The Last of Us [Murder at The Dakota]

72094a70-d7ed-11e4-9748-3fd77e204473_8409531487_c93dacf41f_kConsidered Manhattan’s most exclusive building, the Dakota is a co-op built in 1884 on the corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West on the Upper West Side. John Lennon was murdered outside in 1980, and his widow, Yoko Ono, still lives in their apartment. The building was also the setting for Roman Polanski’s classic 1968 creeper, “Rosemary’s Baby.”

The perfect setting for an old-fashioned, “dead body in a locked room” whodunit.

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The Endless Night, The First 16 Pages – [an excerpt from IUP, Book 01]

Poisen Elves
Be careful what you wish for … sometimes you get it

Click on the image of Jenny Miller, Mondo’s BFF, to read the pages … Enjoy … :)

 

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Dr Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip — The Only True Disability in Life is a Bad Attitude

Positive ThinkingTake a look at any of the Olympic Games that have ever been held. You may notice one outstanding characteristic of the winners. Very few of them were “natural-born” athletes. But almost all of them had a totally awesome attitude.

In fact, many of the winners would have seemed the least likely to win, considering all the obstacles they had to overcome. Some of the winners were handicapped, injured, or disabled at one or more points in their lives, but that didn’t stop them. They had an attitude that more than made up for any lack of aptitude.

And the really good news is that you can have a similar, powerful, positive attitude.  You really can.  You can have an attitude that will take you across the finish line in every part of your personal and professional lives.  It’s one of the 12 key take-aways from my “Journey to the Extraordinary” program.

Of course, if you’re cynical, you might say, “Yeah, attitude works in sports, but it doesn’t really matter in the business world.”  Oh really?

1. Executives with the right attitude are much more effective.

Telemetrics International studied 16,000 executives who had risen to the top of their various corporations, but they were divided into “high achievers” and “low achievers.” In other words, some were effective, and some were not.

What was the difference? The high-achieving executives had a positive attitude toward their employees.  They believed in their employees.  They trusted the ability of their subordinates.  They sought out their advice. And they cared about their employees as well as their profits.

By contrast, the low-achieving executives had a negative attitude towards their employees.  They avoided communication with them, seldom seeking their input or truly listening to them, relying on impersonal policy manuals and formal procedures instead.  And they were more concerned about their own security than anything else.  (Sounds a bit like Congress, doesn’t it?)

So it’s obvious that the right attitude makes a huge difference.

That being the case, WHAT does a good healthy positive attitude look like?  I write about that extensively in my new book, The Payoff Principle: Discover the 3 Secrets for Getting What You Want Out of Life and Work.  For starters, let me suggest that…

2.  A person with the right attitude moves from failure to failure with undiminished enthusiasm.

Instead of getting overly upset by the failure, instead of putting himself down, he focuses on how he can do better the next time.  And as a result, he is eventually and inevitably a winner.

3.  A person with the right attitude welcomes problems.

I know, it sounds strange, but I often ask my audiences how many of them like problems. Very few people raise their hands. Then I tell them you’d better like problems unless you like unemployment — because customers hire you to solve problems.

Suddenly, a few light bulbs go on, and people get it.

Of course, the most important question of all, when it comes to attitude, is HOW do you get and keep a strong, healthy, positive attitude?  Again, it’s one of the 12 key take-aways from my “Journey to the Extraordinary” program.

Time and space doesn’t allow me to expound of all those HOW’S or all those techniques right now, but you can start with this.

4.  To improve your attitude, change the channel.

You attitude is like a filter. When you observe life through a particular attitude, you can only receive certain information. The rest is unavailable.

It’s like having your TV tuned to NBC. You’re not going to see any shows on CBS, no matter how hard you try. You can go to therapy, join a support group, or take assertiveness training. You can even buy a hi-tech, multi-channel satellite dish, but no matter what you do, if you don’t change the channel, you’ll still be watching NBC.

The same is true of your attitudes. Your attitudes won’t let anything in except those things that fit with the attitudes you already have. For example, if you believe “life is hard,” you won’t have much fun in life. If good times come, you may tell yourself, “This won’t last.

On the other hand, if you believe “life is good and getting better,” you’ll probably have a lot less stress. Even when difficulties come, you may be thinking, “This won’t last…and it’s always darkest just before the dawn.

