Zombapocalypto: Coffee and Cigarettes

Buddy made for the European style Bistro on Guppy Street. He was starving, and was still trying to recuperate from the disaster at the Oinky Wiggly. He pushed open the glass door and was startled by the sound of bells. Something moved in the gloom and he fumbled for his gun. A voice said, “Hey, it’s all right!”

Buddy relaxed. He moved to the source of the voice, warily scanning the premises. He found a middle-aged man seated at a table with a pot of coffee, a pack of Farbolos, and some uneaten cake. The table afforded a good view of the intersection of Guppy St and Canary Blvd.

“It’s safe. Here, have a seat. I’m Nigel.” Gold-rimmed glasses flashed as the man leaned over the table, extending a hand.

Buddy took the hand and exclaimed,”Christ, you’re cold!”

“I’m afraid my constitution isn’t the same. Age and disease, you know.”

“Disease?”

“I was dying of cancer before all this happened. Ball cancer!” Nigel made a face and laughed. It was a rueful sound. “Well, sit down, already! Coffee? Cake?”

Buddy nodded as he sat down. He was ravenous. Nigel poured another cup of coffee and pushed the cake at Buddy. He asked, “Who are you? What’s your story?” Buddy shrugged. He was new in town, fresh off the bus. He knew nobody here. He said so.

“Then it couldn’t have been as hard on you, this whole thing happening?” mused Nigel.

“I worry about my parents, my sister back home. I don’t know if this is happening everywhere else too,” mumbled Buddy through a mouthful of cake. He rinsed his palate with a sip of coffee.”It’s unbelievable.”

Nigel nodded. “Hasn’t it occurred to you that we might be characters in a b-movie or a bad novel?”

“That’s a thought!” snorted Buddy. “But we’re real. Aren’t we?”

“Authors,” Nigel continued, “are the worst sort of people. They’re cruel to their characters to move the plot or garner the reader’s sympathies.”

Nigel took his cup of coffee and brought it to his lips in a long draught. Hot beverage streamed, steaming, from his chest cavity. Buddy yelped, launching himself backwards, seat and all. When he got up, hyperventilating, he had his gun out. Nigel perused the younger man with calm eyes.

“Y-you’re one, y-you–,” stammered Buddy.

“One of them, you mean?” finished Nigel.

“Yes!” Buddy wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Why aren’t you trying to eat me?”

“Isn’t that what a civilized man does, restrain his urges for the betterment of self and others?” asked Nigel. He leaned back, folding his hands on his belly, what was left of it. Buddy could see the greenish tint of Nigel’s flesh, marveled he hadn’t smelled the mouldy stink earlier.

“In fact, the very idea repulses me, Buddy.” Nigel held out a placating hand. “Now please put that down. It’s not polite to point a gun at your host.”

Buddy was paralyzed with indecision. Each fiber of his being told him to pull the trigger, for the love of God, pull the fucking trigger.

“Come on, sit down. I’m not going to bite!” Nigel smiled at this. “Not chuckling? Oh well. Would you care for a cigarette?” He pushed the Farlboros across the table.

“I was never a smoker,” Buddy said, taking the pack with a trembling hand.

“People change with the times,” said Nigel. He saw a small dog carrying a human arm across Canary Street. “Everything changes.”

“How come you’re not like them? What use is drinking coffee if you can’t enjoy it?” Buddy asked, taking the lighter Nigel slid across the table and  lit his cigarette. He coughed violently.

Nigel lit himself a cigarette too, and sat for a moment. “I don’t know. I was taking chemotherapy. That might have something to do with this.” He looked away from Buddy. “I smoke and drink coffee because I need something to remind me that I was–” He paused. Smoke purred from his ears. “–am human.”

Buddy inhaled. He was getting the hang of it. It was a time for vices, as it always is when death is around every corner. “What are you going to do?” he asked.

“What is there to do? I’m not sure which is the worse, dying or being like this.” Nigel ground out his cigarette on the table and took another cup of coffee. “I’m rotting from the inside out.

