Minions – NaNoWriMo Day 2 – First Night

Across town, a day, the first day without the Orange Overlord, had passed.  The mood was cautious.  People were suspicious.

“Man, I don’t get it.” Lucius said to Maxwell as they both sat on the step to the row house.  “I mean, how do the cops have the Overlord?  The Overlord Owns the cops.”

“Not without his power suit, he don’t” Max said, taking a pull off the bottle.

“Maybe, but that’s not what the law says.  Don’t you read the papers?  They settled with his ass, what was it, five years ago?  More?  That shit didn’t say anything about a power suit.”

Max handed another bottle to Lucius.  “Didn’t say anything about that potato looking bastard they got at the station house either.  It’s an agreement with the Orange Overlord – in quotes.”

“Oh, so now you’re a lawyer or something?”

“I read the papers.  Actually, I read that shit on my phone.”

“The internet man,” Lucius opened the beer and took a swig.  “Shit’l rot your mind.”

“So, what do you think should happen?  We been paying the tax man.  Tax man gives that shit to the big O.”

“Man, I don’t know.  All I know is I want my money back from that if he’s really in the joint, man.  My baby girl needs that money, not the city, not the state and not some washed up potato-looking jackass.”

“You thinking of doing something young blood?”

Lucius looked off across the street at the amber color of the streetlamp.  “I just might be thinking.” He took a long draw off the bottle.  “Yeah.  I just might.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

“Are you telling me that the cops surrendered?” Having taken a shower, Rog now walked around the rather spacious living accommodations Donnie had given him.  The track suit looked ridiculous, but it was clean.

Donnie shook his head then winced at the pain.  Holding his face in his hands he said, “It happened six years ago.  How is it you are just finding out about this?”

Rog found an apple in the kitchenette and a knife.  He tossed the apple up in the air and caught it on the tip of the knife with a smile.  “Ah, well you see, me and the past don’t get along so well.  When they checked me out of the Marines they said I had too many concussions, but I don’t think I ever cared about yesterday if it didn’t bother me.”

“But it’s the Orange Overlord.  The supreme ruler of the quad city and the buffer.  The Orange Accords?  ring a bell?”

“Nah.  I think that all happened about the time I was coming back into civilian life.  Not much of that registered.  There’s about a year and a half that all I remember was taking Molly every week.  Guess it helped, but … Anyway, fill me in.”

Donnie rolled his eyes.  “All right.  Hey, can you get me a water?  Top shelf – fridge.”

“Two bucks.”

“We’re giving you this apartment for free and stocking the fridge.”

“Yeah, I know.  Just wanted to see what you’d do.” He opened the fridge.  “Hey!  Beer!”

“Yeah, go easy for right now.  Red’s probably going to call us in sooner than later.”

“And she can say Hi to my buzz.” Rog handed him the water bottle.  “So, again, what do you mean they surrendered?”

“Well, the Orange Overlord came in about ten years ago.  He started big, by killing Captain Courageous.”

“Wasn’t he a fake hero guy, like for the kids?”

“No, but he was a one trick pony.  Slightly more powerful than a normal man, bullet proof, had a club and was really fast.  He mostly did public appearances, though, you’re right.  One day, the Big O just squished him in his force field.  No job, no speech, no nothing.  Just killed the guy.

“Of course, there was an uproar.  Captain Courageous was the hero to a lot of kids in the city and it was like the orange overlord had just outed Santa as an elf pedo.”

Rog smirked at the joke and sat down at the table.  He took a sip of his beer as Donnie continued.

“It went on like that for a while.  The Overlord did senseless crimes.  Always violent.  The Psychics got feedback damage if they tried to touch him that way and his forcefield took care of most things at a distance.  The armor protected him against anything that got close.”

Donnie leaned back and flipped his hands in resignation.  “Finally, the city had enough.  And it wasn’t like there were any more heroes to fight him.  He either hurt them or ignored them, though courageous was the only one he outright killed.  Lots of property damage, though.  Lots of people hurt.  A few people died, but mostly from knock on effects from the super battles.  The Big O mobilized non-powered criminals to hold ground – used gangs against each other to expand his reach.  Any time the cops tried to shut down his guys, he’d show up and smash up the cop cars and lift their guns right out of their holsters.  Anyway, the city had enough.  They negotiated a settlement.  The Orange Accords. Where the Orange Overlord would get a stipend, be able to keep territory and even serve as law enforcement, flipping the gang idea on its head.  In exchange, the municipality would be able to continue.  Property rights were preserved, businesses could function, and things would go on as normal.  Strictly speaking, even the things that were illegal were still illegal, it’s just that the Overlord could selectively enforce – and of course, get a cut.”

Rog pointed at Donnie with the hand holding the beer. “And that right there don’t make no sense.”

“What do you mean?”

“If this orange overlord is actually the guy that owns Flanderal, what the hell does he need the chump change from Drug dens and whore houses?  Seems kinda … smalltime.”

Donnie nodded. “You aren’t seeing the whole picture.  Flanderal is a manufacturing and technology company.  We make phones and weapons.  That’s actually where I came from.  I’m one of Ted’s top product men.  One day I got whisked off here and I’ve been here ever since.”

“Didn’t nobody notice you gone?”

Donnie rolled his eyes.  “Look at me.  You think girls were lining up to date me?  After my Mom died, work was all I had.  Erasing me from existence was trivial for Red.  She’s really good at that kind of thing.”

“Yeah, and I bet she could suck a golf ball through a garden hose with those pulled in cheeks and Jagger lips.”

“I, uh… I wouldn’t talk to Red like that.”

“Well no shit.  She’s a dame.  You don’t talk to dames like that.”

“That’s not it.  She’s the Orange overlord’s right hand.  Beyond Ted there was no one else who existed in both Flanderal and in the Orange Overlord realm as much as Red.  She’s no joke and will disappear you forever.”

“So, not worth the chance of a blow job, eh?”

Donnie smirked.  “I warn you and you are an adult.”

“Yeah… ”

The conversation hit a lull and they both drank from their bottles.

“So, what happens now?”

“Now?” Donnie said, getting up.  “Now I’m going back to my apartment – just up the hall – I’m going to eat a lasagna, take some of the doctor’s miracle ‘don’t have a stroke’ pills and go to sleep unless Red pulls us all in for a late night.”

“Miracle pills?”

“Yeah.  It’s Doctor Lorenzo, the mad scientist?  Remember him?”

“You know, I think that’s where the VA got the idea for all the Molly I took.  You got him on staff?”

“Yeah.  The Orange Overlord took a few hits in his rise to power. He captured Lorenzo from the Matrix Masters and put him to work here fixing his body.  You’ll catch up with him eventually.”

“Yeah ok.  So, this is like evil genius summer camp or something?  Everybody got a room?”

“Yep.  And it’s more like a hotel.  The only reason we’re all here is because the shit has it the fan.  I had them leave you some food, by the way.  Pulled pork.  Hope you aren’t Muslim.”

“Nah, ain’t got time for that God stuff.”

“Because you are clearly a man of pursuits.”

Rog leaned back in his chair.  “I peruse cold beer, hot women and sticky buds.  The occasional pulled pork kinda slides right in there, though, thanks.”

“You’re welcome.  If we live so long, we can work up some buds too.”

“Really?”

“Yeah,” he said pulling the door open. “Who do you think distributes the shit?  The Orange Overlord literally employs every drug dealer and gang banger in the Quad cities.”

“Well that is a hookup!  But what happens now that he’s out of the picture?”

“I have a feeling Red will address that tomorrow.  Get some sleep.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

In Barkley, the smallest of the quad cities, young men gathered to discuss business.

