Chapter Thirty Three III

My idea of camping out is slow room service
Nikko Murakami

It’s time to scope out the house. We take the van to a trailhead, then hike to a vantage point on the upside of the grounds. If we’re spotted, it’s national forest. We could hike, camp, stay out all night and freeze our tails off if that’s what we wanted.
Janah, “Ready for a walk in the woods?”
I ease the truck over to a small dirt parking area. There are no other cars. Apparently nobody wants to hike in thirty nine degree weather, go figure. Snow on the ground, spring is coming, but slowly, each day a fraction warmer, the sun higher. The ground is thawing, hasn’t turned to mush yet. We carry full camping gear, our weapons in place. There’s a rope, flashlights, we each have binoculars, allowing three pairs of eyes to closely cover the landscape. Janah picked up Pentax binocs, the DCF 10x42, a thousand yards looks like 340 feet. With my eyesight it means I can see if there are termites in the wood at three hundred yards.
We hike to a spot hidden from the property below, establish a credible campsite, then, lightened of gear, move close enough to the edge to see what’s what below. We check out lighting, alarms, dogs, traffic between buildings, vehicles. It is well after four, the sun is dropping along with the temperature. 
Nikko, “People do this on purpose?”
Janah laughs, “You mean camp out?’
Nikko, “Seems better to see nature during the day. Go home to a cozy bed at night. Better yet, see nature on television, skip muddy shoes.”
“Spoken like a city girl. I’m with you, honey. My idea of nature is Washington Square park on a sunny spring day, Java Joe’s in hand and a fat Doughnut Plant doughnut. Wildlife is Janah dancing with the Jamaicans.”
I shift to narrator voice, low, my Discovery channel documentary, “We’ve been monitoring this spot for days now, finally rewarded for our patience by the appearance of the only known White Angel ranging free in the Manhattan Serengeti. We’re going to attempt to film the secret ritual known as break your booty reggae. A rite rumored to cause intense flushing and fevers in the local natives.”
Janah, “If you’re finished with your Discovery special, perhaps I could get a cup of tea. Try out that camp stove we lugged up here.”
We drink hot tea, loaded with cane sugar, fill the Thermos, then make our way back through the forest to a spot overlooking the property. Spread a few yards apart, we peer through binoculars and settle in for whatever happens next. For two hours, the only change is deepening darkness and lowering temps.
Nikko, “Ancient ninja saying, always darkest just before it turns completely black.”
Janah laughs softly, “You’re never going to be on Oprah with that attitude.”
“Oprah’s loss. I don’t see any dogs, I don’t see anything I could recognize as an alarm system. I don’t see Jack Spratt. It’s dark enough, it’s flipping black. I’m going down there when the van leaves, do a Peeping Daphne thing.”
“Okay, get your bearings. If you have to zip back up here, I don’t want you twenty yards left or right. It’ll be bad enough getting back in the bone dead dark. We’ve all got the pocket flashlights with a laser beam setting, look for the red dot.”
I go to Nikko, we come back together, “I’m going down the hill soon. It may be a while. Do not leave Janah for any reason other than your death, then still don’t leave. You don’t have my permission to die. It’s going to be dark as Darth Vader’s butt. We can’t light up stuff, we don’t need to phone. If you or Janah see something from up here I need to know, Janah can mental me. Now, what’s the first rule?”
“Don’t leave Janah.”
“What’s the second rule?”
“Refer to first rule.”
We share hot tea, granola and dried fruit. I observe what I can through binoculars, hints of shadows moving across the cracks of shuttered windows. Once I’m at the building, I can hear inside easily enough, tell if there are female voices, any hostility. Maybe conversation that would tell me something.
The van leaves at eight. Just before nine, I’m peeking through windows. No dog, no bells or sirens, a few outside lights. Figured I could start a volleyball game and no one would care. I have an idea, knock on the door, a couple of minutes pass, whispering, movement, I hear a door close, the front door cracks open, a face, a young man, mid twenties, “Who are you? What do you want?”
“I’m like, oh gosh, like, so sorry to bother you," I wring my hands, roll my eyes, "this is like, really embarrassing and all. I was like, stupidly hiking, I mean it wasn’t stupid to be, like, hiking, but anyway, so when I went to my car to, like, go home. It wouldn’t, like, start, maybe it’s got, like, too cold or whatever. So I’ve been, like, walking and walking, and then I saw these lights. And, like, I’m totally frozen and all, you must think I’m such a ditz and all, but I’m not really, most of the time and all. Can I come in and, like, warm up a little, please?”
He looks back into the house, then opens the door.
“The first trick to walking through walls is to get someone to open a door.”
 I can hear Janah telling Nikko, feel them moving, coming down the side of the mountain, edging the woods.
I stick out my hand, “I’m Chelsea Friedman, I’m from up north. This is, like, a really cool place, like a log cabin and all.”
I put on my cutest idiot girl smile, start walking deeper into the room. It’s well lighted, no smell of smoke, legal or illegal, no drug paraphernalia, not even bottles of beer or glasses of wine. There are three books open to what appear to be the same page, an easel with a list. A list of things to do, except these are things to do to get to heaven or something. Study and obey the words of the prophet, memorize a saying of the prophet every day, repeat them to another disciple every day, be obedient, perfect obedience demonstrates your perfect love of the prophet.
There is a fair amount of obedience required in this group. Of course, I’m generally obedient to Janah. At least she didn’t print it out on an easel in the living room.
Janah, “Maybe I’ll give it a try.”
