Hallelujah, Bye and Bye
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 02:57 on Dec 11, 2014
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 03:53|
|# ? May 17, 2022 05:37|
For the Kid (999 words)
Zeke, man. When he found out I was pregnant, he left a new computer on the front steps. A computer one of his buddies, as I found out later, jacked from a loving nursing home. So you’ll understand why when he showed up tonight with a new SUV, car seat and all, and this briefcase full of God knows what from God knows where, I told him where to shove it. But in true Zeke Taukave fashion, I'm walking down La Occa a couple hours later, and the same god drat briefcase just falls out of the sky.
I didn't even look up. I just picked the thing up, let out this, like, primal shriek of frustration, and went looking for Zeke. I was gonna beat his huge Fijian rear end to death with it.
But as I walked down Schwanz Street into Polyside, the smell of half-rotten fish punching me in the throat, I got to thinking. I didn’t have any use for a hot car or a stolen loving coffee maker, but a briefcase full of unmarked bills? Well, I didn't come back to the LGD, belly the size of a diving bell, because I dig the weather. Before Zeke knocked me up on spring break, I'd racked up half an English degree and twenty thousand bucks in debt. Now money was the leash that chained me to this shithole town, to my girl's pull-out couch, and to Zeke.
As long as he didn't find out, it couldn't hurt to take a peek in the thing.
I ducked into an alley behind the pool hall on Flower Hill. I put the briefcase down on a dumpster - I was sweating like crazy, they don't tell you how fast you'll soak through a shirt when you get pregnant - and had my first good look at it. It had a combination lock.
I had to count on my fingers to recall the date I'd hosed him. The one and only time. I'd been home on spring break for three days, and I'd already been drunk four times. I was lying on my girl Candi's roof, when all of a sudden we heard sirens, and Zeke came hauling rear end up the ladder on the side of the house. We played football together in high school - I was a kicker, he was an offensive lineman - but I didn't even recognize him now, with the tattoos and the hair. He got arrested the week before we went to state champs, the absolute dick.
Anyways. He climbed down through the skylight to use Candi's bathroom, and she rolled over and was like "He's cute."
Then she said "What, you into white boys now? Or they just have to be in college?"
And with that I had to sleep with him. Those three days back in the LGD, folks had been giving me side-eye, thinking they'd catch me sneering or something. Back then, I cared about that kind of thing. Plus, Candi didn’t know I was dating a white boy.
I flicked the lock's dials until it spelled out that date. I tugged on the handle. It didn't open.
"What the hell, Zeke?" I said out loud. I tried my birthday: no luck. As an afterthought, I tried the baby's due date: nope. I whacked the thing against a wall, but nothing gave.
Then my daughter kicked in my belly. And that was what really made me stop and think. “I got no other choice, huh, baby?” I said. “Fine. I’ll go ask him for the god drat code. But only for you.”
I wasn’t like Zeke. I would do what it took to be a good parent. Even if it meant walking right into that car-stealing dropout sonofabitch’s trap.
I found him out at the docks, smoking a bowl on top of a shipping container. "You win, Zeke," I called up to him.
He’d been blind drunk a few hours ago, and he looked even drunker now. His curly hair was a raincloud around his head. “Yvonne,” he said. “Babe.”
“Yeah, it’s me. Come begging you for help. Just like you wanted.”
Zeke hopped down from the container. I remembered for the hundredth time just how big he was. A foot and a half taller than me and twice my weight, even with me as round as a whale. “What are you doing here?” he slurred. For the first time he seemed to notice the briefcase by my feet. “The gently caress’d you get that?” He closed one eye, trying to focus on it.
“How drunk are you? You gave it to me. Now give me the drat combination.”
“I threw that loving thing in the trash,” he said. “The car seat, too. And you want to know why?” He was leaning over me now, but he didn’t look pissed off. He looked like he was about to cry. “Because, you know what? If my son wants to know his dad someday, then he can come talk to me himself. It’s not about you. It’s about me and him, and if I have to wait? Then I can loving wait.”
I looked at my feet. Not easy, as pregnant as I was. “So you didn’t try to give me back the briefcase.”
“I swear to God, Yvonne, I didn’t. I’m done. I swear on our baby’s life.” He held up both hands, like he was looking down the barrel of a gun, and I was holding it.
We both looked down at the briefcase. It didn’t look like it planned on talking.
“So what happens now?” I said. “You know anybody who’s got a saw or something? Wanna split the cash?”
“Nope,” he said. He picked up the briefcase. Before I could stop him, he lobbed it into the water. It joined a thousand other pieces of floating poo poo.
“What the hell did you do that for?” I said.
“What the hell do you think? I did it for the kid.”
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 03:53|
Another Day In Los Grano D’oro
Shannon with briefcase in hand walks through the lonely street of Los Grano. She looks back to see if anyone is behind her. A few people, but no one she’s worried of. She turns around, anxious to get back to her hotel.
A tap on the shoulder causes Shannon to jump in surprise. A young woman, dressed in a dark jacket and short skirt smiles at Shannon.
“What have you got there,” The girl points to the briefcase.
“It’s mine.” Shannon lied. She found it on at a bus stop. She wasn’t sure whose it was, but her curiosity got the better of her. She couldn’t help but to pick it up.
“The name’s Goldie,” The girl winks at Shannon, “I don’t know how you got the briefcase, and frankly, I don’t care. A lot of crazy things have been going on tonight. But that briefcase is very special to me, and a lot of other people. I just want to see it go to the rightful owner.” Goldie pulled the blonde hair away from her eyes, revealing dark brown eyes focused on her. Her seductive voice unnerved Shannon.
Goldie inches closer to Shannon. Shannon tenses up.
“Well, if it’s yours, then you can have it.” Shannon hands the briefcase to Goldie, but Goldie pushes it away.
“Oh, no, no, no. It belongs to a friend of mine,” Goldie pulls out a cigarette and lights it. She takes a long drag.
“Well, if it’s your friend’s, then you can just give it to him yourself.”
Goldie blows out her smoke in a perfect circle, “I prefer not to get my hands dirty. But you. You’re new to town, right?”
“Yeah, how do you know?” Shannon starts to take a few steps back.
Goldie lets out a light laugh, “Because I haven’t seen you in town before. But say, can you do me a little favor?”
“I don’t know what you what you want from me, but I don’t want anything to do with you. Just leave me alone.”
“Ah, don’t get so mad at me.” Goldie frowns. “We’re just having a friendly conversation. But alright, I’ll get to the point. I want you to take that briefcase over to this address.” Goldie pulls out a scrap of paper and hands it to Shannon.
“What? Do you do this to everybody? Just ask them to be loving Fed-Ex for you?”
“Oh, come on now. There’s no need to be rude. It’s a simple favor.” Goldie reaches into her
pocket. “You’ll be compensated, greatly.” She pulls out a stack of cash. “Five hundred right now, and five hundred when you deliver it.”
“I’m not going to be some loving drug dealer for you!” Shannon shouts hoping to grab the attention of nearby people. Goldie just throws her cigarette onto the street.
“Alright kid, calm down. There’s no need to freak out.” Goldie’s says in a lower voice.
“Then tell me what’s in this loving briefcase!”
“The only thing you need to know is that there is something very important in it. And before you ask, no, there are no drugs in it. All of this is perfectly legal.”
“Then why do I have to do it?”
Goldie shakes her head. “How about this, I give you five hundred now, and when it’s done, you get a thousand. And you don’t ask any more questions, alright. It’s that easy.”
“You know what, gently caress it. If it’ll mean you leave me alone, I’ll do it.”
Goldie smiles and hands Shannon the cash. Goldie reaches once more into her pocket and reveals a bundle of bubble wrap.
“Why the gently caress do you have bubble wrap?” Shannon asked.
“When you get to the address, you’ll see a catapult in an alley. Wrap the briefcase in this and launch it on the roof. After that, I’ll give you the rest of the money.”
Shannon chuckled. “Alright, no. gently caress this. This is so loving stupid.”
Goldie sighed. “Alright. Two thousand once its done. And no more complaining, please. It’s been a long night.”
Shannon swiped the bubble wrap from Goldie’s hands. “Ok, but I better get my loving money.”
“Of course,” Goldie said as Shannon walked towards the address.
Shannon stops as she reaches the address.
She walks into the alley and sees the catapult. It was made out of wood and duct tape, and even outfitted with wheels. Shannon laughs.
She wrapped the briefcase in the bubble wrap, and placed the briefcase in the catapult. The briefcase fit snuggly in the catapult, and sends it flying up onto the roof. She hears a hard thunk and a soft popping sound, and walks away.
As she leaves the alley, Goldie appears from behind the corner.
“Great work,” Goldie said as she takes out the last of the money. “And I’m a woman of my word,” She hands the money to Shannon who quickly snatches it.
“Thanks,” Shannon said, happy to finally leave Los Grano tomorrow. If this night will ever end.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 04:33|
In Los Grano D’oro, a stranger moves among the crowds. Awed by his revelations and miracles, the masses press around him. Enamored. Confused with hope. They speak of him in whispers. Now, it is night. The air is hot and smells of perfume. The Vatican’s high representative, sent to investigate these claims, has just arrived in the city. She clutches her dress and pushes through the throng into a bar.
“I’m looking for the man known as Black Jesus,” shouts Sister Karen Retinger over the cheap band and snickering patrons. They are, no doubt, amused by the nun’s presence. “I understand that he has a church in this area?”
The bartender nods. She’s a tall woman, tan, covered in silver bracelets. Her arms jangle with every movement. “He’s around, but I don’t think he’s going to want to see you.”
Sister Karen follows her down the bar like a lion stalking its prey. The Church is not denied so easily.
“With all due respect, I didn’t ask if he wanted to see me. I asked where he was.” A nearby patron laughs, bewildered. The bartender is less amused.
“You’re just not the kind of person that Black Jesus would really be interested in. I mean, I’m Jewish, but you don’t look…” She looks over the Sister in her plain grey dress, clean and pressed. Her greying hair, tied neat in a bun.
“Black Jesus isn’t the kind of guy who likes people outside his congregation. If you want access, I’d recommend an offering. More than that,” she says, as Sister Karen grabs the crucifix gleaming around her neck. “Something to prove yourself to him. He’s at the old orphanage, but you aren’t getting in without a prize.”
“Ah, I see,” Sister Karen says, her mouth the thinnest of thin lines. Cult leaders are always like this. Full of pride and moral superiority. She would not bend to this false prophet’s demands for supplication.
After all, had she not disproved prophet after prophet? Miracle after miracle? She had revealed crying statues to be the work of condensation and incorrupt bodies to be secretly embalmed. During her ministry, six preachers had claimed divinity and she had cast all those false prophets from their temples. Black Jesus would be no different. His claims were ridiculous. Unacceptable.
“Do you have any recommendations on what I should bring him?” she asks, but her attention has shifted. There is some terrible noise on the street. She excuses herself and investigates.
On the street corner, a wreck of a man stands panhandling. Not Black Jesus, but another. Behind him, in beautiful calligraphy, is written an apocalyptic message. 'AND THIS IS THE CASE OF THE SLAYER, WHICH SHALL FLEE THITHER, THAT HE MAY LIVE' it reads in imposing Gregorian font. He shakes a tin and screams.
“Repent, UNBELIEVERS, for the Second Coming is at hand! I have SEEN the signs and KNOW the truth.” Sister Karen appreciates his general plea, but not its specifics. “The SIGNS are all around. Open THINE eyes and YOU shall know the truth.”
It is not his questionable preaching that catches the Sister’s eye, nor his exquisite writing ability. Instead, she focuses on the black, bedazzled attaché case which stands next to the man. She remembers hearing of this case during her search through the city. A stranger had told her that the case was a good luck charm. A radio announcer had mentioned, in an off-cuff remark, how the police were looking for a briefcase in connection with a murder. There were rumors of a blonde wreaking havoc, using the suitcase as her Golden Apple.
These stories were ridiculous. Yet, Sister Karen cannot help but find the briefcase an appealing offering. Both useless and filled with meaning, it is a symbol of Black Jesus himself.
At this moment, Sister Karen Retinger considers the many options available. She could go to the Archbishop of Los Grano D’oro for assistance, as she was instructed before arriving. A man of good faith and virtue, the Archbishop would surely give her some trinket to deliver to Black Jesus. She could hire a private detective to stake out the orphanage rather confront its congregation herself. With its dingy streets and wild personalities, the city felt more like an old detective movie than a real place. She could even go down to a gift shop and buy something to gain the cult’s favor. These options were all clean and rational. The success of any was almost guaranteed.
But Sister Karen Retinger would not be Sister Karen Retinger if she did any of these things.
Drunk with religious devotion, she sprints across the road. A car, startled by her unexpected movement, swerves, honking wildly. She dashes at the vagrant, their wild eyes meeting, his mouth opening in a large ‘O’. Her hand is on the briefcase’s handle. The man reaches out.