“Buddy. Whatever it is you need to do, first will you stay with me a while? Please.”

Buddy nodded and helped himself to another cigarette.

They sat in silence and watched the day go away.

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The Fractal Rangers: The Incrediflummoxular Capacitor™ Caper

The Fractal Rangers were intubating a transdermal flow to generate an echo as to increase the probability of a favorable event to occur (Perfesser Prof had been unsuccessfully courting a certain high-echelon female British politician he met during an explosive day at a Brighton hotel. With this operation, he hoped to artificially ramp up the local probability of her actually falling into love with him) in some n-level of a minor megaflow when they were accosted by fellow reality-trippers, raiders and plunderers of realities, Barracuda Jones and His Crew of Dirty and Rotten Pirates.

The Fractal Rangers escaped, but Perfesser Prof’s patiently and patently patented Incrediflummoxular Capacitor™ was stolen! The Capacitor was built in a closed loop in Time measuring an exact Earth century; the Perfesser stepped into that door in Time and returned in a blink, but in the loop, a hundred years of labyrinthe mathematics and high technology light years ahead of known norms had passed! It was the only one of its kind, allowing Prof’s astounding craft  to move through hydra-headed time and space with ease.  Barracuda Jones got his grimy hands on the Incrediflummoxular Capacitor™ and disappeared into the folds of  worlds! Leaving Prof’s wonderful craft’s fractal shoaling capabilities severely impaired! The Perfesser jury-rigged a less adequate means of moving through the ether, and the Fractal Rangers spent relative eons searching for the Incrediflummoxular Capacitor™. Their search is now at an end, and this is where our tale begins.

“They’ve invaded a military planet.”
“Yes.”
“Everyone’s got guns.”
“Yes.”
“And bombs.”
“Yes.”
“We’re gonna die!”
“No, Amigo, we are not going to die.” Perfesser Prof placed a liver spotted hand on Archetype Amigo’s shoulder. It was meant to be reassuring, but Amigo trembled nevertheless.
“I don’t wanna die, please don’t make me do it! Prof, please!”
Princess Pop rolled her eyes and said, “Don’t be such a Yossarian!”

Perfesser Prof looked into Amigo’s eyes. “You’re still alive, are not you? After all this time. Your inordinate luck will keep you.” He squeezed the shoulder. Archetype Amigo was the rare individual who was blessed with a sort of eternal luck, balanced with a perpetual bassline of minor bad luck which made him, in simpler terms, accident prone.

Perfesser Prof looked over at the princess. “Pop, you’ll be running interference, as usual, while Amigo does his thing. Due to the circumstances… you’ll be given full rein of the armory.” Princess Pop squealed, fists akimbo in the air, and launched herself at the prof, wrapping her arms around his birdlike neck.

“I’ll be at Communications, standing by for extraction,” continued Perfesser Prof, “and… we’re here. Happy hunting.”

Perfesser Prof’s marvelous ship, in a state of rest, despite its diminished nature, simultaneously occupied several thousand realities, its hull pulsing with vignettes of worlds. Sunlight warmed one patch, while another is abraded with high velocity sandstorms. Rain pattered along starboard, reflecting gliding alien avians. A green lizard scuttled, flickering into a cloud of gnats superimposed over dull grey steel. The ship is a quilt of realities, a throbbing thing of probability.

BANG!

The force of Princess Pop’s kick embedded the ramp in the asphalt. Radiant light streamed past the silhouette form of Pop. Archetype Amigo lurked fearfully behind. The princess strode down the ramp in her jackboots, clutching in her hands the model Infinity Series no. 2, which housed a miniature teleportation device that fed a diversity of ammo from a planetoid wide warehouse facility several fractal years away. She faced an army of Barracuda Jones’ Dirty and Rotten Pirates. All sorts of technologies. Princess Pop giggled like a schoolgirl who has stumbled into the boys locker room. She fired the first shot.

