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[Fiction] The Lists of the Dead [Mature] [Complete]

Lou Anne Burgess

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I'm not 100% sure this needs the tag, but better safe than sorry.

December 19, 2016

Boston, MA

It is not and has never been the policy of the University of Massachusetts system to award a 4.0 GPA to a student whose roommate commits suicide or otherwise dies during the semester. What is our policy is to make bereavement time available to students. If you know someone recently injured or killed by the fire in the Morrill Science Center, and are unable to complete your final exams at this time, please contact the admissions office to make arrangements to reschedule final exams for during the Winter Term.

Halfway through finals week and a disaster comes to Amherst. Fifty two dead students and faculty and just under four hundred burned or suffering other injuries from the fire. The academic year was turned on it ear in the space of a few fateful minutes. Memorials and vigils took the place of cram sessions and parties.

Louis Flannery would be the toast of Amherst and several other towns throughout Massachusetts. He saved the lives of a thousand plus students by cutting the gas to the Science Center and prevented a more serious conflagration or explosion. In later years, depending on who asked, he would say that the high point was either having Christmas Dinner at the Governor’s mansion or making the late night talk show circuit and telling all of America about what he’d done. He would enjoy his fifteen minutes of fame and then fade back into a half seen presence in the white maintenance trucks.

There was some talk among not only parents, but also the school’s administration that perhaps Dr. Rachel Brenford should not return with the next semester seeing as how the tragedy had started with an attempt on her life. Eventually, the administration would announce that she would continue to teach and that they were retaining the services of a fire-fighting Nova defender until such time as the assailant was apprehended.

* * * * *

In Lou Anne Burgess’ office, there was a list, it contained the almost five hundred names of the people hurt or killed in her sister’s escape and subsequent frenzy of destruction. The most acutely felt loss was her father. Lou Anne smiled as the grim irony that her path in life had put her exactly in place to help her mother, her sister and in some ways, herself through the loss of John Burgess. Sadly, it did nothing to put her into a position to have stopped him from dying in the first place.

Getting her family moved to the Boston area and into the protection zone that Officer Preston’s precognitive abilities provided was her first objective.

Rachel walked into the office. “Stop blaming yourself Lou Anne. And, guess what.”

Lou Anne put the list down and turned to Rachel. “They’re canceling the rest of the school year and the last 4 days of finals will be given just before next semester?”

Rachel’s eyebrows quirked up briefly before she smiled. “Very close. Officially, all exams are still on schedule. But with so many people hurt or killed, it’s looking like Winter Term’s gonna have a lot of tests to grade.”

“So they’d be better off taking my advice?”

Rachel smiled. “Maybe, but they’ll never go for it, the show must go on and all. I saw that you’d gone through the classifieds looking for houses. Find anything?”

“Not in a price range mom will look at.”

“There’s a house near my parent’s that’s available.”

“Yeah, I saw that.” Lou Anne grinned faintly despite herself. “You want Patty orphaned? Mom would have a heart attack if she saw the asking price.”

“So why don’t we take that and sell your mom this house?”

Lou Anne looked like Rachel had punched her. “That’s a little outside our budget don’t you think? Especially when you factor in my food bills.”

Rachel smiled and sat down next to Lou Anne. “So I guess that brings us to the elephant that’s been crowding the house for the past four months?”

For a moment, Lou Anne looked clueless, but then realization dawned. “Oh, that.”

“Yeah, that.” Rachel paused, waiting to see if Lou Anne offered anything. “Okay, so I’ll start. I know that you know or at least strongly suspected..”

Lou Anne blushed slightly. “Oh, that one. Yeah, and I figured you knew that.”

“Oh that one?” Rachel’s voice rose with a teasing note. “Just how many elephants are we keeping in this house?”

Lou Anne smiled. “I don’t know, does that count as one or two?”