“Gentlemen,” The one in front said, “I believe it is time to consider the current situation.”

Across the table another man, nowhere near as well dressed spoke up.  “What do you have going on Trevor?”

“Nothing short of a war.  You boys ready to go to war?”

They all looked at each other.  “Not really.  Who do we have a beef with? We’ve kept our territory.  The Makos are running the girls.  We’re running the protection.  The Snakes are running the drugs.  It’s all good.”

“Yeah, but think.  Why are the Snakes running the drugs?  Why can’t we?  Why can’t we run the girls, make the books, supply the knockoffs and the tax free smokes?  Why aren’t we doing payday loans?”

Finally, from down the table someone said, “I see where you are going Trevor.  The answer is because the Orange Overlord would kick our asses, but the Overlord ain’t here no more.  That’s a good argument, but it still doesn’t mean we can just roll up on the Snakes or the Crimsons and take their shit.”

“Why not?  Because, gentlemen, whether you think we should or not, one of those fuckers will get the bright idea of trampling on turf that isn’t theirs.  They will trample, and it might be our turf they turn to first, or next.”

“So?  The one thing we’ve got is muscle.  They come at us, we kick some ass.”

“Unless,” Trevor smiled, raising a finger.  “Unless we kick some ass first.  Strike at the time of our choosing, rather than reacting.  Gentlemen, it’s a whole new era here in the quad cities.  If we want to keep our corner of it, we will have to vertically integrate, which means some suckers will either be getting on the train or getting run over by it.”

Trevor looked out at the dozen young men, their pasty faces frightened, then cowed and now congealing into determined and nasty.  When the time ripened, he continued.  “Ok, so here’s what we’re going to do.”

Minions – NaNoWriMo Day 3 – Off on a Jog

[Author’s note: Day 2 and things are already squirming out of the box.  Lucius, Max, Trevor or any of the hangers on didn’t exist two hours ago, but they are here now!  I think this bit went a little better than yesterday, but this might be kinda hard to keep up all month.  We’ll see.  I’m already seeing continuity screw ups I’ll have to spackle over later.  Oh well.  FIRST DRAFT!!!! W00t!

Hope you are enjoying the ride and if you are, votes on top web fiction, likes and follows are soothing to the soul.  Hm.  That got personal, didn’t it?  Oh well, these words don’t count so stay weird and stay tuned.

-SC]

Minions – NaNoWriMo Day 1 – When You Gotta Go

[Author’s note: I’m taking a risk here by putting out an unedited block of the story.  Not only does it mis-hit more than a few jokes that could have gotten more lead-in (the dry eye thing in particular didn’t work at the first draft), but there’s the idea of ruining the story for the reader.  But, I highly doubt anyone gives a shit, will give a shit, will want to pay for this, publish it or anything else, so here’s the story as it’s being written.  If nothing else, it is an example of how I do a vomit draft and can serve as an example for other people doing vomit drafts that their stuff isn’t any worse than anyone else’s.  And I didn’t edit that last sentence either.

Hope you find this fun.  I’ll be posting through november and hopefully this manuscript will eventually be edited to be a real book.  Or not.  Tomorrow never knows.

Stay Weird

-SC]

Rog’s head hurt.  For a moment he was concerned that he couldn’t see.  Then he was absolutely concerned that he could not move.

“Mph Fwrk” he said through lips held closed by some mysterious source.  Through a wall or something he could hear voices.

“Is he awake?”

“It’s really hard to tell, Red.  His thoughts are…”

“What?”

“Well they are just kind of stupid.  I think he’s awake.  He’s concerned about the spell, but the framework of his concern seems…”

“Whatever, he’s awake.”  The Woman opened the door as she spoke, striding into the brightening room.  “Good morning.”  The woman’s smile was just for show.  Rog smelled trouble.

“Mwrph” he said back.  Rog realized he was lying on a cot.  His eyes were, in fact open, and he could see fine.  What he still couldn’t do was move.

“Can you loosen up the spell on his mouth.  I’d like to talk to our guest.”

Rog’s mouth popped open and he gasped.  “Ahhh.  You know, it’s a good thing that it’s fall and not spring, boy.  I get terrible hay fever.”

The redheaded woman looked back to the person at the door, who Rog couldn’t see, and then back.  “And this is a concern to me… why?”

“That trick with my mouth.  If I was hella congested, you might have killed me or something.”

The redhead looked at him, puzzled.  “You are here, immobile, and after how you got here you are … I … hm…”  The woman walked back to the door and closed it.  The lights went out again.

Rog could hear rustling in the hall and some voices, but they stayed quiet.

“Hey!  Hey!  I gotta pee.  Hey!”  He yelled.  After no one responded he said.  “Ah.  Never mind.  Just bring a sponge or something.”  Again nothing.

He’d started to think about taking a nap when the door opened again, and the light came on.

“Dude.  He’s been immobile all this time?”  It was Donnie’s voice.  At least he thought it was Donnie’s He hadn’t been in good shape the only time he saw the guy so it’s hard to tell.

“You know I can hear you, right?”

“Oh hey!  Yeah.”

Donnie and the Redhead came to where he could just see them.  “You know Donnie, I don’t see why we’re even bothering.”

“You’re bothering because boy are you guys in trouble!  And it’s getting worse by the minute!”

They both looked at him.  Donnie with a puzzle and Red with a smirk.  “How do you figure?” She asked.

“Well for one thing, I got the meter on.  Limo ain’t cheap and while I was helping your boy here get to his meeting I was on the clock.  Totally legit.  Like waiting on a fare, you know?”

“No, I’m not… ”

“Yeah, and I figure I been out for at least an hour…”

“Better part of a day, really,” Donnie said.

“A day!  Oh boy.  You guys screwed it.  After 12 hours I’m double time!  Keeps people from using short term limos as their own personal drivers, you know.  We got rules about this shit and I’m union!  You don’t fuck with the union.”  He looked at them, then tried unsuccessfully to blink.  “you guys are screwed.”

Red looked at the man as if addressing a child.  “Ok look, as fascinating as this is, Donnie, please tell me why this guy isn’t going down the memory hole?”

Donnie fiddled with his hands.  “Well, I feel like I kinda owe him.  He kept me from getting seriously hurt.”

“Yeah.  And about that.  What are you doing, going off like that?”

He shrugged.  I wanted to play pool.  Guess I was too good for those guys.”

Red scrunched her face.  “We will buy a pool table.  We have some considerable problems now and we can’t have people going off.  At the very least you should have had some muscle with you.  It’s a good thing we have a tracker for you.”

“One of *my* trackers.  Yeah.” Donnie said, a little defensively.

“You guys know I’m right here.  And my eyes are really fucking uncomfortable.  I would really like to blink now.”

To the door she said, “Hey, you can let him have his head.”

“Argh!” Rog closed his eyes and it was like sandpaper.  “My eyes … feel … like a Dead show.  Visine!”

Red rolled her eyes.  “So, this is some kind of blood debit, Donnie?”

“You make that sound dumb. I just feel like I owe him is all.  Doc said I’d be dead if I hadn’t gotten to him, much less taken a few more hits.”

“Well I’m stuck with him now.” Red sighed.  “This day just … ugh.”

“Does this mean you gonna pay my fare?”

“I think so?” Donnie questioned, looking at Red.

Red turned, her long straight hair flying with the twist.  “Well, about that.  You see… you know that nice lady that dispatched you and gave you the tracker?”

“Nice lady?  Gladys is the biggest bitch I’ve ever met!”

“Well she’s had an accident.  Ran off the freeway and into a pole.  Terribly sad.  Freak mechanical failure.”

