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It is another short-story vignette today as a companion piece to Carte du Jour #242 Heads and Tails. It is the moment of dark festivities, that sweet spot in between Halloween and Thanksgiving. So there's nothing more to say other than bon appétit! Enjoy your meal!
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I. RECORDINGS FROM THE COUNTY SHERIFF (three free full-color artworks of one scene including an alternate version, for DISCIPLE members or higher)
Hello mister reporter, websleuth, four-channer, or whoever you are calling yourself the Doe Patrol. This is my confession.
What have I gotten myself into? Why am I sending this to you? This is my kill switch if they ever get to me. I will re-peat.
I did not kill myself.
News may come out about me after my death that I may have done some heinous crimes against humanity. Sure, call me a coward that you're not receiving this sooner. But better late than never, huh? You'll understand if you know what they're capable of... They have ways to make it seem some other innocent fella will take the fall. I have seen it. And God help me, I have turned a blind eye and did what I was told. I helped do it for them. So this is why I hope you can understand why I have kept this secret to keep my family safe. I'm no saint. But I swear to you, I'm not part of them. I did not kill or eat any of the girls.
I just got paid to look the other way.
It was nothing at first. It started as a favor to some of the old families who lived around here since the Mayflower. Rich, powerful, they had it all. They still had the air of the old-world from across the Atlantic who seemed as if the Revolution never came to pass. As if they lived in an American Brigadoon. Tweed coats, gatsby caps and fox hunts. They brought business back to this po-dunk sphincter's end of Arkansas. They brought in the money. Saved some businesses. And truth be told it was a little thrilling to have a bit a little air of mystery too. Think of how much more interesting our town was to legend trippers, ghost hunters and thrill-seekers and these mysterious benefactors brought all that to our town to the delight of some, and scorn to others.
Personally, I didn't care one way or the other, only that I knew well enough to stay clear of them and keep life simple. Razorback football, beer and hunt-. Well... hunting not so much anymore. These people ruined that for me.
Then when I got wind of what they really did to those missing pageant girls, and so help me God, I helped them... I knew that even if I wanted out, bribes would turn to threats. Yeah. I said it. I was on the take. Oh Lord, God almighty, Jesus Christ... I confess!
But you see, I am just a lesser man whose last thing he wants is for them to get to his loved ones like they did to his predecessor. Don't believe the stories why the County Sheriff before me went mad. I know why. It was because of the video tape I was told to give him. What was on it? I didn't see. But I knew enough. His daughter supposedly perished in a riverboat accident in the Ozarks, but they never found her body. But whatever it was, it changed him. He turned from a God-fearing relentless enforcer of the law, the best cop I've ever known to a paranoid, sad and broken man who dropped everything. The case, the job, and ultimately his life. And I knew what was on that tape told me that she did not die in no boating accident. I'll let your imagination run wild on what was on it. Faces of Death material I bet you.
I'm not seeking forgiveness or redemption. I know my soul is already going to hell. Maybe what I need is the illusion of leverage against these people-eatin' reptilian motherfuckers. Maybe this will will help me quit drinking and being so sour in life. My wife's starting to ask questions and maybe, just maybe this'll set me straight enough to have her see me smile again. And sure, I see the hypocrisy in my new-found conscience. I'm still selfish as fuck. Because you see, they'll still get to my fiancée once I'm gone to set an example to the ones still living, but at least I won't be alive to see the stuff they'd do to her.
Didn't I tell you earlier I was no saint?
With that out of the way, here's what I know.
You are on the right path with the Princess Drumsticks pageant. I've attached the photos of some of the girls who were unaccounted for who took part in the pageant who I suspect are victims. You're only half right. The winners of the pageant aren't the ones 'chosen'. That's to throw off the scent. Not make it too obvious. There's a secret raffle amongst the select attendees. One year, it'll be the second to last contestant, and another, it'll be the runner up. Hell, I believe there's even one year where they really did choose the winner just to play 4-D chess with us. That or perhaps it's just sheer arrogance.
And they won't participate every year too. And that's why they're dangerous because they're patient too.
Find out the names on the guest list on these years I've shown you. You'll see a few familiar names. And also look to where these people are at the time of some of the girls' disappearances. And some people just disappear and they do not end up on the missing pages while some have a cover story, that she eloped, married some so-and-so. However, when you actually try to track them down, it's as if the couple have dropped off the face of the Earth. No paper trail, no marriage records. An address to a house that doesn't exist. A clerical error here and there that when it piles up, it's as if she had never existed past 1995. Or another who went missing in a boating accident. Catch my drift? Curious isn't it that the County Sheriff's daughter participated in one of the pageants a few years before she went missing. It made me wonder sometimes if she'd won that secret raffle anyway, or that was a contingency method once they found that the Sheriff was uncooperative.
Let me ask you guys something. Not that I'll ever know the answer. But let me ask it anyway and just entertain my ghost who's haunting you right now, leaning over the shoulder behind you, breathing down your neck as you are hunched down listening closely to my words beyond the grave.
Hah!? Did I made you look?
Alright, back to my question. Did you ever get curious looking into this thing? I mean, did you ever wonder about the taste? If these fuckers love the meat so much, maybe it must taste real good, ever thought about that? Like better than beef? Or bacon? Do they even try different recipes and compare which dish tastes better than the other? Well, I have. Especially sometimes when I'm feeling the lowest of the low that I'd see the dry bottom of the whisky bottle a little too often. And I wonder sometimes if I'd join them if they ever offered me a spot on the table. Will I accept because of the taste? The sense of power of belonging to an exclusive club? Or maybe it'll just be the money for me. I still think it's disgusting of course, but... again, there's still that part of me that wonders. They never did, so I never tried.
Now that's how you know I was never part of that cult. I'm just someone on the outside looking in. I'm just like you guys. The only difference is that I got paid not to be too curious.
And here's the scary part. I really do believe that you're looking not at just a criminal organization of corrupt people, but there's something deeper, and darker which the human mind cannot comprehend. Call it supernatural, myth or folklore. I will say this in all certainty. You will hear whispers around these parts from the superstitious folk. Call it hillbilly tales if you will. Louisiana will have tales of voodoo. We have stories of Underground Civilizations in the Mammoth Caves and Kentucky Goblins coming topside to kidnap your children and women... but I'm convinced that the Green Man is real. These stories, they go back. Way waaaay back... So... watch out. It is scary how much this cult knows. They have eyes and ears everywhere... and I mean, everywhere. Hell, for all I know, they already know I'm recording this for you as we speak.
Fuck. I'm starting to hear things. Not thinking straight as usual when I'm done with my second bottle. Fuck fuck fuck it. I need another drink.
-- *click --
II. BONUS WORKS IN PROGRESS (one shaded works in progress & 2 shaded variations of one scene for Disciple members and higher, & one black and white sketch free to the public)
The first: The remains of one of the winners of the secret raffle, a shaded work in progress.
The second, laying hands on the carcass, touching intimate parts, 2 variations.
Third is a playful sketch on a certain superheroine whose movie is out in theaters right now. We've seen her before, carved, and later eaten in Archive #10: Feast of Fandom.