Doomed, p.1
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         Part #2 of Damned series by Chuck Palahniuk
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  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2013 by Chuck Palahniuk

  All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Doubleday, a division of Random House LLC., New York, a Penguin Random House Company.

  DOUBLEDAY and the portrayal of an anchor with a dolphin are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.

  Jacket design and illustration by Rodrigo Corral Design

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Palahniuk, Chuck.

  Doomed / Chuck Palahniuk.—First edition.

  pages cm

  Sequel to: Damned.

  [1. Ghosts—Fiction. 2. Future life—Fiction. 3. Dead—Fiction. 4. Microblogs—Fiction.] I. Title.

  PZ7.P1754Do 2013

  [Fic]—dc23 2012043095

  eISBN: 978-0-385-53315-7




  Title Page


  Life Begins at Preconception: A Prelude

  I Eat; Therefore I Am

  How I Came to Be Cast out of Already

  My Homecoming

  Alone at My Own Welcome-Home Party

  An Ick-inducing Reunion

  A Tryst Revealed!

  A Shout-out for Backup

  The Tryst, Continued

  A Former (?) Friend …

  The Tryst, Part Three

  A Tourist among the Dead

  My Parents Dispatch an Emissary

  Ketamine: A Brief Overview

  Hail, Maddy

  Boorism: The New World Disorder

  A Rude Redemption

  A World of Boors

  An Abomination Is Born

  A Sexual Predator in the Animal Kingdom

  A Prelude to My Exile

  Papadaddy One

  A Politically Incorrect Feast

  Papadaddy Two

  Embarking on a Bon Voyage

  Papadaddy Three

  Charting a Course for Glory

  Now, Voyager!

  A Tortured Nontortoise Bladder Driven to Near Madness

  Entering the Labyrinth of King Minos

  Besting the Minotaur

  I Flee the Scene

  Toilet Ambush, the Aftermath

  The Dog Doo-doo Defense


  A New Book and a New Beau

  My Countdown to Good-bye


  The Abomination Gains Strength

  Saint Camille: A Theory

  A Birthday Offering

  Meet the Devil

  Returned to Life!

  A Gruesome Setback

  The Abomination Advances

  A Match Made in Heaven

  My Flirtation with the Divine

  A Tiny Golden Overdose

  My True Love Rescued from the Jaws of Death

  Mother of the Year

  My Beloved Is Felled by a Mysterious Condition

  In Denial

  At Last, a Violent Comeuppance

  A Kitten’s Tragic Denouement

  The Abomination Arrives

  Fata Morgana

  At Home with Camille Spencer

  Camille Becomes a Tourist in the Afterlife

  Camille Disembodied

  What Makes a Family

  Camille in Denial

  Another Loved One in Jeopardy!

  Satan Phones to Bait Our Hero

  A Portrait in Goo

  The Inevitable Result of Operating Heavy

  The Purpose of My Awful Life—Revealed!

  My Date with an Angel

  Dictating a Desperate Edict

  The Abomination Spurs a Cataclysm

  Thwarted by Continental Drift

  The Beating I So Richly Deserve



  A Dark Episode Revisited—At Last

  Confronting the Devil with the Awful

  Satan, Enraged

  The Inevitable Result of Overly Intellectualizing and Suppressing What Would Otherwise Be Appropriate, Natural Expressions of Grief by a Precocious Albeit Insecure Adolescent, Who, Frankly, Has Been Through the Trauma Olympics Lately, What with the Deaths of Her Grandparents and Her Nice Fish and Her Sweet Kitten, Not to Mention Her Own Prematurely Cruel Demise, but Who Keeps Plugging Along with Her Plucky Chin Held High and Does Not Succumb to Blubbing, but Has Striven Gamely to Rise Above Her Circumstances, Dire as They’ve Become, and Who for the Moment Finds Herself Unable to Embrace Yet Another Unhappy Turn of Events

  Shucking This Mortal Coil

  Persephone Makes a Bid for Her Freedom

  Other Books by This Author

  A Note About the Author

  NOVEMBER 1, 12:01 A.M. PST

  Life Begins at Preconception: A Prelude

  Posted by [email protected]

  Good and evil have always existed. They always will. It’s only our stories about them that ever change.

