Blazer Flame’s office was close to Recording Room G. Carla managed to calm everyone in the room after the gigantic Fred left. Joseph Taker kept to himself the entire time he was ushered from the recording room to the office. In just the span of an hour he already caused such a ruckus! 
Terrible, he told himself. Just terrible. 
The office was decorated from top to bottom with Blazer Flame merchandise. From his place on the sofa, Taker spotted shelves full of music industry awards and photos of the rapper with various entertainment figures. They framed a towering portrait of Blazer Flame that stretched from floor to ceiling. His gaze loomed over the visitors like a sentinel watching a treasure hoard. 
I take it back, Taker thought with a smile. Seeing that is even worse. 
Carla returned from the nearby pantry carrying two cups of coffee on saucers. She handed one to Taker and the other to Blazer Flame, who sat splay-legged on a chair opposite him. She sat beside Blazer Flame, folding her hands on her lap. 
“Have some cream and sugar,” she said to Taker, nudging with her chin to the table between them. 
Taker bowed slightly and removed his hat. “Thank you, my dear,” he said. “But won’t you have some yourself?” 
Carla made to answer but Blazer Flame cut her off. “She don’t drink any o’ that,” he barked. “And I don’t need no cream an’ sugar. A real man takes it black an’ bitter!”
Taker shrugged. “By your leave, then,” he said. He filled his cup with generous helpings of cream and sugar. As he took a sip, he noticed Blazer Flame gulping down his own drink. Once he finished, the rapper’s lips twitched and some of the black liquid dribbled to his chin. Taker took another sip. It was all he could do stop himself from smiling. 
Once he finished, Taker set down his cup. “Now, Mr. Gambino,” he said, looking at , “what is it you want my help with?”
Blazer Flame banged the table with his fist. Cups and saucers jumped an inch before they clattered back onto the table.
“First off,” Blazer Flame growled, “Don’t call me that! That ain’t my name no more. I ain’t my dad, get it?”
Taker nodded in reply. He gripped his cane tightly. His fingers felt twitchy all of a sudden. 
Blazer Flame seemed satisfied and reclined on his chair. “And second, Doc,” he said, emphasizing the last word, “I heard ya can get rid o’ my bad dreams.”
Taker chuckled. “What makes you think I can do that?”
Carla straightened her glasses. Her gaze was steely, and Taker looked away. 
“I have my ways of finding a lot about the people who talk to Mr. Flame,” she said matter-of-factly. 
Taker nodded. “And what sort of bad dreams are we talking about?” Taker asked Blazer Flame. 
Blazer Flame hunched over and steepled his fingers. “My dad,” he muttered. “That guy’s in my head again. Been years since he last came by. Been dead fo’ years now and he still wanna ruin my life.”
“And why would you want to get rid of those dreams?” Taker asked. “A significant part of your music relates to your experiences with him. In a way, you can say that he had a hand in your success as a musician.”
The rapper snarled. “He didn’t do nothin’ but ruin my life, growin’ up. I hate him, and I want him outta my head already.” Leaning back on his chair, he added, “I saw whatcha did with that big guy back there. That really some kinda magic?”
Taker raised his hands. “Magic is not what I call it,” he said. “This is more of a gift, a curse, not something I really wanted.”
Carla frowned. “And yet you made quite a living out of it,” she said.
Taker smiled sadly at her. “If you have seen the things I have seen, from the people who asked me to see them, you might think twice before saying that again.”
Blazer Flame banged his fist on the table. The cream and sugar jars jumped an inch before clattering back onto the table. “Enough talkin’,” he barked. “Can’tcha just point yer finger, tell me to forget and go?”
Taker frowned. “You may flatten a city with all the artillery at your disposal, but you still need soldiers to clear out the buildings and tunnels.” Setting down his empty cup. Taker added, “I could do what you asked, but it is too dangerous. Unless you want to risk forgetting everything and acting like a baby again.”
Carla’s eyes widened. “Has that happened before?” she asked. 
“Quite a few times. Especially when I was younger or less emotionally stable,” Taker replied with a chuckle. Returning to Blazer Flame, he added, “What you ask me to do requires time and precision. And to maximize the effects, I would have to ask you to sleep.”
“And why can’t we do it right now?” Blazer Flame asked. 
Taker tapped his temples. “Limits. When you are awake, you can guard against me. The mind does not like being probed. But asleep, your defenses are weakened. At that point, I can do anything.” 
Blazer Flame grunted. “All we’re doin’ is talkin’. Show me ya ain’t some fake. Get rid of that memory of Fred punchin’ me out if ya ain’t lyin’.”
Taker sighed. “Oh ye of little faith. Very well. It is a recent memory so you don’t have to sleep. But I must ask if it is okay to delve into your mind.”
“Why d’you sill have to ask?”
“Asking allows me easier access to your thoughts. I am trying to take the path of least resistance.”
Blazer Flame grunted. “Fine. Ya can go.” Pointing to Carla he added, “Better watch what he’s doin’, Carla. Ain’t no tellin’ what’ll happen.”
Taker smiled at Carla. “Rest assured, he will come to no harm. In fact, I intend to bring her along with me. She will be able to see firsthand what I will do, if that helps.”
Carla stiffened. She bit her lip but managed to nod her assent. 