Always with the guns! Archetype Amigo ran, his hands sheltering his head. As ineffectual as that was, it made him feel a bit more safer. He hurled himself into an alley, going heads over heels across a clatter of garbage cans. He got to his feet blindly and careened from wall to wall. Pretty soon he was running as fast as he could, wrists flapping at his sides. A rotten raider tackled Amigo, and they went down in a tangle of limbs. A mist of blood sprayed Amigo’s face and he was rolling loose across a cratered face, his feet slipping on gore. “Geez, shave that a bit closer, Pop!” he yelled, pumping his legs. Her laughter answered him. That fucking demented kid! He slipped over a wrought iron fence (losing his boxers in the process) into the outdoors sitting area of an abandoned eatery, tripping and stumbling over the tables and chairs before shattering the wall length glass window. Hanging pots and pans banged his head in his mad flight through the gloom of the kitchen. He pushed through an emergency exit and dented the side of a rusted dumpster. Gunfire drummed on the steel box. Amigo coaxed more from his legs, and ran as if he were in free fall. A wooden fence loomed. As he vaulted into the air, hands outstretched, the fence became a wall of napalm, courtesy of his trigger happy partner, and then he was passing through, his eyebrows igniting, his scalp a mane of flame, his eyes widening with horror: there was no ground on the other side.  “Aww, thanks a lot, Pop!”

Pop’s grinning face, smirking pixie nose passed through his field of vision like slow moving train scenery. She was running down the cliff face. She gave him a thumbs up. “Oh, go on, sweetcheeks!” she said and slapped him on his way. She tossed flashbang grenades at the sky and toppled away. Princess Pop had worked with Archetype Amigo long enough to know to let his luck do the work; it would narrow down the available choices, until there was only the inexorable conclusion. She killed a filthy raider from one mile away and gutted another using only the rotten raider’s own pinkie. All the choreography found in action movies was distilled within Princess Pop then executed with ballistic perfection. Besides toting a massive and powerful gun, she also augmented her constantly changing circumstances with agile versatility and acute instincts; she shed spent machine guns, bazookas, samurai swords, handguns, bolos, pocket knives, throwing knives, nunchuks, mini guns, and enough firearms to fill a weapons catalog.  She was an artist of Death and the gates of Hell swelled with sinners.

For the rest of his life, a Proustian moment would visit itself upon Archetype Amigo every time he sat down to void his bowels, filling his nostrils and his gag reflex with an unforgettable violence of odor; as a result he was perpetually constipated. He hit the waste reclamation basin headfirst and then there was a drawn out WHUMMMMP! as Princess Pop bombed the opposite end. Archetype Amigo gasped and snorted, thrashing as he was drawn out of the ruined facility in a logjam of human and alien excrement. The stinking flood churned across the arable land that marked the south border of the city, subjecting our poor protagonist to a lesson in vertigo he would not readily forget. He washed up, a sore sack of shit, against the warm metal hatch of an idling spacecraft. The hatch opened, revealing leather boots. Amigo looked up, tracing the jodphurs on the too short legs to a massive barrel chest of purple spandex draped with a leather vest to a Lenoesque chin under an Elvis hairdo. “What the hell is going on?!” exclaimed purple spandex dude in falsetto, not quite recognizing the foul thing at his feet. A polka dot kerchief was knotted around his sinewy neck. Archetype Amigo drew himself up, a grin sketching itself, white and vehement, on the ubiquitous brown dripping and dropping, his hands curling into toxic claws. “I am having the worst day of my life,” said Archetype Amigo. “But it can’t get any worse. Barracuda Jones, you and I are having words!” With that, Archetype Amigo threw himself murderously at the larger man, and they tumbled into the ship, the hatch slamming after them.

