PAINE

Roger Paine had an exemplary knack to living up to his surname. He took great pleasure in going against anything and everything mankind stood for. If someone said the sky was exceptionally blue that day, Roger, just to aggravate the person, would blatantly state ‘too many dark clouds.

It was this attitude at life that caused the rich, and obnoxious Roger to finally embrace a fitting demise. His wealth was self-made. He took advantage of the superstitious, and the elderly who firmly believed in his ‘secret ways’ of staying young.

He would take a picture of a person, making sure they held a dated paper in front of them to help him prove his technique. He would then be gone for two days.

When he came back he would tell them that he needed to enter the ‘other dimension’ in order to carry out his work. He would then show that person the picture he took of them. They would look decidedly different.

They looked younger. That was when he explained that the effects of the other dimension could only be done there. The person seeking a renewed youth had to cross over with Roger. No one ever refused to go.

The sceptics would accuse him of fraud, although they had no way of proving it. The believers lined up with money in hand for their chance to go to and re-emerge from the other dimension, a much younger person. All this was done in the inner circles of the rich and stupid.

Once they were in his claws for any money they had no choice but to continue to wait for their ‘turn’ to become younger. All this was done with the caveat that no one could tell another person as to what he is doing.

The biggest reason… outside of ignorance on their part… No one ever went to the police because no one ever survived the trip to the cabin where he took his victims on the ruse that the dimensional wall existed in a remote area. He claimed to have found the rift while hunting.

When he realised what he had found, he immediately purchased the land and built a cabin around it. His preposterous story was well received by the poor fools looking for the fountain of youth. They found instead their final resting place.

The vanity of the rich prevented them from hiring people who would eventually find Roger’s secret prior to signing over almost every cent they owned. A good investigator would have discovered Roger’s brilliant scheme by quite simply following him to his loft where he did his trick photography.

A simple computer program is used to cut, splice, enhance, and add shades of colour to the photos he took of the victims. The whole process took all of one hour. To give the process seriousness he would remind the victims it would take the two days he mentioned at the beginning of their meetings.He carried out his plans like a war-time general does. Each step of the way is carefully laid out.

Roger Paine sat drinking a refreshing Manhattan Iced Tea when a middle-aged man approached and asked, “are you by any chance, Roger Paine? I’m looking for Roger Paine who says he can perform miracles.”

Roger laughed softly and looked up at the man standing in front of him. Before he answered the question, he took a quick, but accurate note of the man’s demeanour and dress.

He looked peaceful enough and his clothes were definitely not off the rack. “Yes. I’m Roger Paine. I don’t do miracles. There is no proof that miracles exist. If you’re that ignorant then we will not have any further conversations.” Roger was living up to his negative reputation.

“Maybe I should introduce myself. My name is Wolff. I. M. Wolff of Wolff Industries. Perhaps you’ve heard of my company?”

Roger almost spilled his drink attempting to stand up and shake the hand of a very rich and important man. He caught himself and shook off the instant feeling of being overwhelmed by having I.M. Wolff talking to him.

His voice trembled as he tried to speak as if this man, Wolff, was just another Joe on the street. “I… I’m happy to meet you, sir. I am sorry for trying to brush you off.

I get tired of freeloaders hitting me up for special deals in my line of work.”

Wolff smiled and took a chair. “Mr. Paine, if you had acted any way other than how you just did, then I would have said I approached the wrong man.

Sir, you do have a reputation of being… shall we say… unfavourable to be around. So it was no surprise to me that you treated me the way you did. Let us forget the immediate past and concentrate on the very near future. What do you say to that?”

Even with such a prominent figure as Mr. I. M. Wolff, one of the richest, most powerful men in the country seated in front of him, Roger Paine would not let up from his uncouth character.

He sipped his drink and coldly stated, “Who would have thought that a big shot like you would come to a common man such as myself for help with your life?”

Unflustered by Roger’s attempt at being brash, I.M. Wolff said, “Please, sir, do not come to any conclusions until you hear what I have to say. You see, Mr. Paine… may I call you Roger? Good,” He took Roger’s quiet stare as a yes.

Actually, it was bewilderment in him that the man, Wolff, did not respond as expected. “Is there something wrong, Roger? You look peaked.”