“No shit.  Well that boyfriend of hers was a mechanic.  Kept tinkering with the cars around the shop.  Probably fucked that up.  I wonder if he feels bad or relieved?”

“Hm.  Well yeah.  And you know Mr. Randal, the owner of your limo company?  Yeah, his house had a fire.  I’m afraid he died of asphyxiation. Another… accident.”  She drew out that last word, sounding ominous.

“Yeah, well, he always was a cheap ass.  Probably didn’t change the smoke detector batteries when you fall back like they say you should.  He was a cheap ass like that.”  Rog hung his head. “Little sad though.  How’s the dog?”

“Dog?”

“He had a dog.  One of those yappy little things don’t like nobody but his owner.”

“I … ” She squinted at Rog.  “Exactly how dumb are you?”

He flinched, screwed up his face and then looked around.  “On what scale?”

“I’m sorry?”

“What’s the scale?  I mean, there’s Einstein on one end and a rock on the other.  We going metric here or what?”

The redhead shut her eyes and shook her head.  “Just… Shut up.”

“Ok, but you’re getting my fare, right?”

“Donnie.  He’s your puppy.  Get him a room and get him out of my way.  We’re in lockdown until we know what’s going on with Ted.”  She stormed out of the room.

The two men looked at each other.  “You look like shit.” Rog said.

Donnie looked down and then up.  “And you look like you pissed yourself.”

“Hey, I told them I had to go.”

“Yeah, whatever.  Come on.  Can you walk?”

Rog sniffed, gave a cocky grin and said “Yep” as he stood up and promptly fell on his face like a sack of loosely tied sausages.

“Oh geez!” Donnie said, moving to help him up.  He winced as he started to bend over and felt his head.  “Uh.  the doctor said I’m not supposed to bend over or do anything strenuous.  And helping you up is both.”  He looked at Rog trying to move.  The sloppy, sliding motions had no power behind them and he flopped, ragdoll like on the linoleum.

“Yeah, well, I thought this might be comfortable for a while.”

“There must be some residual paralysis from the spell or some toxin left from the darts.  Or maybe you just have your extremities asleep from not moving in so long.  If so you should start to feel the pins and needles in…”

“AAAAAarrrrgggggh!!!!”

“I guess about now.  Try to move around.”

“What?  Screw you pall!” Rog laid out on the floor and tried to hover, spread eagle.

“No, it will help.  I think.  That’s what I always do when my hands or legs fall asleep.”

“What so this shit happens to you often?”

“Well, I spend a lot of time in the lab not moving much so… yeah.”

Rog moved his thick, stumpy legs to lift his knees and threw his right hand onto his chest.  “RRRRRrrg  That’s kinda pathetic, dude!”

“Well, it’s a lifestyle choice.  Not all of us are the physical type!” Donnie put his fists on his fat hips. “I’m an intellectual!”

“Yeah, I can see that.”

“You know,” Donnie said in a high-pitched lilt. “I’m tempted to tell Red that she was right and that blood debits are kind of for pussies.”

“AAaaaarr.  Dude, don’t be a baby.” Rog managed to flop over, which made the wet spot on his pants all the more apparent.  “And what was she talking about with a lockdown?”

“Well, you heard all about our problems with our boss?”

“Yeah.  Orange overlord.  Meanest of the mean.  Got it.”

“Well you don’t got it.  We run Flanderal industries.  Ted’s company.  His legitimate company.”

“Your right.  I don’t got it.  The guy that owns Flanderal’s got to have serious bank.  Why is he fucking around being the Orange Overlord?”

“Well it’s complicated, but there are synergies between the two organizations.”

“Organizations?” Rog could finally start to sit up.  “What organization.  The Orange Overlord was just one guy.”

“One guy that controls territory.  you can’t hold turf without boots.  It’s impossible to be that powerful.  You simply can’t be everywhere.  There is a structure and the Orange overlord is at the top.”  Donnie got sad and looked to the side.  “Or at least he was.  And none of us are quite sure what’s going to happen now.”

“So.  Question time… Why aren’t the feds on your ass right now?”

Donnie smiled.  “There are a lot of layers to the ownership of things.  Ted was clearly the majority stockholder, but that could have just been coincidence.  Everything is highly compartmentalized.”

“Like a terrorist organization.”

“More like an army.  Don’t confuse criminal with sloppy.”

“All right.  Fine.” Rog got up on one knee and one hand and hoisted himself up on wobbly legs.  “Great.  So, you’re organized.  You still worked for a bad guy.”

Donnie looked up at him.  “Well, so did you.”

“Excuse me?” Rog squinted.

“Atlas limo.  A wholly owned subsidiary of Trinary transportation, which is owned by Confed delivery which is owned through an offshore shell company by Flandearal.  You work for the orange overlord.”

Rog smirked.  “Worked, you mean.”

“Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire?'”

As they left the room, Rog said, “Nah.  I don’t cook much.”

Minions – NaNoWriMo Day 2 – First Night

 

Minions – Another Prologue – And This is Where it Started to Get Weird

With the guy, Donnie, Roj had to correct himself, his name was Donnie, still over his shoulder Roj limped into the room.  The guy weighed a ton and based upon the squishy feel of his torso it wasn’t from lifting weights.  Roj slit the man clumsily into the nearest seat and his hand reflexively scooting to the circle in front of him lit his chair.

Roj stepped back a pace.  He was amazed that the guy could still move.  A beating like that should have left him leveled for a good couple hours if not longer, but in his experience he knew that was a rule of thumb.  No one could ever tell what a beating would do to a guy.

From the head of what he could see was an oval table, an alto voice broke through.  “Ah good.  Hi Donnie.  Glad you could fit us into your schedule.”

“Had to…” he swallowed.  “Had to drop by the lab first.”

The woman, red hair now blazing in the overlight at her position made the sound of a frown.  “You were to come here immediately.  Did you not get the message?”

The man raised his head with a drunken sway.  “No.  Broke in the fight.”

Around the table the half dozen or so other people Roj could see made little scoffing noises.  He knew better.  Donnie is lucky to be here at all.

“Ah…  Well I really didn’t think you needed the combat version, but I guess I’ll have to reasess.  Seems the time for that anyway.”  She stood and stepped around her chair.  The front of the room lit up as she moved, revealing wall screens.  “It’s good that we’re all here because we have some work to do.  You see, the Orange Overlord has fallen.  More specifically, he is in the custody of our local police force.”

Where there had been scoffs, there was now the non-sound of tension.  The red head hit a button on a remote and the screens lit up.  News reports and video from multiple sources appeared on the monitors.  A fight between the Orange Overlord and Commander Pain played on all screens.  “This is what I believe happened.  Ted took a date – Marcy, I think – to ‘La Province’ and somewhere while there he found he needed to power up and fight his way out.  Commander Pain has been making his plays for the city ever since the Heroes gave up and worked out the Orange Accords  to grant the Overlord dominion over a huge swath of territory in exchange for peace.  Apparently he made his latest play at Ted himself, though how he knew Ted Cal was the Orange Overlord is anyone’s guess.”

“This is very disturbing,” A man in a robe said.

The older, bookish woman next to him added, “And expensive.  This is going to kill Blazon industries.  When people hear that the majority stock holder of Blazon is the Orange Overlord…”

“Yes.  And that’s what we need to figure out.  Ted’s in jail right now.  What are we going to do to help him?”

She looked around at the faces at the table.  No one said a thing.  Aside from the man in the robe and the librarian lady, there was Donnie, a big muscular guy in a polo and a little sprightly guy.  None of them said anything.