She remembers the impact but not the swing as the briefcase slams into the man’s chest with a sickening crunch. He vomits, splattering Sister Karen Retinger in blood and spittle. The odor is overwhelming and she stumbles backwards. Her legs catch on the man's sign and she falls screaming into the street. Another car almost crushes her underfoot. Its owner leans out of his vehicle and presses both hands on the horn. A crowd forms. Someone is on their phone with the police. Sister Karen crawls backward, blind. Her body is operating only on adrenaline. Her dress, once clean, is covered in dirt and grime from the struggle.
With a monstrous yell, she yanks the briefcase and runs down an alleyway. She does not know if she is being pursued, but for the moment she does not care. It is with this briefcase that she will gain access. Through the sacrifice of her reputation, she will confront the immaculate dreadlocked figure sitting on the cathedra and name him for the pretender he is.
A siren wails in the distance. Sister Karen presses further into the ghetto.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 04:45|
The Worth of Things
The Saddest Rhino fucked around with this message at 14:18 on Jul 7, 2014
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 04:52|
Issa Brückenau was a man who knew things. But he did not know why a lanky kid was standing in front of him with a briefcase.
"This was in the backseat, sir. That guy musta forgot it."
"Yeah? gently caress it, it's mine now." The kid looked uncomfortable. "I paid for the car." He hadn't, actually, but that didn't matter. "Now quit wasting time, get back out there!" The kid ran back to the crew prepping the car for detonation.
It seemed a bit too convenient, but hell, they did need a car for this scene, and the gentleman who'd called had a car he needed disposed of, no questions asked. If there was one thing Issa knew, it was how to not ask questions. Besides, this was the kind of man you wanted to owe you a favor. So they rearranged the shooting schedule, moved the car bomb up to tonight. Nice car, too, though it had seen better days. Midnight purple Challenger. Just perfect for this scene.
Honestly, he was relieved. Money was getting tight again, and any chance to save on costs, he'd take it. That's why he came to all these shoots, even second unit like tonight, made sure the crew ran things tight, no loving 15 minute coffee breaks between takes. Hell, no second takes if he could help it, just get enough coverage from every angle, that's good enough 9 times out of 10...
"Action!" the moron in the director's chair yelled. It was his idea to film this at night; said they would save money because they could say more with less in the editing room, use lots of shadows. Well, maybe that bullshit would be true, only now they needed all these lights...
As he waited for the explosion, Issa looked over his new case: nondescript black, heavy, with a latch and combination lock, and—he checked—locked. He hoped the FX guys didn't gently caress up this time.
The car shuddered, half-flipped into the air and landed on three remaining tires. Flames licked at the sides. The frame was bent and twisted.
The crew swarmed over the car after the shot, putting out the fire and getting things ready for the next scene. But one by one, people stopped moving, piling up around the back of the car. It would be comical if they weren't wasting his drat money. Issa grabbed the case and stood up, ready to start screaming.
Something red was dripping from the trunk.
gently caress. Nobody said anything about a body.
Issa needed time to think. He turned, grabbed his walkie-talkie from his belt, and set off towards the guard post at the edge of the lot.
"Marco, you still have that weedy gently caress with you?"
Static, then: "...uh, just left, boss. He's just crossing the street now."
"GET. HIM. I'm on my way."
The guard post was really more of a shack. It looked like it had been built in the 30s, renovated once in the 70s (that would explain the wood paneling and avocado accents), and never touched since. The man with the sunglasses and pink lipstick on his cheek sat, stoic, in a broken-backed plastic chair. Marco stood behind him, his gun not-so-subtly hidden under his shirt.
"Let's go for a drive," Issa said. Marco yanked the tall man up and out they went to his car.
Issa pulled his convertible into the garage and killed the engine. The bald man jumped out to shut the garage door, but Issa stopped him.
"Marco, could you take our friend into the bathroom, first?" Marco had punched him out when he went for a gun during the drive over. He was slumped over in the seat, blood trickling from a nose turned at the wrong angle. No good; that would need to be fixed.
"Sure thing, boss." Marco dragged the man through the doorway in the back.
Issa opened the glove compartment. He removed a pair of pliers, a surgical razor, gauze, a small camcorder. As he passed Marco on his way out, Issa gave him some extra pay, for "overtime". He knew he could trust Marco.
Issa walked through the office to the bathroom, where the man was strapped in place, arms tied to the rails of the handicapped stall. He was coming around, made a muffled sound behind the gag. Good.
"You've made a real mess for me tonight, you know that? But I'll make it good. I'll make it pretty." He looped the camera around his neck. "And no one will worry about a dumb gently caress nobody like you going missing." He pressed record and got to work.
Issa took a minute to clean up, put his shirt back on, put the tools away, pocketed the camera. He didn't notice the garage door was cracked open as he went to the car. The briefcase was still lying there on the passenger seat. gently caress it, he could call somebody to look into that tomorrow, see what was inside. Nobody would be up at this hour.
And the little problem with the Challenger. Sure, Issa knew some cleaners; but it might be simpler just to pin it on the crew, claim whoever it was had been some new hire who didn't get clear of the blast. The schedule had been chaotic enough, this week; nobody knew everybody. The last thing he needed was police attention. Especially now that he had all this new material. His clients had exacting tastes, and they paid very well.
It turned out he wasn't alone in the garage. As he was taking the case out of the car, some crazy bitch jumped him, all hair and arms, threw something in his eyes, grabbed hold of the case and bolted out the door. By the time he recovered and tried to chase after her, she was gone.
"Christ, I hate this city." He could only shake his head and walk back inside.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 04:57|
‘I’m surprised to see…’
A black man speaking perfect Polish? Let’s not push our luck here, Jacek.
‘…a Polish policeman so far from Poland. It’s quite a coincidence. Detective.’
What was his name again? Bernstein, wasn’t it? Mother of God, it doesn’t go right at all.
‘We found a mobile phone on your friend’s body, Pan Skwarek. We skimmed through his messages for some leads and letters concerning your visit were in Polish. Obviously, I was assigned to the case. Chief probably thinks I know all Poles in the city, too.’
Is it a joke? Am I supposed to laugh?
‘What can you tell me about Pan Kukharski? How well did you know him?’
‘Stefan and I were best friends back in school, but during our second year in university his family moved to America and I’ve lost contact with him. Then all of a sudden I get a letter about a week ago and he invites me here. Apparently, he’s made a fortune on real estate in America and was looking for new opportunities here, I guess. And that’s about all I know. Sorry, if I can’t help. He didn’t tell me much about his business partners or anything.’
Can I go now, please?
‘Can you tell me more about yesterday? Were you together all the time?’
I don’t have to tell anything. What if I’ll have to stay here for another week to testify or whatever procedures they have? Would they let me stay at Stefan’s? Jesus, just go back home, Jacek!
‘I’ve arrived rather late and had a terrible jetlag. Plus airplane food really did a number on my stomach. Not even sure when Stefan’s left – spent the whole night between the bog and the bed. At least this place has a toilet for every bedroom. Can you believe it?’
‘And that’s it? Jesus and all saints, Jacek! How does it feel to be a loser?’
‘You shouldn’t have let your bodyguards go. I don’t need money to beat you up if you don’t shut your gob.’
‘I’m sorry. It’s just of all things you picked up a fishing trip to San as a highlight. Tell you what – we’ll have a night out. I’ll have to meet someone at the club, but then I’ll give you a taste of nightlife in Los Grano D’oro.’
Soon Stefan’s Lamborghini was speeding down the roads of what he called ‘the fun district’. It was three in the morning, but the streets were crowded. Everything and everyone was green and blue with neon lights. I could never live with that. Nights are supposed to be nights. With the moon, stars and maybe neighbours’ dog barking. ‘If the darkness within you is light…’ and all that.
The club was called ‘Pandemonium’ and had a pink neon tower of Pisa on it. We went through the VIP entrance to much envy of a small swarm of people besieging the bouncer.
‘I’ll be back in ten minutes just stay at the bar and don’t go anywhere, got it?’ Stefan ordered me a drink and went upstairs by a marble ladder in the back of the club.
I didn’t expect ‘Pandemonium’ to be anything but a strip club, yet the band was playing jazz and people in fancy suits and dresses were chatting at their tables in different languages, none of which I understood. The more I sat there, the more judging the public seemed to me toward my jeans and windcheater combo. The ‘No smoking’ sign didn’t make me feel any more comfortable either. I went outside for a quick pink-smoked fag.
When I was about to light a cigarette, Stefan stormed out of the club with a black attaché case.
‘God in Heaven, what the hell are you doing outside?’
‘Look, I thought about it, I feel like calling it a day.’
‘Oh, no. You go inside with me and look like Polish mafia. End of.’
Stefan grabbed my hand and tried to drag me back into the club. I didn’t budge and he end up on the ground. The bouncer noticed it. He touched his earpiece and walked toward us.
‘drat it, look what you made me do,’ said Stefan and I realised I was now handcuffed to the briefcase. ‘Get on a ship as a stowaway, suck off a back alley plastic surgeon for a new face, I don’t care. Just don’t go back to my place. You run now, Jacek!’
He didn’t have to ask me twice. Stefan sprinted to the car while I ran in the opposite direction. In a matter of two minutes I cut through a mosh pit outside of a punk-themed night club and a Hare Krishna procession. There were no signs of my pursuers.
From where I was I could see Stefan’s penthouse on top of a fifty-storied skyscraper.
‘I’ll get there by an emergency exit, get the handcuffs off and leave. That’s the plan and I will follow it.’
‘And the last question. Did you see a black case anywhere in the flat or with Stefan?’
‘No, sorry. You can search the penthouse, though. Meanwhile, I’d rather go to the airport. The city obviously doesn’t want me here.’
I pack my rucksack while detective Bernstein rummages through wardrobes and cupboards in the same room. We shake hands and hopefully I leave Stefan’s world forever.
But not without a souvenir. I go to the dead end where I’ve broken handcuffs with a boulder not long ago. That’s the manhole. I open the cover and take the case. It must be worth something.
‘That’s why Poles have bad reputation, Pan Skwarek.’
Bernstein points a gun at me.
‘Look. I only wanted to go home. Can I hand over the case and you could just write in your report that you’ve found it yourself? Can a Pole help a Pole out? Please?’
‘There’ll be no reports, Jacek.’
The world explodes in splashes of neon colours. I could have lived with that after all.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 05:01|
Austin is dreaming again. Angels descend on golden wings and sing to him that the world is ending. The beast with the seven heads rises from the burning sea and screams at him that the world is ending. The whore of Babylon kisses him with an ashen tongue and whispers to him that the world is ending. Austin is dreaming his favourite dream, and in his sleep he smiles.
He dreams a crisp man in a crisp suit walking through the crumbling cities of Mammon. The crisp man stands before Austin, attaché case in hand, looking through glasses darkly tinted. Austin does not recognise him, and in his sleep he turns and moans. The angels fly away until they are only dots against the sun, the beast retreats, its ten horns waving warily, and the whore covers her shame with papal robes and cowers in the alley corner. The man lays the case at Austin’s feet. “Let there be loving briefcases,” he says before walking back into oblivion.
Austin is awake, his brain is burning. He sits up like a jolt of electricity is coursing through him, disturbing his newspaper sheets. At his feet he sees his sign, with its daily message immaculately lettered, and an attaché case lying on its side, shiny black leather reflecting the glow of distant street-lights. Austin reaches into his tattered coat and pulls out his private inferno, a blessing from Black Jesus. He flicks it near the sign, curious what he must tell the foolish citizens today.
By the flame that could burn the world he reads: And this is the case of the slayer, which shall flee thither, that he may live - Deuteronomy.” Each letter is drawn in an elegant calligraphic style. The ink shines wetly in the night air.
Austin wonders what it means. Is the crisp man, who keeps angels and demons and whores at bay, is he the Slayer? Will this gift convince the unrighteous fools who spit on him, will it vanquish death another night? He ponders the sign, keeping the tongue of flame alive until hot metal burns his thumb and he drops it. He scrabbles in the sudden dark, touches the briefcase and recoils as if bitten.
Austin scans the darkened alley. He is alone but he hears the street-cars as they poison the air with their breath. “Slayer,” he says, making the word sound like a serpent.
Austin picks up his sign and the newspaper pages that make his bed. He is alone but he hears the cries of the lost souls in the personal columns grow muffled as he crumples them in his pocket. “Slayer,” he says, making the word sound like an accusation.
Austin looks at the briefcase, kicks it with his rotting shoe. He is alone, but he shares his solitude with the things he loves in the world, his newspaper, his sign, his coat, his private inferno. To these he adds a black and unfamiliar briefcase. “Slayer,” he says, in worship.