  In the sixth century B.C. the Greek lawmaker Solon journeyed to the Egyptian city of Sais and brought back the following account of the end of the world. According to the priests at the temple of Neith, a cataclysm will sweep the Earth with flames and poisonous smoke. In a single day and night an entire continent will founder and sink into the sea, and a false messiah will lead all of humanity to its doom.

  The Egyptian seers predicted that the Apocalypse will begin on a quiet night, on a lofty hilltop perched high above the kingdom of Los Angeles. There, the ancient oracles sing, a lock will snap open. Among the great walled houses of Beverly Crest, a stout bolt will slide aside. As recorded by Solon, a hinged pair of security gates will swing wide apart. Below these, the realms of Westwood and Brentwood and Santa Monica await, sleeping, laid out in a spider’s web of streetlights. And as the last clock tick of midnight echoes away, within those wide-open gates will dwell only darkness and silence until an engine can be heard rumbling to life, and two lights will seem to lead that noise forward. And from out of that gateway will issue a Lincoln Town Car which slouches forth to begin its slow descent down the hairpin curves of upper Hollywood Boulevard.

  That night, as depicted in ancient prophecy, is tranquil, without a breath of wind; nevertheless, with the Lincoln’s slow progress a tempest begins to mount in its wake.

  As it descends from Beverly Crest to the Hollywood Hills, the Lincoln stretches as long and black as the tongue of someone strangled by a noose. With pink smears of streetlights sliding down the burnished black shell of it, the Town Car shines like a scarab escaping a tomb. And at North Kings Road the lights of Beverly Hills and Hancock Park blink and go dark, not house by house but blocks and blocks of the grid are blotted out in their entirety. And at North Crescent Heights Boulevard, the neighborhood of Laurel Canyon is obliterated; not merely the lights but the noise and late-night music are vanquished. Any shimmering proof of the city is erased as the car flows downhill, from North Fairfax to Ogden Drive to North Gardner Street. And thus does darkness wash over the city, following in the shadow of the sleek car.

  And so, too, does a brutal wind follow. As foretold by the priests of ages past, this gale makes thrashing mops of the towering palm trees along Hollywood Boulevard, and these sweep the sky. Their clashing fronds cast down horrible, soft shapes that land with screams against the pavement. With beady caviar eyes and scaly serpent tails, these fierce, soft shapes hammer the passing Town Car. They drop squealing. Their frenzied claws scratch at the air. Their slamming impacts do not break the windshield, because the glass is bulletp
roof. And the rolling tires of the Lincoln rumble over them, pulping their fallen flesh. And these plummeting, shrieking, clutching shapes are rats. Cast to their deaths, these are the flailing bodies of opossums. The tires of the Lincoln burst this red carpet of crushed fur. The windshield wipers clear the driver’s view of the still-warm blood, and the crushed bones do not puncture the tires, because the rubber, too, is bulletproof.

  And so relentless is the wind that it rakes the street, pushing along this burden of crippled vermin, trundling this tide of suffering always in the wake of the Town Car as it reaches Spaulding Square. Fissures of lightning fracture the sky, and rain is pushed into great curtains that strafe the tiled roofs. Thunder blasts a fanfare as the rain plunders the city’s garbage cans, loosing plastic bags and Styrofoam cups.

  And hard by the looming tower of the Roosevelt Hotel the boulevard is otherwise deserted and the army of trash advances on the city unimpeded by traffic lights or other automobiles. Every street, every intersection is deserted. The sidewalks are empty, as the ancient soothsayers have promised, and every window is dark.

  The boiling sky is without the roving lights of aircraft, and the choked storm drains leave the streets awash in rain and fur. These streets slippery with offal. And by Grauman’s Chinese Theatre is all of Los Angeles reduced to such butchery and chaos.