“I’ve a vision of that. This guy has an earring, silver cross.”
“Get to work and let’s get this done.”
“My pleasure.”

“Man I could really, like, use the ladies, you know?”
The guy hesitates,  I squirm as if  I’m getting ready to bust, “Down the hall first left.”
I ease down the hall, senses open wide, hesitate at the door, turn, he’s watching, attending to the closed doors further down the hall. I can hear whispering TK can’t, go into the bathroom, close the door, stand with my ear to the wall.
More soft chatter, “Who’s here, nobody comes here but the prophet and his disciples?”
“Perhaps a new disciple.”
“It’s can’t be a new student, we all came because of the miracle of the prophet, finding us in our state of delusion. We didn’t knock on the door.”
“If the prophet wants us to know he will tell us. Be silent stupid girl.”
Flush the toilet, run the faucet and emerge a few seconds later, mentaling
“Did you get that?”
“Yes.”
“Get to the front door, I’m going to confront this bozo while he’s alone.”

I’m back in the front room.
 “You know,” I say, turning the knob on the front door, “I think you have mice or something, I hear squeaking down the hall. It’s okay, I brought an exterminator.”
The guy stares dumbly, not quite comprehending, the idiot girl’s voice has changed. What happened to the dimwit he’d been listening to earlier?
“How many girls have you kidnapped?”
The guy lunges for me, I open the door and Nikko swats him with the heel of her palm dead center in his chest. He sprawls backwards, on the floor with a loud thud. I kneel next to him, hand on his throat, Nikko has her foot on his crotch, enough pressure to make him gasp.
“Get up, slowly,” we move him to an armchair.
Nikko ties his wrists to the arms with picture wire, then his ankles together, prim and proper.
He’s sitting silently, eyes narrowed.
I pull up a chair next to him, cross my legs, lean in close, run my hand over his forehead, brush his hair back.
In a low sultry voice, I look directly into his eyes, “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?”
He turns his head slightly, but looks sideways at me, cautiously. He isn’t exactly afraid, not just yet. He can’t put together the sensual tone and the question. It hasn’t registered that I’m the big cat, he the tiny mouse.
“I asked you a question, Kenneth. Or do we have to play door number one, door number two? Let me help. If you don’t answer my questions,” I nod over to Nikko, “I’m going to let this very strange person turn you into a quadriplegic. You’ll need an Intel chip to tell you when you’ve wet yourself.”
“You can’t…”
“Shut up, toad. We already did. We’re going to bust your little meth factory all to hell. I could give a melted snowball about your drug business, I just like the idea of you doing time. Now what I really want is information.”
“I look like 411?”
I get up, Nikko sits next to Kenneth. He’s puzzled by the blank face. He starts to sneer, then he sees something in the eyes. Not that…rather, he sees nothing in the eyes, liquid nitrogen cold. Hair rises on the back of his neck, he shivers. He begins to hyperventilate.
Nikko’s got him locked with the death stare.
I tape his mouth shut, things are going to get loud, I don't want to frighten the women in back.
“Just so you know, I really don’t like you or the other three ass-licks you hang with. My hypothesis is that one of your fingers is blocking compassion from reaching your brain. My friend is going to figure out which finger is to blame. She keeps doing finger research until your empathy meridian opens.”
Before he can process exactly what I mean, Nikko snaps his little finger, he screams into duct tape. She sticks her thumb hard into the side of his neck, just behind his earlobe, he howls again. She steps back, I rip off the tape.
Kenneth, “Jesus, you’re insane! What do you fucking want?”
“Names, the other assholes’ names.”
Kenneth is breathing hard, fast, short breaths, fear breaths, “Who are you talking about?”
Another piece of tape, Nikko snaps his ring finger, Kenneth screams again. I’m not even looking at him. I’m putting lip gloss on my lips, looking into the small mirror of a compact.
Kenneth is trying to process the girl from hell, the ditz girl, the girl who keeps asking questions as if she’s chatting over coffee, “Eight left. What’s the frequency, Kenneth?”
Nikko slides her index finger down his middle finger, toying, he whimpers, she removes the tape in a hasty fashion, such that it stings nicely.
Kenneth says, “No, no, wait. It’s the proph…”
Nikko yanks his finger, not to break it, just to make him think.
“Kenneth, no more prophet, it’s so juvenile. Prophet has a name, what is it?”
She pulls his finger back until he winces, then a bit more, he grimaces, “Terry!”
I sit in front of him, cross my legs and study my black gloves, “Terry got a last name, or is it like Cher?”
Kenneth stalls, Nikko covers his mouth with one gloved hand, uses the other to break a third finger. He squirms, twists, a line of blood under the wire on his wrists.
“Fuck, Jesus, she’s fucking crazy, it’s Westlake.”
I do my Daffy Duck bit, spattering, “The plot thfffthickenths. Who’s Donald Westlake?”
Kenneth is breathing hard, almost hyperventilating. His eyes are glazing. He wets his pants, squirms uncomfortably, “Oh shit…..Terry’s dad.”
“What’s he in this?’
“Nothing, he lives in Hawaii, mega rich. He bought the warehouse for investment, probably doesn’t know he owns it, he owns a lot of stuff. My hand….Christ.”
“The third guy?”
Kenneth is slow on the uptake, Nikko leans her knuckle on his busted pinkie, Kenneth gasps, “Okay! Okay, Jeff, his name’s Jeff. It’s a nickname, his name’s Geoffrey McDaniel.”