“Pop, is everything all right?” crackled Perfesser Prof’s voice through Pop’s thoughts. “Having  the time of my life!” she exulted, her dainty feet impossibly navigating the 500 RPM rotor of an ornithopter that twisted and weaved through the fractured city, her Infinity Series no. 2 hammering burning tracer fire into battalions of multi-billion dollar war weaponry. The ornithopter, yawing  into the bilious smoke of flaming wreckages, began to climb, and Pop’s feet neared invisibility as she ramped up her speed. In the almost vertical orientation Pop was relentless, slinging the Swiss army knife of guns onto her shoulder and withdrawing a nanothin super carbon alloy wire which she slid into the rotor, before arching backwards into freefall. The ornithopter buckled, couplings tearing apart in a howl of tortured metal. It fell like a stone and Pop followed, her pink transparent raincoat streaming behind like the wings of an angel. She was smiling. The gun lay against her breasts. At the elevation of one thousand feet above sea level, she pointed the muzzle planetwards and fired a single shot.

Archetype Amigo fled, slipping and sliding out of the dirty and rotten pirate ship, clutching something against his belly. “I’ve got it!” his frantic voice echoed across the common thoughtband. He was running and  weaving through the wreckage. The projectile from Pop’s gun rapidly expanded into a bluegreen sphere the size of an elephant. It struck the ground and trembled like a giant upended bowl of Jello. Princess Pop punched into it, its superdense composition absorbing the impact of terminal velocity by spreading the energies outward in effervescent reaction until Pop was kneeling in a halo of surging and twitching foam. She turned and ran easily along Amigo (who was doing his best huffing and puffing impression of a locomotive), skipping and hopping and tumbling and cartwheeling as Perfesser Prof’s fantabulous ship poured itself real, molasses slow, flickering with Lyapunov ball lightning. “Ooh, something stinks!” cried Pop as the ship swallowed them.

As the world folded into itself, Princess Pop had time to see the head of Barracuda Jones extrude from the open hatch of the naughty ship Funtimes Violator and wave his kerchief, “Fanks for the good time, amigo!”
“Hey, what’s all about,” she asked with a pointing thumb.
“Leave me alone.”
“Why are you walking funny?”
“I said, LEAVE ME ALONE!”

Perfesser Prof took the Incrediflummoxular Capacitor™ and inserted it into the recess above the Captain’s seat. He smiled benevolently at his two wards. “Great job, kids! Full fractal ahead!”

“Ka-pow!” Princess Pop flung fingerguns at unfolding eternity.

Warpaint

The arm handling the steering wheel of the Phantom VI streaking through the desert is covered with tattoos, serpentine and starred with blooms of color. The other arm, which terminates with a Ruger clenched in a tanned hand, is bare and catches the shafts of light thrown by the sunset. A cigarette dangles from a lip, blue smoke streaming past the war paint. A feather flickers from a single dread, tickling a cheek. The old, dusty engine roars as she twists the wheel around, bringing it on a hard curve, scattering the horsemen in mad pursuit. She fires the Ruger through the passenger window and a rider falls under his horse.

She floors the accelerator, the engine howling.

It sputters, shudders. To a stop in a nimbus of dust which the horsemen circle warily.

Fuck! Her emerald eyes flickers to the gas gauge. She takes a last drag from her cigarette and flings it away, pushing the door open. She fires the Ruger at the rider hurtling at her, throwing him  backwards. As his horse gallops past, she grabs the reins, swinging easily onto the saddle and rides like hell, her chestnut hair snapping in the wind.

Eventually the pursuers pull in their horses and turn back home, spitting curses.

She watches them go, then rolls herself a cigarette under the stars.

http://www.pulpartbook.com/

Mayhem & Murder

The trio tore through the desert in a stolen military grade Hum-vee.