“Well what the fuck is he doing in jail?”  Roj said.  He couldn’t help himself, really.  The silence was just creeping him out and he just hated that.

Everyone in the room looked at Donnie, who swayed, turned green and dry-heaved between his splayed knees.  Nothing came out.  He’d left it all in the back of Roj’s car.

“Who is that?  Donnie?  Who have you brought here?”

“Dude didn’t bring anyone.  I had to drag his ass here from the car, past his pigsty of a lab and here.  Ain’t no other way he was going to make it.” Roj was greeted by more silence so he added, “Dude took a pool cue to the head.”

“And you are?”  The redhead asked.

Roj started to look around in the shadows to try to find the door he’d come in.  Something didn’t seem cool all of a sudden.  “Me?  I’m Roj.  I had to go pick up your boy here using some kinda compass thingie.  Executech dispatcher gave it to me and said to make sure the guy got here.”  He motioned to Donnie.  “Here he is.  You know…  I figured he’d be leaving as soon as you realized his brains are scrambled, so I hung around.”

The redhead’s smiled with her mouth but not her eyes.  “How very industrious of you.  Tell me, Roj,” she said his name as if it were a joke.  “How much of what was discussed here did you hear?”

He scoffed.  “Look lady, I’ve been driving limo’s for five years now and I just never hear anything anymore, know what I mean?”  He smiled and looked around the room.  No one could see the smirk on his face.  He was still in shadow.

“How much?”  Her tone was cold and humorless.

Swallowing hard, Roj said, “Um… Just about everything, but really, I don’t say shit to nobody.  I mean, who the hell am I going to tell, amiright?”

“That is a very good question, Roj.”

“I’m pretty sure I was speaking hypothetically.  That’s … I mean sometimes I … people misunderstand.  I meant to say I can keep a secret.”

“And I am very good at ensuring people keep secrets, Roj.”  The Redhead pulled out a large white plastic gun from her hip holster and aimed it at Roj.  Darts the size of toothpicks slammed into his chest, sticking in and then melting into his punctured flesh.

“Ha.  Ah!  Oh.  Oh good I thought you were … we … I … park … shirt …” Roj hit the floor thinking unhappy thoughts about punching a woman.

Minions – NaNoWriMo Day 1 – When You Gotta Go

[Author’s note: I wrote today, the first day of National Novel Writing Month, but this is not what I wrote.  What I wrote will be the next posting.  Be forewarned.  This is a rough draft, even rougher than this, which is pretty rough.

Stay Weird

-SC]

Minions – Prologue – Yeah, So Here’s Where It All Started

A door flew open with a metallic clang as a man crashed through it.  He landed with a meaty thud and the scrape of dirt across old asphalt.

He scrambled to gain his feet, to get away from the door but only find the line of parked cars offering their bumpers.  Gasping for breath, he climbed one.  He only got as far as the trunk.

“Ya fuck.  Ya really think ya cheat me? At ma own place?” The big man pushed his victim’s face into the body work, then spun him back arched across the newly dented trunk.  Face full of new blood.

A right hook sent that blood flying across the alley parking lot.  The big man reveled in sadistic righteousness that extended to the two other men who had come to join him.  The victim’s face was out of expression, having spent it all on the fright that had been punched away.  The sadist pulled his arm back, a wicked grin of anticipation on his face for the next bow.

“You know, I wouldn’t hit him again.” The voice was deep and light coming from deep in the alley.  “Any more punishment and he’ll have brain damage, like you guys.  Can’t have that.”

“Ya?  And who the fuck ‘re ya?”

The man stepped into the light, confidently advancing on the scene.  Broad but not tall.  White shirt and black pants.  He took in half a hotdog into his mouth in a single bite and then said around it, “I’m his fucking mom.”  He swallowed.  “We’re late for soccer practice and the pudgy fuck needs to burn off some fucking mallomars.”

He took another huge bite and threw the rest into a convertible.  Chewing with his mouth open, he unzipped his pants and pulled out his penis.  Crumbs and flecks of meat dribbled down his shirt as he thrust his hips, letting his dick flap.

“Get him.” The big man said to his companions.

The now half naked man smiled at them pushing food through his teeth.  They looked at each other and backed away, shaking their heads.

“How about you? The man said through his food. “Wanna play?”

The big man threw the now barely conscious man to the ground and walked back through the door.  “Crazy Fuck.  Whatever, have him. Never come back.”

Stars descended on the man.  He stumbled to stay up on one hand while the other grabbed his nose. A thin orange line in a circle appeared were the blood ran through his palm.  The crunch of boots rose over the singing stars.

“So.  I am hoping that you are Donnie.”

The man nodded, trying to keep a hold on his nose and consciousness.

“Good.  We should get going.  That trick only works so well and I’m out of hot dogs.”  The man zipped his pants up as he walked back into the alley. A fob to turned on the lights of a car.  “You can walk, right?”

The injured man nodded and then fell to his knees shaking his head.

“Damn.”  The broad man went back to help the injured man up and helped him limp his way to the car.  “Must have taken a few licks inside.  What cha do, anyways?  No offense but you don’t seem like the bar fight type.”

“Thought I was cheating … pool.”  He walked a pace and then threw up on the ground.  They walked through it.

“Whatever.  Good thing I got this urgent call, then, or I’d be picking up at the morgue.  Come on.  Car’s just up ahead.”

Minions – Another Prologue – And This is Where it Started to Get Weird

[Author’s note:  This is the project for NaNoWriMo 2017.  I’m posting my words as I go so I don’t just write nonsense or political rants or porn.  These first two are prologues and they do not count towards the word count.  While not great, I have polished them a little.  Everything else, not so much.  I’m going to try to get the nonsense out of the draft before posting but no promises.  Hopefully there is enough story there to get me to 50K words.  If not… porn it is!

Stay weird

-SC]

All That Remains – Part 5

The rocket was ten by four by six meters and shaped like a stubby airplane.  The rear held seven large engines in a hexagon and the nose had a half-extended ramp to match the half-buckled supports on two of the three landing skids.  As Pez watched, leaning against a boulder in the shade of the parasol, a steady stream of bent parts and curses poured down the ramp.

“Not that it isn’t lovely out here, but how are you doing in there?”

Another bent piece of metal rang out as it flew down the ramp and joined the pile.

“It looks like the robos were actually fixing it after a fashion. I mean, all the guts are all over the place, but the computer still works. They fixed the power reactor – having previously shot it out from under me – and the anti-grav…” Mixie’s head popped down upside down, her short hair fanning out below her.  “Maybe they were trying to make a friend?” She grinned.

“Ah, again, levity. You humans are much more about levity than my people. I like it.”

Mixie retreated into the ship but continued to talk.  “Yeah well, it’s either laugh or cry.  And…’Your people?’ You mean, you’re not human?”

“Nope. I just look like this to keep you from being … thoroughly unhappy, though the Neplax are not so different from you, though. Bipedal, big head, scrawny.”

“Now who is making jokes.” Mixie started to squeeze through the partially open ramp to join Pez.

“Yeah. I believe you humans make jokes about things you find too painful to talk about directly. Ironic… your pain makes you funny. You touch things without actually … touching them this way, feeling the softness of the skin of a thing without confronting the …” Pez smiled at Mixie as she joined in the parasol’s shade. “…The fact that my metaphor has run off a cliff. Sorry.”

“Look, I know this is a sore subject, but you realize that I don’t actually believe much of your story, right?  I mean, what’s the most logical thing – explorer comes here, gets stranded, figures out how to live but loses their mind … OR you are god.”

“A god.  The Neplax were polytheistic.”  Pez sniffed.  “Is it possible that you have such a hard time with this because you, yourself don’t believe yourself worthy of love?”

