The Black Hole File
rating: +8+x

"Do mind the gap."

Jumping over the distance between one floating piece of land and another, I quickly closed the space between Esther and I. The woman barely waited for me, heading straight for whatever she thought she could find along these twisted streets. Skies made of concrete laid above us, and the upside down lamplights were a mockery of the never-ending shine of our stars back home.

"If getting lost is really that big of a deal, why don't you walk a bit slower? I can't really keep up with those legs of yours!"

"Jacob," Esther turned around, straightening her back and standing even taller than she already was. Her black hair, which was colored red inside itself, swayed when she faced me. "Investigative journalism waits for no one. Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Isn't that how the saying goes?" She took the camera hanging from her neck and snapped a picture of my face, probably for her own entertainment. The flash had me stunned for a few seconds.

I would've replied, but there she went, turning her back to me and rushing down the broken pavement, looking around the structures that surrounded us, stopping on a few to investigate whatever clue she hoped would be hiding there, taking a few pictures along the way. I followed suit, but remained silent, taking that chance to observe my surroundings a little bit better. I've done that quite frequently since we came here half an hour ago, but everything is still just as bizarre. Nothing truly appears to be connected in this “city”, rather, there are hundreds of floating pieces of land, sometimes roaming close enough to one another and giving us an opportunity to reach over and investigate a different avenue. Unfortunately, we've found nothing of importance so far.

I had a feeling this land was different though, and I'm sure Esther thought the same. There were fewer buildings, more houses. Less lamplights, more shrubs. It was a residential area, but one far away from the previous clumps of metropolises we found. It was much less grimy and dark, and had me feeling nostalgic for all the right reasons. Maybe Esther was feeling the same, that'd explain the spring to her step; the first time something looked promising is always the time when she's most excited, I think.


We both turned around at the same time, noticing the light on the window of the second floor of the house beside me, the noise still echoing and breaking through the silence that drowned us. I looked at Esther, and saw the shine in her eyes. That was definitely a clue, one screaming right at us. The light turned off, and my colleague showed her professionalism by unlocking her muscles and moving before I did. The sudden noise had me trapped in my own body, not because of fear, but rather, anger.

"Easily startled by loud noises?" Esther turned her head, briefly looking at me before proceeding towards the door and seeing if it'd open. No such luck.

I walked over, observing the dark mahogany wooden door and my colleague hunched over, lifting the carpet in search of spare keys, I could only assume. The silence that haunted us before was slowly starting to pour over again, like a drizzle settling in.

“Try the shrubs,” I said suddenly, without noticing, “We used to hide them there back home. Usually works, people don’t like getting their hands dirty.” Thoughts about my old home came to mind, and were fueled by that feeling of nostalgia that permeated this outlandish place. Actually, on closer inspection, this building…

“Who would’ve thought, eh?” Esther interrupted my line of thoughts with that British accent of hers, immediately fitting an old, rusty key into the door and turning, heading inside as if she knew what to expect, and I’m pretty certain she didn’t. “Splendid job, Jacob.” She gave my shoulders a little pat and headed inside like a kid in a candy store. I swear, this curiosity of hers is definitely going to get her killed one of these days, but that’s not fully my problem. As long as she’s not the one paying the bills, right? The thought was a bit morbid, but I couldn’t bring myself to reprimand it.

“It’s way too dark, we won’t be able to find anything inside like this.” Everything beyond the door was drenched in a pitch-black color. Saying it was dark was wrong, no, it was somewhat hazy, distant, like something not quite present. “Let’s look for a lightswitch first.” Patting the walls didn’t aid me. If there was a switch somewhere, it was not in the entrance. Esther tried to take a picture of the inside with her flash on, but even that didn’t disperse the darkness. It was like being inside of a black hole, sucking everything in.

“What do you mean?” I could see her silhouette turning to face me from deeper within the house, letting her camera go and extending her free hand towards me. “I have thaumaturgic knowledge, remember? Lighting a torch up with my fingers is one of the first things you learn in magic school.”