Arm casually slung on the window, mesas rolling in parallax the background sand and blue, the driver turns to us and smiles, “Hello! Welcome to today’s episode of  Magnificent and Sexy Intergalactic Mayhem and Murder. This here is Jizz Baberella–” A wild shock of red, red hair tousling in the open cab, she wears a fuck me mouth and cargo pants under a kevlar jacket. She throws fingerguns at us, pa-pow, here’s looking at ya, baby. “–and A. Shade Darker. Hey, does the A stand for asshole?” A gloved middle finger wavers in the heat, and the umber man in the trench coat rakes back his long greasy hair before returning his attention to the rocket launcher snuggled against his torso. “And then there’s me, today’s host, Cranky Jo, cropped yellow hair, ugly mug, biceps built like a keg–” Wagging eyebrows above hard masticated cigar. “–that’s all of me. The show is starting, let’s go!”

The grey city of  technocrats loomed, buzzing with the lazy trajectories of gendarmes like flies above shit. Jizz slipped a hand toward her crotch and shortly her thong was flapping war red on the aerial. Shade sat zazen on the hood. “Pre-combat rituals,” winks Cranky Jo, who just grinned like a wolf and accelerated.

JIZZ: It’s a heist. UFN UFN UFN went Jizz, spread-eagled to all of creation.

SHADE: We’re gonna steal a city. Shade licked his rocket launcher and turned a passing shack into kindling.

CRANKY JO: Ha ha ha! YACK YACK YACK said his machine gun to the sky.

Here they come!

The sexy stench of Orgone fuel preceded the gendarmes, vicious ships bristling with mind fuck artillery and state-of-the-art gun ninjaz. Cranky Jo aimed his gun and let it do the talking for him while he drove like a madman through the gouts of flame the ships spat at them. A red-eyed ninja crashed into a copse of cacti. Another left a long red stain along the hardpan. Shade made great swathes of flame with his deadly paintbrush. Jizz, her hair wailing in the wind, sniped gendarme after gendarme as she slipped back into her pants. The ships plowed to the ground bursting like pustules, ejecting the dark carapaces of dead state-of-the-art ninjaz. Technocrat modified vultures circled, alighted, their electronic brains bypassed by nervous systems that never forgot the taste of blood.

Leaving behind a tattoo of murder and mayhem they entered the city limits where there are plasma rays turrets and booby traps. The Hum-vee exploded! Jizz landed on her feet. Cranky Jo fell into a turret onto an astonished ninja and immediately began firing blue beams of destruction at the city. Shade, launching at the ground, KOOOM! rocket jumped KOOOM! like a KOOOM! mad frog through the KOOOM! chaos. Black figures swarmed from the city with martial arts celerity. Jizz ran the gauntlet, touching pressure points of ninjaz, and left behind a wake of statues contorted in pain. Shade, crashing with agony along the ferrocrete of a superhighway, leaped to his feet and played shooting gallery with these ninjaz. It rained meat and the vultures, following the trail of death, circled.

A choreography of grace and accident, they fought their way to the heart of the city. Cranky Jo runs up the street, rattling off his old gun, “Now for a word from our sponsors and we’ll see you…”

A baby with a single tooth and a pink bow tied around the sparse hairs of her skull is skipping through a beautiful, heaving meadow in her diapers. Swallows shower the air with their song and butterflies wander through the tall grasses. Rabbits and squirrels scamper with exuberant play around the feet of deer. She is carrying a pair of massive guns, a voice-over intoning

The Infinity Series no. 3, so easy to use even a baby could do it,

running now through the meadow with guns blazing, turning cuddly woodland animals into pink mist. A butterfly sparkles into confetti and the baby babbles gleefully,

now for the first time available to the public, with customizable settings and a wide range of selectable ammo from bazookas with extremely long range capabilities

igniting a doe one mile away into a flaming effigy and baby pushes a button to bring out a screaming revolving chainsaw capable

of cutting down a fat old tree or the foundations of a building. Conveniently priced at $19.99 megabucks, it comes with a free ammo storehouse on a moon of your choosing to the first 10 buyers. (Add $136 mega bucks for shipping & handling).

Baby flips a gun into the air and throws us a thumbs up, the other gun shuduh-duh-duh-dering into the sky. A bird tumbles down.