I turn to him, elbow on my knee, rest my chin in my palm,  “You’re kidding, we got a Thomas Kenneth Jefferson, Terrance Westlake, and a Geoffrey McDaniel? Is everyone a WASP, White Anglo Sociopathic Psycho?”
Kenneth doesn’t reply.
“Who’s the chick?”
“What?”
“The answer to a straightforward question is not, what?” I nod at Nikko.
She breaks another finger, Kenneth screams into her palm, then, “Amelia, Amelia Aaronson, she’s a fucking psycho bitch, she’s crazy, a 5th degree sensei, she’ll eat your heart.”
“You mean the heart of the girl who is breaking your fingers, that heart?”
“What, what the fuck you talking about?”
“I’m giving the psycho bitch to her, for breakfast.”
Kenneth looks at Nikko, his fingers are killing him, he gasps, “Hope you like pain.”
Her black eyes never blink, “Didn’t the prophet teach you? Better to give than receive.”
She presses his mangled hand, snaps his elbow. He stares, mouth open, at his arm bent in a physically impossible direction, he passes out.
I turn my attention to other matters, “Honey, if you’re done flirting with Kenny, find out how many are in the rooms, see if Beth is one. Pay attention, they’re probably all docile, but you never know.”
During our chat with Kenny, Janah arranged her supply of pain relievers and additional pharmacological assistants. She stayed out of the sight of Kenneth. I blindfold him.
While Nikko is down the hall, Janah sticks a syringe of Lidocaine in Kenneth’s elbow. He would be mentally functional, the pain eased in his elbow, his fingers still throb, she sticks the needle in each, shoots them with the rest of the Lidocaine. They swelling wonderfully. I pop two ammonia caps under his nose. He’d had an epiphany while he was out, becomes amazingly cooperative, blurts the story. There are three psychopaths, and a psychopathette, with access to money, bright enough, and a fair amount of time on their hands. Like Goldicreep and the Three Assholes. Normally, these types are loners. The three men met in college, decided it would be fun to see what they could get girls to do by experimenting. Giving them various combinations of drugs, legal and illegal just to see what happened. How far they could stretch before they broke? They stumbled on Goldicreep in a bar. She’d just beaten the crap out of some guy who was trying to horn in on her girlfriend. When Terry approached her about making some money and all the girls she could play rough with, she signed up.
“What’s the point of the video to the parents?”
Arm full of Lidocaine, Kenneth is feeling better, he smiles, “Fuck with their heads, just like we fuck with their daughters, it’s fun.”
He screams as I jam my knuckle hard into the back of the hand Nikko hadn’t mangled, “Having fun now? What’s the frequency, Kenneth?”
Nikko returns from the rooms, “Wow.”
Janah, “As in…?”
“Six girls, never saw girls so….nothing. They stare at me, blank, then return to whatever they were doing, like I wasn’t there. Didn’t freak out, completely docile.”
Kenneth, “Like cows, every one. Perfect women, obedient, willing to do anything, anything at all.”
I stuff a washrag in his mouth, tape it shut, all the way around his head, twice. I make it worse by wrapping it under his chin and over his head, a dozen times. Kenneth won’t be discussing the frequency with anyone for a while.

Chapter Thirty Four III

You can discover what your enemy fears most
by observing the means he uses to frighten you.
Eric Hoffer

We have time, the others won’t be back for a few hours. We search around for keys to the van, find them hanging on a board by the back door. Neat little sadists anyway.
I find headphones in a cabinet under a CD player-radio combination, put the headphones on him, tape those to his head, turn on the radio to static. The volume is high enough to drown out anything in the room.
No frequency for Kenneth. Guess we’ve burned out that reference. Our thanks to Dan Rather and R.E.M. I wonder if William Tager ever found the frequency? After killing an NBC employee in 1994, he pleaded insanity, copped to manslaughter and got parole in 2007. Thirteen years for a life, a life lost for preventing Tager from entering the NBC studios with a gun and creating even worse slaughter. I  wonder if Campbell Montgomery's family thought that a fair tradeoff. If he’d killed Rather instead of a security guard, would he have gotten off with manslaughter and parole?
Janah, “Nikko, let’s take their van and get our van. We can be back long before the others show up. Daphne will hold the fort.”
Nikko drives our truck a roundabout way behind a second building, Janah returns the van to its original spot. They aren’t going to spot any additional tracks that far back in the dark black. They come back in, I turn the lights down.
Nikko goes to the girls’ rooms and tells them it’s bedtime.
She’s amazed. They get up on cue, brush teeth, do bathroom things and get into bed. They never ask who she is, no questions, no argument, perfect compliance. One girl says, “It’s my turn to show my honor to Joel, I can’t go to bed without honoring Joel, is he coming for me?”
Nikko guesses it’s Joel’s turn for sadomasochism, Kenneth must be Joel.
“It’s okay, angel. Joel said he’s busy helping the prophet tonight. If he has time later he’ll come and get you. He said for you to sleep now.”
The girl smiles, with her mouth, not her eyes, which are dead, “I want to please Joel. It hurts to please him. The prophet says the pain cleanses my soul.”
She pull the covers up, settles into sleep. Apparently they didn’t give them pills or injections at night, none of the girls asks for anything, or shows the slightest hesitancy to go to bed. There is a double bed in each room, two girls per bed in three rooms. She leaves them in the dark and closes the doors. Beth is in the third bedroom. Nikko doesn’t say anything to her, lets her sleep, returns to the main room.
Janah, “We should check out the other buildings, I don’t want to assume there aren’t more women someplace else.”