  Yet not far ahead of the car, in the 6700 block—there the neon lights still shine. In that single block of Hollywood Boulevard the night is warm and still. No rain wets the pavement, and the green awnings of Musso and Frank Grill hang motionless. The clouds above that city block are open like a tunnel to reveal the moon, and the trees along the sidewalks are motionless. So coated in red are the headlights of the Lincoln that they cast a scarlet path for the car to follow. These glaring red beams reveal a young maiden on the sidewalk, and she stands across the street from the Hollywood Wax Museum. And there in the eye of this awful storm she gazes down on a star shape cast in pink concrete, sunk flush in the sidewalk. In her earlobes she wears dime-size, dazzle-cut cubic zirconia. And her feet are shod in counterfeit Manolo Blahniks. The soft folds of her straight-line skirt and cashmere sweater are dry. Masses of curled, red hair cascade about her shoulders.

  The name cast in the pink star is “Camille Spencer,” but this maiden is not Camille Spencer.

  A pink gob of dried chewing gum, several gobs, pink and gray and green, deface the sidewalk like scabs. Printed with the marks of human teeth, the gum is also printed with the zigzag tread of passing feet. The young maiden pries at these with the pointed toe of her faux-Manolo until she can kick the scabrous gum away. Until the star is, if not clean, cleaner.

  In this bubble of still, placid night the maiden grips the hem of her skirt and brings it close to her mouth. She spits on the fabric and kneels to polish the star, buffing bright the name cast there in brass, embedded in the pink concrete. When the Town Car pulls to the curb beside her, the girl stands and steps around the star with the same respect with which one would step around a grave. In one hand she carries a pillowcase. Her fingers, their chipped white nails clenched in a fist, hold this sack of white cloth sagging heavy with Tootsie Rolls, Charleston Chews, and licorice whips. In her opposite hand she holds a half-eaten Baby Ruth.

  Her porcelain-veneered teeth chew idly. A margin of melted chocolate outlines her pouting, bee-stung lips. The prophets of Sais warn that the beauty of this young woman is such that anyone seeing her will forget any pleasure beyond eating and sex. So physically appealing is her earthly form that her viewer is reduced to nothing more than stomach and skin. And the oracles sing that neither is she alive nor dead. Neither mortal nor spirit.

  And parked, idling at the curb, the Lincoln is dripping red. The curbside rear window hums down a crack, and a voice announces itself from the plush interior. In the eye of that hurricane, a male voice asks, “Trick or treat?”

  A stone’s throw in any direction, the night remains churning behind an invisible wall.

  The maiden’s lips, glossed with a red-red lipstick—a color called “Man Hunt”—her full lips curl into a smile. Here, the air hangs so calm that one can detect the scent of her perfume, like flowers left in a tomb, pressed flat and dried for a thousand years. She leans close to the open window and says, “You’re too late. It’s already tomorrow.…” She pauses for a long, lustful wink blanketed in turquoise eye shadow, and asks, “What time is it?”

  And it’s obvious the man is drinking champagne, because in that quiet moment even the bubbles of his champagne sound loud. And the ticking of the man’s wristwatch sounds loud. And his voice within the car says, “It’s time for all bad girls to go to bed.”

  Wistful now, the young woman sighs. She licks her lips, and her smile falters. Half-coy, half-resigned, she says, “I guess I violated my curfew.”

  “Being violated,” says the man, “can feel wonderful.” In turn, the Lincoln’s rear door swings open to admit her, and without hesitation the maiden steps inside. And that door constitutes a gate, the prophets sing. And that car is, itself, a mouth gobbling candy. And the Town Car shuts her within its stomach: an interior as thickly upholstered with velvet as a casket. The tinted window hums closed. The car idles, its hood steaming, its polished body streaming, edged now with a red fringe, a growing beard of coagulated blood. Crimson tire tracks lead up whence it came to where it now sits parked. Behind it, the storm lashes, but here the only sounds are the muffled ejaculations of a man crying out. The ancients describe the sound as a mewing, like rats and mice being crushed to death.