Behind his eyes - light explodes. His synapses mix with his tumours in a heavenly cocktail of organic sludge and the alley fence is a forest of dead trees, the fire-escape an inverted stairway to Hell, and a thousand rats sing hymns in the gutters. “Let there be loving briefcases!” he announces as they whirl and twirl like furry dervishes. Energised, he picks up the case and is transformed. His coat blackens, his hair grows short and the darkness becomes wraparound shades. The newspaper lengthens and twists into a pistol, with each bullet bearing the Devil’s name. Austin feels no fear. He has seen the crisp man lay Emissaries low and command him to carry the briefcase that he may follow in power. He strides toward the street, his sign in one hand and the case in another. He chants as he walks, “Angels and Demons and Whores, Oh My! Angels and Demons and Whores, Oh My.”
The street is paved with golden embers that burn the soles of the unwary. He waves his sign to attract the heathens, then places it at his feet and yells the truth that the Angels sang and the Beast screamed and the Whore whispered.
“Repent, UNBELIEVERS, for the Second Coming is at hand! I have SEEN the signs and KNOW the truth. The SIGNS are all around. Open THINE eyes and YOU shall know the truth.”
He sees her then, across the road, black against the asphalt and the black of his shades. She sees him, too. She is angel and she is beast and she is whore and she is death and she coming. He fears for his salvation, for his wicked sinner’s life, but he is the crisp man now. He has the briefcase. He mouths a Hallelujah and he wields the case like a burning sword but her hand is upon it and she lunges at him, pushing it back into his belly. He loses his grip.
His hair grows into ratty tangles, his coat tears into strips, and his eyes are stung by the sudden light of the neon signs that line the street. The water of life empties from his stomach - a fountain of blood and sick. He reaches out, grasping for the case, but touches the angelbeastwhore and pushes back at her in revulsion. Her feet are tangled in his sign, and for a moment he is sure a poisonous vehicle will split her with its wheels, but she is already Death, and now she has the case and she runs crisply down the alley into the crumbling city of Mammon.
The case has flown thither with the slayer and he is alive.
Austin falls to his knees, raises his clasped hands to the night and cries out “Let there be briefcases, oh Lord, let there be loving briefcases!”
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 05:09|
Hey guess what, MORE PEOPLE IN MY TINY OFFICE ARE SICK TODAY AND I HAVE TO DO ALL THE EXTRA WORK YAAAAAAY I HATE MY JOB. Have something I had to rush, because I'm tired of failing due to this lovely office.
Well it's a good thing one of us does
Erik was sad.
“In Russian slang,” he said, “to be riding a dick is to be overjoyed, but to move towards a dick is to be filled with sadness. It's the absence of dick, despite its imminence, that makes men sad. The penis fills us: completes us.”
“Nigga, you need to get hosed bad,” said Black Jesus. He took drag of his cigarette, tilted his head back, closed his eyes and sucked the smoke down. “Black Jesus aint into that personally, but he knows a few guys. You want him to set you up?”
Erik shook his head. His heavy Baltic features betrayed no emotion. “If you think that would solve the issue,” he said, “then you do not understand emptiness.”
“No,” said Black Jesus, “you don't understand loving. It's a holy experience. You transcend society, and fall into physical poetry: love given form. Good loving is like talking to God, my maudlin nigga.”
The door flew open, then Peter Polio fell into the room. His cheap suit looked even dirtier than usual. He smelled like a dead fish in a rosebush. He had a briefcase in one hand, and a brown paper envelope in the other. He was face-down, mumbling something into the floorboards. “tey shupping dow t'irphage,” he said.
“Say again?” said Black Jesus. Peter Polio rolled onto his back, and spat out a little dirt. His fingers were white around the handle of the briefcase. “The orphanage,” he said, “they're shutting it down. Also, I found a briefcase and a man in a trenchcoat didn't like me finding it and tried to shoot me. I think it's probably an important briefcase. But first, the orphanage.”
“The world is empty,” said Erik, “and filled with sadness.”
“Nigga cut that out,” said Black Jesus, “we've got poo poo to do.”
Erik's ride had once been a truck, in the same way a charging knight had once been a baby sucking-at-tit. It took up both lanes, but nobody ever had the courage to complain. They powered down the Esplanada Del Oro, scattering vespas and comfortable economy cars left and right. Black Jesus rode shotgun, and Peter squeezed into the middle, bouncing and twitching in equal measure. BJ was looking out the window.
“Lotta fedoras,” said Black Jesus. “It's like a Sam Spade convention out there today. Shame we don't need any privates detected.”
They pulled up alongside the Orphanagium Hemingway, then piled out. The man standing outside might not be an orphan, but he'd certainly bad a few. Big tatted-up Polyside motherfucker, smoking a dog-end and eying them lazily. He waited for them to approach, then shook his head.
“Boss says nobody goes in or out.”
Erik disagreed in a very physical way that ended with a bunch of teeth scattered on the concrete. With a lifetime's pent-up sexual frustration behind it, the fist must've been like a very localised meteor. The bouncer stayed down. The three men entered the orphanage. In the alleyways behind them, a cluster of shadows moved: a rustle of a million trenchcoats, and the sigh of a million exhaled cigars. In the bar across the road, sat a nun, a DJ and a poet. No punchlines were forthcoming.
Todd Templeton sat in a velvet chair, stroking his moustache. Dying sunlight flickered between the venetian blinds, into the former office of the head matron. The shadows danced and teased, pulling at their masters.
“An interesting proposition,” he said, “but if I don't demolish the orphanage, where will the poor children buy their cheeseburgers? You see gentlemen, I too am concerned with their welfare. Surely three upstanding gentlemen of your caliber will understand. Unless-”
He paused, and twisted his face into a joke of a half-smile. He eyed the briefcase, then licked his lips.
“Come the gently caress ooooon,” said Peter, “spit it out, I'm jonesing, man.”
“Charming,” said Todd. He sneered at Peter, just a little. “I am five years a widower, you see. My wife caught a wasting disease from an orphan, and had a great love for laundromats. In the time since her death, I have worked hard to demolish every orphanage I can, and replaced it with a strip mall. But you see, without a wife, I am bereft of, uh- other things. I need an hour alone with one of you, and I'll sell you the wretched place back at half price.”
“Nigga that's crazy,” said Black Jesus, “and I know nobody here w-”
“I'll do it,” said Erik. The change in his demeanor was like the sun coming out from behind a cloud. “I will do the things you want to do, and also some other things.”
His belt was already off. From somewhere down below came a crack, and a lot of shouting. Black Jesus sighed. “I'll go deal with that,” he said, “c'mon Peter, let's give them some space.”
Peter shrugged, and left the room. The door closed, and some very vigorous noises begun. If you'd told Peter a bear was wrestling with a woodchipper, he would've believed you. Black Jesus had a little smile on his face. He crossed himself, then threw a quiet salute heavenward.
“Nice and easy now,” said the chorus. Jesus and Peter turned slowly, and saw the entire room packed sardinelike with private detectives, and also a nun. She was prim, matronly: almost a dead ringer for the woman who had rapped Peter's knuckles every day for eighteen years.
“Give us the briefcase,” the PIs said in unison, “and nobody gets hurt.”
Jesus shook his head. “Somebody always gets hurt, nigga. That's how love goes. Time for tough love.”
His kung-fu was sudden, slick and baller. The PIs piled in, and in their absence was the nun.
“Sister,” said Peter, “it's not what it looks like.”
She snatched the briefcase, then hit him with it very hard. Darkness took him.
[1000 words exactly]
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 05:21|
The Dirty Dog
Alexei knew how to do well only one thing in life, catch dogs, but as he stepped onto the wharf of Los Grano D’oro, the ever-present doubt in his abilities magnified. The immense port city loomed over the olive-oil waters; Alexei’s prey would be in there somewhere, El Perro Sucio, The Dirty Dog.
A week prior he had boarded a barge and the entire town, they all knew Alexei, the catcher of dogs, had come to see him off. A big job, in a big city, he told them, wish me luck he shouted, but heard nothing in return. His grandmother packed his black attaché case with snacks and an extra pair of shorts, just in case she said. Over his shoulder was his trusty catch-pole. Placing his ticket in his suit coat, he steeled himself.
He stared at the skyline as he walked, bumping into a small man he hadn’t seen.
“Watch where you’re going, rear end in a top hat!”
Before Alexei could apologize, the man was gone. Alexei looked at the boardwalk red-faced, he was already rude country bumpkin.
At the Dockmaster Hotel, which was both the only hotel, and always had vacancy, Alexei placed his luggage and coat on a chair. A sharp knock rapped at the door. Alexei opened it, not expecting to see yet another short man, this city was full of them.
“Are you ze dog catcher?”
Alexei nodded. The small man was thin for his size, and paler than any person, even a small woman child from Rassgart. In his hands was a black attaché case, much like the one that Alexei had brought his extra pair of shorts in.
“You will use this to catch El Perro Sucio,” the man said. Alexei nodded, pretending to understand sophisticated city dog-catching technique. The man eyed the catch-pole and made a disgusted sound. “You will garrote him with zis?”
“Oh no, no,” Alexei said, picking up the pole. “You loop around here, and then you wear him out, until finally, you whisper, whisper nice things in his ear until he relaxes. Then you pet him. And then it’s all over.”
The man shuddered. “However you need to do it, I cannot lose anymore men to zis devil.” He turned abruptly, dropping the case.
Alexei watched the man leave before double checking the return time on his ticket. Finding nothing but an empty pocket, Alexei panicked. He tore through the room, and right before he checked his case, a shriek came from the parking lot.
“El Perro Sucio,” shouted the pale, tiny, baby woman man from before. Alexei in his state grabbed his attaché case, mistaking it for the other.
With his pole-catch and case, he ran to the parking lot to see the pale man even more pale, and mumbling to himself, ‘El Perro’. Alexei looked around, only seeing a black SUV speeding away and an alley. Rassgart had many alleys, so he knew a thing or two about dogs and alleys. He ran awkwardly, his equipment poorly situated. He heard shouts from behind him, the Frenchman probably shouting words of encouragement.
Knocking over garbage cans, and kicking wooden pallets, he heard a ruffling sound. Poking out of the mess was a dirty, smelly, mangy, malnourished, raggedy, matted tangle of fur and grime. The dog looked at Alexei curiously.
“El Perro Sucio!” He lunged and the chase was on. Alexei did consider that this dog was not nearly as large, muscular, ferocious, threatening, drug-addled, tattoo-covered as he had been lead to believe. But a dog was a dog, and he was a dog catcher.
Alexei pursued, but the heavy attaché case was slowing him down. As the filthy animal rounded a street corner, Alexei was confronted by a trolley coming the opposite way. He dove onto the sidewalk, parting startled pedestrians. Alexei caught sight of the mutt standing on the back of the trolley, wagging his tail smugly.
But Alexei was known for only one thing good, it was catching dogs. In full sprint, Alexei made ground on the trolley but it soon hit a hill and pulled ahead.
“Hey, rear end in a top hat! Throw me that briefcase.” Shouted a small man on the trolley, this city was full of them! But Alexei knew he had no choice. He tossed the attaché case to the man, and was almost to the platform when the man bent down and pushed Alexei in the face.
Alexei tumbled and rolled to a halt. In his daze, he thought he saw the man wave to him as the trolley scaled the hill. He must have been sorry for such an accident, Alexei thought. Watching the trolley finally crest the hill, he wondered if he would ever see his prey again. Just then, a tiny silhouette trotted back down the hill, and Alexei knew his luck was turning around.
Alexei sat on the wharf, El Perro Sucio next to him sniffing the air. He had been stood up by his employer, and his boat would be here in an hour, he remembered that much from his missing return ticket. Would the kind bargeman remember such a face? Alexei pulled his mouth into a toothy grin. He wondered if they allowed dogs on board. In that moment, a small man with a briefcase walked by and snagged his foot against the Frenchmen’s attaché case, which Alexei thought was his own but had intended on giving to his employer to compensate for losing the other, and to tell him that briefcases are best for snacks and shorts, not catching dogs, causing both of them to spill onto the wooden planks.
“Hey, watch where you’re going, rear end in a top hat!” Came a familiar voice. Right as Alexei stood to confront the man, the pickpocket fled. Collecting himself and the briefcase, Alexei saw a familiar scrap of paper hiding under the black leather. Plucking the barge ticket from the ground he flicked it approvingly.
“Today is my lucky day, dog,” Alexei said. El Perro Sucio burped and wagged his tail.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 05:39|
A Semi-autonomous Convulsion
Rolf Backslash, poet and truck driver, badly needed to sneeze. And it was going to be a messy one. He had a sense of phlegmy storm clouds gathering inside his head; glutinous forces marshalling themselves in the sphenopalatine foramen and mediocranial fossa, readying themselves to rampage down through the twin channels of his nasal septum in a joyous, explosive, pincer movement.