“I’ll stay here, if anything stirs, I’ll mental you.”
Nikko and Janah take a ring of keys from the board and explore the other buildings. They are gone just over a quarter hour. I already know what Janah discovered. The other buildings are apparently where drugs are administered and the sex torture takes place. It isn’t pretty. It is sadism plus, decorated with bloodstains to prove it. Racks, ropes and chains, chairs with restraints that hold legs spread, sharp nipple clips, dildos and strap-ons of every shape and size, a selection of whips, leather hoods. There are three tables with IV drip stands and wrist restraints. We hadn’t examined the girls’ bodies, at least now we had an idea of what we’d find if we did.
Video equipment is stacked around, a tripod, lighting, a video cam in the house, a system to burn DVDs from the video. Janah realizes they must be selling the DVDs if they took the trouble to crank out copies. If she can find them, it would be additional evidence for the justice system.
After the second building, like a small barn, Janah is close to unleashing Nikko. Three cages, three girls, all completely mad. Vacant, nude in the near freezing room, the smell of excrement and urine. A hose and open shallow trenches under the cages. The girls are lost to any feeling, curled up, one mumbling, the other two cringed in corners. I find blankets when I sense what Janah sees. Nikko shows up and takes the blankets back. When the girls are covered, we shut the door and return to the house. It’s nearing time for the other players from the Cirque d’Psychotique to show.
Janah is rummaging, looking for anything that might be recorded. There are no tapes, she takes a stack of numbered DVDs and boxes them up. Before they find their way to the police or FBI, she wants to make sure Beth isn’t on any of them. I look through the pc, there are no video files, no pictures of any of the girls saved. There is no other computer, no external storage device, no laptop. They apparently made the video of Beth, made their adjustments, and sent the disc. If they uploaded it to the pc, it’s gone now. I coded my way into its far reaches. Nothing had been digitized and sent someplace else. I presume they didn’t know enough to route their S&M material through anonymous networks, or on the back of some poor soul’s captured IP address. It looks to me like they’re still trying to figure out how to sell their videos anonymously. Guess they never heard of Tor. They’re making money in meth and marijuana. Abusing young women for their giggles is one thing, selling downloads or DVDs involves a lot of risk, fair amount of tech savvy, accept bitcoins and turn them into cash, all with limited profit potential. That would, at least, be one small bit of relief for the captured women, they aren’t part of other sadistic pervert collections.
Nikko is standing over Kenneth, “If you leave Mistress, you won’t know, it will be on me.”
“I want them too. Janah says no, Shaolin says no, he gets to live. Stay with Janah in here. I’m going outside. If they don’t come directly in the house, I’ll let Janah know what they’re doing. Anyone comes in, deal with them. I’ll take whoever’s outside. From the tracks, it appears they park the vans together by the back door. They’ll come in there. Don’t assume those girls are going to stay asleep, or that they don’t wake up in a frenzy. If everybody’s coming in, take out the first one you see, use your instincts. Unless Kenneth here is a good actor, three is all, there shouldn’t be another mystery guest. Let’s shift Kenneth to the hall door, tie off the door handle to his chair. If the girls get up, they’ll have to deal with that before they can get in.”
I wire the door handle, then connect the wire to Kenneth’s neck. The door opens inward, if the girls try to open it, they’ll sever Kenny’s throat in the process. Seems right.
Nikko crushes the arch of Kenneth’s foot with her hard heel. He screams soundlessly. Her four fingers are tensed into one, she wants to stick them in his throat. She won’t kill him. Not in contradiction to my orders. If I had said nothing, Kenneth would be suffocating in his own blood.
There is no other exit, window or door, that hadn't been bolted shut.
I go out, none too soon, five minutes later the van is crunching up the road. One guy and the girl go to the back door, the other towards the outbuildings. I let Janah know, get an ‘okay.’ I wait silently for the second man.
The back door opens, Terry in first, can’t see his incapacitated buddy. He has to walk through the kitchen to get to the living room where Kenneth is engrossed listening to static. As he turns the corner, Nikko’s steel toe catches him just underneath the sternum, air whooshes out of him, he doubles over. She knife hands him hard in the throat, sweeps her foot through his ankles. He collapses to his knees. Janah duct tapes his mouth, a couple of loops around his head, then grips his neck, thumb on the carotid artery. Lights out for Terry.
The girl is a different matter. When the action started, she momentarily froze, trying to decide whether to back out of the house or take on the girl. She decided it might be prudent to find Jeffery first. She turned to bolt out of the door. I’m standing there, smiling.
While Nikko and Janah were welcoming the other two home, I appeared in front of Jeffrey like I’d dropped out of heaven. Only his youth kept him from having a heart attack. He didn’t get as far as “what” in his attempt to say “what the fuck?”  I whaped his temple with my chain. He staggered, had the discouraging feeling his balls had exploded. I wired his hands and feet behind him. He lies hogtied and silent on the near frozen turf. I’m back at the house in time to chat with the exiting she-beast.
“Sorry Amelia, Jeffery all tired out. He’s resting on cold ground, near the place you keep the girls you drove insane.”
“Fuck you.”
“Is that how the prophet teaches you to talk? Bad prophet.”
“Which one of you cunts wants to die first?”
“The cunt behind you, inside or outside?”
“Out here, don’t want her fucking blood on my floors. The one we make the bitches clean with their tongues. Like I’m gonna make you do. Toilets too, after I piss in your mouth.”
I turn to Nikko, “I sense hostility.”