The lesson is simple. If you don’t like how things are going, if you don’t like how you’re feeling, change your attitude channel. That’s what Leonardo da Vinci had to do when he was painting “The Last Supper.

Da Vinci had painted the face of Judas to look like a personal enemy of his. As he thought about how much he disliked the man, it was easy to paint the face of Judas to look like his enemy.

However, when it came time to paint the face of Jesus, da Vinci had great difficulty. His eyes would wander to the face of his enemy, and thoughts of his enemy made it impossible for him to concentrate on the goodness of Jesus. In fact, da Vinci succeeded in painting the face of Jesus only after he painted out the face of Judas and reconciled with his enemy.

In essence, da Vinci couldn’t change until he changed his attitude. Until he changed his attitude of “get even with your enemies,” to “love your enemies,” he found himself stuck.

So if you don’t like how things are going, if you don’t like the results you’re getting on and off the job, change your attitude channel.

Final thought:  When you change your surroundings, you change the present, but when you change your attitudes, you change your future.

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如何中国股市冒泡……然后爆 / How China’s stock market bubbled … then burst

By | YAHOO! Finance | Original Source

As you may have noticed the Chinese stock market has been going haywire lately, causing stocks in the U.S. and around the world to gyrate wildly. Why did the Chinese market go up so much and then go way down? Why is it affecting the market here? How much damage could Chinese turbulence cause to the U.S. And where do Chinese stocks go from here?

Much of the turmoil is actually the result of the Chinese making huge changes in their economic policy and financial regulations.

“The Chinese government is trying to undertake a great number of reforms at once,” says Bob Hormats, a former Goldman Sachs (international) vice-chairman and a one-time Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs. “They want market forces to have an bigger role (in) driving their economy and in that process there’s bound to be some big bumps in the road.” By big bump Hormats is referring to the recent wave of selling in Chinese stocks highlighted by an 8.5% plunge this past Monday. The Chinese government has tried to stop the slide by buying stock in Chinese companies and by limiting the sales of shares. Perhaps that plan worked, perhaps not. In any event the Chinese market has stabilized by midweek. But traders fear that more selling is in the offing and that government action could prove to be ineffective. On the other hand, maybe Chinese stocks are due for a run up. Did I mention that before the selloff, Chinese stocks had been on an absolute tear?

To understand how the Chinese market came to this place, here’s some context:  First, when you hear commentators talk about the Chinese stock market, they usually mean the Shanghai Stock Exchange, now one of the world’s biggest—ranked by the total value of the companies on each exchange. (China has two other exchanges, the older Hong Kong Exchange and the smaller Shenzhen Exchange, but let’s stick with the Shanghai because that’s where the action has been.) The Chinese government founded the Shanghai Exchange in 1990 as part of that overall strategy of opening up its financial markets. Over the years the exchange has had a number of crazy spikes and huge drops, not surprising for a burgeoning market. But now China is the second biggest economy in the world and so when it’s stock market goes crazy, there are global implications.

The Chinese government had several objectives when it created the exchange; it wanted to give ordinary Chinese citizens a homegrown place to put their money other than banks or real estate and it wanted to provide Chinese companies with a source of funding other than banks. But the government wanted to control the exchange, so it limited the amount that foreigners could invest and the amount of money investors could borrow to purchase stock. The plan was to loosen those regulations gradually to make the market more open. And in fact the Chinese did slowly loosen the reins, but more recently they accelerated the process, which is when the trouble came in.

“It’s almost a contradiction in terms,” says Nicholas Platt a former US Ambassador to Pakistan and the Philippines who as a young diplomat accompanied Richard Nixon on his historic 1972 trip to China. “It’s a free stock market in an economy that the state is really trying to control.” I pondered how much China has changed in those forty-plus years and asked Platt what Chairman Mao would have thought about China’s wild and crazy stock market.  “He would have found it extremely distasteful,” Platt told me.

In early November 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping convened what is called the Third Plenum, which is the third meeting of the Communist Party’s Central Committee. (There is usually one Plenum per year, and the third is the most important because it is often the showcase for a new leader’s agenda, as it was in this case.) President Xi introduced a number of political, social and economic reforms, including measures that accelerated the opening up of the Shanghai Exchange. More foreigners could invest, and more borrowing was allowed too.