He looked around for a tissue; there was a chipped mug labelled SERVIETTO on the greasy melamine café table. It was empty.
He started running through options – run to the toilet? No, he could feel the trembler switch in his trigeminal nerve, just like an IED. Sneeze into his hand? No, that would just be transferring the problem, he’d still need to wipe it on something. Sneeze on the table, then feign an accidental sugar spill? Promising. He could pretend he didn’t speak Spanish, and get a cloth from the waitress when she brought his--
The light from the street was blotted out by someone standing in front of his table. “Rolf,” said a familiar voice.
Rolf looked up, eyes blurry with migrainey pre-sneeze tension, and blinked. “Erik? The goddam hell?”
Erik looked the same as always, all vast and solemn like a blonde-fringed Moai. Erik let the chair take his weight with the careful air of a man who’d broken his share. He had a old, beaten-up black briefcase in his hand, which he dropped on the table with a heavy clunk after sitting down.
“Rolf it is pleasing to me that you are here in this place and I –“ Erik began, but Rolf cut him off.
“Pleasing? You motherfucker. You nearly get me killed in Cologne, you dump me in Dusseldorf, you gently caress my goddam dispatcher in the Hague: why on earth would I want to hear word one from your stupid gay mouth?” Rolf waited for Erik to open his mouth then kept talking. “And now you’re all ‘hoo hoo here I am sorry if I am intruding to mess up your life again and may I and my dumb black briefcase share your curry eggs with you, well,” Rolf said, leaning back to let the waitress slide the plate between the briefcase and him, “No you may fuckin’ not, Erik. They are my eggs and I need a handkerchief and I don’t need you. Do you understand me? Is that “pleasing” to you, Erik?”
Erik’s eyes became, for a moment, even more mournful. Then he smiled, faintly, a quirk of his lips that could only have been detected by the most sensitive apparatus. “It is, my friend. I will tell you a story. I delivered a shipment this morning. Tractor innards. I was waiting at the yard, by the river where it meets the sea – and I saw your truck, parked while they offloaded it. It made me think of a poem you wrote, long ago, and so I walked by the river a while.”
Rolf speared an egg with as much vituperative scorn as he could muster. “That river is what you’d get if Diphtheria went on a wanderjahr, Erik. Don’t loving romanticise it. It’s full of tires and corpsemud.”
Erik shrugged, his massive shoulders like hillocks. “Some other things happened, as a result of which I came upon this briefcase, left on the sand. And… I was going to leave it there. But... inside there is something very precious. I know this, I who tell you this thing, I promise you that I know. The briefcase was left there for whoever would pick it up. And, so..." He indicated the briefcase with a huge, nailbitten hand.
The sneeze was receding, Rolf thought. It was sinking back into his sinuses. This was an unalloyed good and could be placed in a forge with the mountain of blackened pig-iron bullshit that Erik had just fed him and melted down into useful handicrafts after just a little more pumping on the bellows of righteous rage.
Rolf grinned, like a fox eating poo poo off a wire brush.
“So you are literally stalking me to dump a crappy piece of abandoned luggage on my table as a, what, peace offering? This was a plan you hatched while breathing in the fine salt-and-septicaemia air of the Los Granos de fuckin’ Oro seaside while fending off junkies with your ice-cold dick? Do I have that straight?”
Erik’s shoulders slumped a little. “In its essence you are correct, Rolf. I have a room in which I will be sleeping tonight and I hope to be there with you. Or you may take this briefcase and all that is within it, and all the trouble and joy that it brings and I will never see you again.”
“OR,” Rolf hissed, “I could tell you to gently caress. Off. And take your briefcase with you. And I will eat my excellent eggs and we will all be happy.” Rolf chewed on a mouthful of curry egg happy at his circumvention of l’esprit d’escalier, this time.
Erik held up a hand, and with the other cracked open the briefcase. “At least look upon it before you decide.”
Rolf rolled his eyes and was about to take another bite when he realised what he was looking at. He put down his fork. “Wait. Is that… it’s what I wrote about. The poem, that time. Is it? It can’t be.”
Erik nodded, heavily, as though the earth was mounted on the fulcrum of his neck. “It is that.”
Rolf gulped, throat suddenly dry. “And you would give me … that? After everything?” He could feel something building in his heart, in his head, as he watched Erik’s ice blue eyes, saw his head bow again. It swelled up inside him like a cresting wave that turned into an apocalyptic sneeze, a glorious orgasmic nasal eructation of phlegm that cleared his nose like a lightning bolt and coated the table with a thick, even layer of goo.
Rolf stood up and embraced Erik.
Erik's arms, as he picked Rolf up and carried him out of the café, were cool and inevitable as the clasp of night.
sebmojo fucked around with this message at 09:43 on Jul 14, 2014
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 05:51|
Kendrick Morris stands at a podium in a park, marrying a middle-aged couple, smiling at the guests’ applause when they kiss. Business as usual, yes, but no less fulfilling for it. It isn’t until he finds the black briefcase that his night begins.
Once it’s over, several couples ask to renew their vows, starting with a well-dressed couple that seem red in the face—probably the spirits. Then, once they’ve dispersed, he notices it on his way out of the park, forgotten on a plastic chair. There’s a ruddy stain on it that makes Kendrick raise an eyebrow—probably spirits again.
He takes the briefcase and heads back to his apartment, meaning to call the newlyweds about their forgotten luggage, and finds a note on his door in elegant script. Somebody wants a confession done at the usual place. He doesn’t bother changing out of his cassock before he ducks into the alleyway next to his apartment, taking the briefcase with him.
Kendrick’s confessional is a tall wooden lattice nailed to the wall between two folding chairs in a nook next to his apartment building. It’s not a service he charges for, but there is a Tupperware container next to the clients’ chair, and there’s always a few hinting coins in it. A dirty red rug outside the nook gives the confessional a touch of hospitality.
He sits down on his side of the lattice and puts the suitcase down at his feet. His client arrives a few minutes later. With the lattice in front of him, Kendrick can only tell that they’re fond of black, and that they must be wearing a long dress or robe.
A teenaged girl’s voice slips through the lattice like a high wind. “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I’ve...never been to confession before.” Kendrick nods. Right down to business. “There’s a first time for everyone. Don’t have to be nervous,” he comforts her. He hears her sniffle. “Will Jesus really forgive me? I’ve done...horrible things, I don’t know if I can be forgiven.“ Kendrick chuckles and says, “Of course he will forgive. Nobody is perfect. Nobody’s lived a picture-perfect life, either, not even the Father here.”
Another sniffle. “Really?”
“Yeah. Tell me your name, child.”
“Hannah, I’ve made some mistakes of my own. My teachers hated my slacking in seminary. Then I became a priest, and I got fed up with the way the place was run, and so that’s why we’re here instead of at the Covenant Fellowship Church.” He smiles.
“Believe it or not.”
“Is that what you called your compulsive gambling?” That soft, cold flutter of a voice. His smile falters.
“That’s pretty rude, Hannah. Judge not, lest ye be judged. I mean, you don’t even know—“
“First it was cards, games with the monks, betting a few dollars here and there. After you took your vows, it became slots and dice. I have photos of you at the El Diablito.”
Kendrick feels a hot coal settle into his gut. His gambling incidents (no, let’s be honest with ourselves, he thinks; his gambling spree) happened almost ten years back. He kept it a secret and thanked the Lord he wasn’t a Baptist and put it behind him as best as he could, but he didn’t keep it secret enough, it seems. At least she didn’t dig up the—
“You stopped your business with Covenant Fellowship because of Sister Retinger. Sources say she blackmailed you into leaving when she found out what you were doing when the vestments came off. Personally, I think you convinced yourself that she was the villain, and that you had done nothing wrong—and then left before she could tell everyone.” Her freezing words cool Kendrick’s humiliation to a dull ember of numbness. He feels very much on the wrong side of the confessional.
“She didn’t have any right into my business,” he protests. “She was everything wrong with the Catholic Church, spilling everyone’s guts to get herself ahead. I won’t call myself a saint, but neither was she, much as she acted like it. Did she send you?”
“I’ve stolen a great many things, Father. Jewels, money, drugs, lives. Good to know Jesus will forgive me, though.” His heart sinks further as he realizes this isn’t even about him or the Church. “I like you. You still admit no fault for your sins, even as you absolve those of others. Stubborn and hypocrite both.” Icy enough now to cut like knives.
“You have something we want, but I don’t dirty my hands as quickly as my hermanas. Here’s an incentive. I’ll find you in ten minutes to get that briefcase.” The black form on the other side of the lattice shifts, and Kendrick watches it fade away. He gets up and peers around the lattice. A stack of bills, an inch thick, wrapped in a rubber band, sits in the Tupperware container.
Kendrick sits too, thinking. His seal of confession binds many secrets to him, and he’s heard worse confessions than the one he just sat through, but he’s forced to ponder this one all the same. What’s in it that they need? He wastes several minutes, frozen. Then the thought hits him as he’s reaching down to take the money.
What if they don’t know what’s in it either?
Kendrick snatches the money and the briefcase both and heads out to the street, scuffing the confessional’s red rug in his haste, staining his cassock with puddle water in a careless step. He hesitates, and then heads up to his apartment, hanging the cassock on his balcony to dry.
He hails down the first taxi he finds, carrying both bills and briefcase, hardly knowing what he’ll tell the driver. It isn’t as if he asked to find the briefcase, after all.
As the cab speeds off, he glances back up at the cassock on the railing. The mud stains on the hem look darker from down here.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 05:52|
Adelmo’s eyes were drawn to the money first. The stack of bills was thick as his finger. His heart skipped. He momentarily lost himself in the roar of the shop-vac and the sight of all that money. Money enough for Rosa’s first term of school and then some. He reached down to switch the vacuum off, and that’s when he noticed it: the stack of bills was sitting in front of something that had been shoved into the shadowy recess beneath the taxi’s seat.
The attache case was simple, but it had a certain gravity. A weight so compelling that when he pulled it free, he momentarily left the stack of bills aside, forgotten.
Adelmo drove so many patrons most days that he never had a clue who had left behind what. But today had not been a normal day.
He could still recall the tall black man’s sunken stare, the tension in his birdlike neck. A man wearing a coat that tatty wasn’t his usual clientele, but this fellow had been more polite than his attire warranted, and he promised he could pay.
All the same, weird loving guy.
“Do you read the Bible, sir?” He’d likely seen the St. Christopher’s medallion dangling from Adelmo’s rear-view. The cab rumbled sedately down Medeiros.
“Indeed,” Adelmo smiled back at him.
“Do you consider yourself a righteous man?”
That was a tougher question. He made a left-hand turn while considering. Adelmo grew up devout--he’d married Carminda in the Church, and they never missed a service. They’d kept the gallery closed on Sundays. Their second child was to be called Joseph.
When the pregnancy killed Carminda, Adelmo decided Joseph would be Geoffrey. Geoffrey, born too soon, “failed to thrive.” Aside from two funerals in two weeks, Adelmo hadn’t set foot in a church since.
But he didn’t say all that. Instead he said, “I try to be. I think we all try.”
“Do you know Proverbs?”
“I admit it’s been a while.”
“Proverbs eleven: The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.”
Adelmo didn’t know what to say to that.
“Are you still waiting to be delivered?” The words sent a chill skittering up Adelmo’s spine. At least they were near their destination. It wouldn’t be long.
When the voice came again, it was very close to his ear. The hawkish man leaned forward, his murmur barely audible over the cab’s engine:
“A talebearer reveals secrets, but he of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.”
Adelmo pulled the cab up outside an apartment block. From behind him, the man offered a fifty note, crisply folded in half.
“The fare’s only thirty-nine,” Adelmo said, looking from the folded bill to his fare’s sunken eyes.
The man had thin lips. Like the rest of his face, they were dried and stretched and leathery. Wrinkles formed at the edges of his mouth when he smiled, and it was the most foreboding thing Adelmo had ever seen.
“He who sows righteousness will have a sure reward, friend.”
Adelmo didn’t move until the cab’s door slammed shut.
The garage’s roller door clanged shut, breaking Adelmo’s reverie. He held the case with hands he didn’t realise were sweating. He had half a mind to run to the bank immediately, but… what if the cash wasn’t legal? And what of the case?
He could drop it off at the police station on the way home. Maybe tell them he never found any money. Or… perhaps he only found half. He didn’t know how he could look Rosa in the eye, tell her he couldn’t afford--
“Good of you, leaving it out for me.”
He whirled around and was face to face with a demon. A scream rose in his throat, but the creature pressed a finger to his lips.
She was much shorter than he. Dark-skinned. Riotous red dreadlocks surrounded the chalk-white void where her face should have been. Adelmo backed up against the cab, crossed himself, stumbling over the shop-vac’s hose.
