Yeah, I know, I organized the dumb thing and then can’t even get my act together on time. But here is my story for the third entry in Dave White and my Blog Short Story Project. You wanna make something of it?
I AM NOT PAUL AVERY
By Bryon Quertermous
One comment, that’s it. I bare my soul to the world and truly tap my well of obsession and all I get out of the deal is one friggin’ comment. Maybe there would be more later. The computer bloops as I click on the comments link and I immediately recognized the icon on the poster’s profile.
This is the Zodiac speaking. Finally someone has realized that though one Zodiac sign is now in the heavens, there has always been two sign at work. The world has been mad aware of one Zodiac, I am here to make you all aware of the remaining Zodiac. Do not think I am a copycat. I know details of the crimes only the real killer would know. And now, you, faithful servant of the people, have a chance to be made famous as I will be made famous. I will include a cipher with my next communication. You will run it on your blog and link it to all of the blogs on your blogroll. My identity will be in that cipher. If you do this, you will be made famous. If you do not. may god have mercy on your soul for the killing will begin again. Zodiac out.
My BS Detector is in full alert after reading that. It sounds phony, and contrived, and doesn’t list a single original thought other than the fact that there were two Zodiac killers. Allegedly. It was never an official possibility, and even the thousands of amateur sleuths who’d obsessed over the case since then had failed to make any sort of noise regarding that idea. But it seemed the most obvious answer to me.
I read through the note again and the more I read it, the more it starts to take on a sense of authenticity. Maybe I’m just seeing and hearing what I want to hear in the note because it has been so long since anyone believed me. Finally I close out of the note and put the computer away. I still had a job to go to, one I hadn’t lost yet due to my obsession, and I was determined to make this work. I might not be able to prove there were two Zodiac killers, but I could certainly muster up enough authority to confirm whether my clients wanted fries with their orders.
* * *
Two Days Later
The IM pops up on the screen in the middle of my best World of Warcraft session in ages. I’m ready to close it out when I notice the logo again.
IAmAlsoZodiac: You believe in me, don’t you?
IAmNot PaulAvery: Where did you get this screenname from?
IAmAlsoZodiac: You did not mention me on your blog.
IAmNotPaulAvery: You haven’t given me anything to mention yet.
IAmAlsoZodiac: So you will post my new cipher?
IAmNotPaulAvery: Does it really contain your identity?
IAmAlsoZodiac: Do you think you can solve it?
IAmNotPaulAvery: Nobody was able to solve any of them except the first one.
IAmAlsoZodiac: My partner got too complicated. I wrote the first one.
IAmNotPaulAvery: Well send it along then.
IAmAlsoZodiac: Do you realize how hard it is to be scary over IM? I want to do our famous heavy breathing phone act, but you don’t have a phone, do you?
IAmNotPaulAvery: You don’t need one these days.
IAmAlsoZodiac: I miss the good old days.
* * *
One hour later
This cipher is much easier. I’m still not able to solve it on my own though so I have a friend over to help me. He used to be a cop and he’s looking for his way back onto the force. He lost his job because of his obsession, just like me.
“I think I have it,” I say, brushing away the popcorn kernels and caffeine pills. “This is Greek, and it’s obviously a T.”
“And the O and the M, are from Naval codes, right?”
“This one was the hardest though, but I think it’s a C. Which would make the rest of the name…”
“What? Tell me? I don’t get it.”
“Are you sure you want it?” I ask.
“I just want the truth.”
I write out the rest of the name and push it across the table to my friend.
“You can’t handle the truth,” I say.
“This is some risky business now,” he says back.
Now that I have effectively lowered the bar for everyone else. Here are the rest of the stories in the project:
Stephen D. Rogers
Pari Noskin Taichert
David J. Montgomery
More links will be added as the day progresses I’m sure.