  Silence follows, and after that the rear window once more slides open. The chipped white fingernails reach out. Dangling from them is a latex skin, a smaller version of the girl’s white pillowcase, a miniature sack hanging heavy. Its contents: something murky white. This latex sheath is smeared with the red-red lipstick. It’s smeared with caramel and milk chocolate. Instead of dropping this into the gutter, still seated in the car’s backseat, the girl brings her face to the open window. She places the latex sack against her lips and breathes it full of air. She inflates it and deftly knots the open end. The way a midwife would secure the umbilical cord of an infant. The way a carnival clown would knot a balloon. She ties the inflated skin, sealing the milky contents within, and her fingers twist it. She bends and twists the tube of it until the shape becomes that of a human being with two arms, two legs, a head. A voodoo doll. It’s the size of a newborn babe. This foul creation, still candy-coated from her lips, murky with the man’s mysterious soupy contents, she flings into the center of the waiting pink star.

  According to the prophecies writ down by Solon, that small effigy is a sacrifice of blood and seed and sugar, laid there on that sacred pentagram shape, an offering made beside Hollywood Boulevard.

  On that night, with that ritual begins the countdown to Doomsday.

  And once again the automobile’s mirrored window fills its frame. And at this instant, the storm, the rain and darkness, these swallow the car. As the Lincoln departs the curb, bearing the young maiden away, the winds herd her castoff thing-baby. That knotted bladder. That graven image. The wind and rains shepherd their bountiful harvest of slaughtered vermin and plastic trash and dried chewing gum, tumbling and driving it all in the direction of gravity.

  DECEMBER 21, 6:03 A.M. CET

  I Eat; Therefore I Am

  Posted by [email protected]

  Gentle Tweeter,

  It’s worth noting up front that I have always conceived of my mind as a digestive organ. A stomach for processing knowledge, if you will. As a looping, wrinkled mass, a human brain unmistakably looks like gray intestines, and it’s within these thinking bowels that my experiences are broken down, consumed to become my life story. My thoughts occur as flavorful burps or acrid barf. The indigestible gristle and bone of my memories are expelled as these words.

  Writing an honest blog is how you unlive your life. It’s like uneating an entire peanut butter cheesecake, and just as messy.

>   The convoluted, creased, and folded gray entrails of my mind exist as a kind of tummy of the intellect. Tragedies ulcerate. Comedies nourish. In the end, rest assured, your memories will long outlast your flesh—witness me. My name is Madison Desert Flower Rosa Parks Coyote Trickster Spencer, and I’m a ghost. Meaning: Boo! I’m thirteen years old, and I’m somewhat overweight. Meaning: I’m dead and fat. Meaning: I’m a piggy-pig-pig, oink-oink, real porker.

  Just ask my mom.

  I’m thirteen and fat—and I will stay this way forever.

  And, yes, I know the word ulcerate. I’m dead, not illiterate. You’ve heard the term midlife crisis? Simply put, I’m currently suffering a “mid-death crisis.” After some eight months lodged in the fiery underworld of Hell I now find myself stranded as a spirit in the living-alive physical world, a condition more commonly known as Purgatory. This feels exactly like flying at Mach 1 aboard my dad’s Saab Draken from Brasilia to Riyadh, only to be trapped circling the airport in a holding pattern, waiting for permission to land. Plainly and simply put, Purgatory is where you unwrite the book of your life story.

  Regarding Hell, you mustn’t feel sorry for me. We all keep secrets from God, and it’s exhausting. If anyone deserves to burn in the unquenchable lake of eternal flames, it’s me. I am pure evil. No punishment is too severe.

  For me, my flesh is my curriculum vitae. My fat is my memory bank. The moments of my past life are archived and carried in every obese cell of my ghost blubber, and to lose weight would be for Madison Spencer to disappear. Bad memories are better than none. And rest assured, whether it’s your fat or your bank account or your beloved family, someday you’ll struggle with this reluctance to abandon the living-alive world.

  When you die, trust me, the most difficult person to leave behind is yourself. Yes, Gentle Tweeter, I’m thirteen and a girl and I know the term curriculum vitae. What’s more, I know that not even the dead want to fully disappear.

  DECEMBER 21, 6:05 A.M. CET

  How I Came to Be Cast out of Already

  Being Cast out of God’s Good Graces

  Posted by [email protected]

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