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Chapter 13: Linus

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 13 | 0 comments

– 1 –

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 13 | 0 comments

Linus Evans walks forbidden paths. He emerges at a financial services firm in America. He uses his antichrist powers and corrupts his way to a position in middle management.

“You wouldn’t turn away the antichrist?” he says, trailing a finger down the throat of the HR manager, who shakes his head.

The walls begin to bleed.

Linus Evans stakes out a nice office, even though he doesn’t have his general certificate yet. He hires an assistant. He thinks about killing and eating his assistant but winds up writing awful, Gothic poetry instead.

Then he arranges for an orgy.

He makes subtle plans. He dreams teenaged boy dreams. In the end, though, he chickens out. He just cannot make himself attend.

He wanders the room afterwards.

He tries to figure out what exactly happened; what the various articles of mess mean, what they portend.

Then he sighs. He is distracting himself unnecessarily.

This is not for edification nor for sexual gratification. This is a test: Linus Evans vs. Jeremiah Clean.

So he wanders the room. He worsens the mess in subtle ways.

He shutters the windows.

He slinks away.

That night the building is dark. Jeremiah Clean comes in. He cleans up everything obvious. He mops the blood from the walls. He corrects an unsavory vibe. He marks up the grammar in a few pages of brooding poetry that Linus Evans has left tauntingly on the desk.

He is the building’s janitor.

His expression is equable and calm.

He looks like just another janitor, albeit a janitor with a particularly strong stomach and powerful copy-editing skills. At least, until he looks around the room again, he looks like that.

Then there’s something odd in him. Then there’s a strange light around him, a strange sense of strength.

He frowns a little. He shakes his head.

“I know you’re there,” he says.

His voice has an echoing ring to it. It breaks the barrier of the ordinary. The dirty stockings that had been hiding behind a piece of abstract wall art slink out.

Jeremiah Clean, he picks them up. He gives them a scolding look. He tosses them into the incinerator chute.

They cling for a moment to the metal, above the fire, but their heart is not pure.

They fall in.

They burn.

They die.

Linus Evans is standing in the door of his office now. He is standing in shadow, his body a silhouette. His thoughts are unreadable, particularly if you are not a telepath.

“How did you know?” he asks.

He says: “I didn’t think anybody would find those.”

“Mr. Evans,” says Jeremiah, and he nods his head, and he walks right out that door.

You wouldn’t think there’d be room, what with Mr. Evans standing right there in it, but no one can stop Jeremiah Clean from going anywhere he wants to go.

No one can stop him from anything, really.

No one can stop Jeremiah Clean, because his heart is pure.

“God bless it,” cries Linus. “How did you know?

But Jeremiah Clean just hands him a glass of water to put out the fire in his mouth, and he walks away.

– 2 –

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 13 | 0 comments


Mr. Jenkins of America opens the office refrigerator. This proves to be a mistake! He is drawn into a terrible pain dimension.

What a bad Mr. Jenkins! That wasn’t what ought to have happened to him at all.

Mr. Higgins acts almost as unwisely. But this time, the departure is observed! Ms. Cloud sees him. She lifts her hand to her mouth in horror.

Then she goes and she fetches the janitor, Jeremiah Clean.

“We have a situation,” she tells him.

She drags him away from his contemplation of the smooth clean floor of their Zen garden. She drags him past the Mondrian he has scrubbed down to a single sheet of red. The server room door slams before they walk past it; the techies know better than to ever let Jeremiah Clean look in.

They hurry through the halls.

“Perhaps,” says Jeremiah Clean, as they wait for an elevator, “we would not have ‘situations,’ if something could be done about Mr. Evans.”

“He’s not the problem here,” says Ms. Cloud.

“Where he walks,” says Jeremiah Clean, “the walls start bleeding. It is very untidy. I believe he has damned most of our company’s HR.”

“I’m not defending Mr. Evans!” she says.

They go up. They hurry through more halls. They are rapidly approaching the refrigerator.

“I’m just saying,” she says, “that the problem is Monday’s sushi, today.”

“This is Tuesday,” he says.


“Perhaps,” he says, “you mean to say ‘the problem is that which once was Monday’s sushi, but is Tuesday’s sushi, on this modern day, instead.’”

“Sometimes I think,” Ms. Cloud says, “that you are overly particular.”

He frowns.

“But in this case,” she says. “It may be just what this company needs. Listen, Jeremiah. It shouldn’t have gone bad. Not this fast. Not this soon. It was supposed to be tuna, you see. Safe, ordinary tuna. Good old tuna! But I think it was not tuna. I think it was made from a Tuna Horror. Do you understand me? A Tuna Horror. The ‘devil of the sea.’”

Jeremiah has stopped moving. He is laughing. She has to wait him out. He is laughing. “‘Overly particular,’” he says.