The result was that the Shanghai Composite, which tracks shares trading on the exchange, began to climb. Slowly at first, and then on November 17 2014 a critical measure was implemented that allowed $3.8 billion in daily cross-border orders between the Hong Kong and Shanghai exchanges. That set off a frenzy of buying. Between that day in November to its peak in mid-June, the Shanghai Composite roared ahead 110%, meaning it more than doubled in eight months. This while U.S. stocks rose a paltry 1.1% and while the rate of growth of the Chinese economy was actually slowing down.

The Chinese government realized they had a problem. They had created a monster in the Shanghai Exchange by allowing hot money to flood in. Traders, realizing the run-up was unsustainable, rushed to the exits sending the Shanghai Composite down a gut-wrenching 32% in 18 days despite China’s best efforts to stem the selling. A market rout of this magnitude naturally caused nervousness in markets around the world, which is why stocks took a hit in all major markets including the U.S. The actual damage to the U.S. markets and economy is more psychological than anything else, unless the decline in Chinese stocks causes the Chinese economy to fall off a cliff, which both Hormats and Platt think is unlikely.

“Only a small portion of Chinese own stocks,” says Hormats, so the effect is limited. And the market is still way above where it was last year at this time. But he says, “You can bet the Chinese are working furiously to figure it out. One thing’s for sure, they will learn from this.” Still no one knows where Chinese stocks are headed.

The long-term implications for the Chinese government could be risky. “If you’re focusing on freeing the economy and have an authoritarian government, sooner or later if your economic reforms are successful, it will [increase] pressure for political reform,” says Platt. “That need not take the form of a multiparty system, but it means the system will have to be more open and more directly responsive.”

The Chinese may find out that there are limits to how much a government can control. Or they may teach us that they know a thing or two about balancing acts.

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曝光:中国经济不会崩溃[第2] / Exposed: China’s Economy Won’t Collapse [Part 2]

By  | The National Interest | Original Source

5989205403_8ce38724d6_bNeither does Beijing lack for motivation to use these resources. It knows that the constant flow of people from the countryside into the cities makes job creation imperative, for social as well as political stability. Beijing certainly learned in the recession of 2008-09 how vulnerable it was in this regard. Then, the country’s lack of a social safety net led to rioting frequently and almost immediately on any interruption in jobs growth. Communist Party officials were attacked. The government had little choice but to implement that stimulus. This pressure may have abated in recent years, but the need to keep creating new jobs, to sustain real growth rates of at least 5-7 percent, persists and for the same reasons. There can, then, be little doubt that Beijing will do all that it can to sustain this necessary pace of advance.

None of this pretends that all is well or risk free. The economy remains vulnerable to significant harm, especially if a policy error compounds the problems or waits too long to counteract them. Then, the resulting social discord would do more economic damage than any of the immediate problems presently occupying media attention. If such an error is possible, however, it is not necessarily probable. Instead, likelihoods favor continued economic growth that, if slower than in the not too distant past, should proceed at a pace sufficient to meet the economy’s crucial job creation needs and considerably faster than the United States and the rest of the developed world.

Milton Ezrati, a contributing editor to The National Interest, is senior economist & market strategist for Lord, Abbett & Co and an affiliate of the Center for the Study of Human Capital at the State University of New York at Buffalo. His most recent book, Thirty Tomorrows, on aging demographics, the challenge it presents, and how the world can cope, was recently released by Thomas Dunne Books of Saint Martin’s Press.

Image: Flickr/Robert S. Donovan

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Quote for Day, Sunday August 02, 2015, from Dragon Tales

“How do you feel?”

“Scared.”

“Scared of?”

“The usual. Letting you down. By succumbing to …”

“They say that power corrupts. But what I’ve learned is that when people get power … all it does is allow them to be who they are. So, if they are a good person, they become better. If not …”

“So it’s all on me then?”

“Just the way you like it.”

Naomi Watts speaking privately to Madam Zajj just before Ms. Watts’ installment as Rector

 

 

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曝光:中国经济不会崩溃[第1] / Exposed: China’s Economy Won’t Collapse [Part 1]

By  | The National Interest | Original Source

5989205403_8ce38724d6_bAdding to the endless speculation about China’s capabilities and intentions are recent questions about the country’s economic health.