“You are dodging the issue.”

“Yes, but it’s a brilliant dodge.”  Pez grinned, then pressed on.  “Why are you so resistant to possibilities?  You have been out in the universe and seen it’s wonders.  Why is this so challenging?”

The question hung for a moment.  Mixie showed new interest in her boot print in the sand. Finally, she sighed and said, “Your assertion is extraordinary, and you are putting it on me to justify my unwillingness to just take it on your word?  Come on.”  She walked around and scuffed at the sand.  “And besides, I’m a spy, Pez.  I kill people.  We’re in a war and my job is to gather intelligence that will get people killed and sometimes kill them myself.  And they are not all robots.  The only god I’m aware of frowns upon that shit.”

“So, you think that there are actions that make you less deserving of love?”

“Yes!  No!”  She kicked a rock “I don’t know!  You know, Pez, I am thoroughly uncomfortable talking so explicitly about this stuff.  Not to mention that I’m not at all convinced that you are not completely nuts.”

“Nuts?  Nuts!?  Of the residents of this conversation, there is exactly one who travels lightyears across space, bypassing the wonders of the spirit and the physical while armed and ready to murder people and destroy walking trashcans.  I tell you that I love you, without expectations, because that is what I do and how I feel and instead of that being warm and reassuring it gives you the willies and makes you barf up your every shortcoming and doubt.”

“Well, what do you want from me?”

“Nothing!  That’s the point!  I want you to be happy!  This murdering thing clearly isn’t doing it for you, now is it?  So stop.  And beating yourself up for what you’ve been told you must do to keep people you might one day love, because no one in their right mind goes out and kills strangers for no reason.  I’ve looked into your soul.  You aren’t the type.  Every one of those people haunts you.  You are … human for lack of a better word in your language.”  Pez trailed off with a mumbled, “Little ethnocentricity in that language choice, by the way.”

“Look, I’m sorry for not immediately buying your delusion.  I… I just… proof would help me.”

“But proof destroys the divinity of the divine.  Turns it into a tow truck.” Pez smiled. “I’m sorry, I’m not doing parlor tricks.  I do not want this to get in the way of our friendship, for I do believe you are my friend, Mixie.” Pez smiled and Mixie found herself smiling back.  “And the nice thing about my divinity is that I do not need you to believe me for me to continue to be” Pez posed with a flourish of the hand, “divine.”

Mixie snorted.  “Quite!  And Pez, you… you are my friend, as much as these few days at any rate… I just don’t know… And maybe, if you’ve got this delusion from some kind of trauma, I can maybe get you help.”

Pez sighed.  “Is it so bad a delusion?  I mean, if I’m truly mad and delusional, would this particular delusion be all that bad?  For me?  For you?  Would believing it really cause you any great harm?”

They sat in silence for a while.  Mixie drank from the canteen while Pez rifled through the backpack and brought out some toasted gecko and some roots cut into long sticks.

“That lunch?”

Pez smiled up.  “A picnic!”

“More gecko? I’d think with all your godness that you’d be a vegan.”

“I am not wasteful, nor do I delight in the killing, but food is important to you.  These beings are hearty and easy to trap.  And the greens of the roots here make a decent rub with the ever so plentiful salt.”

The two ate in silence for a while with Mixie taking heavy swigs from the canteen.

Finally, she asked, “So, what happened to them? Your people?

“Oh, a mix of things. Many of them fled this world. Too few… And not enough who would accept the old teachings enough to … let me go with them. I let them go with the love of a mother for her wayward child.” Pez sniffled, then added, “That’s one of my many aspects, you understand.”

“Of course,” Mixie smiled. “But I was more interested in why this world is so… dead. It’s got the ability to sustain life, but it just doesn’t.  Not the way it should.  It’s fucked up how much salt is everywhere.  You would think it would … I don’t know… migrate with rain or something?”

Pez packed up the rations and dusted one hand on the other. “Ah. Well. That’s both a simple and a complex story that’s best shown, not told. You said the ship was mobile, at least a little, any chance we can take it somewhere?”

“Actually yeah. I can anti-grav the thing and just throw the computer inside.  Won’t go much faster than walking, but… I don’t see much of a point. Rebuilding the rocket from scratch will take forever…”

“Well, I’m sure I could help you pass the time. I am the god of love after all. Billions of creatures have coupled in my name.”

A laugh erupted out of Mixie.  “That’s your pick-up line?” Pez continued to smile, which should have been unnerving, but it wasn’t.  “Yeah, and don’t think I don’t appreciate the offer, but … Pez? Are you male or female? I haven’t figured it out yet.”

Slinging the backpack over a shoulder, Pez said, “You humans are so cute! All ‘detail oriented.’ But suit yourself, the offer still stands to lie with a God. But come… Not all things on this planet are ruin.”

[Author’s note: Hi.  Trying to get this out before NaNoWriMo hits next week.  Please like if you care to spread the word of the site and my work (I could use it).  And feel free to look around.

Come November 1, I’ll be posting my daily NaNoWriMo output under the “Minions of the Orange Overlord” page.  With any luck it won’t be a total dumpster fire but I’ve probably only got about 5K worth of story in my head for it.  Luckily, those parts are the beginning, the middle, and the end, so I got that.

Hope you like the story so far.  It’s not that much longer but I’m doing a fair bit of editing, as with everything these days.

Stay Weird

-SC]

All That Remains – Part 4

Morning broke as a red haze above the planet. Mixie watched the local star split the horizon and light the ever-present dust clouds.  Her quick calculation told her that days here would be longer than Earth standard, but not so much as to completely goof up her sense of time.  Morning was still morning and noon was still fast approaching.  They burned this crimson daylight at their peril.  Night on this planet rivaled space for darkness.

As she scanned the motley landscape for any sign of threats or pitfalls, Pez plodded past her carrying a parasol. Despite herself, Mixie grinned at her companion. “You know, Pez, you really didn’t need to come out with me. This could be dangerous.”

“Well, I couldn’t let you roam out here by yourself!  I’m both touched by your concern and unconcerned about my wellbeing. And even if I was, I wouldn’t be. … Concerned that is. Sorry if that’s a bit of a tangle.” Pez waved and stared into the distance.

“No, I get it. And that is…”

“Because I am the selfless embodiment of love.”

Mixie pointed at Pez.  “Yeah, gotcha. That’s how you roll. Ship should be over that way, I think.”

“Yes, good.  Dead reckoning and all that.”  Pez looked over at Mixie as they walked side by side.  “You know, there is the not insignificant matter of your not giving yourself adequate time to heal from your injuries.  I can’t believe you didn’t tell me right away how hurt you were.”

Mixie shrugged.  “Didn’t really know until I took off the suit.  Got hit in the thigh and the hip.  Didn’t really want you gawking.”

“How…“ Pez shook with the effort of finding the word. “…Puritanical!  Really!  And here I thought you were this practical soldier and all and you couldn’t let someone help you with your wounds without being all shy.  Be glad that silliness didn’t kill you.  There are still infectious organisms on this planet that I highly doubt you’ve had your shots for.”

Rolling her eyes, Mixie said, “Yes mother.”

“I am not your mother.” Pez smirked.  “If I were, you’d still be convalescing not hopping about the dunes after only a few days.”

“Yeah but… I thought you said that the geckos were a top predator here.”

“Predator yes, but a rockslide or a cave-in or a bad storm will make you just as dead.”

Mixie pressed her side.  “I’m fine.  I’m as mobile as I ever am, even if I’m not happy about it.”