“…after the break, where you find we’re at the jazzing neon sideshow atmosphere of the Technocrat City Hall, a supposedly impregnable fortress. Ha ha ha!

“Here we go!”

Ragdoll robots tumbled down the steel and concrete stairwell, firing with incredible precision. Too bad precision has nothing on Jizz who giggled through bullet time and engaged their self destruct sub-routines. The trio made many floors before they exploded, sealing the passage.

They burst into a hall of giant windows trimmed in gold. Hordes of state-of-the-art ninjaz hurtled through each and every one, until the scene became a firestorm of reflection tumbling to the plush carpeting.

“Ooh, pretty,” said Jizz, having already grabbed a ninjaz by the ankle to employ as a club. Shade stuck to his guns and noted it was a good thing the plush was the color of blood; that would be a bitch to get off. Cranky Jo just shrugged and sucked on his cigar, leaning on a door frame with his arms crossed. Shortly they picked their way through the litter of bodies and glass, and raced to the penthouse.

The mayor’s door loomed, somehow silver and gold at the same time, forged of Ultradamantitanium.

“Shit.” (That was me, says Cranky Jo.)

“No problem. Thank our sponsors for this motherfucker,” said Shade, who fiddled with his bazooka before raising it.

“Now for another shameless plug brought to you from yet another of our sponsors, and as always, we’ll see you after the…”

Fade in to the rolling hills of a vineyard. A gray templed man with arisocratic bearing in mahogany robe and slippers is puffing at a meerschaum pipe. A wine globe nestles in his hand, the purple liquid sloshing tannins into the air.

Poppy Vineyards is proud to offer the most refined hybrid of papaver somniferum and vitis vinifera.

He sniffs at the wine, sloshes it some more. The background fades into a leathered and wood-paneled office space. He sits in a luxurious armchair and crosses his legs. He sips

to celebrate your order, The Holy Trio of Intoxication is made complete with a nugget of cannabis included within the bottleneck. Our customers demand only the best,

and before passing into unconsciousness,

Available at your local liquor establishment or licensed drug pusher…

“…break it down, already!” yelled Jizz.

“Hey, the ad’s finished?” said Shade. Cranky Jo tittered. Jizz fumed. Shade shrugged and pulled the trigger. The world turned to gold dust and silver rain.

“I could get used to this,” sniffed Jizz, bringing the goblet close to her nose. “This is the life!”

The mayor lay trussed up at their feet, the severed fist of a state-of-the-art ninjaz extending from his mouth. Jizz used him as a footrest, her high heels digging into the small of his back.  Cranky Jo blew lazy smoke rings towards the ceiling, and Shade plugged these with bull’s eye shots. “Our employers won’t be happy if you decided to take up shop,” said Cranky Jo. “Even if they’re tyrants worse off for this city than that pig over there.” The man on the floor squealed.

Shade nodded and said, “Our word is our bond. If we reneged on a contract, we wouldn’t be able to get a job system-wide.”

“Shit,” said Jizz, “Can’t a lady dream?”

This is Cranky Jo, today’s host, and thank you for watching. I hope it was a complete waste of your time and you were needlessly entertained by sexy mayhem and murder. Until next time, heeere’s the

Magnificent and Sexy Intergalactic Mayhem and Murder

CHESTER: Tome of Time

Glaciers of dust covered the yellowed document. It was bound with loops of age dulled stainless steel.

“It’s a script.” Seamus turned a page, his mouth moving, silently at first, but slowly diecibeling into an awed whisper. “…they stand in the ancient chamber, looking…”
“Look! Our names are in it.”
“We’re a story. The threads that bind.”
“Let’s read from it.”

The party is startled by the old man’s cackle. Chester is startled.
SEAMUS: The party is startled by the old man’s cackle. Chester is startl-
CHESTER: (nervously) Who’s that?

The party search the shadows.