Beijing certainly faces significant economic and financial problems. But for all the concern, Chinese development looks far more durable than recent media attention suggests. Especially given Beijing’s ample financial resources, growth will almost surely continue at a robust pace, if not the breakneck rate of some years ago.

There is no lack of grist for pessimistic mills. China’s stock market has taken a severe hit, falling, by some measures, nearly 40 percent from its highs last June to its recent lows in July. Earlier overbuilding had created a real estate bubble that is now in the process of deflating. And the pace of growth overall has slowed from 10-12 percent annually a few years ago to some 7 percent today, according to official statistics, and possibly slower, according to private analyses. There are, however, limits to the damage implied in each of these matters.

The stock market losses, though impressive, hardly constitute, as some commentaries have it, China’s 1929 moment. Recent losses, after all, pale next to those suffered during the global recession of 2008, and China’s economy hardly imploded then. The fact, then and now, is that stocks matter less to the Chinese economy than other countries, especially the U.S. economy. Consider that on a trend basis, the value of all stocks outstanding in China amounts to only 50-60 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). In the United States, that ratio trends closer to 130 percent. The wealth gained or lost in stock market moves simply weighs heavier here than there. Or consider that China’s huge, state-owned firms are surely less likely to overreact to a stock slide than are American firms, large and small.

If China seems less vulnerable to stock losses than some suggest, its real estate collapse threatens less, too. Americans, hearing about real estate problems anywhere, naturally and understandably draw parallels to their own highly destructive real estate problems in 2008-09. But such parallels are misplaced with China. In America, the problem was less the size of the questionable debt than that it was widely held throughout the financial system, so much so that no one knew which firms were threatened by it. In that circumstance, each financial firm distrusted the other’s stability, and consequently, all refused to deal with each other. The economy suffered accordingly and severely.

China does not have this problem. Not only does financial dealing matter less there, but the overhang of questionable real estate debt, though large, is concentrated almost entirely in local and provincial governments. Households are far from over leveraged, as they were in the United States. Until recently, a Chinese home buyer had to put down 30 percent for his or her first home, by law, and 60 percent on a second home. If the debt burdens of local governments will hurt the economy, they are nonetheless easier for the authorities in Beijing to contain than was the sub-prime situation Washington faced in 2008-09.

Meanwhile, the economy’s slowed growth pace might speak more to economic health than to problems. The rapid growth of earlier years reflected what Beijing has long known was an unsustainable reliance on exports and the investment spending needed to support that effort. Even during that time of rapid growth, when Chinese exports sprang from a negligible share of the global total to about 12 percent, Beijing economists pointed out that the country’s exports were not likely to go to 24 percent any time soon. The government consequently has long sought to develop a broader base for economic progress, one that includes higher levels of consumer spending. Such an economic reorientation would not only produce a more stable basis for future gains, but it would also buy domestic peace by extending prosperity to a larger portion of the population. But such broad-based growth by nature proceeds at a slower pace than the first blush of export-oriented gains. The slowdown so many media reports worry about may simply indicate early success in this reorientation.

Even if, against these expectations, the economy still reacts badly, Beijing has tremendous resources at its disposal to remedy the situation. It holds the equivalent of nearly $4.0 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, some 35 percent of GDP, and could deploy them to bolster the economy should the need arise. Moreover, the Chinese government’s relatively low debt level gives it still other fiscal options. Though there is a lot of private debt in China, public debt outstanding amounts only to some 25 percent of GDP. That compares with a public debt burden of about 100 percent of GDP in the United States. Beijing carries so little debt, in fact, that it could absorb all the real estate losses of local authorities and still have a lower relative debt burden than the United States, some 75 percent of GDP. Furthermore, such finances enable the government, should the need arise, to remount a stimulus on the scale it used so successfully to counter the effects of the 2008-09 global recession. And China’s command economy would allow Beijing to deploy such a stimulus rapidly.

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伟大的“秋天”中中国[第4] / The Great ‘Fall’ Of China [Part 4]

By | Forbes / Investing | Original Source

The outflow will naturally weaken the currency, which is now supported by the government. However, that policy will change when the best cure for economic hardship is to let the currency value drop to give Chinese goods an advantage on the world’s markets.