She waves it off.

He looks back up at her, and his eyes are clear and bright. “Tuna or devil,” he says, in calmness, “it is all the same to me.”

There is a rising tide of chaos across the world; the incidents are become ever more outré; but not in America.

In America, there is the Patriot Missile; and the Lion of the Dominion; and the living spirit of Uncle Sam, and they defend it — but most importantly of all, there is Jeremiah Clean.

He disposes of the sushi beast, and it does not devour him, because his heart is pure.

– 3 –

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 13 | 0 comments

A few days later Linus walks the roads the antichrist can walk. He’s going to test himself again against the janitor, having already aced his exams.

He stops before he gets to the company.

He laughs.

It looks like today he won’t have to.

The cleaning man’s already busy. He’s already hard at it. He’s dealing with a different world-ending threat!

“Oh, man,” says Linus. “This is going to be good.”

He pulls up a chair. He gets out a bag of popcorn. He uses balefire to pop it. He sits down.

He watches Jeremiah Clean, against a goat.

The man has a mop in his hand. He twirls it. He strikes forward. It breaks against the sharpness of the goat. Clean goes to the left. -liness goes to the right. The mop itself is split, then split again, until not even the quarks of it survive.

The goat lunges forward.

Linus thinks it is a goat. He is not sure. It is really remarkably sharp. His eyes are bleeding a little, just from looking at it. His concept of a goat — his ability to see the various sensory ephemera and assemble them into a larger sense-impression of a goat — keeps going all julienne; the longer he looks at it, the less he can understand what it is he sees at all.

Perhaps it is a goat.

Perhaps it is an n-dimensional, n-sided razor, as n tends towards infinity: a star of metal and lethality, stuck into the world of things and ideas and impressions but not strictly a part of what is there.

Jeremiah Clean stops it. He catches it in one heavily-gloved hand; he heaves the goat over. He pulls his hand back. The goat falls on its side — if it has sides — and cuts away at the sidewalk.

The glove explodes into yellow fragments and yellow mist.

“Try a little baking soda?” Linus calls out. He gulps a handful of popcorn.

Jeremiah looks at him, for all the world as if this does not help.

The goat staggers unsteadily to its feet. The lamp posts up and down the street split down the middle. They fall open. One or two lamp globes remain hovering, awkwardly, in the air.

Reality peels away.

Shapes and shadows move behind it.

Jeremiah Clean pulls a spray bottle from his cleaning cart. He shakes it. The cold electrons of the cleaning solution mash one against the other to fill up all the available energy levels. He spritzes the goat.

It’s like reality is brand new!

Even the sene-goat’s sparkling! But if it’s sparkling, that means it’s not dead.

“Get ’im,” whispers Linus Evans, to the sharpened goat.

The city is in flames and ruins; the dead are ravaging through the world, and ants.

“Get ’im,” says Linus, the future Mr. Enemy.

– 4 –

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 13 | 0 comments

— It’s not his fault.

You have to understand this. It wasn’t Linus’ fault. He wasn’t being heartless.

It had just never even occurred to him that the goat could be an actual problem for anybody. He’s been on the threat list for Agencies and cleaning men and the like his whole life, and he was going to be for the rest of it, and it wouldn’t have mattered whether he was Gandhi, or Cheney, or Tony Hawk. So he’d just assumed that the goat was like he was —

A danger, but hardly a threat.

He’d assumed that this was a fun opportunity. That he could see Jeremiah Clean in operation; sabotage him, if he could; and revel in the fact that, as Jeremiah Clean’s organizational superior, he could have the man’s job if he complained.

Only —

And he realizes this slowly —

There’s more to the situation than a sharpened goat.

I don’t mean to be insensitive to those who have lost loved ones to sharpened goats. I’m not trying to say that that’s not a real problem or a real tragedy. It is. Listen. I know it. I gave to the fund. There’s a fund, right? If there’s a fund I gave to it. But — this is more than just your standard, everyday unusually-sharp-goat situation. It’s more even than an ordinary, everyday outbreak of the sene-goat, this first one, the most deadly sene-goat of all.

Today it is a goat that has cut its way up from Hell to the surface. It has slaughtered the army that guarded the bridge. It has left the centipede bleeding and dying, and the gorgon, that might have got it, was apparently gone.

Behind it have come all the legions of the damned and the Hell megacolony of ants.

The goat is the lamb and the piper: it has opened the seals and the gates.

There are some in that army who are probably just — going home now. Dead souls, who’ve slipped away, and gone back to their husbands, their children, their wives. Their sisters, their brothers. Their fathers, their mothers. Their lovers, their best friends, their work.

There are others who are wrong and cruel and want revenge on the world for their damning.