UNCLE: (cackling still, mirthlessly) The monster’s afraid! Ha-ha! Which came first, the chicken or egg, Chester?
SEAMUS: Who are you?
VOGINA: Such a dreadful voice!
OLD MAN: It’s played out, the drama. I’m oh so tired.
CHESTER: How do you know my name?
OLD MAN: It’s written in the book.

OLD MAN walks up to the manuscript and lets his finger linger along its length, looking intently at SEAMUS who fidgets uncomfortably.

OLD MAN: A lifetime like no other. A wealth of experience. A Tome of Time. My bones are weary, my hands palsied.

OLD MAN spreads his hands which tremble violently.

SEAMUS: You look very familiar, (looking at the script) Old Man.

UNCLE emerges from the shadows. A soft shard of music, the scrabble of little rat feet, the hiss of unaccustomed breezes through cobwebs. He flanks OLD MAN, who laughs excitedly. VOGINA’S eyes widen with shock.

CHESTER: You! (dead hand flashing with green grace towards the revolver at hip)

OLD MAN steps in front of UNCLE and intercepts the deadly trajectory. A small red rose smelt of iron blooms from his heart.

OLD UNCLE: (blood flecked lips moving like a young butterfly’s tentative flutterings) My part ends at last, and I bow out, if not very gracefully. Good-by! Good-by!

CHESTER: (tears gel at his eyes and slime down his cheeks like deranged slugs) Jesus! I’m sorry!
UNCLE: It’s all right. It’s in the book, isn’t it, my friend?

CHESTER sobs, the workings of his phlegmatic lungs visible through a hole in his chest. UNCLE smiles down at OLD MAN and gingerly places his body onto the cold floor. OLD MAN is wearing a peaceful smile.

CHESTER: I don’t know what came over me! I-I just saw something… I thought I had forgotten.
UNCLE: My dear Vogina. It’s your cue.
VOGINA: W-what?
UNCLE: Ahh, wonderful. Right on script. You’ve got excellent theatrical timing. Please do continue.

VOGINA peruses the book, blanches as she reads her previous lines and searches for something to say. Once she gets started, her eyes abandons the script, knowing it’s all in there, all that’s to be said. CHESTER is wandering aimlessly, torn inside at his display of senseless violence.

VOGINA: Why are we here? (Accusingly, narrowing her eyes)You aren’t really a PR agent, aren’t you?

SEAMUS: What? You know her?

UNCLE AKA FLASHBULB B. GETTER sniggers. With a flair, he bows gracefully.

FLASHBULB: Yes, and no. Vogina, m’dear, I am your PR agent, amongst other things.

FLASHBULB steps astride SEAMUS to whisper into his ear. VOGINA haarumphs and crosses her arms, jiggling disconsolately.

FLASHBULB: (breath hot on SEAMUS’ ear) I hired you for the botch.
SEAMUS: (whispering) Jesus!
FLASHBULB: Otherwise she wouldn’t have had the mettle to do this. Now, quick! Don’t let her read the book. She mustn’t suspect.

VOGINA is eyeing the book, having just figured out a way to overhear the conversation, but SEAMUS intercepts the book before she can do anything about it. She haarumphs some more and stares at CHESTER, who is still shuffling in no particular direction.

FLASHBULB: (mocking ceremonial voice) You must go into the hinterlands. I tis written.
VOGINA: Fuck you! I’m done with you telling me what to do!

FLASHBULB snickers. His eyes holds wisdom, and his smile reveals it came with heavy cost.

FLASHBULB: My dear… (he spreads his hands) It matters not what you do. It’s impossible to deviate from the script.

FLASHBULB laughs again.

FLASHBULB: I’ve got something for you, Chester.

FLASHBULB raises a large satchel, opens it up to pull out a large zip-loc bag filled with a greyish almost liquid.

FLASHBULB: Brains! If you’re careful, this can last you weeks.
CHESTER: Where did you get them?
FLASHBULB: (spreading his hands wide, snickering) This here, my friend, is evidence that hardened criminals are really, in fact, softies deep down inside. The cream inside the hard filling, heh heh.