Nikko looks bored, she always looks bored except when she’s making Janah perform outrageous sexual intimacies.
Amelia isn’t small, she’s bigger than Chris. Chris is curvy and hard, Amelia is stocky and thick waisted, with short dyed red hair and a nasty attitude. Dressed in leather, hard leather boots. She isn’t afraid, and she isn’t into mercy and kindness.
“I can do you both if you want. Save time.”
“I’ve got to do my nails, so you’re going to have to come to terms with my friend first.”
“You ain’t much of a friend, leaving her ass to me, but suit yourself.”
She turns toward Nikko, smiling, Nikko breaks her nose. She steps back, hands at her sides. Blood drips down from the crooked nose. Amelia puts the heels of her hands on both side and pushed, straightening it out.
“Had my nose busted a lot, that ain’t pain. Let me show you pain.”
She flies at Nikko, a decently quick and accurate flurry of kicks and punches, the toe of one boot catches Nikko in the thigh, a fat fist grazes her jaw, she remains completely still, totally impassive, as if nothing of any consequence occurred.
Amelia blinks, the girl is supposed to be hurt, moving away, she comes again. Nikko slides to the side, let the punches and kicks miss by fractions. She wants to frustrate and tire her opponent. Unlike martial arts movie fights, real kicking and punching sucks a lot of energy. Nikko could have dodged everything. To let the girl get to almost is going to get her intensely frustrated, which suits Nikko perfectly.
Amelia, “Fast is fine slant, but I’m going to get you, and when I do, you’re fucking sushi.”
Nikko is so still she could be vertically dead. Amelia’s swinging. Her hips turn and the toe of her boot smashes Amelia’s fist dead on. A mushy crack of splintered bone. One hand useless, her foot lashes out that should have caught Nikko in the jaw, except, by some mysterious physics, Nikko is alongside her, hand underneath Amelia’s heel. She uses the momentum of the kick and to flip the chunk completely over and onto her stomach, cracks a couple of ribs with her steel toe boot.
“Excuse me, can you quit screwing around? It’s getting chilly out here.”
Amelia, breathless and sluggish, climbs slowly to her feet, one arm hangs down protecting cracked ribs. Some lame kicks and an attempted punch. Nikko slaps them away, darts in, her elbow breaks Amelia’s jaw, a ridge hand strikes deep into the thick throat. A ridge hand is a karate chop with the thumb side of the hand, the side of the index finger knuckle does the work. Amelia chickie is toast. She gags and chokes. Nikko whaps her on the temple with the titanium capped knuckles of her closed fist. Amelia falls face down with a thump. Her head bounces nicely when she kisses the frozen dirt. I wire her up and leave her blob on the gravel.
The prophet and his pals are tied to chairs, sitting in a row facing us, I wonder out loud about their prophet-ability, “The prophet ought to have prophesied this part, don’t you think?”
Kenneth is still chilling to static, we let him sit oblivious. Janah wants to know exactly what had been done, drug-wise, to the girls. Who had hypnotized them, with what methodology, and what suggestions they’d been given, the guy who could still talk is Terry.
I begin a dialogue, “Tell me a story, Terry. Tell me all about the girls, where you got them, who they are, how you drugged and hypnotized them.”
Terry, “Fuck you.”
“Isn’t happening Terry. Think of this as a sexual sadist recovery program. It’s like a twelve step program with only one step. You spill everything or I change your sex, to something more, uh, neutral.”
Out comes the serrated knife. Thirty seconds later, a shallow slit across his balls and his penis dotted with blood, he is giving us everything we need between sobs and pleas for mercy.
“Notice how they beg for what they never gave their victims. We’re their instant karma, a karma home delivery program. You guys have a truckload of bad karma to work off. You’re going to be reincarnated as cockroaches for the next three or four lives unless I think of lots of stuff to help sterilize your souls. Fortunately, the other building is full of equipment made to order for just that. When my friend and I are done, you’ll never need another self help program. You won’t have a self to help. Think persistent vegetative state, you know….like Arkansas.”
The two who can still see get visibly agitated. It hadn’t occurred to them that there might be someone crazier than they are. A hazard frequently overlooked by freaks devoid of conscience. It certainly never occurred to them they might find themselves on the business end of their S&M toys.
Twenty minutes later, in the outbuilding, three are nude. Kenneth is alone in the house in a world of painful static, Nikko had cranked the volume up to the max. Kenneth’s hearing is going to be permanently shot. In the outbuilding, Terry is strapped into the chair, his legs spread wide, like he’d no doubt done to his victims. Amelia is bent over something that makes her butt available for whatever someone might want to do with it. Based on the vast expanse, why anyone would want to do something to it remains unclear; there’s no accounting for tastelessness. Jeff is strung up by his hands to a rack. He makes an X in the middle of the frame. It is scrotum numbing cold in the place, emphasized by the two shrunken penises.
“Dang, this is convenient. Maybe we could specialize in sadists. That way we don’t have to bring our own restraints.”
I approach the prophet, “A real prophet would have a bigger schlong, Shorty. There’s not a complete dick if we sew both together.”
I pull out my knife, “Let me see if I can make at least one decent bratwurst out of two cocktail weenies.”
The guy on the rack begins to pee.
“A proper prophet pee pees privately. Isn’t that in the prophet’s manual someplace?”
