Rockstar Orpheus

They tore him apart like that Rockstar Orpheus. His fans usually mobbed at him, attempting to surge through the ever-increasing security, just to touch him. That’s the way he liked it after all. His books, mostly collections of visceral and shocking short stories, had a strange power over the people that read them. You would see them on the subway, dark-eyed, drowsy looks, before the morning triple shots of exspresso had taken hold. They constantly clutch a well-thumbed copy of one his books, always keeping them on hand, like amnesiac’s trying to hold on to an old memory. And when they wear them out, they go straight out and buy a fresh one to keep reading. His words were always strangely addictive, alluring passages that would draw you towards something horrible. There was no turning back. You would read on knowing that the characters would be irreversibly changed, so you were hedging bets about what body parts they kept at the end of the story. There was Domestic, a revenge story of sorts, where everyday household products horribly maim the characters, including a hair-straightener, drain cleaner, and a sandwich-maker. Hospitality was about six interconnecting stories about “deconstructive” surgeons that were competing to produce the best work of art. The graphic detail of the book, caused six people to faint during public readings and was subsequently banned in several countries.

He was a shock-writer, through and through. Shocking material not only got his attention and but allowed him to attentions of others. His work won awards, after all in its own strange way, it was beautiful. Others were pastiches of other stories, such as Tenement, which was a soap opera about a building complex inhabited by serial killers. However, it was his cult following, a legion of fans, literary addicts of the worst kind, that really earned him notoriety. Some of them adored his work, others loved him and the worst of the lot considered him a god, a strange and dark being that that “deserved it’s place on a throne made of the bodies of his devoted followers, each of whom would be glad to sacrifice themselves so that their Lord could have a comfortable seat”, as written by one of the very fans involved in the writer’s death.

These fans slowly became worse, constantly trying to prove their devotion to him. It began with innocent fan mail, then turned to desperate cries for attention, and then “gifts” of various nature, but the details were to say the least, macabre. Five people committed suicide outside the gates of his sprawling estate. He received more than 100 videos in a variety of formats, which he refused to watch, as he claimed, “it’s beginning to be like snuff on acid.” There were thousands of unopened packages, cards and letters, all thoroughly checked by the Police following the writer’s death for biological and other threats. “One package must have been must have been there for weeks,” said one cop, who preferred to remain unnamed, “It’s smelled real bad, worse than rotting seafood. We opened it up and it was a congealed eyeball. We found the owner halfway across the country. Popped it out with a desert spoon.” He made a jerking motion with his hand in imitation.

When he decided to take a tour of writing conventions, his friends and family (at least the ones that still talked to him) feared for his safety. His agents had arranged everything, right down to the number of minutes that could be set aside for questions and answers. He was always accompanied by at least one guard at all times, to prevent personal harassment. Two bodyguards watched over him (and each other) while he slept, just to make sure.

For the most part, the convention circuit was fairly tame, the majority of his fans were well behaved and the visible presence of security, turned out to be a good deterrent. Though in the background of the conventions, the rumour mill was working away. Many of the rumours were unconfirmed, even laughable. They included stories that he was going to move onto children’s literature and fairy tales. He laughed at this one, saying that he already wrote fairy tales for people who had woken in the nightmare that was their world. Another rumour, was that he was going to try his hand at poetry, something he actually personally loathed. Hundreds spilled out onto internet forums, blogs and the gossip between those riding the convention circuit. Soon the real clincher began to take hold: that he was going to quit writing.

Numerous imaginary escape plans were hatched from the minds of his fans. That he was going to scar his face with acid and then purchase an island in Indonesia or French Polynesia. Or he was going to get plastic surgery in Switzerland, then join a whaling crew in Norway. Then there was the one where he would receive a very convincing sex change and then become the much sought after diva at the Japanese BDSM club, Kajira.

Regardless of the nitty-gritty details, the one fact remained in circulation. He was giving up writing. No more books. No more strange tales. No more horrifying endings. The End. Some might be relieved at this. Going out on top instead of “Jumping the Shark” as many professionals do. However, the hardcore of his fans could not handle this. This was their life. They included the collectors who attempted to complete entire edition runs of a single publication. They included lovers who met each other at the bookshelves and fucked while the book-on-tape played in the background. They were people that tattooed and branded themselves with selected passages from their favourite works. They wrote him praise and would do anything he had asked. The idea of him quitting was unthinkable to them.

All of this came to a head at the last convention of the circuit. It was the end of a sweltering 36 degree Celsius day, a full moon was on the rise and it’s was Q and A time. The auditorium was packed. The air conditioning was beginning to collapse and die, meaning the heat of the day and the combined body-heat of every attendant would soon be felt. It was five minutes until the end, and finally someone had stood up and asked the question that was on everyone’s mind: “Was he going to quit?”.

He took a sip of water, and then said those fateful words: “Yes, I am”. There was a shocked silence and then suddenly a mob formed and surged to the stage. The security staff were overwhelmed. The crowd charged at him, seemingly insane they all grabbed onto him, trashing, beating and tearing. They were not so much individuals wanting their own retribution, but a single mass working as one. The police soon arrived on the scene, but it was too late. He had been torn to pieces.

In the following months, the hunt began for his killers. Bite marks found on the body led to several arrests nation-wide. The attempts to sell the writer’s body parts online were the first of many stories to be splashed across the news networks. They arrested the man who had stolen his head, as he was attempting to convert the skull into a drinking cup or bowl, as if to consume his very genius. Some were found with the parts still half digested within them, most of which eaten as law enforcement attempted to make their arrests. One man, the same who “donated” his eye as a gift to the writer, was found in a local hospital from a severe infection, as he replaced the dead writer’s eye in the vacant socket. In all, thirty-four people were arrested over the murder, dismemberment and cannibalism of the writer, though many think that more were involved during that fateful day.

Now a year on, that day still echoes to some. Meetings and book signings were cancelled, fans were turned away. The writer’s family remains in hiding fearing that an attack would spread to them. Some other writers with similar followings have become more reclusive. There is still speculation over the nature of this act. Jose Mars, a long-time friend, said that “he merely wrote his own self-fulfilling prophecy – he wouldn’t have wanted to go out any other way”. To be divided and consumed by his followers. Very J.C.” This in a way rings true. The last moments of video surveillance footage, most of which leaked during the whole fiasco, shows the writer in his last moments. Just before the throng of fans descended upon him, it can be seen that his not afraid. Indeed, he is smiling.

The writer’s books still sell well, though not nearly as well as when he was alive. Strangely enough, each of the thirty-four people arrested and imprisoned over the death of the writer have all become published. Their works include 6 novels, 12 short story collections, 8 poetry submissions to various magazines, and other features that have appeared in other mediums. Indeed to quote the writer, “It’s better being part of a collective than being alone. But being viral is better. Because you become the collective.”

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