And they begin to close the book—

CHESTER: Close the book, already. It’s written.
SEAMUS: It just says that we begin to close the book.
CHESTER: As it should, expecting that you are going to close the book.

As Chester and Seamus argue about the closing of the book, Vogina growls and stalks to the book, grabbing it with angry grubby fingers—

SEAMUS: I was reading that!
VOGINA: Come off it already.
CHESTER: Yeah, Seamus.

Seamus closes—

Primary Secondaries

His gargantuan form pushed through the door into a litter-strewn hallway, the dirty stalks of his shoulder-length hair scraping his stubbled cheek. Gray eyes—cold gunmetal—scanned the premises. A bare light bulb flickered, lending Brick’s movement a strobe-like fervor as he strode with lethal grace to the end of the hall. His assignment was simple enough, within the ballpark of the not-so-slightly illegal variety, a field in which he excelled. There was something strange about this particular job, though—

He gripped the knob and cautiously stepped through the threshold, his other hand hidden inside his greasy jacket. The only light was winter’s cold glare through the dirty windowblinds, barely lending coherence to the vague forms that moved on a shabby mattress in the otherwise empty room. He stiffened, working to consolidate the scene in his mind: a dopey face rising, its oily mouth moving in the gloom next to a lump in the mattress “—it isn’t what it seems… Well, yes, it is, but I have money, you see, you’ll be well taken care of—” Brick roared and there was a cold arc of metal, the length of his arm terminating in a flash of light.

He looked at the corpse, somehow familiar—jammed freeways, hating the grinning baby-kissing mug on countless billboards crawling past oh-too-slow… Oh, shit! A fucking senator. He was in it deep, but he wasn’t sorry—then his gaze slid to the closed-eyed boy lying in a snarl of ratty blankets. The boy opened his eyes, slow and bleary, and Brick saw the needlemarks bruising his forearm. A gestalt of the child’s myriad futures unfolded in his mind like a lotus blossom opening; it wasn’t pretty. Kid was dealt a bad card.

“It’s going to be all right, boy,” he murmured, lifting his gun.

His anonymous employer must have understood—appreciated—the peculiar code of ethics which set him apart from various backyard hoodlums, and expected him to recognize the secondary objective—no, he understood the primary mission to be secondary now—and implement the means necessary towards rectifying the situation. He had wondered why it paid much more than the call of duty demanded, and now he knew. He set about applying his original plan; the corpses made things easier, more credible. Bad wiring, old frayed insulation lining… the fire, oh sigh, tragedy, coincidentally double sad tragedy when they find the bodies, families torn apart, political parties splintering, national news, yadda yadda. Shit.

Brick strode from the burning building cursing his rumbling stomach and tried not to enjoy the smell of roasting meat too much.

Bits and Pieces of Death

They found him keeled over and clutching a white gilded mushroom. He stirred and said, “I just wanted to taste a destroying angel…”

Before the deployment, his father gave him an engraved silver lighter for luck. It was his grandfather’s. He kept it in a chest pocket and pulled it out occasionally to smoke a spliff. During an exchange of gunfire a bullet caught him right in the lighter. His father received from the military a package containing a mangled silver lighter and soot covered dog tags.

The barrel was cold in his mouth. When he pulled the trigger it clicked. He was curious what it felt like to have a gun in his mouth. He pulled the trigger again. Then again. And for the last time, an overlooked bullet punched through the roof of his mouth and severed his spinal cord. His friends and family were astonished and said things like ‘He was so happy’ and ‘I don’t understand how this could have happened…’

It hung belly up in its bowl of water. It lay stiff and cold in the cage, its eyes and mouth grimaced open, its long ears a-lop. Its purr dwindled off to silence. After a series of small barks its rise of breath shuddered into non-motion. He sat in his deathbed and removed the tubing that crowded his arm and died happily.