It had been a long time since the evil-mouthed Roger was stuck for words. He made a mental note to mark this day on his calendar. “I’m sorry,” He lied. A thought of what I need to do later this evening crossed my mind as you were talking. Please continue.”

Wolff knew Roger was lying, but didn’t seem to care. He smiled knowingly and continued. “You see, Roger, I need your services for someone very near and important to me. He is getting on in age and strangely, he likes to roam around at night. He is the one who first heard of you. Evidently the denizens of the night know more about your work than the average Joe out here.

My man, Lobo, that’s his name, has a serious sleeping disorder. There are times when he prays for a good night’s sleep. We feel that your age reducing method may be the answer to his problem. He feels that the older he gets the more restless nights he has. Does any of this sound plausible to you?”

Roger was already counting in his mind the riches he’ll get off of this sucker. Wolff’s abrupt silence brought him back to the present. “Ah, plausible? Yes. As a matter of fact that is one of the determining factors in the need for the treatment,” he lied. “So many of my clients have complained about sleep deprivation that I have developed an easier process just for them.”

His lying was so convincing that he started to believe it himself.

“Good!” I.M. Wolff said, happily. Would the twenty-fourth of this month be too soon? That is only four days from now. I’m sure Lobo can make the time. Oh, one more thing…”

Roger paled. ‘Here it comes.’ He thought to himself. ‘The caveat, the catch. Go ahead, big man, take your shot.”

“I have two more questions for you. One being; is a million dollars, in cash, a proper amount? If not…”

“A million dollars will be fine.” Roger answered, trying not to sound giddy over that much cash.

“Your other question?

“Ah, yes. Would it be inconvenient if it were held at night. Say two hours after dark. Lobo is very conscientious about his appearance. He is extremely uncomfortable around people. That is another reason he roams at night. Fewer people are around. So… Do we have a deal?”

Roger was beside himself. He couldn’t believe that he was about to screw ol’ man Wolff. To make it sound more convincing, he directed the events for that night. “Tell your man Lobo, to meet me here, at this café at seven o’clock that night.

Bring the money and come alone. I will drive him to the cabin where we will change him for good. It takes about an hour to get there and another hour to set things up. Does this meet your approval?”

Wolff stared at Roger for a moment, which had him thinking Wolff changed his mind. He felt a shot of relief when the rich man answered him.

“Actually, Roger, the money is here, with me. You can have it right now if you want it.” He held out a manila envelope. “As far as you’re driving… no problem. Lobo never did learn to drive. I hope we have concluded our business. I have some arrangements to make for my dear friend Lobo after your treatment for him.”

For a fleeting moment Roger panicked. He forgot about making excuses as to why people don’t show up right away after their treatments. He put something together quickly in his head and decided to bluff his way for now.

“I am sorry, Mr. Wolff. I believe I forgot to tell you that sometimes a client has to enter the dimensional barrier for a little longer than most who have this work done to them. Are we still okay with the idea?”

Wolff remained silent for a moment as though mulling over what Roger said. Finally he spoke, “All I want is for Lobo to be happy. If he comes back in a day or a year, it doesn’t matter to me. I just owe him all that I am. So this is my way of thanking him. Yes, Mr. Roger Paine, we have a deal.” He reached to shake hands with Roger. With that done, both men turned and went their own way.

A four day wait for Roger was no big deal. He had to be nowhere important. By his own arrogant actions, he had no one to associate with. So time was irrelevant. He passed the four days going over new ways to fleece any prospective suckers seeking the proverbial fountain of youth. Time has passed and he sets out for the café to meet his newest victim.

As he enjoys a sip of brandy from his flask, Roger hears a noise behind him. He slowly turns around as he puts his hand on the small gun he carries in his pocket. Fully turned now, he sees something he hadn’t expected to see.

The figure in front of him stood about normal height, but had one distinguishing feature. He wore a hood over his head. Roger Paine stepped back one pace and asked the figure if he needed something.

“I, I am, Lobo.” A mild, but steady voice said. “I believe Mr. Wolff told you about my dilemma.”

Roger quickly recovered from his mild shock in seeing a hooded being standing in the almost dark passageway to the café. “Yes. I figured you must be him. Not too many people run around with a bag over their head.” He answered in his usual sarcastic manner.