Rachel looked relieved now that Lou Anne had cheered up enough to joke some. “Seriously, I have money burning holes in several bank accounts. We need more space for you to spread out and I could use more space. You could have a real, roomy office, or an office for each Doctorate if you wanted.”

“Or we could have a nice library maybe. I don’t think mom wants to get rid of all of Dad’s books, but I know she won’t want to keep all of them.”

“Okay, I’ll call the Realtor tomorrow.”

“Just like that?”

“Just like that.”

“So –“

“Uh uh uh. That’s another elephant. I’m not sure which one, but let’s get one butchered & eaten first.”

Rachel took Lou Anne’s hand and pulled her up out of her chair and out of the office. The list lay where it had fallen on the desk.

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Tuesday February 7, 2017

Columbia, MD

The last tatters of what makes a house a home were fast fading from the Burgess family’s house in Columbia. The paintings that Martha Burgess had made over a span of nearly a half century had been moved first, then the essential furniture and what Martha and Patty would need for their new home in Boston. Mrs. Burgess’ studio had waited until a contractor had installed a better ventilation system, but it too was now in Boston.

John Burgess’ study with his roll top desk and shelves full of books was the last hold out to the emptiness and lifelessness of simply being a house. Lou Anne stood in the doorway, his study had always had a certain smell, that and the books that lined the walls were what had defined home for her growing up. Above his desk he kept framed photos of engineering disasters, wards against hubris he’d called them; reminders that when engineers made mistakes, other people paid the price.

She had put this off. First the new house had to be bought, and moved into, while that was going on she had counseled her mom and sister. After moving things between the three houses she had two weeks in Africa with MSF delivering supplies and a moving a full surgical team around the region. It had given her some distance through which to look at the study without tearing up immediately. But she could feel the tears coming and she sank into the old, comfortable easy chair to cry as memories of her dad swam up into her consciousness. How long she sat there she wasn’t sure, but finally, the flood of emotion became a trickle and she got control of herself again. She started on the desk, cleaning out its drawers, sorting things into large envelopes and boxes.

Mementos from the shelves she carefully wrapped before placing them in small boxes. Unlike all the other rooms in the house which were filled with paintings that her mom had done, her dad kept photographs in his study. Photos of projects that he had worked on soon joined the carefully packed mementos leaving only the family pictures. Her grandparents, whom she had never known, him driving a seabee bulldozer on some island in the Pacific and her riveting aircraft parts together. Her dad in his cap and gown graduating from college, her grandparents still recognizable from the older photo; photos from Mom and Dad’s wedding, the births of all four children.

A few ‘classic’ photos from them growing up. A double frame showing Wayne in his uniform and then his flight suit standing by an F22 fighter. Lou Anne’s wedding and current pictures of her and Rachel. Patty’s latest school picture, was in a digital frame, Lou Anne cycled through the images mostly just a succession of school pictures and a few others that might have made the ‘classic’ collection in a few years. She teared up again thinking about what he would never do, and never see; like Patty’s graduation from High school. Letting her memories play in her minds eye, she packed the last pictures through a veil of tears and closed the box.

Most of the books were easier to pack. Some that she had particular memories of she lingered over. The engineering books she hadn’t really looked at, but Lou Anne’s remembering pages from his military history books were how her parents had found out conclusively about young Lou Anne’s photographic memory.

Lou Anne’s phone rang. “Hi Rachel.”

“How’s it going?” Rachel asked.

“Good, I’m about two-thirds ’the way through the books.”

“Sounds like you’re doing better than you thought.”

“I can’t be a mess the whole time can I?”

They said goodbye and Lou Anne returned to packing the books away. An hour later, finally finished she surveyed the room. She’d be able to take everything home with no trouble, as long as it wasn’t raining at least, the yard would do for a target spot. Her stomach reminded her that it was after lunch time.