“… Right, right.” I don’t know how I could forget something like that, but if she says so. I mean, I could definitely imagine someone lighting their hands on fire, it was cliché enough for magic, or thaumaturgy or whatever, so it shouldn’t be too hard for her either, really. She’s a professional.

“Let there be light.” And with a poof, the fire burned, all five fingers were illuminating the place, and I let out a small chuckle. Esther, always full of surprises. Sometimes, it feels like I barely know her, even if we’ve travelled together for so many years now.

Then, we heard it. There was crying coming from upstairs. It was faint, and desperately quiet, but it could be heard from where we were. “Come on, silently,” Esther turned around, taking a picture of this floor, her hands somehow not burning her camera, before she pointed ahead towards a set of stairs. As I followed her, I couldn’t help but focus on my surroundings again, trying to understand a little bit more of the house, or at least what I could see of it.

This house was wrong. I took off my glasses and cleaned them with my shirt, and it was still wrong. It was unfocused, like a blurry memory. It was distant, even though we were both right here, inside it, feeling it sustain our feet as we ascended upstairs, which was likely to be just as wrong as the first floor. I could see the couch from where I was, it looked like it was melting into the ground, but at the same time, it was solid and still. There weren’t any details anywhere either, the walls were exactly the same everywhere, the furniture repeated itself over and over, like an echo. Suddenly, I didn’t want to proceed further, even if my legs kept on carrying me against my will. There was a strange magnetism to this place.

“There,” With a hush, Esther pointed to an open door with enough light escaping it and wandering into the short hallway that she didn’t feel the need to keep her hand burning. That must’ve hurt, right? It probably did, if only a little bit. Magic had to have consequences of some kind, nothing’s free in this world.

I found myself walking past her, entering the room long before she asked me to, but she also made no effort to stop me. When I looked back, she smiled, and I couldn’t help but smile as well. This is investigative journalism, right? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Yet I couldn’t help but step back, accidentally bumping into Esther that complained, when I saw the old woman kneeling in a corner of the room, crying. Suddenly, the light wasn’t bright enough to help me feel safe, yet the room maintained its hold on me.

“So that’s where it was coming from…” Esther pushed me aside, staring at the entity with scrutinizing eyes. “What do you think? Are they hiding the truth?”

“The… truth?”

“Yes, about the murder. The murder of Katherine Cross. You remember her, right? Blonde, short, lawyer.”

“I… no, I don’t think she does.”


I couldn’t answer her question. The walls weren’t as blurry anymore. There were frames in this room, of a group of students in front of a school, all smiling. The bed sheets were neatly folded, and trophies littered the spaces on the shelves. Mostly from chess, apparently.

“She doesn’t look like a murderer.”

“No one ever does.”

I went to approach the grieving woman, but Esther held my wrist with enough strength to stop me. The woman flickered very slightly, reminding me this wasn’t a normal house, nor Earth.

“Mimesis, remember?” Esther pulled me back, “This is just a copy of the real world. A desperate attempt to exist, to be accepted by our minds… don’t touch the entities. Only observe and find the truth.”

Only observe and find the truth. Right, this room was focused, so I could focus as well. What can be understood from the things here? There’s a crying woman and neatly folded sheets. Did she lose her child? But then, what was that sound we heard? Did she have a fight with her child? Her husband? The kid was clearly good at chess, if the trophies were anything to go by. I stepped towards them, and something crinkled under my foot. A letter, it seems, falling from one of the shelf’s drawers. I picked it up. It was addressed to a Shannon Reyes, it seemed. The drawer was full of the things, with many, many letters for the same person and others still. Jared Hale, Jodi Ellis, Ruby Poole… somehow, those names felt significant. Like I was supposed to know them, like they’d bring me closer to the truth, somehow.

“Whoever lived here, seems like they liked to send a lot of letters.”

“That, and they were really fond of strategy games. It’s not just Chess, look, there’s War, Backgammon… even that Japanese chess thing.”