Nikko’s new worstie is still unconscious. I pop an ammonia cap under her nose. She comes to with a start, lunges at me, for about a quarter inch. She’s tied wrists to ankles, bent over the rack, super size is not happy. She’s trying to communicate her hatred to Nikko. It’s difficult with the ball gag in her mouth. You know, the S&M tidbit with the helpful rubber strap that prevents the gagged from spitting it out. The place looks like a sad porn movie.
Janah, “Let’s move it, we have things to do.”
We lock the deranged threesome in the building, not that they’re going anywhere. They are models of restraint, modeling their restraints.
Nikko and I visit Kenneth, Janah to get Beth. It takes some gentle coaxing, eventually shepherds her into the van, sits with her in the back, holding her. We drag Kenney back into hangman’s position, his neck wired to the door handle. We need to get gone. The girls in the cages require medical attention and she doesn’t want the ones in the house to have time to help the psychos. Of course, they’d have to strangle Kenneth first, which would likely confuse them for a time.
Janah calls the Society. It’s a secure Iridium satellite phone, there aren’t any unwanted listeners. She gives the Society contact details about the women, the drugs, and the meth lab. We have the DVDs, need time to make sure Beth isn’t on any, or ditch any she is on. Thirty minutes later an EMS team is at the site, followed by medical rescue copters. The FBI, park rangers, local cops, anyone for forty miles with a badge and a uniform. Smokey Bear must be in hibernation. The FBI gets a detailed report from nobody knew where, nobody asked. Nobody named Beth was mentioned.
Janah talks to Kim, suggesting we avoid Manhattan. We will take her to Syracuse, not home. She doesn’t want the family having the additional pressure of knowing who the rescuers are. Kim said he’d call back.
A few minutes later, “Syracuse is good. When you get thirty or forty miles from town, call and I’ll have a location. Mo will be there, the girl’s mother a few minutes away. They understand the need to keep you out of it. They are most grateful.”
Fifteen hours later we hand Beth off to Mo. She’s jittery. Janah had quietly coached her, talked, held her while she slept, fed her. She barely said a word. It’s apparent the drugs are wearing off, she has a slight temperature, sweats. That’s the least of her problems. It will be a long difficult recovery. The only bit of good news is that Beth is the most recent addition, she doesn’t appear to have been physically brutalized like the others. For the poor creatures we’d found caged there would not be anything resembling recovery. Janah suggested that Dr. Epstein get the psychiatrists to look into Propranolol as a treatment possibility. Maybe the drug would help erase the more painful trauma.
We check into a Hampton in Binghamton, 70 miles downstate from Syracuse. We need showers, rest and real food. Tomorrow, drive the hundred and fifty miles to Manhattan. Pizza, ice cream, sleep.
Overnight, Transportation swaps out our van for a sedan, we drive home, go to the condo to see the moms. Kara and Susan are finishing lunch, Chris comes out of the bedroom. Hugs all around.
Kara, “Want a sandwich, there’s plenty of stuff?”
Janah, “Great, we stopped in to get some love, food sounds good too. The meditation retreat was exhausting.”
Susan, “There’s a story about sexual sadism and kidnapping all over the news. The FBI isn’t commenting except to say they were tipped off anonymously to a meth lab and a remote houseful of abducted young women. They’re saying extreme physical and psychological abuse. Have you heard anything about it? You know, while you were in your intensive meditation studies?”
“Janah doesn’t watch the news. Do you know there’s an actual piece of equipment where someone is cuffed into place, bent over in the ‘here’s my anus’ position? Some people are so disgusting.”
Chris, “Was it bad?”
“There was an impulse to break my vows.”
Susan, “Nikko didn’t take vows.”
Nikko, “I vowed to serve my mistress. I respect her boundaries, and Master J’s. They teach that to go beyond the essential is to serve only the self, not the innocent.”
Chris, “I don’t know if I could restrain myself.”
“Well, in that case, there’s this other piece of equipment…”
Chris throws a towel at me, “Okay, I get it. Let it go mom. So, if your meditation retreat is over, I can expect you to help with class tonight?”
“We’ll be there early, Janah wants to de stress with a work out, Nikko and I will instruct. Right now, we’re going back to the apartment and chill.”
Kara, “It’s hard, not to worry. I’m so thankful for Daphne and Nikko,  I still worry about all of you.”
Janah, “That’s why you’re the moms. You have to trust that these girls are incredibly prepared. I know no one’s invincible. Together, they’re close to it. Look, between all of us, there’s one bruise, no limps, strains, nothing broken. Relieving suffering doesn’t have to be difficult if you’re sneaky and prepared.”
Kara, “All right, I’ll quit mommying, for now.”
Janah, “Then call dad please. We’ll stop by again tonight after class. Tomorrow we’re going to see Nikko’s family.”

Chapter Thirty Five III

When push comes to shove, shove hardest.
Chris Fischer, C-mom


We mill around in the bathroom, wash up and pile into bed. Janah lies in her favorite spot, cozy and blissfully content. It’s pushing one thirty, we’re motionless until nearly four.
Janah, “We’ll de-stress in the dojang. Tomorrow a calmer visit with our other family, nothing for the rest of the week. I can’t even think about sex, which ought to tell you something.”
Nikko is impassive, I can see the edge of strain. I’m sure I look the same. She’s thinking the same thing I am. These four assholes were stopped. How many more infest the planet?
I put my arms around my tall Japanese sister, “I know your heart. We’ll stop more pain. Master J decides when to work and when to rest. We stay prepared.”
Nikko nods once, kisses me softly, “Hai.”