“Well Dad, how about you pick... Yeah, I knew you’d suggest that.” She took a folded index card from her pocket and crossed off things to do while here in Columbia. Satisfied that she was almost done, she sat the card on the back of the easy chair and left the house, locking it behind her. She walked down the block a ways so that the smell of roses from her departure wouldn’t overwhelm the study’s fading scent just yet.

In the quiet of the study, with the boxes starting to hide the smells of the room, the card was the only companion to the slow, hard fought transformation of the home into a house.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Spain, near Madrid

Shortly after midnight, February 14, 2017

She still shuddered from the last echoes of the rapture that had overtaken her. She had always wondered what Mary in the Bible had felt when the Holy Spirit had overtaken her. Now, she was sure, she knew. There was no other explanation for it. She was working very hard to celebrate the holiday and the world turned rapturously inside out.

She had so missed holidays in prison. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years were observed to some extent. You couldn’t call it celebrating exactly. Who could call a bad tasting, drier than sawdust turkey dinner a celebration. She would have to do something special for Easter this year. The rebirth themes were so resonant and so important to her new life after all. It would take some thinking for something really special for that day... like she had for today.

Today, was Valentine’s day. Everyone’s favorite day to tell people that you loved them; in the States at least. Carla hadn’t seen the red and pink banners and signs in Europe that she saw back home. Truth to tell though, she hadn’t been looking very hard. Being out in public was difficult. Her wings, horns and none the less striking beauty made her stick out from the faceless masses that she needed to blend in to. What time she spent in public she usually spent dormant. She didn’t like to do that for long though.

She was sure it was just in her head, but it always felt like her wings were going to cramp up after a few hours dormant. The care that she took meant that she hadn’t been found by the police yes. She had been lucky she supposed. She was new to this country, and they had no reason to look for her yet. New or not, she was able to find someone in time to celebrate the holiday. Carla looked over at Maria, she was still breathing. Which was good since Carla had lost control of herself when the rapture began, she was afraid she’d killed her by accident. Now her celebration could continue. The celebration however, was long over for Maria’s late lover, Estelle.

* * * * *

The Opnet, was such a wonderful invention. Her family had AOL back before she had gone to prison and the Internet had been kinda neat, but nothing like what it turned into. AOL was primitive compared to this. Today, you go to a search window, type in what you wanted and select from the possibilities. It was even easier than having Wayne do it for her back then. Finding the degenerate men and women who flaunted God’s laws about proper behavior was easy. They used this same method to find places to hook up or hang out with like minded folk, and she used it to hunt for them, for people to punish.

Carla was afraid she might eventually lose count of the souls she purified and sent to judgement for their sins, there would be so many after all. So Carla had bought a scrap book, okay Scrap-OpDevice; it still served well. The coverage for each and every one of them was there in a specially created folder. News clippings, pictures of their homes, pictures of them before and after their purification. Each had a folder. The two sisters in Mexico, she shuddered in remembered horror at that; then there was the woman in Canada, the two men in Australia, five different people throughout the UK over the past few weeks.

Sadly, there weren’t all that many countries that she could understand the language in. She would have to do something about that eventually, but for now, English and Spanish should get her started well. She had come to Spain to lay low from the English speaking countries and prepare for Valentine’s Day ... and something special.

* * * * *

Estelle and Maria, had been together for a few years and Carla made sure they spent the end of their lives together, it was the least she could do for the holiday. Estelle she had tortured from Sunday afternoon through into Monday evening while Maria was forced to watch. Carla had allowed Estelle one final Valentine’s present for Maria, she had cut her still faintly beating heart from her chest and presented it to Maria atop a box of chocolate. That Maria had spurned this last gift was proof that there was maybe still hope for some souls. To spurn your evil, tainted love on St. Valentine’s Day and return to God’s good graces was truly a miracle. She would send a letter to the Pope perhaps, telling them of this Miracle so that the Saint could be properly credited and no one else could take the credit for his work.