“It’s called Go.”

“What a stupid name. Go where? You just sit there.”

“It comes from a chinese word, it means encircled board game.”

“You surely know a lot about that. Used to play Go?”

“… Yeah, I did.”

“That’s good, this career desperately needs intelligent people, you know?”

I held onto one of the letters that I found deeper inside the drawer. This one seemed more special than the others, it had perfume and the stamp of a beautiful rose. Smelled like roses, too. I opened it, and took a look at the inside.

Dear Katherine,

I could never forget that night we spent together after the ball, going out with you was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. The night was dark, yet the stars twinkled down at us as if they were interested in observing what we would do, not anyone else, not any other world or star, us.

Perhaps even more than us, you. You were truly gorgeous that night, with a beautiful white dress that emphasized your purity and charm. I could never forget your hair, golden as the sun, radiating upon me and all my thoughts. Your perfume, as sweet as roses, enveloping my body and my self completely.

To say I love you is an understatement.

To say I need you is not nearly enough.

Would it be too daring of me to ask for another night with you, my Sirius?

With love,
Yours, truly.

“Hey, Esther, come here,” I motioned for her, and the woman in the corner of the room grew quieter, her crying softer. “Guy really went all out with the ladies… seems like he was fond of celestial bodies as well.”

“… What the bloody hell’s a Sirius?” She asked, as I could hear her taking another picture with her camera from behind me.

“The brightest star in the sky. Well, Earth’s sky.” Esther moved away from me and stared at the door of the room, which had closed when we weren’t looking. None of us ever heard it doing so, which made the event all the more unsettling. The crying woman was gone as well, which made me worry she was hiding in one of the dark corners of the room, ready to jump out and smash something again. I know that was ludicrous, but still… Was it her that had done that? For some reason, I don’t feel like that’s true.

Things were strangely calm now. “Well, after that, I find it hard for Katherine to have neglected his card. He was very nice, after all. I’m sure she would’ve been happy.”

“She was murdered, Jacob. You do remember that, right?”

“Of course I do, we’re only here to search for her murderer, aren’t we?”

“Yes, and that’s what we must do. Remember that.”

And then, the calm of the night was interrupted by shouting from downstairs.


”I'm not doing anything! Please, stop screaming, we can sort this out more calmly!”

A masculine and feminine voice, respectively. That has to be the woman from before, right? So it wasn’t her husband that smashed the trophy, apparently. But why would the kid do that? Lots of things still don’t make sense here, and for some reason, that was making me livid.

"I'll show you calm!"

I could hear heavy footsteps coming upstairs, getting closer and closer to the door. The anger inside me getting stronger and stronger. Esther, behind me, readying her camera as I readied my fists, without consciously knowing why. Yet when the door slammed open, there was darkness once again. Not the kind from the house, though, it was normal this time.

Esther slowly moved her arms back, putting her camera back on her bag and lifting her arm ahead to activate her magical fire. As soon as she did, though, she flinched, complaining about how hot the fire was. Just as I thought, it really did hurt.

She called for me, and I noticed I had been pressing my fists with my nails a bit too much, my hands were red and aching, pulsing with pain. I couldn’t wait to abandon that room and follow ahead, leaving all of that behind.

Inside, the door closed, and spotlights were turned on, pointing at a stage, floating in the middle of nowhere. There were two shadowy figures there, and a presenter’s voice could be heard from everywhere at the same time.

”Bishop to H3, that doesn’t look good for our junior champion. How’s he gonna reply to that, folks? Rest assured, he always has a plan, so let us wait… and… see.”

It was like time stood still as I stared at that scene. My mind itched. I couldn’t see the board or the player’s facial expressions, but the body language of the one on the right clearly denounced him as the current losing challenger. Then, he stood up, lifting the table and scattering the pieces everywhere. The visions blurred and faded as the dark room slowly turned into a melting park, with trees missing leaves, barks with no detail and birds stuck mid-flight.