There are demons —

But mostly, there are ants.

They are a white wave across the city — Hell-bleached and hungry. They are pouring up from the sewers and they are filling the land. And Jeremiah Clean, who could stop them, can’t stop them, because there’s a goat in his way. A goat, and that goat —

It’s too sharp.

Linus turns. He looks up the building behind him. He sees the half-eaten face of a dead man, pressed against the window within. He smells death on the air now. He hears the screaming.

He pales.

He looks at Jeremiah Clean and he says, “I didn’t know.”

The janitor doesn’t seem to hear him, or maybe just — doesn’t seem to care about him. He fights the goat, and it can’t stop him, because his heart is pure; and the goat cuts him, makes him bleed, because its heart is sharp, sharper than pain, sharper than grief, sharper than metal, sharper than life.

Linus stands up.

He goes and he stands beside the cleaning man. The newest mop wavers in his direction, then turns back towards the goat.

“I can help,” says the antichrist, softly.

“That’s kind of you, sir,” says Jeremiah, with icy control in his voice, “but I think I’m all right here.”

“Please let me —”

Linus looks apologetic. The walls have started to bleed.

What can Jeremiah say?

He shrugs. He cannot worry about Linus Evans. Not when Hell has opened up onto the surface, and there are ants, and a sharpened goat.

It takes them one hundred and seventy-two minutes, in all.

– 5 –

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 13 | 0 comments

Linus has eaten a chimera. He is stupidly proud of this. He keeps wanting to go and tell Tom. He has eaten a chimera that was damned; or maybe that was made out of ants — he isn’t certain. Are chimeras demons? His stomach can’t tell.

It is intermittently amazing. There are moments when he almost respects him:

The cleaning man who fights beside him.

He didn’t know you even could get a damnation stain out.

There are moments when he remembers how much he hates him. (The cleaning man.) When he tries to let the goat have him, but he can’t. Not while —

It’s just, there’s too many. It’s too much. There’s too many people who need him. He can’t throw up, not with his white hat on, but there’s too many people. He can’t let the janitor die.

Somewhere in there the goat slips away. It cuts down an alley and it’s gone.

Somewhere in there the damned flee or surrender; the demons bend their knee to him, to Linus the antichrist; and all that is left is the ants.

So. Many. Ants.

So many damnable, bloody, unholy ants. They do not stop. They do not stop.

He actually — after a while he actually can’t eat any more of them. He has to burn them with balefire, which they’re mostly immune to. It takes them forever to pop.

He doesn’t know what turns the tide, or when it happens. He’s in a haze by then. He’s wandered off.

Most middle managers will do this, by the way, even if they’re pretty enthusiastic about it when they first pitch in at the janitor’s side. Linus gets tired. He wanders off in the middle. All the holes in his face are now bleeding. He is mumbling and he doesn’t know why.

His white dog appears. It pants. It disappears.

He is covered in blood.

He is hiccupping, and round as a ball, and so very tired, and so very hungry, he is starved.

He has been unconscious. He startles awake and his stomach rumbles. He is already digesting back to size. He looks around wildly.

It is over.

Is it over? He looks around.

It is over.

He is — somehow or other — alive.

He stands up. He staggers back towards his office. He passes a man caught under the rubble of a fallen building. He thinks about ripping the man’s upper body off and eating it, but then he remembers the Doom Team code. Something about not having to be bad, he thinks. He can’t remember exactly.

There was supposed to be an evil kingdom, he thinks.

He looks around. There isn’t an evil kingdom. There’s just most of a ruined city, and — he looks behind him —

A few blocks, already, that are shining, crisp, and clean.

He eats the rubble. He wipes off his mouth. It looks like he’s accidentally eaten the crushed leg of the man he’s rescued. He gives a bit of an apologetic grin.

He’s made it back to the building. His white dog comes. His white dog goes.

He reaches his office. It’s slewed and slanted but still open. He looks out at the city. He is dazed.

Cleanliness is spreading through the ruins like a swarm.

He passes out again. He wakes up. He is so hungry. He eats the paperweight on his desk. He eats his paintings. He eats his paperwork. This is embarrassing because he doesn’t remember now what it had said.

He asks his assistant for a cup of coffee but she cannot bring it because she ran away a long time ago. He is irritated at first but then decides that he would have run away too.

Everything is slanted.

After a while, there’s a knock at his door.

“Ng?” he says.

He staggers over to it. He opens it up. It’s Jeremiah Clean.

“What?” he says. “I’m —”

He tries to remember what he was doing. He thinks he was sitting on his swivel chair and swiveling. “Working,” Linus Evans says.

“You are a threat to workplace hygiene, Mr. Evans,” says Jeremiah.

Linus’ voice cracks: “What?”

There is a mop.

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 13 | 0 comments