Hedge Fund ace Jim Chanos, who has been bearish on China for a long time, now calls China “one of the greatest short-selling opportunities in history.”

Yes, bear markets can be very profitable. That is the important message. With today’s inverse ETFs, which are designed to rise in price as the sector or index decline, it is very easy to do this.

Conclusion: The China market crash has great significance for the global markets. During the Greek crisis the past year, I wrote that Greece was just a minor diversion from the much more serious problem, namely China. Now we see it.

Because of the all the emergency measures in China to support the market, the individual investor will not be in that market. That makes it a market for governmental entities and financial firms who need a favor from the government, such as permits to do business, contracts with governmental entities, etc. That cannot be a permanent “solution.”

Remember, plunges, crashes and bear markets can be very profitable if you use advanced technical analysis or have the most experienced guidance.

_________________

For more on my current outlook, please visit DohmenCapital.com

Bert Dohmen is founder of Dohmen Capital Research Group.

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伟大的“秋天”中中国[第3] / The Great ‘Fall’ Of China [Part 3]

By | Forbes / Investing | Original Source

The latest number of the PMI (purchasing managers index) flash estimate was 48.2, a fifteen-month low. Pretty soon, the big hedge funds globally will also discover that their assessment of China growth was very wrong. It has already started with the confession of Ray Dalio, founder of the world’s largest hedge fund group.

Machinery sales, such as heavy trucks, loaders, excavators, are at or even below the dismal levels of the 2009 crisis low.

The private sector recession (depression) in China is reflected in the negative growth of cement, steel, and autos. They are also at or below the crisis level of 2009.

Obviously, a growing economy shows growing rail traffic. However, the growth of China rail traffic is now below the crisis low of 2009.

For U.S. investors who do not want to bother with China’s problems, please realize that U.S. rail traffic is now also showing a severe slow-down, in spite of all the optimistic economic projections by Wall Street. Wall Street tells you that the economy is strengthening. My evidence is to the contrary.

China’s  infusion of money is about 25 times bigger than at the start of their rescue operation in early July. Their government has panicked. This is the equivalent of Hank Paulsen’s “Big Bazooka,” which was initiated to stop the 2008 meltdown. Will China’s money infusion halt the crumbling of their debt pyramid through the creation of even more debt?

Furthermore, China is encountering a significant outflow of foreign investment capital. That will be a big problem for China in the future. In my Wellington Letter, I will follow this very closely on a regular basis.

Goldman Sachs estimates that capital outflows from China in the second quarter topped $224 billion.. Over the past year, it may be as high as $800 billion. Goldman comments that it is “beyond anything seen historically.”

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Fight Like a Girl — Showing the Boyz How it’s Done — Catfished! Girls Scam ISIS on Social Media for Travel Money

By | YAHOO! Travel | Original Source

e8d2314a2836c99b4f77040663ec508510293e27Three young women turned the tables on IS recruiters. (Photo: Jaber al-Helo/AP)

If you’re low on funds for that big vacation, you could always ask to borrow some, run a Kickstarter campaign … or swindle a couple of Islamic State recruiters. It may not be the safest way to make money, but that’s what three young women from Chechnya, a Russian republic in southeastern Europe, did.

The Chechen women are under investigation for fraud after they allegedly scammed IS members into giving them money on the pretense that they would use it to travel from their homeland to Syria. The ladies got away with some $3,300 before being discovered, according to RT News.

The IS members allegedly reached out to the young women on their social media accounts, asking them to join the militant cause. The women kept in touch with IS members and even sent fake pictures to string them along.

Related: Requiem for History: Rare Look at What ISIS Destroyed in Iraq

After the IS members wired the money, the “con artists” closed their accounts, stopped all communication, and kept the windfall. They had no intention of actually leaving the country, though one admitted that she used to consider joining.

“I don’t recall any precedent like this one in Chechnya, probably because nobody digs deep enough in that direction,” police officer Valery Zolotaryov told a local Chechen newspaper. “Anyhow, I don’t advise anyone to communicate with dangerous criminals, especially for grabbing quick money,” he added. Wise advice.

Related: Did ISIS Hack Its Way Into Paradise?