They pressed on in silence, passing the edge of the plains and the strange rock columns.  The frozen bodies of the robos could be seen already being steadily eroded and covered by the sticky red dust and the corrosive white sand.  Past the pillars lay the shallow canyons and broken landscape in which she took refuge immediately following the crash.  Compared to that time of hiding from cover to cover, they made excellent time.

They came to a box at the end of one of the canyons and decided to climb up the dozen-odd meters to higher ground.  Mixie learned two things upon standing on this strange plateau.  One is that it was noon.  The other was that she was not the only thing the Robos had troubled on this planet.

“Well, there she is. Fuck!” She dropped her binoculars. “I sorta figured the robos would mess with the old girl, but this…”

“Is not entirely space-worthy,” Pez finished for her.  The ship was still a good way off but it was obviously partially disassembled.

Mixie shook her head.  “To say the least.  Fucking Flange!”

For a moment the two just stood, surveying the damage from afar, and then Pez used the folded parasol as a cane and precariously started across the precarious landscape to the ship.

“Come on, bitching will not help. You may as well see exactly how bad it is.”

“Is that some sort of love thing?”

Pez smiled up at her as she continued to pout.  “I believe you’d call it tough love, but not really. I just understand that if you didn’t work on the ship you’d be simply miserable company. Intolerable!”

All That Remains – Part 5

[Author’s note: I had a “great idea” for a piece that went before this one that, upon reflection, sucked with the power of a supermassive black hole.  Sorry it broke the string of posts for the people following this in real time.

Please like or follow to help grow the site if you enjoyed this.  It helps get the attention of the robots out there.  Nice robots, not Robos.  Also, check out the other things I’ve offered up on the site.  I definitely do weird fiction, but I try to hit diverse topics.

And most of all, Stay Weird

-SC]

The Strange – Episode 29 – InVision

Goldberg found himself pedaling his bike with it’s distinctive “bood-ie-hop-mmm” sound down thirteenth street towards eighth and away from campus.  He wasn’t quite sure how he’d made it this far, couldn’t think of how he got up the hill from the Pen, didn’t really remember saying good bye to Joy, though he did vaguely remember “If you need me, call me” and the concern on her face.

The red warning of the guy on the balcony and the craziness of Teague, of all people, knocking the guy’s lights out had spooked him.  He was only now coming back into his mind.

“What the ever-loving fuck?  I … I really wish I had just a second to slow down and think.  Hiding had clearly not worked for me.  Maybe running?…”  He realized that he was well beyond the turn off to Third, which would have taken him home.  Running was happening already.

“Gotta think.  Gotta clear my head.  Ganja was a bad idea.”  He snorted at that.  “Story of my life.”

The downhill slope of the street at this point made the noise of his tires into a hyperactive hiccup.  “Just got to think.”

His mind, still stoned, looked down at the post of the bike, where it met the handlebars.  Once again, he imagined himself as a tiny man watching this from the balcony of some kind of theater on a huge screen.  He’d had this feeling before, generally while high, and it always amused him.

He tried not to look at the corner of his vision, where the glasses cut off, but soon enough he noticed a peculiar tunnel vision.  More peculiar still, the rhythm of the noise from his ten-speed piece-a-shit slowed to his ear.

The tunnel in his vision popped away.  The cadence slowed even more.  Goldberg became concerned about balance and traumatic injury and road rash.  The view of the outside world receded and slowed still further until he could see the edges of the screen, notice the speakers.  Turning his head, he found the view to the outside still showed on a very huge screen.  That screen showed the handlebars and the now very slow passage of the street under his front wheel.

His view, his new view, the view of the little man inside of his head looking at the huge screen from a balcony, was … just that.  Except his seat was really nice.    Like one of those plush desk chairs that was good but not so overly ornate or big or high backed that you sagged into it.  A nice improvement over the worn bike seat that was giving him a wedgie the size of Kansas and was threatening to numb his junk.   He looked at his hands and feet.  Totally normal.  He was that little man.

This not being his first hallucination, he took full advantage of it and looked around, swiveling his chair.  The view over the balcony was into just a blank floor stories below.  The ceiling was way high and on his side of the balcony, it was a regular-sized ceiling with different screens and monitors lining the walls.  Turning almost all the way around he noticed a table with two drinks on it that had been slightly behind him with his original vantage point.  Grabbing the one nearest him, he saw a hand grab at the other.

He could have sworn he was looking in a mirror as he glanced up.  There he was, new haircut, red rose sunglasses, nose too big for either.  He waved his right hand and the other waved his left.

“You wanted to think and I thought it might be a good time to have a chat,” The Other said.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Loveless dreamed of black and white.  He’d worked on the problem with the model until sleep finally claimed him, yet his work followed him into his dreams.  Even here he hated surprises.  While there was color here in the dream, or there would be if viewed objectively, Loveless didn’t dream in black and white, he dreamed of black and white.

In this dream, loveless walked down University, just at the corner where Hogstown State started, past the bookstore and around the corner from the burrito place.   He looked at the color, the clear blue sky, the birds, the unrestrained throng of students and cars and bikes and everything.  Color and noise and indecision and formless nonsense and bustle.  All around – chaos.

The color was just one aspect of it, but it was emblematic.  It held no certainty.  Was this blue a black or a white?  Maybe it was a navy blue that looked like black.  Maybe it was a very dark blue that was impersonating black or was the blue in an LED streetlamp that impersonated white.   Would it be or not?  Would it appear or not?  Left or right?  Up or down.  The noise of it!  The chaos!

He brought his hand down hard and smashed the world flat.  The black of nothing was pierced in only two dimensions by this flat world as loveless once again raised his hand.  This time he made a passing wave and filleted the world by color, assigning each a dimension and either a black tile for present or a white tile for not present.  He could have gone with white for true and black for false, but it didn’t really matter.  At angles to these planes of color identification he created more superficial properties, cold and hot, again as numbers that would further be pivoted to yes or no, blossoming off as Loveless focused on more interesting qualities.  Moving or not moving, connected or separate.  To these he pulled his hand back and stretched them through time creating discrete points each with their own qualities, each manipulated and perverted to render themselves in being or not being.  Though this, Loveless formed order from chaos.  Certainty.

No scales.  It either is or is not or is probably white or not.

In his dream, the world swirled around as either or.  There was no gray.  It was or was not and then had the probability of either.  And then one probability affects the probability of other aspects to be in or not.  Black or white.

Loveless floated through his dream of black and white, certain of it all.  The dimensions and probabilities flowed around in certainty of being.  And even then, when a thing was probabilistic, if looked at close enough the outcomes themselves either are or are not in themselves.  What would be grey are vanishingly small points of certainty.

Color splashed through his certain world.  A new issue as yet unaddressed in the model he’d created.  Loveless dissected it with new dimensions.  Though it fought him, in the end, he was the master.  Even this splash of color would resemble a checker board by the time he was done with it.  He would will it.  Cut it.  examine it.  Find it’s pattern.  Find it’s certainty.

And he did.  This seemingly random issue came to a mundane wrinkle, like all others.

Except…

Before him lay a splotch… two splotches.  Red.

An obvious pattern laid across the white and black sea of constantly shifting dimensions and ever resolving probabilities.  Two red splotches.

A simple geometric pattern, yet they defied quantification.  They remained… qualitative.  Squirming.  He imposed his will and yet it refused to cooperate.

Frustrated, He reached out to pick it up.

The glasses, for that is what they were, slapped themselves to his face.  Everything became red as blood or the sickly black of bile.  Certainty shifted into chaos as dimensions collapsed and probability defied expectations.  The wave forms refused to collapse, no matter how hard he stared under this new sight.

