Realms Podcast
Adam's Apple Part II

Adam's Apple Part II

Apples of Grace

Hello and welcome to Realms, a sci-fi and fantasy newsletter. I’m Zach, the writer and narrator of this Substack. Subscribe today to escape to new worlds every month, right in your inbox.

Today’s story is special. It’s part II of III of my first serialized story. You can find part I here:

Adam's Apple Part I

It’s also the first collaboration with another Substack. This story exists in the realm of The Blackwater Files, started by The Chronicler.

Explore this dark, brooding, and creepy universe to enjoy its many branching paths.

Welcome to the Blackwater project. The year is 2050, a near future, and a private pharmaceutical company is conducting an experiment to achieve immortality. They believe the key lies in the subconscious, the black waters of your mind.

Follow various characters as they navigate the darkest corners of their minds (the Undertow) through a pill administered by Elysium™. Each storyline is written by a different author—some with multiple episodes! Spend a little time with us, you will not be disappointed.

The Blackwater Files

Adam’s Apple Part II

I’ve been up all night. How can I sleep? It’s too cold, and I think the bedbugs got to me because my head is itching like crazy. I guess I’m waiting to keel over or feel something in my chest and watch it explode or something gross like that. I’ve called in the SOS. Won’t know if anyone’s coming to my rescue for at least an hour. I’m betting not. At least the server sats are working. I’m uploading everything to the servers now, in case something happens. In case something happens…Ok please don’t delete this next part, Lev, this is for my husband. 

Please don’t hold it against me that we had a fight and I got an assignment and I didn’t stay. Please know I want to work it out. I will work it out. When I get out of here, alive and well. Yes, I’m being delusional as always. Yes, I have your favorite mortar and pestle and all the good spices. No, I’m not sorry about that. But everything else…? Consider this: I’m a BFI (big fucking idiot). But I’m your BFI. No one else’s. Forever yours. 

[Breathes, sobs.] 

Back to the job.

Okay I’m going in like Lois Lane here. Recorder is gonna be on the whole time, with that and the uplink on the WarHorse, my batteries are gonna drain fast.

First, I’m getting answers. I know two bikers that would love to talk to me. I’m going to be doing very illegal things on here, from now on. So, Lev, make sure you make it sound like I’m telling them jokes or tickling them instead of…what I’m actually going to do. I need to do it. I don’t think I have time for the long game. Here I go. Taser at the ready.

[Boots walking on pavement. Knocking on a door.]

Hi there, I’m having trouble with my bike. Can one of you guys help me?

[A door creaks open. There’s a grunt.]

Sorry, it must be the dynamo-spectrometer.

That’s not a real—

[Electrocution noises, a gasp, a crumpling sound.]

One down…


[Electrocution noises, a gasp, a crumpling sound.]

And the other.

Wow. For big, scary cultists, or whatever they are, they went down easy. Let’s get them talking. 


Where’s Gil?

He’s in the bathroom, enjoying a college-party-style view of the toilet. It’s the only place I could zip-tie him. 

[Muffled shouting.]

He’s fine.

The fuck do you think you’re doing? This isn’t your town. These aren’t your problems. Just leave.

One, I’m FBI. Two, this is my entire life. You think sane people do this job? I love solving murder cases, white-collar crimes, counterfeit organ schemes, crypto fraud, etc. Human nature provides endless job security. And a serious case of depressive nihilism, if you think about it too much. I just like solving the puzzles. 

This isn’t a puzzle. This is a trap. And you’re caught in it, little bear.

That’s almost a compliment! At least I’m not a deer or something.

[Muffled yelling.]

Shut up, Gil! Your turn is coming up. First, a snack. How about…an apple?

[A knife flicks out, there’s a crisp cutting of a fruit.]

No. I won’t. Ah!

[Muffled groaning and screaming. Then, a gasp.]

Hush. It’s good, isn’t it? Now we’re in this together. Apples to apples. Tell me, why are you two watching me? I’m going to double-check the answers, by the way.

[Muffled yelling] Don’t say nothing, Ned!

Gil! If you talk again, I’m going to hurt your buddy here.

I’ll take any pain for Adam and the Tree.

Ok, Ned. So you’re part of this cute little club I’ve been hearing about.

It’s very cute. I’ll be one of the ascended soon enough if that’s truly one of the Apples of Grace. Is it from the church?

