The City played music: clattering, jangling sounds like silver blades clashing in a desperate fight for survival. I was given the name, Anton Bane in honor of a serial killer who resided in Hell. I became an appendage of the Red City. I had the power to slide through multiple dimensions. I could walk into the world where I grew up, the world where I became homeless and lost. I could go there to select sacrificial victims whose blood would nourish the Red City. The denizens of the Red City respected me (or so it seemed). They fed on the blood I gave them, blood from the bodies I sacrificed to the City. In return I was given everything I wanted: untold luxuries, slaves, worshipful lovers – my word was a key that unlocked a treasure trove of wanton desires. I was given too much, perhaps, because I reached a point of surfeit where excess lost all appeal. Perhaps, I had spilled too much blood. I could no longer cancel-out the screams I heard when I tore open a body and carefully peeled back the skin to expose the red meat. I was demoralized by the changes taking place in my mind — disillusioned by my lack of focus on the gruesome tasks that gave me my status in the Red City. Finally I resigned myself to my new attitude: the disgust I felt for spilling more blood! I was Anton Bane, ruthless killer, caught in a dilemma of conscience. How was it possible? I had never explored the possibility of having any sort of conscience. Now – I just wanted to stop the killing, but the City needed blood.
I heard about Mr. Hamm who was sometimes referred to as the Eliminator. His status was several degrees above the common minions who inhabited the Red City. If anyone could help me stop the blood letting, it was Mr. Hamm. He frequented the Charnel House Cafe’. The cafe’ was a gathering place for artists and poets who delighted in all aspects of torment and abuse. It was a way-station for sadistic priests who took pleasure in raping children. The mood was always somber, lugubrious. Charnel House was where the denizens of the Red City came to party in their own sad fashion. Mr. Hamm had his own table with his name carved into the surface like burnt ash. He was a walking cadaver with a face like an ax. “Have a seat,” he said and pointed to a dead tree stump that functioned as a chair, “tell me about the blood. Tell me the story of each one of your victims.” His voice was like ground-up glass. I was repelled by his insinuation — they were never my victims — they were merely vessels, sacrifices containing blood for the Red City. Hamm merely smiled at my protestations. His smile was like sizzling grease. In the end I had to admit he was right … and it was making me insane.