Taker clapped his hands. “It is done, then,” he declared. His hands glowed a sickly green and he approached Blazer Flame. 
The rapper drew back but Taker smiled. “Worry not. This will not hurt if you stay still.”
The glowing hands touched Blazer Flame’s forehead. The rapper quaked in his chair. Taker felt himself falling into Blazer Flame’s head. Before he lost consciousness, he snatched Carla by the wrist and they both went tumbling into the darkness.



2016 Dec 27, Friday

It took a while, but Joseph Taker managed to locate Recording Room G. It was spacious, and the people inside were absorbed in their work to notice him. He tiptoed inside, as he saw a recording session in full swing. Some of the staff focused on the session, and Taker noticed one woman in particular. She was tall and wiry, and with her black hair tied tightly into a bun and her thick glasses, she looked similar to a stern librarian. She had her arms folded across her chest, a finger tapping in rhythm to the song.
Her steely gaze was focused on the gigantic glass window of the recording room. Inside was a man in a black-and-yellow flame-patterned tracksuit and beanie hat. He bobbed his head as he belted out a quick rap. His skin was sunburned, and Taker noticed that the back of the rapper’s left hand was discolored. The rapper gestured violently with that hand when the song reached its climax. 
Taker watched him as he put his back to the wall. Speakers above him blared. Curse words dedicated to a long dead father. A story of a boy and his crying mother. A desire to burn away the past. Taker heard all of these and he shuddered.  
Something warm crawled down from Taker’s nostril and onto his upper lip. He wiped it away with a finger. Blood. A sharp jolt seared his head. It felt like someone slammed white-hot needles into the backs of his eyes. He rubbed his temples. The music burned. The rapper was shaking his fists and pounding his chest. The lyrics told of a challenge to the absent father, and how much better the son would be. 
The song ended. Taker’s eyes no longer burned and his head didn’t ache. The rapper took off his headset and swaggered over to the door leading out of the studio, his hands in his pockets. A gigantic, heavyset staff member lumbered to the door and opened it for him. 
“Great work there, Mr. Flame,” the staff member said with a nervous smile. His hair was messy and he had an ID tag on his chest that said Fred. He extended his catcher’s mitt of a hand, adding, “You were amazing out there.”
Blazer Flame brushed aside the comment. He rummaged through his pockets and pulled out a toothpick wrapped in paper. He ripped open the wrapping and stuck the toothpick in a gap between his lower teeth. Then he handed the crumpled up wrapping to Fred’s open hand. “Get it rid of it for me, aight?” he asked, without sparing the other man a second glance.
Fred’s eyes widened with shock. He stared at the piece of paper like it was something disgusting. His hand trembled. 
Blazer Flame pointed at the nearby trash can with his lips. “I ain’t seein’ any throwin’, boy,” he said.
Fred gritted his teeth. The hand that held the paper curled into a fist. Taker’s mind raced. He hobbled over to the two of them but it was too late. In a flash, Fred knocked Blazer Flame down with a devastating right hook. The other staff members scurried away from the two, except for the woman with the glasses. She stepped in between the two of them and held out a hand to Fred.
“Enough, Fred,” she ordered. “Get out of here, right now. You’re fired.”
Fred fumed. “Fired?” he repeated, his chest swelling. “I dunno how you deal with this guy, Carla,” he spat, pointing a finger at Blazer Flame as he struggled to get up. “But he’s nothing but trash!”
Carla adjusted her glasses. “That may be, but he’s still your boss,” she said. “And we don’t hit our bosses, no matter what they do.”
“Fine!” Fred shouted, raising his fist. “Then you won’t blame me for hitting you!”
Carla didn’t flinch, but Taker managed to push her aside and swat away Fred’s arm with his cane. A thin red welt form on Fred’s forearm. The big man foamed at the mouth in fury as he cradled his arm. Taker took a fencing stance, his cane poised and ready for any new attack.
“Stay down, Frederick,” Taker said, keeping his voice steady. “I do not wish to hurt you. This madness has to stop.”
With a murderous glint in his eye, Fred bolted to his feet and rushed towards Taker. “Forget about it, pal!” he roared, both his arms out to catch Taker’s robe.
Taker stepped aside and swung the cane in a low arc. He struck Fred square in the shins, and Fred slammed face first onto the floor with a crash. The room trembled for a moment, then all was silent.  
Taker approached Fred and poked his back with the end of his cane. The giant stirred. Before he could raise his head any higher, Taker knelt and pressed his cane on Fred’s nape.
“Do not move, my friend,” Taker said in a low voice. Easing himself down to one knee he added, “You will forget everything that happened in this room. You will leave this room and report to your superiors. What happens next, I do not know. But if you are in need of employment you may visit the home of Joseph Taker.”
Fred shuddered. Taker eased himself to his feet and stepped away. Fred rose, a behemoth waking from slumber. He stood on his massive legs, towering three inches above Taker’s head. But the fury in his eyes was gone. Only an eerie stare remained. 
“I’ll go see my boss and tell him what happened,” Fred droned in a wooden voice.
Taker nodded. “Very well,” he said. “You may go.”
Nobody moved or breathed until the giant opened the door and left the room. 
– theresurreccionofkevin