The women’s (totally illegal) stunt isn’t the first of its kind. RT News reported that sometimes men create fake accounts, pretending to be females, with the same IS-swindling intentions.

The Islamic State often targets Muslim communities like Chechnya’s to recruit people who are willing to inflict individual acts of terrorism on their own soil. Members have been said to use social media to attract a wide reach of followers. But it’s usually women who are scammed during these arrangements, as they are married off to fighters and often become victims of sexual abuse, the Mirror reports.

WATCH: The War Is Over, Afghanistan Tourism Is on the Rise — See Bamiyan, the Country’s Best Hidden Gem

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伟大的“秋天”中中国[第2] / The Great ‘Fall’ Of China [Part 2]

By | Forbes / Investing | Original Source

They say: “There is nothing to worry about. Only a small percentage of Chinese people have brokerage accounts.” Yes, but most Chinese are poor farmers. That makes the small, wealthy class that much more important.

Those Chinese who own stocks may have 99% of all the wealth in that poor country. About 80 million individual investors have stock accounts. They have probably lost everything. The number of Chinese investors is greater than the number of members in the Communist party.

Now the communist government has to repair the damage. How? With more stimulus and coercion. The government is officially making almost $500 billion available to support the stock market. Financial firms are prohibited from selling shares, short sellers will be arrested, and the money from the government to the brokerage firms can only be used for buying, not selling, stocks.

However, this time investors will be smarter and stay out. The government will be the primary investor. Would you want to be exposed to the whims of a communist government? Why would a smart investor buy when he does not know if he will be allowed to sell?

The China bulls say that the Communist Party will prohibit the markets from falling further. Good luck with that!

The government might be able to support the stock market for a while, but how can it prevent the implosion of the record debt pyramid?

China has been the locomotive for global economic growth for the past 15 years. Probably 60%-80% of demand for many raw materials, commodities, oil, iron, and coal went to China. Now that China is in a private sector recession, the demand will disappear around the globe. Forget the advertised 7% GDP growth. That is a fairy tale if you think it means “economic growth.”

China has been in a private sector recession for all of this year and longer. Although it got little attention, the China credit crunch got serious in June 2014 when short-term interest rates tripled overnight to 25%. That was when the government’s efforts to hide the facts slipped out.

 

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The Last of Us [The Painstaking Elocution of a Murderer, Part 3]

They are not there … They are inoue—Jean-Charles and Niki Pommier soon discover that things are no different in the urban sprawl of a major city than anywhere else in the world. The very first day in their new home they encounter a troublesome, unruly band of misfits driving around the neighborhood in a black van. Curious about their anti-social behavior Jean-Charles follows them about Westwood secretly taking notes and photos of their activities. His findings are unexpected and earthshattering. They are Nomads (hostile, wandering spirits), and his interest in them has now turned their attention in his direction. The hunter has become the hunted and poor Jean-Charles must attempt to flee from the Nomads before it’s too late.

 

We serve them. At the expense of all others. At the expense of everything and everyone, including ourselves. Our unrelenting, unquestioning servitude. Our complete and utter obedience. Depraved, tormented souls. Infected and afflicted. We are addicted to them. We crave them.

I, Jonathan Harker, am one of those who serve them to the exclusion of all else. I am one of their travel agents—a euphemism for lackey. There is no sin that I would not commit in their service.

Not sentient. Animate corpses. Devoid of personal hygiene or any affectation of affluence, opulence, or wealth. Filthy and infested. They are the antithesis of mainstream Vampires in Creation. Yet, just like their pristine well-heeled mainstream counterparts, they possess immense wealth, and with it the great influence that it buys.

Using their almost limitless finances, we facilitate their passage from city to city, from planet to planet, from universe to universe. We help them devour entire human races. In reward to us, they feed upon us—we are their junkies and they are our narcotic. They are the locusts of the Vampires. They are the eaters of worlds.

As long as I get my regular fix, I can look normal enough to pass when the necessity arises, for example, when I’m required to carry on their business dealings unabated. Although, when I am passing, if you look deep enough into my eyes and pay the closest attention you will notice that certain neediness. The neediness of an addict. Always one fix away from oblivion.