Janah punishes herself in the weight room, Nikko and I are kinder to ourselves, practicing forms until class begins. Mercifully, a standard class. I lead them through poomse and sparring combinations. Susan works with the beginners and intermediates, Chris observing silently. Janah showers before class ends, sits and talks to a couple of students for a bit. Chris is quick to douse the lights, knowing we want to see James. Soon we’re in his office debriefing.
James, “Before we get to your individual mental states, I have a couple of questions about the details.”
Janah, “Shoot.”
“You went to get out one girl, you did that. The moms don’t know, the Epsteins obviously do. No one else really knows who you are or why you were there, except the girl. She spent fifteen hours with you, and the others, both the girls and the bad guys, have at least a general idea. Three women appear out of nowhere, take everyone down, then evaporate.”
“You have two questions, how does Beth keep from being implicated, and can anyone know who we are?”
“Yes.”
I answer, “First, we were in our usual disguises. Frankly, all the psychos know is one of the girls is oriental. Nikko wears odd makeup, or face paint, sometimes her whole face. This time enough to be unrecognizable, I stick on fake tattoos, we keep our hair out of sight. Janah’s hair is dyed, colored contacts, if it’s light enough, we wear sunglasses. Janah uses lightly tinted glasses. We never use our names when we’re with targets or innocents. In this case, the captives don’t know anything about us. It was dark in the rooms, we weren’t in there for long, and they were like zombies. Even if they remember something, their credibility is questionable.”
James, “One girl is missing, Beth.”
Janah,  “Yes, but only the four sadists knew her name. the girls all had names given to them by the so-called prophet, Terry Westlake. They only knew each other as Sister this or that. It would have been a bad idea to let the captives know real names.”
James, “But they still know that one is missing.”
“Yes, perhaps. First, these girls may never actually see each other again. They are being treated individually. Second, they are so messed up, one story is going to contradict another anyway. Were there four girls, five, six? Who knew about the ones in the outbuildings? Besides those, one or more must have died. They may never find the bodies, there’s a lot of woods out there, and lots of predators. Girls came and went, in the state they were in, it would be a blur.”
James, “How do you know there were others?”
“The DVDs, I kept them to make sure Beth wasn’t on any. Glad I did, she was on one, it doesn’t exist anymore. It wasn’t a sado version like the others, she was giving the three guys oral sex. Acclimating her I suppose. The Society is sending the others to the FBI.”
“What about the bad guys? Will they cough up Beth’s name?”
Janah, “That’s a risk, a small one. From their point of view, it’s just one more charge against them. I’m not sure how smart they are, but if they think about it, one girl gone missing is an advantage. They would be stupid to bring it up. We never mentioned Beth’s name, they don’t know we were there because of her. She was new. For all they know, she simply escaped at some point.”
James, “I see. Well, it will come out or it won’t. It would be better for Beth just to be left alone. I hope that’s how it goes.”
Janah, “She has her uncle, who has major connections. They don’t need Beth to make a case. If push comes to shove, if somehow her name surfaces, he or the Society will make any questions disappear. He doesn’t know about the Society. But, if he can’t squash any inquiry into Beth, we can.”
James, “Now about each of you. It was ugly. I gathered some of it from the reports. They didn’t mention the cages. It’s only a matter of time until something leaks out. Are you guys okay? I don’t expect to hear ‘we’re fine,’ skip the bullshit.”
Janah, “We’re handling it. We tried to zip through the DVDs, those girls endured a lot of pain, it was ugly to see. Some girls were clearly dead, they just left them to bleed out with the camera running.”
James, “And?”
“Dad, we did a version of it to the targets, we do a version to all the targets. We’re not naïve or sanctimonious. It’s not that it was this trip, these particular psychos, the nature of what we saw. It’s the ones we don’t know.”
James, “Discouraging to think about isn’t it?”
Janah, “Discouraging, frightening, disgusting. All the feelings we generally prefer to avoid. It’s one thing to remain centered when it’s a normal day. This pathology is so many standard deviations from the mean, it’s immeasurable. War is stomach turning, innocents and children caught up in the slaughter of state sanctioned violence. If that’s not enough, there are these sadistic psychopaths torturing college girls. There’s no doubt in my mind they’d have collected younger ones if they could have. They thought they were being slick, using young adult women. They got them still vulnerable, searched for the ones still finding their balance. We already know there are lots of creeps, with even younger girls. We have to find the ones we can. Using children for sexual gratification is bad enough, people taking pleasure in horrific cruelty is beyond description.”
James, “I’ve seen more ugliness than I’d like to admit. Some touching what you saw, some younger children as you pointed out. Not a factory like you found, the same sadism. I’m sorry you have to see it. I’m glad it doesn’t just run off you. It’s not just another day at the shop. It can strip you of your humanity without a ground. Happens to cops, doctors, nurses, shrinks and social workers all the time.”
“I am so proud of these two, I knew exactly what Daphne felt, I don’t have to guess where Nikko was. Despite that, they were picture perfect control. They had every opportunity to send these guys to hell on a razor blade. I’m not sure I would have stopped them.”
James, “Nikko, we haven’t heard from you, tell me where you are on this, I’d like to know.”
“Mistress and Master J say deal with it, I deal with it. Besides being companions, they are my responsibility. I feel their disgust, see their anguish. Without them, I would have killed with no thought. Daphne is my instructor, she is Janah and Janah is her. I have been privileged to witness the two as one. For that, and the gift of Daphne’s instruction, I follow their rules. For myself, I have no conscience about killing a rabid dog, even before it attacks.”
