“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”

William Shakespeare, The Tempest

 

CHAPTER 1

 

A seething river of conflicting emotions flooded through Erik. He unclenched his teeth. “Guten Abend, Mutter. Good evening mother,” he said glaring down at the tombstone that read “Eva Orsic, 1945-1991.” There were no other embellishments, not “beloved mother” nor “devoted wife.” Neither of those statements could be made about the woman who had given birth to him.

 

“I’m sure you remember Jimmy Rizzo.” Even in the chilled night air, red-hot venom churned in his gut. “I shot him in the head this evening. It was immensely satisfying.”

 

An involuntary smile wormed itself past his lips.

 

In his mind’s eye, the carcass that had been rotting for twenty years six feet beneath him shifted in its coffin. Just as her corporal body never could constrain a life force as powerful as hers nor, he feared, could any amount of earth. Even in death, he felt the undeniable weight of his mother’s will clawing at his brain for control. Repelled by the thought that it was her ever-powerful Vril that compelled him to make these periodic nightly treks, he stepped back from the granite marker as if to break free from her grasp.

 

“Get out of my head, you wretched bitch!”

 

His skin crawled beneath the foam latex mask disguise he wore. He ripped the prosthetic persona of Dorian Klain from his face and inhaled several desperate breaths to rein in his rage.

 

The fragrance of decaying floral arrangements flittered across his senses.

 

His breathing normalized.

 

The smell of death in the profoundly black night air both soothed and invigorated him.

 

A creature of habit and a slave to compulsion, he recited an ancient Aryan prayer for a soul not worth saving. Then, he yanked down his zipper and urinated on his mother’s grave, leaving him immensely satisfied.

 

As the rhythmic clattering of trees that surrounded the cemetery drummed a marching cadence, Erik Orsic forced himself erect and performed a militarily trained about-face.

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