False Gods is my answer to a new challenge from the terrible minds of Chuck Wendig. The challenge was roll a random number generator and get two sub genres and mash them up into something shiny and new.
I got technothriller and mythology. I’m not entirely sure I hit either of those genres exactly…But hopefully it’s still enjoyable.
We will remove all false gods from the world.
One by one.
I surveyed the murder scene. The woman was in her late fifties, an antique aegis and what I had to assume were owl feathers covered her body.
Someone shoved the latest manifesto into my hands, I couldn’t even get a polite thanks out. I had read the previous five over and over. I skimmed the first few lines, I’d already read them thanks to the killer’s twitter feed.
She was supposed to be Athena. She had been in the army, risen through the ranks, gone into diplomacy. She was brilliant. She was a warrior. She was this serial killer’s sixth victim.
I flipped through the hundreds of pages of supposed evidence. The digital team would be downloading it and adding it to their database now. We were working under the premise that the killer was running some kind of software to determine his next victim. He tweeted as if he were many but our profile came down to one man, working by himself, with the help of some very sophisticated software.
I stopped at the two-thirds point and started skimming. This would be where he would outline the evils and where we had caught glimpses, too late, into who the next victim would be.
The same bullshit talk about how all the creatures of mythology walked among us, and they all needed to be killed. I shuddered and closed the manifesto. It would go in my stack of reading.
Jennifer and Nasim sat across from me with serious looks. Nasim turned his laptop around to face me slowly.
“Just, tell me what it is, while you are wasting time, he is out there getting ready to murder someone else.” I shouted at them.
We all flinched when our phones chimed at the same time. It wasn’t him. Someone sighed with relief.
“Right now, the data we’ve gathered, it seems to show that there is a possibility…” Nasim was shifting his screen as he talked.
“It’s going to be a cop.” Jennifer jumped in before I could tell them to get to the point.
“Or a sky marshall, or a judge…it might not be a cop.” Nasim hedged again.
“I think it is going to be you.” Jennifer looked me in the eyes.
I sucked in a deep breath. “Which god is he targeting?”
“Kratos.” Nasim said confidently. I ran through the gods I knew of, I’d spent the last months researching mythology. I had never heard of Kratos. “He’s the son of Pallas and Styx and is authority. He is the state enforcer. But they all have wings so it might be a sky marshall.”
“It’s not a sky marshall.” Jennifer grabbed the laptop and scrolled through, highlighting the text. I didn’t see it.
I wasn’t a god, but I was the target of a serial killer.
I put my head in my hands and bumped the stack of books at my elbow. My phone went off. I grabbed for it.
A tweet to the department, he had a new account. He was on the move. Each time he created a new account. We would get it shut down within minutes. In those minutes he would send out a storm of information, manifestos, and photographs.
I skimmed through the messages. It was a review of the previous murder. It had been three months between the first two murders, then a month to the third, the fourth was three weeks later, the fifth was another three weeks, the sixth was another three weeks. We hoped that was how long his manifesto took to complete. Each one was nearly 500,000 words of accusations and demands.
I should still have two weeks. I rested my head again. I just needed a short break.
A sharp noise woke me. I knocked over a pile of books and turned around in the chair. My phone. I grabbed it. A message from Nasim. “We have timeline concerns. You should come down to the station.”
If Nasim was worried things had to be bad. I touched each of the manifestos and case files. Looking at each of the victims, wondering – for just a moment – if I’d be the next stack of paper.
I’d just take a quick shower and head in. I responded to Nasim and stood, restacking the books next to me.
“Oh just turn around already!”
I spun toward the unknown, cheerful voice. My gun. It was on the desk behind me.
The murder stood in front of me. Dressed in an absurd Loki costume. My mind raced.
“You can’t be Loki. You murdered him. His name was Jackson.” The murder’s face kept the disgusting grin as I talked. My gun was on top of Jackson’s file behind me. “Jackson was a homeless man, he had two brothers, he had schizophrenia, he made sure all the stray dogs were fed before he was. Did you know one of his brothers calls me every day to see if he can help? Let me show you a photo.”
I turned and grabbed the gun and the papers and hid the gun under the thousands of sheets of paper.
“You have found me out! I am not Loki. But you are Kratos. And you are a false god. You will be dispatched with the rest of them. I wasn’t sure if you were truly Kratos. Now I know.”
I edged a step closer to him. “Look at this photo.” The photo showed three teenage boys, cleaned up in suits, with giant grins.
The murderer raised up what I had thought was a staff, it was a sword. He was laughing. I heard sirens outside.
“Drop the sword.” I dropped the paper and gripped my gun. I shouted the command again.
He shrieked with laughter and raised the sword up. I fired and he fell. I stood over him with the gun pointed at him until reinforcements arrived.