The same silhouettes from chess were there, together, holding hands. The two men seemed content this time, and calm. Were they related? The stars, well, lamplights above shined, observing the both of them, and only them, as if they were the only ones that mattered to them.

Then, the hands stopped being held. One of the silhouettes held out a gun. There was a flash of light, a shot, and then nothing. Darkness again. It was only me, and the lamplights. The stars.

Then, Esther stood behind me. There were only us, and the lamplights.

“Are you closer to the truth?”

“I don’t know.”

I walked. With no clear destination, I simply walked. This time, there was no gap or floating land for me to reach for. Paths were starting to connect themselves, and concrete reformed as I walked. Distant islands melted away, and my mind itched. We were out of the park, and back downtown. I was dirty. I was lost. I didn’t know what to do. I felt anxious, and sad, and like something was missing. My mind kept itching as I was bombarded with thoughts and feelings and experiences and words and memories and truths.

All the lights in the buildings turned off, the concrete transitioned again to wet grass. It was the park, and it had just rained. There were hundreds of letters littering the ground, destroyed by the water that had fallen from the non-existing skies.

There was a woman in the park. Short, blonde, dressed in a wonderful black suit, that reminded me of the vast cosmos above and beyond. I approached her, and she ran. I ran as well, and chased. Like predator and prey, we raced, and played, and had fun beneath the firmament. My mind itched no longer, now I knew how to feel and what to think. I found the truth.

Katherine Cross. The first person I ever loved, and the very last. She didn’t have feelings for me, and that was made very clear in the letter she sent me. I lost focus, and became anxious. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I fought with friends and family, and that anger took hold of me, and it made sense.

Jared Hale. A fierce challenger at chess. We were longtime rivals, but I was destabilized. Katherine made me lose focus, and everything became blurry, red. Hale defeated me, once. And only once. I was the first man he loved. He was my first infatuation.

Shannon Reyes. Collateral damage. The second infatuation of many more. The letters, they were fun to write. Suddenly, everyone I met was beautiful and brilliant. They were stars, and I was a black hole. Their light entered me, and did not leave, even if I were to ever wish they did.

Jodi Ellis. Ruby Poole. Shawn. Martha. Megan.

I was theirs, truly. And they were mine.

Katherine wasn’t my first infatuation, but she was the one that lived the longest, like I wished it would. I wanted her to sparkle for a while longer, to feel my embrace, my magnetic pull that sucked all light in.

Her neck, and my arms, locked together. Blade and skin, drawing forth blood. I was soaked by the light from her body, and drained it all.


I turned around, to see that raven-haired woman standing behind me.

On all my letters, there was never one Esther Cathloy. I had many envelopes surrounding me, but no pen. That was unfortunate. I looked for the gun under my coat, there should be one. Ah, there it was. I heard a click, and looked back to see the barrel of a gun aimed at my head. Unfortunate, indeed.

“I found the truth, Esther.”

“Fantastic work, Jacob.”

There were no fake smiles from her, this time. Only mine. All these fabrications, all these memories about colleagues and investigative journalism buried inside me like maggots rotting my flesh further, I hated that, and I loved that. Esther Cathloy. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t infatuated.

She looked at her wrist. At the black watch. What time was it? Did it even matter? Even if it did, I held out my gun back at her. The perfect distraction.

“I have to thank you, truly.”

“What for?” Esther seemed surprised, for the first time since we entered this realm, actually. Seeing her face like that gave me pleasure.

“I never thought I would have been able to relive that infatuation with Katherine. She was my first. My muse, of sorts.”

“And a human being. Don’t forget that.”

“And how could I? Oh, not anymore, never again. Westcliff City. Greenwood Park. The Basement. Nowhere. All those places meant so much for me, and I… had to let them go. It was for the best. The police wouldn’t be able to get anything out of me, and I would be free to restart my life. I’d just need to find another muse, and Esther… I do believe you’re that person.”

“I have enough evidence now.” She held the trigger of her gun, and so did I. Tightly, we both stared each other down.