From a few steps back, he realised that it was not a demon before him, but a human girl of indeterminate age. The chalky bone of her skull was only facepaint, white dust over dusky skin, eyes ringed with black. The vertebrae of some small creature were braided through her hair, and they clattered when she tilted her head.
In her hand was a machete with a blade as long as his forearm.
“Tell me, taxi man, who leave you this present?” Her accent was… French? Québécois? He couldn’t tell.
“Just take it, please, I don’t know anything!”
“I take it either way, silly. But you tell me, who leave it for you?”
Adelmo tried to shake his head. His whole body shook instead.
He who is of faithful spirit conceals a matter. He swallowed dryly, head spinning. He who sows righteousness will have a sure reward.
He looked into the girl’s eyes, and they burned back at him like coals in the pits of Hell.
Was he a righteous man?
“I swear to you,” he fell back through the cab’s open door, holding up supplicant hands. “I know nothing.”
She reared her machete upwards, then halted.
“Ah, you are Cat-licker,” she hissed, jabbing toward the St. Christopher’s medallion that dangled from the rear-view. The machete’s blade pinged against the silver. Adelmo gulped.
“You swear on your harlot Mary that you know nothing, Cat-licker?”
Adelmo closed his eyes, nodded over and over again.
“Please,” he whispered. “Just take it. I don’t know whose it is and I don’t care.”
That part was kind of true.
Eyes screwed shut, he steeled himself, lips moving in silent prayer.
The strike never came. When he dared to peek his eyes open, there was no sign of the girl with the painted face. The garage was deserted.
The briefcase was gone, but scattered across the ground were dozens of hundred-dollar bills, littered like refuse in her wake. Adelmo believed.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 05:52|
Mr. G is in the back of the Sedan, suitcase in his lap. Phillip Clarion drives.
G didn’t have the suitcase until half an hour ago. It fell from the sky, on the terrace above his top-floor, two-room apartment. It ripped all his external power cables, cutting off the light and ruining his work. Without any lights, the 20 high-THC transgenic C. sativa plants in the other room would soon perish.
He took it downstairs, to his living room – it was bundled in bubble wrap, with an internal layer of foam. Clearly meant for someone to have it. Was it for him?, G wondered.
An answer a little East of “Yes” soon knocked on the apartment’s door, as G was opening the package with big kitchen scissors by flashlight.
– H-hello? – G asked.
– Mr. Grospeczyk – a soft voice answered from the other side.
The voice was Phillip Clarion’s. He said in the pitch dark:
– You’re being called. She needs you. Gather your stuff, let’s go.
– And, – he continued – don’t forget the case.
He, Phillip, is one of Her enforcers. The human embodiment of a flea – small, seemingly harmless, full of surprises.
She is their Employer – G never met her, although he feels grateful that She, or her middlemen, rather, took him away from his old decadent job and gave him a better-paying one, though not without risks.
Now, though, he isn’t so sure of his own gratitude, as Phillip drives them to the derelict industrial sector on the edge of town.
They arrive in front of a big three-floored office building with unlit windows.
G exits the car, suitcase in hand. Phillip carries nothing, but wears a thick leather jacket. G raps on the door. A few seconds pass. A female voice behind the door says:
G breathes deeply and replies:
– A-adenosine t-tri-phosphate.
It opens; they’re greeted by a young woman in a white smock.
– Oh, hello! Come in quickly.
She looks at the suitcase. She appears relieved.
– Good, good, that should help us with our complication.
She guides them through the building: they quickly pass through a compact receptionist’s area, to a wide hall scattered with desks. A handful more laboratory assistants wander around, checking computers here and there. Armed guards stand still at regular intervals. There are side-offices to the right. The hall ends in a back exit, and stairs.
Phillip fishes a cheap cellphone from his pocket and busies himself with it.
– Here – the woman says – is where we’re setting our operation. Just before getting to the matter-of-fact, I’d just like to tell you, Mr. Grospeczyk, that you have done some prime work.
– Oh, I’m the one to thank you! Our Employer has tasked us with quite an unusual request. As you might know, She has a lot of rivals. Most of them know their place, but every once in a while someone makes a move. Last week, a particularly daring bunch - Los Orsos, they call themselves - robbed one of our supply wagons. It was set to replenish the dockside dealers. They took everything, including some of your product, and killed everyone there.
– So – she continues –, ever since, we’ve been brewing up a little gift for those daring Orsos. To show them She is not to be hosed with. Grigori! Bring us specimen Carlos.
Grigori, a big burly guard, opens the closed door of an office, and takes an irresponsive, doped up Hispanic man in a hospital gown by his arm.
– Carlos is the more responsive one of the ten Orsos we keep here. We’ll be delivering them to the main Orso compound, where, at the sound of a word, they’ll turn into merciless and indiscriminate killers. And it’s all thanks to you – your drug is so potent it induces them into an easily conditionable status. There’s just this problem: a small portion of our captives react differently; they enter a state of hysteria that makes them quite difficult to indoctrinate. We heard, however, of the peculiar attaché you now hold, which contents might help solve –
Tap tap, on the front door. At this, she stops, with a worried look on her face. A guard walks to the entrance and says “Thunder?”.
They hear a loud bang, and soon the hall is swarming with cholo-looking gangsters. The guards point their weapons to them, and vice versa.
– Don’t loving move! This is Orso territory now, bitches! – a gangster says.
G stands still, trembling with the suitcase. Phillip has a handgun pointed, and the phone is still in his hands.
Phillip glances at the phone’s screen. He then says, calm but loud.
And Carlos snaps into alarm and strangles Grigori from his back. Grigori, in reflex, fires at an Orso, an Orso fires into a guard, a white-smocked man is shot, another runs for his life, and soon Phillip is firing too. He yells, to G:
– Come! Hurry!
G skitters to him, crouching among tables with exploding computers, people in a blur around him killing or dying.
– This way! – Phillip urges G toward the back exit, returning fire as they both run for it.
The back door leads to an alley.
The alley is longer than it looks. Bullets whiz by. They’ve been running for a while, Phillip occasionally firing back. Only a few more feet until it splits into a fork, still no end to the alley, though –
– gently caress! The loving car - how are we going back to it?! – G rasps.
– We’re not! The case, hand it to me, now!
– What? – it takes G by surprise; his steps falter – the hell should it matter now-agh!
The unseen bullet enters his leg, invited by a moment of hesitation. G drops the case forward as he stumbles.
Phillip lowers his stance for a moment as he runs and pick it up, like a bird of prey swooping in.
– Phil? Phil! F-loving help me you bastard! – Phillip heard, while turning at the fork.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 05:57|
Not happening tonight. I'll go for a redemption in a couple days. My apologies all.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 06:30|
The Prodigy-775 words
Vitor wrapped his head again. The ringside doctor had thrown gauze and ointment on him and shoved him out the back. He headed to the office to collect that night’s pay. No one had told him what he’d earn if he won. Anything would be a step up from the forty dollars and a half gone six pack he was given last time. Tonight was a big fight against a rising star. Vitor had stopped those hopeful of escaping Los Grano D’oro. Tonight’s victim didn’t take it well. He screamed at Vitor, screamed at the crowd, and ran away before the ref could even raise Vitor’s hand.
Vitor cinched the wrap around his head and knocked on the office window.
“You lose to the kid?” Harold asked Vitor, stubby fingers pushed up thick lenses.
“You think I’d expect you to pay me if I lost?” Vitor said.
“Yeah well I was kinda counting on you losing. See if the kid won he was going to the pros. I didn’t think you had it in you.” Harold said with a halfhearted chuckle.
“Well I won,” Vitor started to lean over the desk.
“Well I don’t have anything to give you Vitor,” Harold said. With each syllable he backed his chair up a little bit. “I can promise you double pay on your next fight.”
“Bullshit. Give me the contract with the pro circuit,” Vitor growled.
“You know they’re not taking your sorry rear end back Vit. You’re washed up.
Vitor gripped the desk and breathed out.
“What do you have on you?”
“What you’re shaking me down now?” A glint of fear passed Harold’s eyes.
“You could call it that. I’d call it you finally paying in full all the times you cheated me out of my pay.” Vitor relaxed. Harold would cave. He had to. “Give me the money that was bet against me.”
“Vitor, come on. I need that to keep running the ring.”
“Harold give me the money.”
“Fine let me go get it.” Harold croaked and ran back into the office.
Moments later Harold came out with a black attache case. Too costly for Harold to have gotten by legal means.
“Who’d you steal that from?”
“Oh you’re funny Vitor. You’re taking the most money I’ve earned in months and now you’re calling me a thief. You’re a prick Vitor, you know that?” Harold feigned hurt at the accusation.
“Sure. Just hand it over.”
Vitor grabbed the suitcase and pressed through the exit. It wasn’t until he was halfway through the parking lot that he had no idea what was in the case.
“loving Harold.” Vitor grumbled and doubled back.
“loving Harold what?” A voice called to him. The kid stepped from the shadows. Eyes blacked, nose broken in two, and face stained red from blood.
“Fat bastard cheated me again.” Vitor went to walk past him but he pushed Vitor back.
“Yeah. Looks like he robbed you for every penny.” The kid pointed to the case.
“Heh. You’re right. Could probably pawn this for me than he’s got anyways,” Vitor didn’t want to fight again. The kid had the talent he just lacked the smarts to go to the next level.
“How much you think is in there? How much you get for beating me?” He started pacing back and forth.
“Look kid I don’t know. He just handed it to me. I doubt the stingy bastard put anything in here.” Vitor started to backpedal away from him.
“You know what I would we bringing home? A chance to fight in the pros. You think whatever in there is worth more than that?” The kid started pressing towards him.
“I don’t know. List-” He was interrupted by a wild hook coming from the kid’s right. He raised his hand to block the shot and the punch hit the briefcase. A loud explosion of snaps and the kid recoiled.
“Walk away. You’ll have another chance. Don’t be stupid.” Vitor tried to walk away again but the kid came at him.
“Look at you. You never had another chance. You washed up here! Is that whats in there? A contract for you?” The kid threw another looping hook and Vitor side stepped him. Vitor switched the case to his right hand and wound up like a discus thrower. With a violent twist he sent the case on an upwards arc to the kid’s head. Flesh tore and his skull cracked. He fell to the ground and cried. The reflection of the street light caught in his blood.
“Keep the loving thing.” Vitor threw the case onto the kid and walked out into the night.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 06:32|
“...Recently recovered from Turquoise Mantis… black attache case… hold until further notice... advance our goals… where history goes to forget… our symbol... usual compensation…” I sighed after the call ended, sliding my old, battered cell phone back into my pocket. You’d think an organization that controlled exactly half the earth would have the funds to maintain decent call quality, but that would be much too straightforward.. I never was sure whether to be impressed or infuriated by the Vermillion Moth’s sheer dedication to vagueness.
In any case, it was best not to keep my employers waiting too long, if only for the sake of my professional pride. In all the years I’ve worked for them, I’ve never received an admonition for failing, nor a word of praise for a job well done. In the end, they either wired my reward to my account, or they didn’t, and that was that.
Interpreting the Moth’s orders was typically the hardest part, but today’s task was relatively straightforward, at least compared to their usual fare. I groaned internally as I recalled the time it took me a week to figure out that they wanted me to arrange a local cafe’s tables in the shape of their emblem.
“Where history goes to forget” referred to one of the bars scattered around the historic district of town. Given how many of them there were, the directions weren’t exactly helpful, but I’d take what I could get. I absently placed a hand in the hidden pocket sewn into my jacket, which held a small but powerful pistol. You could never tell when you were about to run into an unfriendly Mantis.
Why have I stuck with it for so long, you might ask? It paid well, but not enough for most to justify the danger I dealt with. I still had the scars on my back from when one of the Mantis’s agents had intercepted me on a routine job.
In the end, I suppose I just do it because I have nothing else. I was broke and in a dead-end job at a run-down fast food joint, when they first called and asked for me to do a job for them. Nothing difficult, just passing along the phrase “The violet bisector has been compromised” to a local shopkeep. Money came, and new orders with it, and before long I was traveling the world, doing vague things in arbitrary places. No friends, no family, just the job. Nothing else out there for me.
An hour of investigation and introspection later, I came across a small Moth emblem obscured by a pile of wooden boards, sprayed on the wall of a bar’s alleyway. A nearby trash bag was slightly smaller than the others surrounding it. Inside was the black case.
I didn’t care about its contents, and wouldn’t have checked even if it hadn’t been locked. The odds were good that the only thing inside was a scrap of paper with a sketch of the night sky on it. I wouldn’t have been surprised if it was empty, knowing my employers.
No matter how much I did, nothing seemed to change, for better or worse. The Moth controlled one half of the world, The Mantis controlled the other. Two nigh-identical sides caught in a centuries-long stalemate, hiring thousands upon thousands of agents to undermine cryptic plans in cryptic ways. If the day came that one side overwhelmed the other, I figure the only change would be crossing out one name and replacing it with the other.
