Ben Venice II: The Season of the Scorpion 5



He stared out at the city, Manhattan unfolding its legs for him as he watched from his penthouse apartment. He imagined it aflame. Explosions, smoke, bright lights going supernova and then embering out forever. One last, big wipe out. The screams would sound like a symphony.

He took no joy in his cruel thoughts, his midnight day dreams of death and destruction. Only a measure of solace that one day would be his day, and all must end. God would pay for creating him. He would make him sorry.

Here in his home, he wore no masks. His nude skin was white to the point of near translucence, his veins blue. He licked his teeth, tasted the cocaine and ash. He bit his tongue until he added blood to the cocktail.

He stood tall in his black stiletto heels. Hands clenched, he leaned forward, pressed his forehead to the glass. He closed his eyes tight, then punched with his left fist, then his right, then his left again, and again, and again.

The phone would ring. There would be a female voice. She would say “High Priest, the rumors are true.”

And then he would say “It is the Season Of The Scorpion, and our sign is ascendent. The toad dies in Dallas.”

But until then, the knuckles would be pummeled to swollen meat, the eyes would remain closed tight, and the window would stain with blood.

Fiction, Life

Ben Venice: G.H.O.S.T. Agent 8


“Hello, Sergeant Venice. Or Mister Venice, if that’s your choice. This is not a strictly military unit, as you might’ve gathered. I’m General Lawrence Schwartz. If you are seeing this, then I am dead or as good as dead, and our mutual friend Bud has elected to not take control of GHOST, which was, honestly, my preference.”

Bud had set the projector up on the large desk, and he and Ben took the seats that were situated in front of it it, watching the filmstrip on the screen before them. They were watching the somewhat surreal sight of a man who had been filmed there at that very spot. It was as if he was still there, only flat and celluloid.

“You have probably heard rumors and any number of crackpot theories in your lifetime about an Illuminati, a secret group of kingmakers and master manipulators who decide the course of civilization through shady and sometimes even sadistic means. Most of those theories are most likely absolute malarky, but a few -at least a few- are true. This news might be hard to hear and even harder to believe, but President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was murdered at the behest of a clandestine cabal, after he was brought irrefutable proof of their existence and cruel machinations, and began plans to remove them from the planet.”

Ben was chilled to the bone by what he was hearing. The assassination of the President never sat right. He took a moment to consider how likely he would be to believe this theory if it wasn’t being presented to him in a lavish yet bizarre lair that required an oceanic trip in a tiny sub to find.

“Their act was taken as a declaration of war, not by the United States Government, aspects of which are unfortunately under their control, but by us. GHOST. We began as a paramilitary project designed to snuff out this high functioning cult once the President was briefed on investigations Bud made while he was with the CIA. I only regret that I did not survive to see the battle taken directly to the source. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. You might have heard of my apparent plane crash death. Well, that was at the behest of Jack Kennedy. I turned my back on my entire life because my friend asked me to, just as you have done..” 

“Guess I did, huh?” Ben said, with a scoff. He remembered the news of the General’s plane crash, and how his son supposedly died with him. Remembering back, that son looked a lot like Red.

“As did Bud, for that matter. I’ll leave it to him to tell you about his own experience. It was such a classified matter that we had to be gone completely, without a trace. After our ‘death,’ we began the work of establishing our own countermeasures against our spectral enemy, by trying out some of their own tactics. We are all off the books. Deceased. We have in our hands some very valuable counterintelligence, and as you’ve seen, more than a few technological wonders beyond anything that the world knows exists.  

“But the most useful tool, the most potent weapon that we hold, is our personnel. I wish I could have met you, Ben. I hope that you’re everything that Bud has said you are, because a heavy weight now sits on your shoulders. Godspeed, and never hesitate.”

With that, the film ended, and the film flip flap flipped on the projector. Ben reached into his inside jacket pocket, pulled out his smokes, lit one, then sat for a moment before he spoke.

“Holy shit.”