Chapter One

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8:00 p.m., Wednesday, September 18

Greenbol, Illinois

Day One

Dried mud and stone covered the broken cement floor; candles burned against the darkness, and their flames wavered in the ruined and nearly demolished building. Huckleweed and wild ivy stuck out from the shadows and gripped the walls. Not a piece of furniture or original construction within survived—it was total destruction, half-hidden with grime. Eeriness seeped through into the murky flickering candlelight, invading the circle the man paced.

A pale adolescent shivered naked on the floor in the middle of the circle, and he stared at her with some disgust. Her clammy skin glistened dully under the wavering light, sullied with the bruises and scrapes he had caused. He would have liked to see her bright green eyes, even if terrified, or especially if terrified, but of necessity she was blindfolded. She represented the beauty in life that he would never possess with anything except brute force. Besides, he hated women, but that meant nothing now. Her destiny and his were fused into eternity with this brutal union, even though the violence had nothing to do with living forever. Or did it? He wasn't so sure any longer.

She had no idea who he was. He was a molester, a rapist, a killer, but he didn't worry about labels. He knew that they would pass through her mind for now, but later she would deem it a blessing, and consider him her hero. He stole what youth would never voluntarily give, especially to a middle age wretch like himself—he had no illusions, but he paid for what millions would kill for: an endless party of good health, vigor, and lust for life. Even he couldn't have that. As far as he could tell, the serum stopped the aging process from the time of its inoculation. It would not make him younger, but only would make him desire the things of youth, almost more than he could bear.

He knew Alana already had an instinct for her power: young, beautiful teenagers were all cock-teasers. She would figure it out. After he had given her the serum, she would feel her instinct turn green with life-force and evolving power as it raced through her veins, just as he had when he had taken it. She had just turned seventeen years old, and was near perfect; already his flabby body had aged well past its prime. He knew Alana was a good girl as well, not just with that chiseled classic youth and silky skin, but with American gregariousness and kindness. He had followed her for weeks. She deserved this gift as much as any virgin in Greenbol, especially after what he had put her through tonight, but that was nothing; that was sex; that was his way of loving the world. A silk gag muffled her sobs, and duct tape kept it fastened, but the sound still riled him. It was torture, but also torturous joy; he had pleasured her, and he thought she had enjoyed it. Besides, he had always loved women, and wanted to nurture them. He was a good man, and though this crime was an ample offense, it paled in comparison to his payment. How do you measure crime if you cut off a person's finger, but give them an extra arm? He was a man of some impulses, but also of great complexity; coarse, but with impeccable taste; driven to desperate acts, but not to altogether abandon morality.

His blood raced through his veins, a mindless, ancestral urge, and he curled his stubby fingers until his knuckles became white. His movements flowed with a lethal, almost kinetic energy—and then he noticed her again.

"Stop your sobbing!" His voice was ferocious. Its frightful outburst filled the cavernous structure with echoes of a dimension filled with possession, demons, and spiritual carnage. He had a mouthpiece tucked up around his teeth for vocal disguise, and especially to hide his accent. It made his voice seem unnatural, even satanic or guttural. For a moment, not a single sound was heard throughout the surroundings. He could hear only her heavy, weeping breaths.

He endured life now entirely alone, free of any social restraint. Well, he had always been alone, but now he was willfully, dreadfully, completely alone. Before, he had been alone by constraint. He had been mediocre, dull, and plain, Nobody except Beck had wanted his friendship, and Beck, only out of pity. Pity! What a horrible, bankrupt human invention. Presently he was alone because he had crossed over to the other side. He didn't need love or friendship. He was his own man, like a new eternal super being, one who walked the tightrope between goodness and iniquity, making his own bargains with his own devils as he traveled. He had long been dead to the sensual world; now he lived life totally renewed and took what he wanted from the fruit of the tree. Those old Teutonic philosophers like Nietzsche were wrong all along: it wasn't spiritual, it was chemical. The serum proved it—Beck proved it. It was all genes and spleens—even Einstein was an old Teutonic fool! Relativity was nothing against the serum.

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