Would this be true for the rest of my life? Working for an uncaring organization, until the day I slip up enough to get myself killed? Would my death mean anything at all? I’ve developed a nasty drinking habit lately, trying to clear my mind of thoughts of the future.
Tonight wouldn’t be the night I kicked that habit. The short-haired woman behind the bar counter gave me a friendly nod as I settled into my favorite seat, black case beside me. Before I could order my regular, I heard someone behind me ask “Hey, beautiful. Buy you a drink?”
My rejection died on my lips as I turned to see a tall, blonde woman in a dark jacket take the seat next to mine, smiling warmly at me. She was bright, vibrant, different from everyone else I had encountered so far in the city. I found myself smiling back, despite my reservations. “Only if you let me buy you one in return. Name’s Rose.”
“I’m Goldie. Goldie Lockeless.” Goldie said, twirling a strand of hair around her finger. A pseudonym if I’ve ever heard one, but at the moment, I didn’t care in the slightest. We talked for what seemed to be an eternity, but couldn’t have been more than an hour. We said little about ourselves or our pasts, only long, rambling debates on things such as the natures of beauty.
I found myself completely enthralled, absorbing every word Goldie said, every idle gesture, and when she suggested that we leave and go someplace with a view, I was more than willing. We stopped by the riverside, moon reflected off of the dark waters. She leaned in close, lightly stroked my cheek with her finger, and smiled sweetly at me as someone struck me on the head from behind.
By the time I woke up, sore as hell and laying in an alleyway, she was long gone, the case and my wallet vanished along with her. My phone rang, accompanied by a piercing headache. “...Lost last night... recovery is paramount... further our goals... usual-” I abruptly interrupted the call by tossing my phone in the river.
Goldie was gone, but she wouldn’t leave my mind. I couldn’t stand the thought of never seeing her again, brief as our meeting had been. There was now more to my world than the monotone, impersonal voice of the Vermillion Moth. It was time to move on.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 06:40|
Vincent loved the stench of rotten vegetables, the old cat litter that stung his eyes, and the busted bags of baby diapers. To him, it all smelled like money. Los Grano D'oro was filled with trash, both left out at the curb and tucked into bed in the slums and mansions alike. He paced around the garbage truck depot waiting for his partner to arrive. The grand opening of his reclaimed furniture business was an hour after his shift ended, and he still needed to find one last piece.
"Jesus Vincent, did you even shower last night?" said Hector, his partner.
Vincent rolled his eyes. "Shut up." But he struggled to recall if he had. After lugging the benches and dressers and other assorted furniture into the gallery, it was possible he had fallen asleep as soon as he’d gotten home.
"Well you smell like a chemical plant wrapped in a fertilizer factory. Good thing you ride on the back of the truck. Let’s go."
Their first route was through the Barrows. As long as Vincent stared at the back of the truck--when he wasn’t dumping cans--he’d be fine. He hated not being able to scan the sides of the road for potential table tops, but getting stabbed by a member of La Niñas wasn’t worth it. He didn’t need to see them to know they were staring back at him with hate in their eyes.
When noon hit, Vincent and Hector ate lunch far apart from each other; Hector complained about the smell, and Vincent daydreamed of riches.
Vincent balled up his half-eaten lunch and threw it in the back of the truck. He motioned to Hector, lounging under a tree. “Let’s go. I wanna finish early today.”
Another four hours, another neighborhood. Polyside was filled with the same stares of disgust, but at least they didn’t come with a complimentary stabbing. Vincent was so distracted watching a fat Samoan woman pilot her scooter with a basket-full of spam that he almost missed the black case set out next to the cans.
It had seen better days: it was scuffed, discolored in spots, stained, and looked like it even had something glued to it at some point. It was the perfect sort of rustic bullshit that those rich snobs would eat up. “Vintage,” he called it. It was the perfect table top to complete his show.
“Man, why you always gotta fill the cab up with this junk?” asked Hector.
“I told you about my shabby-chic furniture business.”
“Oh, you’re still doing that? I figured you’d have given that up by now, like your wine-bottle-turned-tumbler business. Or that time you collected all those busted televisions for hamster cages.”
“Nope, this one is a keeper. I’ve been up to those rich malls; they’re selling tons of this poo poo. It’s a goldmine.”
Hector rolled his eyes. “Whatever you say.”
Vincent rushed straight to the gallery after work and set to work on the table with his nail gun. He drove nails through the edges of the case. It wasn’t quite as sturdy as he wanted, but it would hold until the sale, at least. He glanced up at the clock: fifteen minutes until opening. He’d pasted fliers all over town, and expected a large turnout.
In the back of the gallery was a sink. Underneath Vincent had stashed a change of clothes: A button-up shirt and even a tie. He took off his clothes and scrubbed under his pits until he could barely smell his own stink. He lathered on a thick layer of deodorant. After running his wet fingers through his hair, he went out and unlocked the front door.
Vincent stood in the middle of the room. Mall patrons started trickling in, and Vincent stood waiting nervously for them to ask questions. Nobody did, and as his shirt started to get soggy, he wished he’d put on more deodorant. But nobody stayed; they glanced at the prices, whispered in each other’s ears, and left.
Vincent flopped in his chair and buried his head in his hands. Nobody had spent more than a few seconds in his store, and now the mall was a ghost town.
The jingle of the bells above the door made Vincent perk up. A young, blonde woman walked in, and immediately Vincent concocted a future for them: She’d like his work, ask him about his inspiration, they’d exchange numbers, date, move in together, get married. She was perfect.
She took two steps into the store before she stopped, wrinkled her nose, and covered her mouth. “Oh my god, it stinks like trash in here!” The future mother of his children turned and ran out of the store, letting the door slam behind her.
Vincent locked the door, and although he was exhausted, immediately set to loading his truck up with all of his creations.
“gently caress those snobs,” he said. “I don’t need them.”
He drove out to his favorite spot in the river. The one with the shards of broken wine bottles and the husks of smashed televisions. He threw each piece of furniture over the bank. The last piece in the truck was his recently completed end table with the black case. He ripped it off of the nails and threw it out into the middle of the river. It bobbed on the surface and floated away.
Vincent rode on the back of the garbage truck and watched the sky instead of the curb. He moped up to each trash can, unceremoniously dumping them and setting them back down. He ignored all sorts of night stands and bed frames, and stared longingly up at the brick mansions with white pillars.
A broken scooter caught his eye. He walked up to it and propped it up. It was missing a tire and some brakes, but he reckoned with a little time he could fix it up. Scooters are something everybody likes, he thought. Vincent opened up the cab door, and Hector moaned.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 06:46|
Not really happy with this one, but better than nothing:
Somewhere Else 840 words
A meaty fist connected with the bridge of Hector’s nose and bounced his head off of the drywall. He stumbled, hands held out in front of him, waiting for the second blow. Instead the man grabbed his collar and twisted.
“I’m done chasing you around your little hidey holes.”
Hector licked his lips, trying to invent an excuse. “This is my friend’s place. I’m just crashing on the couch. I swear I wasn’t trying to hide, man, I swear.”
“I don’t care.” The man drew his fist back. His knuckles were swollen and smeared dark red.
“Wait,” Hector whimpered. “Jesus, wait. I’ve got it.”
Hector nodded toward the bedroom behind him. The man shoved him inside and stood in the doorway. Hector dropped to his hands and knees next to the bed and reached between the mattress and the box spring, arm sweeping back and forth in the empty space until for a sickening instant he thought it was gone. Then his fingers settled on cool metal.
Hector yanked the .38 free and thumbed back the hammer. The man’s expression collapsed like someone cutting the strings of a marionette. Then his face screwed up and turned a livid shade of purple.
“You stupid son of a bitch,” he said. “You won’t be able to run far enough.”
Hector ducked under the piers and tried to collect himself. The whole place stunk with the remains of fish and crabs, washed up and festering in the dark. The sand was peppered with whatever garbage the tide brought in—cans and bottles, a lone sandal, yellowing condoms.
Hector waded out into the ankle-deep water to end of the pier, hoisting the briefcase so it wouldn’t get wet. He reached above the pillar for the coffee can he’d stashed there. He pried off the lid and counted the money inside. Four hundred dollars in crisp bills. All the money he had left in the world. He stuffed it in his pocket. He lifted his shirt and took the .38 from his waistband, wiped it down, and dropped it in the can before putting it back in place. His mind raced. There weren’t any options left anymore. He’d have enough to skip town, maybe lay low in a lovely motel for a few days while he worked out what came next. First he had to put some distance between himself and whoever was after him.
Five minutes later he was at the corner of Vera Cruz, bent over and trying to catch his breath. People passing by turned their faces away or looked down at the sidewalk, and Hector realized how he must have looked. He knew his nose was broken. He tested it with his fingertip and winced. The blood dripping from it made his shirt look like a Jackson Pollock painting. He waved for a cab and it took four tries before one stopped.
Hector asked the cabbie to tune his radio to the local news. He sat in silence the whole way, his stomach doing anxious loops, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The cabbie kept looking over at him, but he never said anything.
They passed the city limits and a signpost that said LOS GRANOS D’ORO—WHERE ALL THAT GLITTERS IS GOLD.
A little ways on Hector pointed out an empty bus stop. “Here’s fine.”
“You sure? It’ll be dark soon, I don’t think another bus comes ‘til morning.”
The cabbie shrugged and pulled up next to the bench. Hector got out and counted the fare into his hand.
He sat on the bench with the briefcase in his lap. He didn’t even know what was in the drat thing. It was heavy, but when he shook it there wasn’t any sound. To pass the time he tried random numbers on the combination lock, wondering if he wasn’t due for a lucky break after everything, but none of them worked.
Now and then a car or semi would go hurtling past him, sucking up dust and foam cups and greasy wrappers. He imagined each of them stopping, full of men who wouldn’t give him the opportunity to run again. Behind him he could see the city lit up against the darkening sky. Then, just as the sun sunk below the horizon and the bats came swooping over the streetlights, a bus. One bit of luck, after all. The bus hissed to a stop and the door hinged open.
Hector looked down at his lap. He’d been fooling himself, thinking he was cut out for this. Whatever was in the briefcase, it wouldn’t be enough. It was a fantasy, a game he’d been playing, and he’d finally come to realize that it was going to hurt when it was all over. He held the briefcase in his upturned palms and laid it on the bench beside him, like an offering. He stepped onto the bus and found a seat. He didn’t know the route, but it didn’t matter. He just wanted to be somewhere else.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 07:00|
The Brief Case of the MacGuffin
Combination lock. Child’s play. Alyssa could see why there was a bloody scuffle over it. But it was not Alyssa’s. The woman, Goldie, it was hers. She would just have to find her, wouldn’t she?
Alyssa figured ‘Goldie’ was an alias, not that it mattered. Worst part about the electronic apocalypse was that there was very little you could hide. Alyssa knew what Goldie looked like and she had a name. That’s all she needed. Alyssa pulled her laptop out and rolled her fingers through her hair. Time to get to work.
She tracked Goldie to a bar in downtown Polyside. Town was an anachronism to say the least, bar especially. Seedy establishment, little clientele, kind of place Alyssa could barely stomach. She tucked her Karambit into her hoodie pocket and hit the pavement.
When she arrived there was only the bartend and a guy with a chiseled beard. Guy breathed a certain I’ll-gently caress-anything musk that disgusted Alyssa. When she mentioned Goldie, though, his eyes went cold and immediately he noticed the case behind her. He knew.
They sat in silence for a time. Alyssa stared into the mirror against the wall, saw the pistol in his waistband. Big man, small gun. Alyssa canted her head, seeing the top of the Tender’s head poking out from over the counter. There was a light tapping against the counter and Alyssa quickly realized it was her trembling hand.
“Hand it over,” he said.
“Sure.” Alyssa took a step with her right foot, briefcase in hand. She stared into Guy’s teddybear eyes and stupid beard. Then she whipped the briefcase forward. “Kidding.”
She whipped the briefcase forward. A second to bridge the gap, that’s all she needed. By that time, Guy had his gun out. She was ready and caught his wrist. The gun went off twice, clipped the Tender in the top of the head. It gave her enough time to reach for her Karambit and flick it open. With a vicious twist she jabbed it right into his neck.
And it was over.
It took Alyssa a moment to remember how to breathe. A second to realize what she had just done. A third to realize the burning pain in her leg.
Alyssa met Adrian Stepwater in the alleyway outside the bar. He stood with his back against a brick wall, like he had been expecting her. Alyssa didn’t like small talk. ‘Elizabeth’ put her in a talkative mood.
“Made quite the mess, haven’t you?” he said.