He grabbed at his face.  The glasses, though crude and wirey, remained resolute.  All around, the struggle cleared away the carefully laid constructs that kept the hues of the uncontrolled world to a minimum and the scalars confined to ones and zeroes, left and right, up and down.  The certainty of is or is not broke down completely.

With a great expenditure of will, he wrenched the glasses free.  His bare eyes witnessed nothing short of chaos.  Color and form, property and action and relations all swirling randomly.  And within that colorful and misshapen form, danger lurked.  The chaos Loveless feared.  Things uncategorized and untamed haunted him from the cover of wavering confusion.  He began again to master this domain into the black and the white, but it no longer fit.  He could not find the thread.  The pattern changed and changed again.  Something kept it in motion.

He wandered off to find a truly dark place in this new world.  Finding it, he looked down at the glasses that changed his world.  He knew these glasses.  He knew who wore them.  Goldberg.  The jackass from the lottery, the Collector’s house, the picture Vic took of his weird ass wearing glasses, these glasses.

He put the glasses on once more and found that the world resolved back to a state of polar color, but instead of black and white, it was now blood and bile.

Well, Loveless could live with that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A green canopy let only bits of light down to the forest floor.  In the distance, the village appeared, but that was not his destination.

Delgado realized that he was much too close to the ground, as if he were on a belly crawl.  The sounds of the jungle and the things that lived inside of it were all around and sharply in focus for him.  As he walked, he noticed, unsurprised, that his paws padded the well-worn path.  Splitting from the path to the village, he dove up the trail, tail lazily swishing in time to his stride.

He passed priests and astronomers, in their red and gold robes.  They all looked down with reverence at his form.  One day, he may eat one of them, and they would be glad for it.  Such are the ways of this time but for now, he was not hungry.  He had a meeting to keep.

He threaded his way through the increasingly familiar Aztec ceremonial complex, tracing the avenue east to west.  At the foot of he stepped pyramid at the center of the complex, he stopped, turned himself inside out around his navel, and stood as a man.

There were stares, he could sense them on his skin, but he paid them no mind.  On his powerful, tan legs he propelled his squat, muscular body up the stairs of the pyramid.  When he reached the platform, he lifted his arms high to the heavens.

As if to answer, a rift opened in front of him and a man wrapped all in cloth with a transparent window where his face should be stepped through.  It was apparent, that this was no man and he belonged on the earth not at all.  Through the window a single huge eye stared back.

The two, cat man and non-man stood at the top of the stepped stone pyramid for a while before the non-man spoke.

“So, are you going to put some clothes on, or do I have to be reminded of how you people procreate … again?”

Delgado could tell from his vantage point behind the cat-man’s eyes that this was not English or Spanish, but he could understand it all the same, just like with the other dream.

The man smiled.  “And since when did you get to be such a prude?  Nice get up!”

“Yeah, don’t remind me.  Squeezing my ass into this thing was a monumental undertaking.  Not everyone is so enraptured by the form you humans occupy. “

“Well, we could have asked you to come in the guise of a cat. “

“Blah!” The thing shook.  “You realize that I have to keep most of myself in a pocket dimension just so I don’t frighten the natives.  Have you any idea how badly that chafes?”

“Oh, poor baby.” The cat man smiled.  “So, pleasantries out of the way, old friend, I got your message.  How is it that I can assist you?  Oh, and make a bunch of grand gestures for the audience.  They love that shit.”

The man in the strange garb with an eye for a face turned to him.  “I’m not an attraction here.  That you keep up this ruse of divinity for these people is your problem.”

“Yes, well, as long as I’m running the narrative, they won’t gut me as I sleep.”

“Wonderful.”

The man smiled down at the watching crowd and said through gritted teeth, “Seriously, though, you didn’t come all this way wearing that to scold me for nudity.  What is going on?”

The being rolled his one single huge eye that only the cat man could see and raised his hands up and down.  “You remember the last time we worked together, right?”

“How could I forget?  The Azdomidans came through the dimensional rift under the river basin.”

“And you remember our allies?  The Knight, the Ninja, the Dark Warrior.”

“Yes, and you brought them all here with you.”  They both kept waving their arms up and down like idiots.

“No.  Those people are of this planet, just like you.  I followed the Azdomidans as they were planning to do to your dimension what they tried to do to mine.”

“Yeah.  Those guys were dicks.”

“And dangerous, Greedy.”  The non-man looked around, swiveling his body so his faceplate could allow his single huge eye to take in the scenery.  “I am not of this plane naturally but I quite like it.  I’ve taken to exploring it along with some of the others from that group.  And I have learned of and made alliances with others of this plane that are not of this planet.”

The cat man stopped waving and knitted his brow at the non-man.  “You found aliens?  Are they headed here?”

“Calm your fur.”  The non-man also stopped waving his cloth covered limbs. “These aliens had already made contact with the great civilizations of the west, east and the land beneath the great desert and the great island.  Places your ancestors never knew of or lost to their histories. They were given gifts, warnings really, or communications.  A way to … as you say … keep people like yourself from being gutted.”

The cat man gave the visitor the side eye.  “That isn’t making much sense, even for you.  You going to simplify that for me?  Remember, before I could skin walk, I was just a farmer, not even an astronomer.”

Delgado almost yelped in his sleep when the non-man pulled from a pocket in his garment the silver block.  He wanted to keep the cat man from reaching for it, since he was inhabiting that skin.  The silver thing stung like fire, he knew.

But it was smooth and cool in the cat-man’s hand.  “What is it?”

“It is a gift from civilizations that have come before any of the human civilizations.  Other beings have been touched by the same ineffable magic – even for a being such as myself there is no better term for it – that touches you and the others.  It is an emissary of the ones who have traveled before and travel still.  It helps weigh the weather and keep the storms at bay, lest they rip this world asunder.”

He palmed the device.  “So, I’m supposed to keep this and it will make me safe?”

“No.  It keeps you safe by giving it away.”

The cat-man blanched.  “To who?”

“To one of them.”  The non-man pointed his finger down the side of the pyramid at the crowd.  “But choose wisely.  Some of your people are kind of dumb.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“It’s reflex,” The Other told Goldberg.

“Reflex?” He said, not quite tracking.

The Other took a sip of his drink and set it on the coffee table.  “Look.  You asked specifically for the power to show things that were relevant.  Those things pop up in your hind brain way before you can intellectualize them.  So… reflex.  If a basket-ball were headed towards you, you wouldn’t calculate the trajectory, you’d just put your hands up or duck.  Knowing you, probably the later.”

“Do you have to be a jackass?”

“Well, I am you, dude.  You are naturally self-deprecating.”

They both shrugged, knowing the truth of it.

“So, putting Joy in the path of a bullet… ”

“A bullet that was headed toward your junk, by the way.”

“Well, yeah.  But doing that … That was reflex?  She could have died!”

The Other took another sip then shook his head.  “Nope.  You came here to think, so think.  Joy and Sarah both have the same weird hair thing, right?”

“Yes.”

“Examine that.  Focus your power on it.  And don’t pussy it. Really dig in.”

The answer came to him almost immediately.  “They… How can they have the same number of hairs on their heads?  That’s statistically…”

“They are the same person.  It’s fucked up, but it’s the most likely solution.  So, if one gets shot, the other takes half the blow.  That’s what we were working with.  Panned out.”

Goldberg gaped and The Other waved his hand.  “Dude, come on.  Don’t be all shocked and amazed with me.  You knew this.  At least you suspected it the second Sarah showed up at the Pen.”

“This more reflex?”