Yes. Is that how you infect newcomers? Keep them quiet? 

Ha! Only the nosy ones. If you’re looking for compliments, you already figured out more than any agent, cop, or private investigator who came before. They din’t have your resources, though. 

So where did I cross the line? Digging up government records? 

Turning the Sheriff against us.

To quote my favorite Jedi, ‘You’ve done that yourself.’ Getting the Sheriff’s lover to kill herself was probably not the best way to keep him in the shade of your cult. That’s what it is, right? You have an enigmatic leader who espouses arcane, secret knowledge and a way to ‘ascend’ to a higher plane?

You don’t have long. Tell me, has the itching started? I saw you scratch your neck. It begins there in the base of the skull. It spreads to every surface of your skin. It’s the new body growing within you. From there…[sucks in a breath] it’s all pain and madness. That’s why we prefer the sons and daughters of Adam to be…half-baked. 

You’re talking about the ritual suicides? The apples? What does cutting their throats do for them?

Symbolic. Even though only men got ‘em, we let the women join in.

Oh my God. Is that the cult version of equality? Ok. You cut out the Adam’s Apple. And then what?

[Laughs.] Imma let you live it. Experience is the best teacher.

If you say more, I hurt you less. Fair trade?

Fair? Only Adam can say what’s fair. He will come for you, little bear caught in the trap.

You know what they call me at the office? Mad Dog Jordan. And you know what else is true? With all the chaos in the country, I’ve been endowed with legal power to mete out justice as I see fit. I’ve never used it before today. Probably means I’m on a power trip… Wait, that’s a good pun. I am on a work trip.

Any suffering I endure will gain me greater righteousness. This is my cross. This is my test!

[Recording deactivated.]

Sorry, Lev, didn’t want y’all to hear that after all. The itching’s definitely not from bed bugs, by the way. [Laughs.] I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to think that my badge, my presence meant something, that it would protect me.

Something’s wrong with this country. With our people. Makes you wonder if our nation was ever any different. Sickos hiding away their secrets. American greed taking over their minds. Not just for land and money. For control. For people. I’m rambling. I wrote a thesis on this, didn’t I? Ages ago. Back when we still had paper to write on. 

Ned was less than forthcoming with his information. I hurt him, bad. Worse than I’ve hurt anyone. I just got desperate when the itching started, right where they said it would. Like something light and invisible crawling down my neck. It’s morning now, Lev. I haven’t heard back from my SOS hail. Network must be down. Or something big is going on down East. 

I did get something out of Gil. Screaming tends to loosen the tongue. He mentioned a church within the church. A people within themselves. People in the ground, feeding the Tree. Feeding Adam and Eve, who dance in conjunction forever. Kinky. Hard to read between the lines, but these crazed people are mixing their metaphors and reality.

Time to buck up. I’m my own Superman-Lois Lane combo. Time to fight and find the truth. Not time to wrestle with the moral gray.

I’m so tired, though. My knuckles hurt. My soul hurts. 

Once they find Big & Hefty…I won’t be treated lightly anymore. Gun’s loaded, now. Not enough ammo for the whole town, but enough for a whole cult, I hope. 

I have time. A little. I need to track down the bodies. They went to the morgue. That’s how they got the toxicology report. And despite all the lies, it’s legit. They have no reason to fake that. And it shows that not the whole town is in the cult’s grip. Some people are still doing their jobs. 

My hunch is that the bodies aren’t there anymore. And that I can find out where they were buried. If there’s other dead, at the graveyard, I can connect the dots. Or I’ll end up somewhere else where these “Sons and Daughters of Adam” are ending up. Or I’m making logical leaps and bounds due to mad apple syndrome.

I can’t tell anymore…

Damn. Not two days ago I was here in this pleasant downtown, having the best goddamn pie of my life. Now I’m skulking around like a thief. Are they manufacturing this thick-ass fog? And where the hell is everyone? God, can’t these rural towns just be normal?

The morgue’s a three-for-one combo. Police station, morgue, funeral home. That’s America for you, more bang for your buck. Used to be anyway. Odd. Police station is dark. Doors chained up. Let’s see…the funeral home is open. 

[Muffled footsteps on carpet.]

No one’s here, at the desk. Or anywhere. Morgue’s gotta be this way.