Alyssa just stared. Her grip tightened around the pistol at her side. Alyssa stared at the red jacket, made him look like a blood orange. Made him look less like a pig, more like Count Dracula.
“Guess so,” she said.
Alyssa and Adrian, two pale-skinned antisocialites staring one another down in a dark alley, guns at the ready. The lip of the alleyway led out into a market, sort of thing you see in an old gangster movie. People talked about D’oro like electricity flowed through its veins, but antiquity had its charm, neon-soaked or otherwise. One thing Alyssa and Stepwater shared in common? They chose the alleyway.
“Not handing it over,” she said.
Adrian laughed, humorless, as that would require smiling. “You misunderstand. The case itself means little to me. It’s the abstraction that intrigues me, the inner workings.”
Alyssa’s lips creased. “Then why are you even here?”
“I don’t owe you anything, hacker, let alone an explanation. All I care about is whether that case arrives at its destination.” He pulled a matchbox from his lapel. “You’re looking for Goldie Lockless, yes?”
“I don’t need your help.”
Adrian hmphed. “Please. You’re capable, I’ll give you that, but your little toybox of electrical circuits will only get you so far in life.”
Alyssa took the matchbox, flipped it around in her bloodstained fingers. A phone number written in red ink with a heart.
“This conversation never happened.” Adrian sniffed.
Alyssa dug the matchbox into her pocket. “Whatever.”
There was laughter on the other end of the phone. Another bar, maybe. “You’re not very good at this, are you?”
Alyssa swallowed. The voice was like honey to her ears. She forced herself to respond. “Not really, no.”
“So what? Do you honestly expect me to buy it back from you?”
“Nope. I just found it. I wanted to give it back to its rightful owner.”
There was another laugh, booming but with that unmistakable honey-smooth pitch. “Mon Dieu.” She composed herself. “That briefcase is yours now. My hands are clean.”
“…But you just left it there. I saw you.”
Laughter again, mocking, pitying. “Sweetie, you don’t even know the half of it. Now run along. I’m busy.”
Click. Alyssa hovered there at the payphone like an idiot for ages. Then she cursed and kicked the case with her good leg.
The hobo pushing a shopping cart smiled as Alyssa limped passed. “What’s the matter child? You look like you’ve seen the devil!”
God did not exist. Alyssa thought she believed that. But the kindness in the man’s words was enough to break Alyssa’s stoicism. She frowned deeply. Her eyes darted all around and her lip trembled. She turned to look at him.
“It’s nothing.” Alyssa said. “Just…”
The tramp nodded patiently. He couldn’t see that Alyssa was close to tears and she wanted to keep it that way.
“When I die, I don’t think I’ll end up in a nice place.”
The man nodded. “There’s always time to repent.”
Alyssa shrugged. She looked at the cart, filled to the brim with knick knacks. “Think you can add this to your collection?”
“Sure. Not like I’ll be needing a briefcase anytime soon.” The tramp said. “Anything in it?”
Alyssa shook her head. Then she reached into her pocket and handed him all the money she took from the register at the bar. He told her to have a blessed day and Alyssa, still frowning, crossed the street.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 07:02|
Out of Focus (998 words):
Ruth's trigger finger itched as she stood at the deserted bus stop. She had a perfect shot – the filthiness of her rambling target contrasted with his inexplicably beautifully-lettered signs. The setting was a bit dark, since her shift had ended well after sunset, but compensation was possible with a higher ISO setting or a wider aperture. Just imagining the possibilities made the destruction of her camera lens seem even more awful, since it would take months to save up enough from her dead-end job for a replacement. Maybe she could catch a break with tonight's meeting.
Right after she decided to make do with her cell phone camera, something crashed down from above. The noise startled her would-be photo subject, who gathered up his things and scurried away. Huh. He was rather tall.
Since the bus was running late again, Ruth walked over to the edge of the sidewalk, where she found a black attache case, seemingly unblemished by the fall. Upon closer examination, it had a combination lock, and a post-it note that said, don't bother returning the drat thing. When Ruth looked up at the buildings around her, all the nearby windows seemed to be closed. The bus arrived, so she made a snap decision, and she boarded with the mysterious case.
Ruth yawned as she sat down near the bus window. Two more stops to go until the meeting spot. She counted the cash she had left – just enough for both the cab ride back (including the tip) and this month's rent. Which was good, because Mrs. Dolores had threatened eviction if she was late on one more payment.
Done with tallying her money, she put it away, directed her attention to the black briefcase, and began trying out combinations. Normally, she would be trying to finish off Tattooing the Hellion Rake, but the question of the case's contents were more interesting than what (and who) Alice Moray would do next. She had almost reached the 200s when the bus arrived.
She walked into the bar, but her client didn't seem to be here yet. After placing the black briefcase at her feet, she asked for a ginger ale from the short-haired bartender. A couple minutes later, a man in a long trenchcoat entered the room. He saw her and headed over.
This was her client? He seemed more like a detective from an ancient movie than an art enthusiast. As she stared at him, he asked for a bottle of Jack, asking the bartender to make sure it was "the good kind". Then her manners kicked in.
Ruth extended a hand. "Hello. I'm Mrs. Lin. You said that you were interested in my work?"
He rubbed a hand over his eyes. "Let's skip the pleasantries. I'm interested in any photos you took by the Kennedy courthouse, last week, around 5 PM." The bartender arrived, and she seemed friendlier with him than she had been with her. Was he a regular? "Pretending that I was interested in your work was the easiest way to get you here."
Talk about a cold dose of reality. "What makes you think I was even there?". A shootout between some gangs had taken place there – was one of them called the Crazies or something? She couldn't quite remember much, other than the destruction of her lens by a fleeing bystander.
"Drop the act. I'm just interested in any photographs you have from there. I'm asking for a client."
"So you're a detective?" He snorted.
"Sure, whatever. Doesn't matter. I need every photograph you have of the shootout before it went bad."
Well, that was a shame. Ruth bent down to pick the attache case, and he stared at it. Strange. It was like he recognized it. She began to speak.
"I'm sorry, Mr. -"
"– Mr. Dope, but if your only interest in my photographs involves the criminal elements present in this city, then I'm not willing to share them. "
"I could be with the police."
"Then you would've said so. I really have no wish to become involved with the underworld in this city."
He let out a short, sharp bark of laughter.
"You're already involved. And if you think that turning me away makes you safe while you're holding that, then…" He smiled, and a chill ran down Ruth's spine.
"I'll take my chances." She had no idea what he was talking about, but she wanted to get out of this bar. He stood up as well, making eye contact.
"I'm serious. Lose the case. People died tonight because of that thing."
Ruth stared at his retreating back.
"Are you going to pay for your drinks?" The bartender again.
Slightly dazed, Ruth dug into her pockets. "Sure, give me a second." She paid and left. He had to be joking. It's not like he actually could've known that the case wasn't originally hers.
As these thoughts tumbled through her head, she stepped out onto the street and hailed a cab. She gave the driver directions to her apartment, settled back, and closed her eyes. Just for a moment…
"Ma'am?" Ruth jerked awake. It was the driver calling her name. "We're here."
"R-right." Did she really fall asleep? "How much do I owe you?"
She paid him – along with a generous tip, and counted the bills again as he drove off. Her eyes widened. She didn't have enough to pay rent tomorrow. How? She frantically recounted all the payments made earlier – and realized the gap was due to that douchebag who left her with the tab. There was no chance of finding him again before it was due, and there were no savings left in her apartment, so she couldn't make up the difference, either. There was a pawnshop nearby, but she had nothing to sell.
Actually, strike the previous statement. She still had her camera body. She stared off into the distance, and dimly realized that the briefcase was gone.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 07:09|
Submissions are closed, but who has retrieved the case? It remains to be seen. I'll tell you who doesn't have it, though. Obliterati and Ironic Twist, who bowed out early, and Djseser and Whalley, both missing in action. As for the rest of you, only Fanky for sure knows of your fate.
As this was a suitably complicated week, expect judging "Shortly" but not immediately. Fortunately, they'll be no chomping at the bit this time. As soon as Fanky Malloons post her epilogue in the morning (and she will post it in the morning), Crabrock is invited to kick of Thunderdome Week 101 Dalmatians. Hit it, Crabs.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 07:31|
Describe a deeply personal and affecting experience of yours, except now all the characters in it are hedgehogs. This must be plot relevant somehow.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 08:59|
i like hedgehogs
I put my headdress upon my head: Blue felt ears, a weighty length of blue felt spines that went down my back.
Sonic-kun, my Amy Rose plushie gasped as I took her into my arms
When our lips met, i briefly imagined that i tasted saliva. a single tear fell from my eye.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 09:24|
it's a girl
It's a girl!, announced the nurse.
The dad raised his eyebrow. "It's a hedgehog," he said.
"We all are," said his wife.
sebmojo fucked around with this message at 09:44 on Jul 14, 2014
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 09:42|
You guys both fail, as you did not accurately follow the prompt.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 09:51|
You fail the gently caress you, because: gently caress you
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 11:21|
Hot Hedgehog Hex (Actually, Sex).
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 11:39|
"Where are you?"
Raj's voice was a tinny buzz in Hanan's ear, the connection barely holding. She hunched around the reciever, pressing her body into thecorner between the payphone and the wall, her voice a fierce whisper.
"I'm in the lobby of the Grand. I found it."
The attaché case pressed into Hanan's ankles, hidden beneath her abaya. The leather felt cold - even as it rested tightly against her skin, it refused to pick up any of her body heat.
"Are you sure?"
"Oh, I'm sure." Hanan closed her eyes and made the sign for protection against the evil eye in the direction of her feet. "It's full of-"
"I know." Raj cut her off abruptly, "I know. Don't say it."
Hanan pointed forked fingers at her feet again, "What should I do?"
Raj let out an explosive sigh, "This is some poo poo, you know? Just put it back where it's supposed to be and get out of there. You do not want Hin Yan to catch you with that thing, habibti. Go to the D'Oro Port Authority when you're done, and wait for me. Honey's gonna meet you there - she was raving about some gangbanger bounty hunter poo poo last I talked to her. She's alright though.” Raj paused, “You have to be there, Niña, I think something's happened to Georgette, and we need to fix it. Later."
The line buzzed and went dead as Raj disconnected. Hanan cursed softly in Arabic, still holding the receiver to her ear as her thoughts raced. They knew her at the Grand. She would be spotted and tossed out by security as soon as she left the relatively hidden alcove that housed the payphones. Somehow, she needed to get across the lobby and into the bar without being seen. And then she needed to watch the briefcase until its rightful owner collected it.
Hanan hung up the phone and leant slowly around the corner, scanning the lobby for hotel staff. The shift had changed while she conferred with Raj and Cesaro, a man who somehow managed to possess the eyes, claws, and nose of a large and very ugly hawk, was now manning the front desk.
"Shitdammit," spat Hanan. She'd never make it past him unnoticed, yet she had to cross the lobby to enter the bar. She thought about trying to slip out through the service exit through the kitchens and entering the bar from the street, but as she watched the front desk, Cesaro answered a call and snapped suddenly to attention. He nodded sharply a few times, and then yelled in Italian for the busboys and security men before the phone had even landed back in its cradle as he hung up. Hin Yan was on his way.
Hanan bit back a cry of frustration. She had to move. Now. Raising her eyes to the ceiling she muttered "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," as she wriggled out of her abaya and wadded it up into an inconspicuous black blob, which she stuffed behind a planter holding a large palm. Keeping the case between her feet, she plucked the pins out of her hair, shaking it free from the tight bun she usually kept it in. She fluffed it with her hands, letting it fall wild and dark around her shoulders. Beneath her abaya she wore a pair of high-waisted linen shorts and an off-the-shoulder-top with ruffles at the neckline. She didn't look like herself at all. Good.
Picking up the case, Hanan stepped out of the alcove, focusing on the wide, double doors of the bar. She was going to march right by the bird-faced old gently caress and he wasn't going to say word one to her. In theory. She took a deep, fortifying breath, and strolled across the lobby, rolling her hips like she'd seen Honey do a thousand times.
She didn't see the man until she bounced off him and landed on the hard tile floor. "Hey!" she yelped, indignant, reflexively clutching the attaché case to her body. The string of curses she was about to let fly died in her throat as she looked up into the face of Hin Yan Duchene.
"Pardon me," He said, "I do believe that's mine."
His eyes were a strange golden yellow that made Hanan think of wolves.
"I- um. Yes." Hanan held the case out to Hin Yan, aware that the lobby had suddenly become very still, and silent. Hin Yan bent down so that his face was level with Hanan's, his wolf-eyes burning into hers.
"Did you open it?" he whispered as he gently plucked the case from her grip.
Hanan's face paled and she slowly shook her head but her fingers forked at the case of their own accord - at Hin Yan - betraying her.