When it’s not needed for us to pass, we’re allowed to wallow in the squalor and filth of their depravity and degradation. It’s our well-deserved and much anticipated reward—anticipated with very bated breath. They feed upon us while we wallow. They allow us to feed alongside them upon humans as food. The pack is more than just the Vampire them. The pack is also human us—lackeys like myself—pathetic, addicted, wretches whose sanity and humanity has been ripped asunder by our Masters the Hidden Ones.

We live to serve. We serve to live.

 

Previously, somewhere between Mondo’s world and Becky’s, after her horrendous flaying in the OIG in the Vatican. Her consciousness is here, her broken dead [soon to be resurrected for the umpteenth time] body is somewhere else …

“The deal’s still on the table. Will be for the rest of your immortal life.”

“No thanks. I prefer to keep my soul. Besides, you have nothing murderous to offer me in its stead that I can’t already do without such a grievous forfeiture as that.”

The usual witty banter between Him [i.e. His likeness] and her [i.e. her avatar]. You’d think that they were an old married couple. And in a sense, you would be right.

“But you know how much I like to barter. You can’t expect me to ever give up on you.”

“Cut to the chase. I have places to be. No doubt at the impatient behest of some old biddy or biddies.”

“But you can’t be sure.”

“Of course I can. Who else would ply me with candy [i.e. the lethal flaying] and then yank me unceremoniously out of the here and now to send me somewhere else? None that I can think of … Luke …”

She smiles impishly. She knows just how much He is annoyed when she calls Him so colloquially as that. His poker face conceals His annoyance completely, though.

Of all the things to call Him. All those delicious Biblical references available to choose from that He so enjoys. Including … Abaddon (destroying angel), as found in Revelation 9:11. Angel of the bottomless pit, in Revelation 9:11. Apollyon (destroyer), in Revelation 9:11. Accuser of our brethren (complainer against those who believe in God), Revelation 12:10. Adversary (opponent), 1st Peter 5:8. Angel of light (messenger of light), 2nd Corinthians 11:14. Antichrist (opponent of the Messiah), 1st John 4:3. Beelzebub (the dung god, ruler of the demons), Luke 11:15. Belial (worthlessness), 2nd Corinthians 6:15. Dragon, Great dragon, Serpent of old, Revelation 12:7 – 9. Enemy (the hateful, hostile one), Wicked One (evil one), Matthew 13:38 – 39. The god of this world (god of this age), 2nd Corinthians 4:3 – 4. Great fiery red dragon (serpent), Revelation 12:3. Lucifer (morning star), Isaiah 14:12. Man of sin (man of offence), son of perdition (son of destruction), 2Thessalonians 2:3 – 4. Murderer, Liar (a falsifier), Father of lies, John 8:44. Power of darkness (power of obscurity), Colossians 1:13. Prince of the power of the air (ruler who has authority over air), Ephesians 2:1 – 2. Rulers of the darkness of this world (world ruler of obscurity in this age), Ephesians 6:12. Ruler of this world (prince of this world), John 12:31. Serpent (snake), Genesis 3:1, 2Corinthians 11:3. Tempter (the tester, one who entices), Matthew 4:3. Thief (stealer), John 10:9 – 10.

And she, practicing a woman’s prerogative, chooses to call Him … Luke …

“I need you to do a boon for me.”

“Need or want?”

“Semantics.”

“No it isn’t. I wasn’t born yesterday.”

“I would like you to do a favor for me.”

“Which is?”

“You’re not going to ask me why I want you to do this favor for me?” He arches His right eyebrow as He asks the question. His usual tell in such matters [i.e. when He’s asking a rhetorical question].

“If I asked, you would lie to me.”

Now it’s His turn to break out His most wolfish grin. I just must have this girl, she’s the cat’s pajamas, He thinks to Himself.

“I want you to solve a murder, and not be cute about it.”

“Which one?”

“You’ll figure that out for yourself. I have faith in you.”

“And, if I fail to do so on all counts?”

“Then you’ll owe me one.”

She’s doesn’t even pause a wink to consider the grave consequences that will befall her if she accepts His all-or-nothing proposition and fails to deliver. Because, irregardless of the outcome, her soul will not be forfeit.

“Agreed.”

They shake [hands] on it. As binding an agreement as one of His usual contracts. The kind of contracts written and signed in blood—the blood of the signatory.

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