With Maria showing that she wished to turn to the proper path, Carla had worked all through Monday night to cleanse Maria's soul and prepare her for judgement. She had been rewarded for her selflessness as God’s Spirit and love had come upon her and lifted her to heights she had never felt, not even with Rob. But then God was supposed to be better than any mere guy, wasn’t he? In any case, Maria was now ready and she worked to add images of Maria and Estelle to her Scrapbook.

* * * * *

How the frogs had gotten the reputation as the world’s best lovers she wasn’t sure, she had always thought the Italians more romantic. But it was the French, and Paris of course was the center of the whole French romantic thing. For this reason, Carla appeared high in the skies above Paris. The beauty of the city at night was astonishing. Perhaps the French had something after all. She would have to visit Rome at night some time and compare. The limp form of Maria cradled in her arms changed how her wings cut the air though and she stopped site seeing so that she could put the proper concentration to maintaining altitude and finding her destination.

Gliding on the cold, night air, Carla took a slow spiral descent over the city, finally seeing her destination after a few moments. Her plan vanished as nausea welled in her stomach and came flooding from her mouth as the cruciform structure of Notre Dame Cathedral burned her eyes. The acid from the vomit burned in Maria’s wounds and she moaned loudly. Her wings stopped working the way she wanted and Carla and Maria tumbled towards the streets of the City of Lights. She could hear Maria’s terrified screams, but couldn’t see anything. She blinked wildly trying to see even a blur of the lights, knowing that they didn’t have long. Why! God came to me. Why can’t I even look at the Cathedral? I am an agent of judgement. Why can’t I see the beautiful church?

Tears welled in her eyes as her vision started to return. She blinked hard, trying to clear the tears, find Maria and get control before they both hit the ground. It wouldn’t do for Maria to fall just anywhere. She spread her wings while looking and saw her. She summoned her fire to propel her towards the girl and closed the distance in time. The fire was still streaming from their trailing edges as she pulled hard out of the suicidal dive she had been in. Keeping her eyes away from the Cathedral, she looked around for an alternate and saw it quickly. Her initial plan may have failed her, but the French had more than one surrogate phallus in the city, and The Tower would do nicely.

She had already risked too much damage to her plan with using the flame to catch Maria. To summon more flame to fly there might betray her to those that would want to stop God’s plan, and so, she teleported. A puff of Brimstone heralded her arrival far above the Eiffel Tower. She glided again in a spiral, this one tighter as she assessed the wind and pondered her course. This slow spiral let her take in all the area around the tower. People still walked the streets, looking up at the monument even now a few hours after midnight. From this height, she saw the flashing lights of police cars in what she assumed was the area they had fallen.

Knowing her time was short, she concentrated on her goal. Seeing her optimal place, Carla adjusted her grip on Maria, letting her hang by her upper arms. The badly hurt woman awoke once more and shrieked as the pain of the motion made her open her eyes. With that, Carla let go her hold and Maria fell, feet first towards the antenna atop the tower. Closer and closer she dropped her scream now snatched away by the wind and the distance.

Crap! It shouldn’t be that damned hard to impale someone. Oh well, at least she’s *on* the tower.

* * * * *

When the authorities reached the observation deck of the tower, they found the badly broken body of a woman arranged not in the shattered heap they expected, but rather laid out as straight as her injuries would allow. Her hands were arranged over her bosom as if she were prepared for some funerary viewing. A single, white pillar candle burned with a straight, bright flame that defied the wind. Beneath the candle was an envelope, addressed to His Holiness – the Pope.

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  • 4 weeks later...

March 9, 2017

Boston, MA

They were still staring at her. Lou Anne had been taking the karate lessons for weeks now, she knew everyone in the class and all of them had time to acclimate to having a Nova in the class; but many hadn’t. The instructors and a few students treated her like any other student. But a disturbing number of her fellow students hadn’t gotten over the novelty of a Nova actually taking a self defense class. Normally she didn’t let it bother her. The revelation of the existence of a double life sized statue of herself however had seriously disturbed her normal cool.