James, “You are what you are, you don’t pretend to feel what you don’t feel. That’s not common, it’s healthy in its own way. It’s neurotic to pretend you’re one thing while feeling something else. I’ll be direct, Nikko. I’m their dad. If they or you are in danger, I’m not worrying about morality. I want the danger removed, immediately and completely. As a psychiatrist, maybe I should have some cogent philosophical world view. As a father, I’m not wasting brain cells on that crap. I want all of you safe first, then we worry about morality.”
Nikko, “Honored father, you have my word. Such people will join their ancestors long before serious harm comes to your daughters.”

Chapter Thirty Six III

There is no adequate way of describing the beauty of such an object.
One can only look at it in wonder.
Daphne Sylk

Mr. Murakami is beaming, internally. Like his daughter, he doesn’t beam externally. Nikko, his wife Ari and I are dressed in kimonos. I am performing the tea ceremony under Ari’s watchful eye. The conversation is in Japanese. It is almost like being in his beloved ancestral home outside Kyoto. Nikko has blossomed, having found her tribe, so to speak. Quietly self assured, Nishiko has grown ever more composed, serene, the epitome of Japanese womanhood.Mr. Murakami, “Daphne, you and Janah bring honor to our traditions. In all my years in the states, I’ve never seen young people attempt to appreciate our culture. It seems most Americans think it quaint.”
“Honorable sir, it is their loss. It is a privilege to be taught the art of such a beautiful ceremony. I hope my beginner’s mistakes might be overlooked. Mrs. Murakami has been endlessly patient in her instruction. I hope one day to have a small portion of her skill.”
Mr. Murakami, “Her own mother was a tea artist. You have a natural sense for its flow.”
I bow at his compliment, eyes lowered. I love the ceremony, becoming Japanese in my own way. Mr. Murakami looks at his wife, she nods imperceptibly.
He is quiet for a time, “Please, come with me.”
We follow him into the hallway, down a few doors, then into a surprisingly large, open room. He slides the door closed. There is an altar, a shrine to his ancestors. To the side of the altar is a stand. It holds a sword, sheathed in a beautifully lacquered scabbard. He places his hands under the scabbard, lifting the weapon from its resting place.
“This is the sword of my father’s, father’s, father. Hidden and protected through the first and second world wars. I have often thought of where it would go when I am no longer alive. My sons are fully Americanized. For them it would only be a relic of a forgotten past, an artifact of no deep personal value. It’s just as well. They haven’t the slightest appreciation of it, how to handle it, how to make it live. Fortunately, I have one child who can. Who can learn how to wield it as it is meant to be used. I am approaching sixty years, not young, not so old. It is my wish that Nishiko learn the art of the sword. After a time, she will formally demonstrate what she has learned. If it is as I expect, this sword will become hers.”
Nikko’s eyes are moist, she bows deeply to her father. There are four other swords on the wall. He takes one down.
 “This one is the very sword I used to learn.” he hands it to Nikko, “and this one,” he takes down a second, “is the sword of my instructor, Master Kobe.”
He hands it to me, “Now, if you wish, you may come here each week and I will teach you how to make them serve you.”
I bow to, now in my eyes, Hachidan Hanshi Murakami. We would call him Hanshi from now on. It is an honor to even be considered, much less to be offered personal instruction. Nikko hadn’t mentioned her father’s skill, or level, Master Instructor, in the art. That’s Nikko. In her mind, it is up to her father to discuss it, not for her to chatter about. She had seen him practice many times. He is absolute master of the instrument, student of one of the foremost masters in Kyoto. His form of instruction isn’t obtainable in America for any price. Only by invitation, one virtually never extended in the West.
I am as overwhelmed as when Kim released me to the Shaolin, “I am honored, domo arigato.” 
“Do Friday mornings suit your schedule?”
“Your schedule is my schedule sir.”
“Then it’s settled. Day after tomorrow, we begin.”
We bow, return the swords to their places, bow again. We leave Hanshi Murakami to himself. He lights incense, kneels in front of the shrine and closes his eyes. The decision to make his daughter and her companion samurai was not made lightly, he has taken on great responsibility.
After changing to our street clothes, we stop to thank Mrs. Murakami. Nikko hugs her mother for a long time. She knows how her father arrived at his decision. Now she is able to offer me something beyond wonderful in exchange for the gift of her training. From my point of view, no exchange is required. Janah and I think her a delight, and ourselves fortunate to have found her. Ari Murakami has seen the joy in her stoic daughter’s heart because of us. In her eyes, there is no gift of any price that could begin to compensate.
Mrs. Murakami asks if Susan might be able to come with us on Friday, while we train. I say I am certain she will be delighted.
Susan, “I’d be delighted. What time are we going?”
“Nine. He wants us about two hours the first day, to go over the history and learn the rituals for handling the swords. Once he’s satisfied, we learn the first of 10 kata, Nikko and I must also practice with bamboo swords at home. At graduation, Janah will put an apple in each hand and hold them outstretched. Nikko and I have to peel them without peeling Janah.”
“What does Janah think of this graduation ceremony?”
“We have a few years to convince her. If we don’t perform to his expectations, we have until forever; he’s giving us an unparalleled opportunity, we have to earn the promotions.”
“I’ll come to your place early Friday, this time, I'll spoil Nishiko before we go to her folks’ place.”
“Sounds good.”
I hang up, Janah mentals, “Let’s go to Mrs. Fong’s, she can fuss and distract us from the nightmare of the last refocusing.”
“You mean she can fuss at me and you get pampered beyond reason.”
“That’s what I said.”

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