He couldn’t make decisions based upon what he felt was necessarily right for the situation. He could only follow orders. This ripped him inside on a nearly constant basis when he was serving, and chemically-induced periods of numbing sedation only served to quell the demons for a short period of time. The mind remembers that which affects it most adversely both in positive reward and negative reaction. Whether pain or pleasure is the poison of choice, the brain will gravitate towards that choice, or stray from that choice, with unusual force and speed given the inherent need for change and/or progression.
When Ming left his rank, and subsequently when he drank (or smoked, or else), he sought to dispel that which haunted him – he had killed many men, women, children, and elders without necessitation of reason or remorse. Again – he was only following orders. Any chance he had of escaping these decisions would be considered desertion, and he just wasn’t the sort. He was a being of strength, in body and soul, and nothing would shake his constitution, not even the vilest of actions. According to his commanding officers, he was doing what was right. According to them, he was protecting hundreds of thousands, no, millions, in fact, of families and allowing children to grow up to make their own decisions about their present and their future down the line. What he was doing was the right thing. He was giving himself up, totally and completely, for the common good.
After their time of remembrance ended, General Crimson welcomed Ming to sit in one of a couple chairs near the front entrance of the military installation, or to explore the complex for a while on his own to view the changes that had taken place since he had been involved years prior. Crimson had a couple things to attend to and would then be able to brief him about why he had been called in. Ming took the chance to explore, thanked Crimson, and set his eyes due North of his position. He began his trek, passing the threshold of the main entrance where he initially came to an eight-foot wide walkway that split, about two hundred feet away from his current position, into two separate, thinner hallways breaking from the center to his left and right. Walking down the hallway, he found his eyes skimming along the walls sitting within his periphery. Plaques, notices, bulletins, technologically oriented and business related posters alike dressed the otherwise chrome-plastered, metallic ceiling supports. Ming had walked this specific walkway before. He’d always felt it odd that the hallway was able to be spoken of, and was spoken of, for that matter, yet the building’s existence, where he was currently located, had a slew of controversies surrounding whether it was tangible or just a conspiracist’s dream.
Yes, it’s true! Rivaling only, and subsequently beat out by, the controversies and conspiracies of the famed Area 51, the complex that he was standing in once more held innumerable theories and stories that confused the uninitiated masses. “Does it exist?” “Where is it?” “Did it ever exist?” “If so, who even works there or who has previously worked there?” “Why all of the secrecy?” “Will we ever know?” Ming recalled all of the questions that he had once heard and was privy to at a time when he wasn’t fully involved within this particular shade of the government’s defense department. He realized, possibly for the first time, how much of it really mattered given the circumstances that he once knew to be his daily life. Honestly, none of it mattered. Further, he felt that he was most likely better off having not been involved or fully able to answer the question of “the building’s” existence then than he was now. In any case – that’s probably a subject better left for another time and place. Understandably, such a digression’s effect on his path of rediscovery, and anything for that matter, rarely amounts to a positive aspect other than a resulting nullified solution. That being said, Ming reoriented himself and brought his concentration on exploration back to the forefront.
Upon reaching the fork of the walkway, Ming utilized his senses of sight and hearing which relayed to him the fact that just a few yards further from where he stood, a cacophony arose from the ambience of the business oriented and somewhat stern atmosphere. He could hear papers flying and tension rising. Acting quickly and fearing for the worst, Ming took to his heels so as to be able to aid in the situation, whatever it may be, if possible. Passing employee after employee of the military installation in the hallway, quickly assessing them to make sure that they were well, he came to a corner which broke off to his right. Remembering his training, he hugged the wall with his back to the edge of the corner, took a deep breath, and carefully leaned out to see what the situation was.
To say that he was dumbstruck would have been an understatement. What he saw seemed to defy the laws of logic in the natural world. “What the hell? What is that? A creature? An ape? But, it doesn’t seem like it’s real. It seems to be… No, it couldn’t be. A machine?! Here? How?” He turned back from leaning out beyond the protection of the wall to contemplate what his next move would be. As he did so, he heard metallic pings approaching him from his left side - from the direction of the hallway that he had previously ran down to get to his current position. As he looked, he realized that he was in much deeper than he originally believed. A metallic creature, about a couple feet long and a couple feet wide, approached him. It was… It was a tarantula… A metallic tarantula. Ming couldn’t help it. He had a horrible fear of arachnids. He nearly jumped out of his skin, running back towards the wall across the hallway, out from the protection of the corner where he took his first position of strategic inquisition as to how to handle the situation from which the cacophony arose. As he hit the wall, his blood pumping furiously in the midst of his body’s fight or flight response system, the mechanized ape down the hallway, now to his left, caught sight of him, stood up straight, boasting about a solid six to seven foot vertical rise, and began to approach. Ming felt that he was in trouble and could think of nothing else to do except hope that someone would come to his aid. In a split second, the thought of the irony hit him. “I go to try to save others and fuck myself over in the process. Great job, Ming. Great fucking job.”
The Forgiven (Wheel of Torture)

Morning everyone!

I want to thank you so much for viewing this initial piece of a larger project in progress! This is the first section/chapter of a novel that is being put out in a serial format. This selection is free! Feel free to enjoy it and show it to others who may enjoy it as well! The project itself is called "The Forgiven (Wheel of Torture)".

Please leave a comment, favorite this project, watch my deviant art profile for more sections to come up, leave questions, pm me about the project and more!

I look forward to being able to take you on a journey unlike any other!

Take care and I hope you enjoy!

 - Jokermagician

Peace is finding equilibrium in a world of chaos.
Love is bringing others into that equilibrium, even if they don’t know how to find it themselves.
Happiness is the culmination of many acting upon these same simplistic principles to form an everlasting chain.
Life is learning to find and execute these moments when deep in the trenches of the roughest of times.


Artist | Student | Traditional Art
United States
I'm an artugician. (That is artist, magician, musician, hahaha...) Very interested in art. Trying to refine and advance my skillset in figure drawing (or life drawing), storyboarding, and more. (P.s. - If anyone has any photographs I may use as reference images for my sketches, that would be greatly appreciated!)

And in regards to my work, whether sketches or literary content, I welcome comments and critiques! Thank you!

I am also heavily into video and computer gaming. I have studied and will continue to study computer programming. And more...

Take care!


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niffenegger Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2015
Jokermagic Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Wonderful work niffenegger!
niffenegger Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2015
Cheers (:
Jokermagic Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Same to you sir!
tatehemlock Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2015  Professional Photographer
Thanks so much for the faves!
Jokermagic Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Yeah, absolutely!

Your work is phenomenal - keep up the great (art)work!

Have a great weekend and take care!

 - Jokermagic
tatehemlock Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2015  Professional Photographer
You as well! See you sooooon!
marystk Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2015
thanks for the :+devwatch:
Jokermagic Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Absolutely! Great stuff! Love your work!

May I ask something through pm about use of the images?

Thank you so much and take care!

 - Jokermagician
marystk Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2015
thanks a lot!

And no problem, I'm waiting for your pm.
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