DISCLAIMER: Dammers isn't mine; I'm just borrowing him from his real owner(s). I promise to play nice (kind of) and put him back the way I found him. No infringement or disrespect intended. In other words: don't sue me!

TIME FRAME: Just before the events in the Frighteners.

COMMENTS: Feel free to send comments to me. In fact, PLEASE comment! I want to know what y'all think. SEND TO: augustdragon81@netscape.net Keep in mind that pointless flames will be added to my annual bonfire. Constructive criticism will garner real consideration. Praise will get you an invite to aforementioned bonfire (we'll roast marshmallows and hotdogs, okay?).

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I seem to be obsessed with Dammers at the moment. Just let me work through these, er, 'issues' of mine, all right?


by Jamie August


His life was nothing but a long series of painful memories.

From birth, Milton Dammers was cursed with bad timing, bad luck, and a bad life in general. One could argue that life is what you make of it, but that was a notion he didn't consider applicable. Even now, he was still lamenting all the wrongs ever done to him. If he were to wager a guess, he estimated he could spend the rest of eternity dwelling on the 'if only's.

If only.

The more one says it, the more meaning it loses.

If only.

If only the memories didn't flood every corner of his mind. If only the clearest recollections weren't of his anguished childhood. Contrary to what he'd always heard, time does not heal all wounds. Time serves only to amplify the pain and make every event stand out in snapshot clarity.

If only.

If only his father hadn't left before he was born. Perhaps then his mother and sister wouldn't have hated him so. (No, he had to amend that: his sister would have hated him anyway.) He remembered hours spent locked in his bedroom closet. Locked in the closet by his sister while their mother was at work. Hours he slowly passed in the dark by counting anything that was on hand. When he ran out of objects, he simply started counting and didn't stop until he'd counted as high as he could.

When his mother finally returned home, she would let him out of the closet, but he always felt she'd just as soon leave him there. The most attention she ever showed him was when she was yelling at him. Sometimes he wondered what her normal speaking voice sounded like; the times he heard it were so few and far between. On the other hand, there were times when her yelling would have almost been a blessing. When she was really angry, her voice dropped to a very quiet, hateful hiss, and he'd find himself wishing for the shouting instead.

As he grew, he began to suspect that school was a way for his mother to torture him without laying a hand on him. He managed to get good grades (especially in math), but his intra-personal relationships were somewhat lacking. To put it none too gently, the other children despised him from their very first meeting. Little Milton had long since learned to hide his true feelings; there was no way he would let his classmates know how much their taunts hurt him. He responded instead with disdain and loathing. Discovering what a good cover hate is for hurt, it was soon all he allowed himself to feel.

Around the age of adolescence, he advanced to the torture of small animals. The powerful sensations killing the animals gave him were mingled with guilt and a fear of being caught. Still, it wasn't enough to stop him, and when the neighbors came around asking if he'd seen their dog, he remained silent.

If only.

If only he'd passed the FBI's psychiatric evaluation the first time. When the original results came back showing him to be too 'disturbed' to be accepted, he'd been devastated and enraged. After calming himself to a reasonable degree, he had the presence of mind to bribe the examiner. The original results were subsequently 'lost', and he gained admission to the Bureau on false records. The results of his initial evaluation still haunted him, though. Up to that point, he never thought of himself as disturbed. Or, at least, he'd never admitted it to himself.

If only.

The refrain was driving him mad.

He fingered the scars on his chest and stomach through his shirt, remembering the first group of cultists to carve symbols into him. To his surprise, he'd rather enjoyed the pain. The masochistic part of himself, the part that had lain dormant since the death of his mother, was rediscovered the moment the blade touched his naked flesh. Since then, he felt he'd done a masterful job of keeping the balance of sadism and masochism in check.

Sighing, he stared out the window of the train at trees and the occasional power-line flashing by. Somewhere beyond the unending mosaic of green was the California coastline. Although never very appreciative of aesthetics, he wished for a view of the blue ocean, for the sole purpose of breaking the monotonous sight of trees.

Fairwater was his current destination. He'd considered taking the plane; had, in fact, gotten as far as the boarding terminal before turning back. Certainly it would have been far less time consuming to fly from Nebraska (the location of his last assignment) to California, but at the last moment he felt a familiar bile rise in his throat and opted instead to catch the last train out of Omaha. He had definite misgivings about this assignment. The plane had only been the tip of the iceberg as far as he was concerned. A sense of dread had followed him since boarding the train, and it showed no sign of letting go.

If only.

If only someone else had drawn the Fairwater assignment.

THE END (c) 2000 Jamie August

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