“I am not here for verbal abuse. If you are not going to help me… just say so. I’m sure Mr. Wolff will be happy to retrieve his money from you.” He posed himself as if ready to walk away at a given second.

“Hold it, hold it. I’ll do it. I just tried to lighten things up a little,” he lied. Mr. Wolff said you were a sensitive fellow, so I just thought that… .“ He was cut off by Lobo.

“Please, Mr. Paine, I do not need your sympathy or empathy. I just need you to take me to this so-called secret world to help my condition. Now, where is your mode of transportation?”

“My mode of transportation? I didn’t think anyone in the modern world spoke like that.” Roger Paine shook his head in disgust at the way this meeting had gone so far. “Look, Mr. Lobo, I think we should try and start over again. I didn’t… .” Again, Lobo cut him off.

“I know exactly what you were doing. You were attempting to ridicule me as you do with everyone you come into contact with. I have been around too long to be affected by someone of your low calibre. Let us proceed with our mission. Where is your vehicle?”

Without saying another word Roger pointed to a car parked a few feet away. The fear of being verbally shot-down again by this hooded being was too much for his ego. The trip to the cabin was done in silence.

Entering the cabin, Roger lit the oil lamp on the small table next to the door. He apologised to Lobo for the lack of electricity, then caught himself. He couldn’t believe he apologised… that was a first for him.

Lobo broke his silence. “Is this entire cabin a gateway to this dimension you claim to be able to open up, or is there a special spot we stand in? If no special area is needed, then I prefer that we stand on your front porch.” Not waiting for Roger’s reply, he opened the door and stood on the porch, gazing into the night sky.

As he was getting out his large calibre revolver he kept in the table’s drawer Roger had his back to Lobo so the man couldn’t see his actions. Not realising Lobo had already gone out. He turned around before handling the weapon and started to say “you may be anywhere you want to be.

Please, step out onto the porch and I will join you momentarily,” he then saw the man was outside. He took the moment to retrieve his revolver.

He held it behind him as he joined Lobo in the night’s darkness, saving the minor glow from the lamp inside the cabin. Before Roger could make his move and dispose of Lobo, his victim, with his back to him, asked something that took Roger by surprise.

“Just how many people have you killed in this bloody game you’re playing?” With that asked, Lobo took off his hood to reveal his identity to Roger. It was I. M. Wolff. “You see, my dear Roger Paine, you made a grave mistake one month ago… today. You took one of my dearest friends out to this slaughter house in the woods. You killed him for a miserable small sum of money.

He broke his vow of silence to you about your work, and had told me of your enterprise. Being of the curious nature, I decided to follow your ventures to gather enough information about you to warn my friend Jackson that what you were doing is impossible.

I was too late in telling him what I had found out about you. You managed to get him up here just one day before I could warn him.

It is too late to help poor Jackson, but I can still stop you from preying on anyone else.” He paused to look at Roger, hoping to see fear in the man’s eyes. What he saw was the normal cold uncaring look Roger Paine was known for.

Roger pulled the gun from behind him and pointed it at Wolff. He smiled and coldly stated his intentions. “You, sir, are a fool, albeit a rich fool, but a fool to think you can leave here alive.”

The still of the night was suddenly shattered with a loud, evil horrifying laughter. I.M. Wolff’s face had a contorted look to it. What he said next caused Roger’s blood to drain to his feet. “Tell me, Roger, do you know what a Lycanthrope is?” He waited a moment for the now scared Roger to say something. All he heard was silence from the night. “Obviously, Roger, you are too scared to speak or you really don’t know the answer.

“Allow me to explain. Some people refer to Lycanthropes as werewolves. Yes! I said werewolves. You see my friend there are various types of Lycanthropes. Some become the wolf only on moon-lit nights. Others have to be in an agitated state.

Then there are others like myself. We become a wolf at any given time. That gun you have is not going to stop me, Roger. In order to kill me, you will have to place at least two shots into my heart to totally obliterate the organ.

The nonsense about silver bullets killing us was created by story-book writers. There are only a few ways to stop us. One is that gun of yours. Unfortunately for you, a shaking hand is not accurate.

So Roger, before I rip out your heart and devour it, I’m going to allow you to make peace with your maker. On second thought, I don’t think you have a god. Good-bye Roger Paine. With that said, I.M. Wolff became the monster he is and relieved his victim of his heart.

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