[Quiet footsteps on tiles.]

It’s cold in here. Naturally. Two prerequisites for morgues: be too cold, be too creepy. There should be bodies in here, but…

[Air hisses, metal squeaks]

No. No body in this tray.

[Air hisses, metal squeaks]

Or this one…

[Air hisses, metal squeaks]

Shit! Shit! There’s nothing here. Except…wait. An apple. A single apple. How?

…just as I thought. No bodies. Shit, I’m getting itchy again, but worse, like poison ivy. That steroid I took is wearing off already. Lev, this is a really tight spot. Please, please, send somebody. I can’t keep it together.

Wait, what’s that? Someone’s calling my name. Who…

Cultists! Oh God. Oh God. Okay. Oh God. I’m cornered. Shit. Okay. JORDAN GET A GRIP!

Lev, I’m taking a stand. I’m using my firearm. Authorization ID ZA-93. 

[Feet pounding. Jordan’s name screamed.]

They’re coming closer. This was an ambush. A plan. Ok. I’m holding steady. FBI! I am armed and ready to fire!

[Doors burst open.]

Kevin? No. Stay there! I will fire! 

[Screaming. Gunshots.]

Man down. Oh, God. Sheriff… I think it’s clear….

Joooordan. Joooooooordan. Adam is waiting for you. 

Two assailants. Big & Hefty. How did they…doesn’t matter. Hands up! On your knees! I will shoot.

[Speaking in unison.]

The New Adam cannot die. We cannot die.

Don’t move! Don’t take a single step! 

[Shots fired. Screaming.]

They’re down, Lev. They were going to hurt me. Shit. The Sheriff. He’s…dead. And something else… [Heavy sigh.] Can this get any worse?

His eyes are  shot through with what looks like worms or a growth. His skin isn’t right. It’s tough. Like leather. I can feel something moving beneath. He must have eaten an apple. Or forced to eat one. Perhaps that’s why his mind was gone. 


Is this going to happen to me? Lev? Am I going to lose it all by myself? Here? In [REDACTED]? Oh God, and all for nothing. No answers. Nothing solved. 

There’s something here in the Sheriff’s pocket. Paper. Wow. A real Sticky note. Orchard, it says.

A final gift from Sheriff Kevin. Or something else. I do not relish going back to the crime scene.

I’m pulling up the map now. No way. I didn’t see it before, but that church isn’t even one klick away from the crime scene. Fresh apples, eh? 

Thinking about what Gil told me…The orchard must be part of their rituals, and there might be a ‘hallowed ground’ where they meet. Probably a place where these special apples come from. 

I’m thinking of the history. An orchard over a mass grave. Is that the people…feeding the tree? A people within themselves…are they burying more and more people? These cultists…are they only interested in a twisted version of death? 


Oh, God…there’s people outside. At least ten of them. Hold on, Lev. Gotta mad dog it.

Jordan Adhikary. You are chosen!

[A group of people chant.] Chosen! Chosen!

[Whispers] Also in the words of my favorite Jedi…Hello there! Might you all back away from the expensive government vehicle? I’m on FBI business. 

Tell us, Jordan. How did the Apple of Grace taste?

Top five in the apples of my life, to be honest. Damn good. Mind telling me what you’re doing out here? Having a service, Reverend?

We came to witness Kevin’s transfiguration. He was born again, was he not? 

I don’t know what you mean. He attacked me. He was out of his mind. Now, like I said, please back away. I am authorized to use force. 

Violence is necessary to pass from this world to the next. The Lord burns away the chaff through his justice! You are His justice! 

[Gunshots.] Last time I’ll fire into the air. WarHorse has its own defenses, too. That’s it. Back away. Slowly. Slowly. 

Chosen, Jordan. You have been chosen. You ate of the Apple on your own accord. 

Yeah, I know. 

[Motorcycle whirs. Tires screech.]

And I’m outta here!

Jesus, they’re just watching. Flashlights following. Lev, why hasn’t anyone responded to my SOS? Why? God. Kevin’s dead. Whatever happened to him…no. I can’t believe it. I’m going to make it home. I am…but I have to solve this thing. I have to. 

Can’t wait to see that old orchard again.

Thank you for reading Adam’s Apple part II.

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Catch Part III next month, only on Realms!

Realms Podcast
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