She wasn’t someone statue worthy; even if she was it was blasphemous at worst, arrogant at best. Granted, she hadn’t approved a statue, or even had it hinted at in advance of finding out, but others didn’t know that. Was Good Alice going to show that thing off to people? If so what kind of insurance would she have that others wouldn’t think she was filled with sufficient hubris to request the statue? Enshrine it in her temples? That raised the whole blasphemy issue again. Use it for some sick, stalkerish fantasy? She mentally shuddered at that thought. Yes Lou Anne, there is [a statue of you]. I rather like it. Was that merely the satisfaction of an artist for her work, or more?

Rachel was taking over talking to her about the statue. It meant that Lou Anne wouldn’t be as bothered by it any more. But still, its unseen presence nagged at her. The nagging and the worrying frayed at her focus as she meditated and also distracted her during the lesson. As the class started practicing the night’s lesson, Lou Anne’s performance was... “Seriously lacking Miss Burgess. Were you paying attention when I demonstrated?”

“Yes sensei.”

“I think you could use some more practice, let me show you again how this goes.” He turned slightly. “Everyone, your attention. Miss Burgess has volunteered to help everyone practice tonight, take you places at the edge of the mats.

By the end of the night, Lou Anne’s understanding of the night’s lesson was flawless. She had also ruled out one course of action. Okay, as many times as I’ve been thrown or dropped tonight, I won’t take it up to 36000 feet and drop it. It is artwork after all. But it’s still a tempting idea.

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March 16, 2017


Carla collapsed with exhaustion. The last few days, no, the last week had been a frenzy of activity. She had established a central base of operations in an abandoned town near a long abandoned steel mill in western Pennsylvania and had gone out and found them. She had found them in the States and Mexico. And God had not returned to her. So she prayed, and she fasted, still nothing. So she hunted them in England and Australia and Spain. And still, there was only a great silence.

Doubt set in

Could it be that it wasn’t god, but his opposite?

And so she started over. Towns and states and countries blurred together in her mind. Only her scrapbook kept its own, careful list of each victim. And now she was spent; not physically, but mentally. The judging of the point where she had to back off before they died too soon, the thrill of ending the life of one of these sinners, the juggling of multiple victims all having to be allowed to rest for later sessions, creating new methods to inflict terror on them that maybe didn’t require pain so that they were fully prepared for their fate. It had all taken its toll.

And all for naught.

God hadn’t come to her

The Devil hadn’t come to her.

She just felt a great sadness and frustration and for the first time in a long time, she slept. In her sleep, god’s angels came to her. She saw the great mistake she had made. She saw the broken promises, the betrayals; the litany of errors that kept her from reaching her goal.

The Whore Rachel still breathed.

Lou Anne still fornicated with that whore.

In her zeal, she was distracted from her great purpose in life. She had deviated from working for a purpose, to working for herself. She must focus. She left her work room with the last two bodies and strode to the shed to add them to the pile of bodies out there. What had started as a nice, orderly stack Didn’t they look like cordwood at one point? had degenerated into a scattered pile that looked like pieces in a giant game of pick up sticks. She tossed the last two women on the pile and turned back to the house.

In the mud room, she started the generator she had brought with her and walked to the bathroom. The cold shower washed the mostly dried remnants of the gore from her. The cold helped to focus her mind. Once clean and dried off she went to her phone to see what day it was. It can’t be! I’ve been here three weeks? She rushed back outside and counted bodies, and she boggled at the number. So many dead and sent to judgement, and for nothing. No not nothing, it was that many fewer that could poison a new generation of perverts. She looked at the date on the phone again and wracked her brain for why the end of March was important. Lou Anne’s birthday! Just the thing to get back on track, and I have time to get something special for it.

An ice cold smile spread across her face as she went into the room she kept the things she brought from her victim’s homes and started to count money and separate out valuables.

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