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C.I. Kemp is a lifelong horror buff currently living in the wilds of northern New Jersey with his technologically advanced son and neurotic cat. By day, Mr. Kemp works in the Information Services industry; by night he is an avid reader and writer of thrillers, horror, dark fantasy, and occasionally erotica and humor. He is a member of the Garden State Horror Writers. When not engaged in pursuits which involve scaring the pants off his readers, Mr. Kemp enjoys hiking, biking, and various other outdoor activities. His work has appeared in K-Zine, Cover of Darkness, State of Horror: New Jersey, and Books to Go.

c.i. kemp


You ask why I did what I did? It's because of the auras.

The first time was the Randall case. You remember the Randall case? It was -- what, fifteen years ago? Twenty, maybe?

It was on a Sunday. I was sixteen. My folks and I had just gotten out of church when I saw Fred Randall, his wife, and their two little girls talking to the priest. That's when I noticed something odd.

This thick black -- something -- was taking shape around Fred, even as I watched. It was like someone had taken a photograph of him and was drawing a black outline around him with a really heavy marker.

Only it wasn't a photograph. That blackness had materialized out of nowhere, surrounding him, moving when he moved. No one else had it. Not his wife, not the kids, not my folks, nobody else. Just him.

It was shimmering. You know how a blacktop road looks on a really hot day with the sun beating down on it? Like that.

Did I think it was odd? I guess, but I figured it was just my eyes playing tricks.

A little while later, Fred Randall called the police and told them he'd killed his wife and daughters. Cut their throats. They found him drinking a cup of coffee in bloodstained clothes.

No one could get over it. Fred was always such a quiet guy. Loved his wife, loved his kids, did volunteer work at the hospital. No one ever had a nasty word to say about him. Always nice to everyone; everyone liked him.

You never know, do you?

I didn't put it together 'til years later. I was working at this firm. We'd just landed a major account and the bosses thought it would be nice to treat everyone to dinner. They didn't stint, either. Prime rib. Lobster. Open bar. Real fancy.

Anyway, we were leaving the restaurant when I noticed Carol Hasting's whole body looked like it was encircled by this shimmering black thing. It wasn't there before; I could swear to that. She didn't seem to notice. Neither did anyone else. I figured it was the booze. We'd all had a lot to drink.

Next day, we got the news. Carol hopped a divider on the turnpike and plowed her SUV into a Honda carrying a family of five, including a three-month old baby. No one in the Honda survived; Carol did, if you can call it surviving. Lab reports showed she had a blood alcohol content of .19.

I could have stopped her if I'd have known. But I didn't. Not until after the fact. I thought back to Fred Randall and I began to understand what that flickering black outline meant. It scared me and I swore I'd never let it happen again.

But it did. You know about the Brookside Park shooting, right? Let me tell you what happened.

I was at a stop light when this red Ford pulled up next to me. I looked over and saw the driver, a kid, maybe sixteen, seventeen, enveloped by that same wavy blackness. The light turned green and he peeled off, but not before I got the license number. I called the cops, gave them the license along with a description of the car and the kid, and told them he was about to kill someone. I kept it short -- I didn't want them tracing the call.

It didn't do any good.

It must have happened only minutes later. A red Ford drove onto the ball field at Brookside and the kid opened fire on a bunch of teens and parents at a softball game. Eleven killed, nine injured. Seems he had a grudge against some of the local jocks.

I was sick for days. Between popping Ibuprofen for my head and throwing up, I was a basket case. That's when I took steps to make sure it wouldn't happen again.

You know the rest.

I was picking up a paper when I saw this middle-aged guy ahead of me on line. He looked harmless enough except for that flaming black aura around him.

I remembered how sick I was the last time it happened. I remembered how guilty I felt. Beyond that, I didn't stop to think.

He went out into the parking lot and I did what I swore I'd do.

The hand that held the gun was enveloped in a shimmering black aura.

Later, I got the whole story.

The guy was on his way to hospice where his wife lay dying. She'd suffered a series of strokes, and through some some bureaucratic snafu, there was no record of her Do Not Resuscitate order. As her next of kin, he was bringing hard copy of the DNR that would end her suffering.

Which brings us to why I'm here and why you're here.

You're wondering why I didn't tell anyone during the trial what I'm telling you now, aren't you? It's because if I had, they'd have found me "Not Guilty By Reason Of Insanity." I wouldn't do jail time, but they'd put me in a place where they could watch me, keeping me in seclusion for the rest of my life. You know what would be the worst of it, though? Knowing that there are more people out there with those black auras forming around them, moments away from killing someone, and I'd be locked away somewhere, not being able to do anything, not being able to make anyone believe me.

This is like a confession, right? Anything I tell you, you can't repeat, right? Good.

It's better this way. Soon they'll be coming for me.

Men with black auras.