“No.  Look, you really need to think a bit about what the power you have really is.  Luck… at least our luck, is just foreknowledge plus reflex.  But it’s so much more.  You can divine the likely output of all things physical.  The relationships between things.  And it’s everything!  Be very, very glad that the first thing you did was to put a damper on this thing or else you’d be drinking from a firehose.”

“So… Why aren’t I again?”

“Because you asked, right when the power really began to manifest, to be told what was relevant or painful or when you asked.  The power wrapped itself around that as a permanent feature.  So, you need to concentrate on something for the relationships to appear.  And be super glad that you also got a huge upgrade on your ability to process information from the power, but we also keep that from you and use it to crank through the combinations and permutations.  That’s the only way to figure out relevance and harm.  As you instructed.”

“You say ‘We’…”

“Turn of phrase.  Pronouns get really fucked up here.  You are actually part of the ‘we’, after all. Consider me or us as the back office.  You are the front man.  Or just don’t think of it at all, but try using the resources your power gives you once in a while.  You are going to have to work on this.  So far, you’ve only been reacting to things the power gives you because they are an immediate threat.  You can do much more if you thought about it.”

“Ok, fine.”  He looked around.  “I gotta say, sitting here all plush while my meat body is out there cranking away is a nice plus.”

“You’ve only been here for a handful of seconds.  There is a time dilation because you are perceiving this weird-ass space ship delusion at the speed of thought.  And you can talk to yourself awfully fast.  Besides, you can’t do this for very long.  You’d do something stupid.”

“Like what?”

“Trip, run into a pole, hit a rock the wrong way.  You aren’t paying attention to your surroundings.  The mechanism behind it really doesn’t matter.  The effect is the same.”

“Well that’s …”

“Look, you wanted to think, so think.  You didn’t do this so you could drink imaginary Electrogreendrink with your imaginary other self, you came here to think.  What’s on your mind?”

“You mean aside from your little intro to how the power works?” Goldberg was starting to get annoyed with himself interrupting him. “OK.  What the hell am I doing?”

“That’s a good place to start.”

“And how did all this start?  Who is chasing me?  And why?”

“I think you’ve got a good idea about the why.”

The room changed.  Suddenly, Goldberg was in the entryway to Bill’s house.  The huge mess in the front room gave him the same crazy fractal spiral, rendered in translucent non-color.  Everything was exactly as he remembered it.

“Yeah.  Fuck.”

“You’ve been ignoring it,” the voice of the other said out of nowhere.

Goldberg shouted up at the high ceiling.  “I’ve been trying to stay ahead of it, actually.”

“By going off for hours and getting high?  By putting yourself in public view to get your lottery cash?”

“Hey, I needed to do that today or I got nothing.”  He felt the need to raise his voice, like he was shouting at the sky. “At least I didn’t go in to City Hall and the epicenter of all things Cop.  And what was that with the lottery anyway?  Was that you?”

“Initial burp of the power.  Reflex.  We were kinda sick of being poor.  So, we looked at the balls for the drawing, looked at where they would be and got the numbers.”  The Other mumbled in its disembodied voice, “Actually, a bit of a crap shoot.  They might have mixed things up more on us.”

“Just like that?  More reflex?”

“Yep.  Not terribly subtle, but it worked. Given the initial state and the action, the outcome was preordained.  Tada!  No longer poor.”

“But known…”  He looked at the door to the kitchen where he knew Weird Bill’s body stood, propped up.  “…Hunted.”

“We didn’t know you were going to be stepping hip deep into shit when we did it.  That was a week ago.”

“Again, with the ‘we’.  Fuck you all.”

“We’ll have an orgy in your honor later. Now focus.”

The room changed back and Goldberg mumbled into his drink.  “I don’t wana.  I don’t need to see it again.  My first dead body and it had to be someone I liked and knew well but wouldn’t exactly call a friend.  You’d think if I had to avenge someone, I’d at least, like, be buddies with them or something.”

“Well, we don’t get to pick our first corpse.  Does thinking about the ‘why’ resolve things for you?”

“No.  Why didn’t the cops want to take a statement?  Why haven’t they found me by now?”

“That last bit, that’s more reflex.  We’re routing your random wanderings around them.  It only works because it’s a passive search, but it’s worked so far.”

Goldberg got tired of being surprised and instead hung his head.  “So, I didn’t know about it, but I’m hiding from the cops?”

“Sure!”  The other leans back and rattles off the day.  “Dan talks you into going to the secluded woods, your desire to ‘disappear’.  Someone chases you and shoots darts at your ass and you go have lunch instead of calling the campus police?  You haven’t been mindful or purposeful, so your hind brain and your reflexes have been moving you around to best advantage.”

He looked up.  “That’s fucked.”

“Not really.  Ninety percent of all human activity is just one big shrug.  It’s the really rare thing to contemplate one’s actions.”

“Ok, now that’s fucked up and depressing.”

“Yes, but it gives the power here a little bit of something to hold onto with humans.  We can’t determine what a human will do, but given the default, we can expect them to do that.  That’s how we got Officer Small to be right where he needed to be.”

Goldberg sank back into his chair.  “Well, as long as it keeps me safe.”

“Oh, you aren’t safe.  You’re still fucked.  I can keep you from random cops, but that other guy is both active and … wrong.”  The Other scrunched up and visibly shivered.

“Yeah, I got that too.  It set off my alarm like crazy.”

The Other looked like he smelled something rotten.  “It shouldn’t be alive. Not like that.  Its arm was broken and it didn’t even notice. And this was before Teague broke most of the bones in its face.”

“So, what are you saying?”

“Don’t know.  No information.  But, and this is just me as your other me talking, I’d stay the fuck away from that thing and maybe … and I understand that this isn’t your strong suit, but bear me out … maybe you need to be more proactive here.  Whatever this is, it’s going to find you.  You can be ready, or you can let it blindside you.”

There was a sharp sound in the room and the light changed.

Goldberg looked up and around.  “That can’t be good not good.”

The Other looked alarmed.  “Yeah, That’s the power and it’s telling you to wake the fuck up. Been nice chatting!  Remember to think.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Goldberg instantly found himself biking along thirteenth again.  He’d only gone a block in all the time he’d spent wool gathering.  He used his power to focus on the bike.  It reported to him in a color that was not a color that the chances of it being involved in a catastrophic accident in the next few minutes was five percent and steadily growing.

A tan Buick slowly advanced with the traffic on Thirteenth street.  In the passenger’s seat, a man with Angry eyes poking out of a face covered in bandages had his arm slightly out of a window.  His hand, also bandaged, waved in the breeze.

A truck turned right ahead of them, exposing the hunched shoulders of Goldberg, pedaling away. The bandaged Mr. A pointed his hand towards Goldberg and a smile made of cracked and bloody teeth split the oozing gauze.

 

[Author’s note: Well, back.   Dad is up and about and back to giving me a hard time about my life choices.  Nice to have that continuity back.

I’m curious to see if anyone comes back to the strange.  You are here, of course, because if you aren’t here you wouldn’t see this, but I’m thinking of the other people and, of course, the robots, randos and people looking for porn and going away disappointed.  In other words, the internet.

From a story perspective, we’re finally starting to turn a corner here. And as far as my manuscript of already kinda finished chapters, it’s where the road starts to get bumpy.  This chapter, for instance, is completely new.

In any event, I’m trying to find my groove again and we’ll see what that groove winds up being.  I’m also going to do NaNoWriMo in November with a new story “The Minions of the Orange Overlord” as a further attempt to recapture my mojo.  I’ll try to get some episodes in the can so there won’t be another huge pause.

As always, votes on top web fiction, likes and follows are super helpful to spread the word for the story.  And also, you can… you know… just spread the word.  That works too!

Stay Weird

-SC]