The world around us melted. Truly, this time. It wasn’t blurry, anymore, it was filled with details. Sights, sounds, feelings. The more I remembered, the faster everything crumbled. The islands were undone, turning into ash. The trees became a liquid that poured down the land, wetting my shoes yet leaving no other trace behind. As my intellectual fortress was rebuilt, this excuse of a hideout called amnesia was falling. I would have no need for it, though.

“In Chess, this would be called a stalemate.” I couldn’t help but smile.

“No, Jacob. This is mate in one.”

Anger, once more. Hale had said the same thing, before. That was the first game I ever lost, and it was all Katherine’s fault. I would not lose another game.

I shot at her, but she was faster, dodging the bullet to the side and pressing a few buttons on her watch. As I was about to shoot again, a loud alarm ringed from the heavens and filled every space of the void we now stood on. Darkness encroached, trying to consume every inch, every corner of this quasi-world. I shot at Esther again, the bullet making contact this time. I drew blood, and couldn’t wait to drain it. Unfortunately, her gasp of shock and pain was the last thing I heard from her before the pitch black pulled her away from me.

Except that darkness was inside me, so it was myself. I had absorbed her into me, drained her completely. Yes, that was the outcome I had so wished, and the anger I felt finally started to wane, giving way to pleasure.

There was only me, and the darkness. No stars. I had eaten them all. Wonderful, truly, wonderful.

Now, I could rest.

I took a deep breath, the metallic and cold air from the lab filled my lungs, and I coughed, a strange liquid leaving my mouth. I immediately stood up from the bed, even if a few assistants tried to stop me. I couldn’t stay there anymore, my body ached and I needed to stand up, to walk around.

“So, how was it?”

The raspy voice of Boss was quick and expected an answer just as fast. Something simple, that’s the kind of person she was. No beating around the bush, no silly puns or jokes, just the result. Pure and simple.

“I have the evidence.”

She smiled, and I coughed. I felt like a newborn taking in air for the first time. It burned my lungs, I hurt all over and all I wanted was to get back home, fill an entire cup of absinthe and drink it all away to focus more on the bitterness going down my throat than anything else happening right now.

“Wonderful. You are free to go, then. Just clean that blood before you leave. Dr. Dunhall, the experiment was a success, and I expect more cases like this to go with it. We’ll catch any asshole that dares to take amnestics thinking they’ll walk away scot-free. All cowards, all of ‘em.” She took a puff of her cigar; Cuban, I bet, and exhaled it away from the others in the room. Now that I was awake, I could see it really was blood I spit on the medical apron they had me wear. Good thing I accepted it.

“That wasn’t Mimesis like you told me, though,” I inquired further as I removed the stained overclothes, curiosity was always my worst quality. “I’ve been to Mimesis before, way brighter and a little bit less nonsensical. What was that?”

“The Id, Nostalgia, Remembrance, whatever you want to call it,” The doctor coughed, stepping away from Boss and looking at some papers filled with graphs being printed out of a machine. “It’s where all our hidden memories lie. Not many have the money to buy Amnestics that erase our recollections, so they go for the next best thing, the ones that lock them away, untouched, forever. Our machine here digs those moments out, like a shovel, but it needs a little push. Without you guiding him and his experiences, he would’ve just wandered in a field of almosts and nothingnesses.”

“And why did the thing keep melting away at parts? Fix that bug before sending anyone else in, it was really annoying.”

“No, that’s not a bug. As soon as he remembers, the memories are moved from his Id to his Ego, so it feels like the world is, quite literally, fading. Mighty interesting, isn’t it, Esther?”

He looked at me as if he expected a nod, or for me to agree in any way. I only grumbled, unplugged my camera and threw it in my bag. “I need a drink.”

There were no goodbyes said, nor commemorations. The project was a success, and people like Jacob aren’t safe anymore. Not from people like me.

Now that the job was done, I was left wandering aimlessly again. I sighed and looked up at the night sky after I left the building.

It was dark, and there were no stars. As per usual.

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