"Liar," Hin Yan whispered. He grinned and Hanan imagined what it would feel like to have his perfect, white teeth sink into her throat. "It's okay," he said, "You won't tell though, hm?"
Mute, Hanan shook her head again, more violently this time, crab-skittering backwards across the floor.
Hin Yan stood and eyed the briefcase, frowning as he ran his fingers along its edges. He tsked as he plucked a plastic diamond from near the handle and flicked it away. He flashed his predator grin at Hanan once more before turning on his heel and striding away. Hanan stayed on the floor, breathing heavily, and waiting for her legs to start working again. From behind the desk, Cesaro's voice suddenly broke the silence, "Hey! Girl! I know you're not a guest, get outta here before I call security!"
Apparently that was all she needed to find her feet again, and Hanan bolted into the street, sending up a silent prayer. She was alive, the business with the case was finished, and La Niñas had other things to attend to.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 11:41|
Thunderdome 101: WAR
Ugh. All that camaraderie last week made me sick. Time to kill each other. This week is basically a mandatory Brawl week, but with a few caveats.
Team Sun and Team Ock have been at war forever, and will always be at war. Write a story about fighting the other team. The prompt is wide open in respects to genre: historical fiction, contemporary war, sci-fi, etc. However, remember that the basis of every good story is a good CHARACTER. Don't rely too much on the tropes of war. Let me know why your individual character is fighting, and make them have goals and poo poo. Don't spend your whole story describing an action scene, or you will LOSE SO HARD.
People be asking this a lot in IRC so I'll clarify here. Your story doesn't have to involve actual fighting, just some aspect of war.
There are lots of things that happen during war that aren't directly combat related, and those are fine to write about (maybe even better? I dunno how good you are at writing a trench scene and making it good).
You don't have to explicitly mention the "other team." That's more for the purposes of deciding the winner and exempting people from DMs/Loss.
1. You will sign up. After you enter, I will assign you to a team. Team Sun, or Team Ock.
2. After signups close, you'll see who you are up against. I will make my best effort to pair you up with somebody with a similar skill level, but this will not always be possible. Fight hard, fight well.
3. The judges will give points to the team that wins each brawl. All the points will be tallied at the end, and the Team with the most points wins.
4. If you are on the winning team you are immune from a DM or loser. Yup, even if you write the worst story.
5. Likewise, nobody from the losing team can win, war isn't fair. They can still HM though if they do well.
Signup: Friday, 11:59 pm, EST
Submit: Sunday, 11:59 pm, EST
There will be some word bounties for extra words, so keep your eye on the thread.
crabrock, systran, [?]
YOU ARE NOT PAIRED UP YET. THAT WILL HAPPEN FRIDAY AFTER SIGNUPS CLOSE.
crabrock fucked around with this message at 22:19 on Jul 11, 2014
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 12:58|
Haha awesome. In.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 13:33|
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 14:00|
SEAFOOD BRAWL: THE EPIC AND WOEFUL TALE OF THE BROJAN WAR
Disclaimer: I don't have fraternities in my country, and almost everything I know about them comes from either bad comedy movies or CollegeHumor videos. I tried to avoid being stereotypical, but it's hard when you aint got poo poo to base it on.
SA keeps loving with my formatting, so I've kept it on google drive.
Post edited at 10:23pm Singapore time because google docs was being weird about sharing and I had to change the link.
EDIT 2: gently caress, the new google drive poo poo is weird. You (the reader) have to put it into Viewing Mode yourself using the button on the top-right, I think. It won't stop reverting when I do it and it looks ugly as poo poo with squiggly red lines under everything.
SurreptitiousMuffin fucked around with this message at 14:27 on Jul 7, 2014
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 14:17|
Do we have to write in the same setting as our opponent, or is it a purely abstract kind of opposition?
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 14:56|
im in, this is my first time doin' one of these.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 15:00|
Abstract competition, although everybody is writing a story with the theme of War. There are like, a billion things to write about though, so just write something GOOD. (see comment about characters).
So help me god, if people spend 500 words describing the shaft of a howitzer I'm going to smash something.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 15:27|
you can fite a war w/ words and not weapons.... food 4 thought
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 15:30|
Scintillating Science Tales Presents: Earth’s Puckish Youths Verses the Menacing Moon Men of Mars II, as in the Second Planet Mars and Not a Sequel (1720 words)
The kegger had been a smashing success before the arrival of the moon men. The auditorium hummed with atomic fire, a tuning fork balanced on the razor's edge of creation. Smoke billowed into the night sky and gathered there in concentric circles. The saucer stood obscured from off-campus view.
"I think I saw a movie like this once," said Murray, who had actually seen several - the majority of which never left the theater of his waking mind. The crisp click of a beer can punctuated this train of thought. He only drank when he was nervous, which was all the time. His hands were on automatic. He took a sip. He felt a bit guilty. He took another. His alcohol tolerance was legendary. His tolerance for other things was significantly more suspect.
"We gotta do something," said Ron the Don Corleone, otherwise known as Ronald to those who failed to respect him.
"But Ronald, look at that poo poo. They vaporized the whole building."
"I know, I know, but we can't let this stand." Ronald adjusted the prescription aviators he never allowed anyone to see him without. "This sort of poo poo reflects poorly on us all. We let this poo poo fly and the whole universe thinks we're a bunch of pussies."
"There's a lot of worse things to be than a pussy." Crunch, crunch; click. Another beer, another sip, another can in recycling.
"Murray I am begging to suspect there is something thoroughly un-American about you. What's your take, Walter?"
Walter stared up at the saucers in silence, his face half-painted in the school's colors. Walter was not a small young man. He might've made the football team if his grades had been up to it. But the slow tilt of the saucer had awakened something primal within him. In that hour, standing shirtless, he felt quite small indeed.
"drat it, Walter, this is no time to get hung up on the insignificance of man!"
Ronald struck Walter with all the force of a defrosted chicken dinner broadsiding an 18-wheeler. Walter blinked and shuddered and remembered where he was. Ronald nursed his hand. Murray cracked open his third beer since the moon men had appeared. The saucer shifted and drifted towards the music building.
"Sorry dude." Walter called everyone dude. Name's escaped him, but he felt indecent to admit it.
"We gotta do something." Ronald weighed their options in the crucible of his lizard-like brain stem. "With my brains, your brawn, and Murray's...whatever it is Murray brings to the table-"
"Hey, gently caress you."
"-There's gotta be some way to get these guys to gently caress off back to their home planet.”
The music building was one of the oldest on campus. It had been around at the time of the college's founding and dedicated as a local landmark. The then-mayor and his then-wife and her then-dog had held a photo-op. Locked up in storage were enough instruments to feed a small army. Unbeknownst to anyone, its basement hid the principle's private stash of imported Cuban cigars.
In a flash of light the facility was gone.
"Those fuckers!" Ronald almost tore off his sunglasses, but thought better of it. "This is some Jap occupation bullshit right here. Trying to bulldoze our culture like we never existed." The sum total of what all Ronald considered culture could fit on the side of an airplane napkin.
"Maybe they just don't like music." Crunch, crunch; crack. Fourth beer. Murray had become a willow reed in a windstorm, just now comfortable with the thought of alien overlords. In the background static of his unconscious daydreams he rehearsed the speech that would spare his friends a lifetime in what he called The Tubes.
"...Murray you beautiful godless communist pinko alcoholic motherfucker."
"Hey, no, gently caress you, I'm a drunk, not an alcoholic. There's a difference."
"The auditorium, the music building. Music is their weakness!"
"Of course. It all makes sense. God gave rock and roll to us for just such an occasion."
"Ronald that is literally the dumbest poo poo I have ever heard in my entire life."
"Which if we fail may only be a few more minutes anyway so why not go out with a bang?" Ronald threw his arms around both of his friends.
"Dude's convinced me," said Walter. Murray wasn't convinced but they were running out of beer. He had to do something or the mind-killer would return.
"Sure, whatever. So what's the plan?"
The saucer settled over the school monument, a bearded statue of its illustrious founder. The satin sheen of the craft flowed like liquid silver, drawn back to reveal the hatch. A shimmering beam of light engulfed the statue and surrounding flower garden. One by one, the moon men made first contact with the Earth.
The plan was simple. Ronald's buddy Shane kept a guitar and a slew of other equipment from his failed band in his dorm room. Shane trusted Ronald in so far as they shared the room and couldn't really have two keys different for the same lock. Ronald, Murray, and Walter would sneak across campus to retrieve the appropriate tools for the job, and give those invaders a little taste of rock and roll.
"But dude, I don't play anything." Walter's gentle expression bellied his fear that he was superfluous to this plan of action.
"Fine. You’re on bouncer duty. Any of those creeps get close, you jump in there and beat the poo poo out of them."
"Can do, dude." For the first time since the saucer had incinerated the auditorium, Walter smiled. Murray said nothing. He was already missing the smooth taste of mass-produced beer, the addictive crunch of crushed aluminum in his hands. Ronald had insisted they burn all the cans, "Like Cortez and poo poo."
The route to Shane and Ronald's dorm was made no less perilous by the inclusion of murderous moon men. Fortunately, Ronald knew the campus like the back of his hand and was used to navigating in the dark. Had anyone asked him - which they didn't - he would've claimed to have combed over the entire area in preparation for just such an event as this. In reality he had spent a good portion of his first two semesters trying to track down the rumored local midnight bicyclist, who was said to be nude and - in Ronald's mind - a cute girl. Ronald's first year might've been a wash, but it made him aware of every nook and cranny on campus. Murray and Walter followed his lead.
"Almost there, guys." Ronald pushed past a bush, face to face with a moon man.
"Okay that could've gone a little betteaaaaAAAAAAA-"
The moon man held Ronald aloft in its tendrils. It stood eight feet tall, its body slender and translucent. It flickered in and out of existence, a certain ephemeral quality to its nature. The moon man possessed no discernible face with which to reason, nor disappointingly any junk towards which to direct a kick. Ronald squirmed in its grip. Another tendril shot forth from its body, wrapped tight around Ronald's wrist. There was a snap. Ronald cried out in pain. Murray's speech about The Tubes came rushing back to the forefront of his consciousness.
Walter tackled the moon man head-on. It relinquished Ronald as it crashed to the ground.
"Ronald! You okay?" Murray leapt to his friend's side.
"GAAAAH, poo poo, poo poo. Handicapped at the peak of my bowling career. It's all you Murray. You've gotta save us all."
Murray felt lucid for the first time in weeks. Ronald's key in hand, he made a dash for the dorm. Ronald stayed behind, obscenities on his lips. Walter stayed with him, the moon man pinned to the ground beneath his weight. Murray entered the lobby and took the steps three at a time. He found the right door. As expected, Shane was nowhere. His equipment sat unscathed but too much to move. Murray knew what he had to do.
Murray stepped out onto Shane and Ronald's balcony. In his hands was Shane's vintage electric guitar, a dazzling creation in yellow and black. Along its neck someone had scratched the words Never Knows Best. He'd plugged in everything and positioned the speakers. On a snip of tape in small handwriting, someone else had added an 11 to the volume control right after the 10. Murray took the hint. He turned it to 11.
The night air here was crisp and cold and only mildly radioactive. From his perch Murray surveyed a good deal of the campus. He felt not unlike a god. Three stories beneath him, Walter struggled to restrain the moon man. Across the way the saucer hovered, more and more moon men exhumed from its bowels. Each walked with a slow and purposeful gait. They perceived Murray. They extended their tendrils in unison, their limbs stretching to accommodate the distance.
"HOLY loving poo poo, MURRAY," Ronald called forth from ground zero. "ENOUGH WITH THIS ARTISTIC TENSION BULLSHIT, PLAY A loving SONG."
There was only one song he could think to play.
"Mama...just killed a man..."
The impact of the speakers might’ve knocked him off the balcony. It sliced through the air, through the moon men, cutting them to ribbons. Walter slumped to the ground, emptiness beneath him, his prisoner dissolving into the night's ether. The song caressed the saucer and challenged its unearthly hum. In short order it dominated it, and the saucer hung limp in space. Murray finished the song. He had done it. He had saved the human race.
"Dude, good job."
"What the gently caress was that dadrock though, seriously."
Walter could only laugh. His nervousness had melted away. He had done it. He was a hero. A real human being.
Then from the silence came the sound of a bicycle bell.
"Dude!" Ronald hijacked Walter's speech impediment. "Dude, dude, dude. loving, it's the midnight bicyclist. loving finally, for real."
All three turned in the direction of that most beautiful sound. From behind the science building, the midnight bicyclist emerged bathed in moonlight, nude as had been foretold.
Ronald removed his sunglasses.
"...What the gently caress, Shane, what are you doing here?"
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 15:32|
Thunderdome never changes.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 15:32|
|# ? May 17, 2022 05:37|
e: ^^^^ FUK U
In and ready to go into battle.
|# ? Jul 7, 2014 15:38|