(As some of you know, I have a dark, dark, dark supernatural fiction novel out known as No Grave — I would be thrilled if you would take the time to read and review it. Thank you very much.)
(The New American Apocalypse
Table of Contents: Part One; Part Two; Part Three; Part Four; Part Five; Part Seven; Part Eight; Part Nine; Part Ten; Part Eleven; Part Twelve; Part Thirteen; Part Fourteen; Part Fifteen; Part Sixteen;
The ravening madman is trying to claw out Anna’s eyes!
“Liberals!” he sputters, “Commies! Got more red in them than just their blood, you can bet!”
The other zeds don’t appear to hear him, too busy devouring their old brother-in-arms to care about anything else.
To be fair to the poor store manager, I am technically robbing him. But with prices like those, it doesn’t feel karmically/morally/ethically wrong. And even if it was, why should I care? I never claimed to be a shining moral pillar. If anything, I’m obviously the opposite, a fringe freak and a cad; lecherous, over-amorous, volatile…an extreme-leftist horror author who spends his days reading about human cruelty and pounding tales of darkness out on a keyboard while chugging coffee and whiskey and taking pills. No, no, I’m certainly not the person to be looking at as a moral paragon…
“Spencer!” Anna yells. “A little fucking help, here!”
I rear back and bring one of the overpriced bottles of Macallan 12 down on the back of the zombie’s head. A dull glassy THUNK travels up my arm, but the hungry-eyed shopkeep remains mobile, agile and angry, all teeth and claws and breath so bad I can see Anna tear up from smelling it. I bring the bottle down a couple more times, each time harder than the last, until finally the creature’s body goes limp and slides to the floor.
His last conscious words: “Fucking…Stalinists…”
Anna leaps up from the floor and grabs me. Several shotgun shells spilled from her bag during the struggle, but there’s no time to stop and pick them up–the other zeds are just about done eating their fallen comrade, and we’ll be their next target. We rush for the exit and burst back out onto the dark sidewalk.
Flashing lights announce the approach of the Scanner, the Thing in the Cop Car. The vehicle screeches around the corner and comes toward us like hell on wheels–no, not like hell on wheels, that’s not quite right, more like the hideous manifestation of a malignant and bleak universe on wheels. And it’s coming right for us, the Scanner’s one camera eye boring into my chest, filming me, seeing me, knowing me, knowing me in ways I can only guess at, maybe in ways I can’t even imagine.
“What do you see!?” I scream at the cop car. “What do you see!?”
Anna has my arm, again. “Run!”
We take off down the street as fast as we can, trying to keep a line of parked cars between our bodies and the humming frame of the cop car. It’s useless and we both know it. The car pulls ahead of us, our faces caught in the reflection if its side-mounted mirrors, wherein the objects may be closer than they appear (and we appear pretty close) and turns sharply into the crosswalk at the end of the block. Anna yanks on me and runs between two parked cars, but the cop car revs its engines, backs up, and turns to face us, again.
We’ve been beat. I woke up in this ruined America less than a day ago and I’ve already scotched it up (literally) and got us beaten. A world record for failure. Another notch on a belt with little room left for notches. Spencer Rhys Hughes: crowned king of mistakes, errors of judgment, and general fuckups.
“Go!” I yell, pushing Anna away from me and turning to face the headlights of the cop car. “Come get me you sonsabitches! I’m right here and I’m drunk enough not to be afraid! Come on!”
Anna gets her shotgun back out.
“I said GO!” I scream at her, waving one of my dual scotch bottles to indicate that she needs make haste in such a situation. “Get out of here while there’s still time!”
“I’ve done enough goddamned running.”
The driver’s side door pops open and the THING gets out, its massive lens taking us in. Seeing the rest of its body…how can I describe it? It bears an aura like a cloud of ink passed from an undersea monster. Its legs are black tentacles, and its arms, though humanoid, have a vile, gelatinous texture to them. A matte black Glock sits in a six-fingered hand capping its right arm. “Put your hands up, Citizen Hughes and Citizen Bradbury. You are both under arrest.”
“For what!?” I demand.
“Citizen Hughes for the theft of goods, for the spread of lunacy, and for general sedition. Citizen Bradbury for violence against other citizens and suspicion.”
Where does its voice even come from? It has no mouth, it has no mouth and yet it screams, it emits sound that makes my head hurt, feedback from a microphone. Some new crime-stopping technology, maybe? Some damned dark magic granted to it by…by…by the Greater Darknesses commanding it? And what, exactly, are these Greater Darknesses?
“Put your hands up or I will use lethal force!”
Anna lifts her shotgun. I rush toward her, hoping to stop her from being shot, to take the bullet myself or at least knock her out of its path (hopefully the second option, as I am in no mood, ever, to take a bullet for another human–not a fitting end for a man as selfish and cowardly as myself). I can already hear the gunshots, even before they happen.
The Cop Monster Thing, The Scanner Darkly, lifts its own pistol.
Our quest is over before it even began.
And then an enormous blue van, a massive whale of a vehicle, runs through the intersection and crashes into the cop car. It must be going seventy-something miles per hour because when it hits, everything on the street feels it. The cop car crumples like rough draft paper (and, sadly, the still-human man in the passenger seat goes the same way) and tumbles belly-up onto the Scanner.
My good friend and occasional lawyer(-slash-voice-of-reason) Johnny Swift (again, no relation, at least insofar as I am aware), pushes open the passenger-side door, facing us. He sticks out his clean-cut mug (never been handsomer in his life, I swear) and calls out: “Anna, get in! Quick!”
The two of us start in a lope toward his car, the mighty Leviathan, and he waves a hand, “No, no, you leave that son of a bitch right where he is.”
“What!?” I yelp, not slowing down for an instant and finding him much less handsome than I had five seconds earlier.
“You know what you did!” Mr. Swift calls out.
“I really don’t!” I’m ten feet from the van, Anna a couple steps closer.
“We’re not leaving him!” and when Anna says something like that, it’s case closed. Even the Lawyer knows that much. He rolls his eyes and lets me open the back-seat panel door.
The backseat, if it can be called that looking so much, as it does, like a bookshelf, is cluttered with law books and old case files. I jump in, after loading my man-bag and the two bottles of scotch, sit on a dense book called A Brief History of Constitutional Law (which, judging from its size, is anything but) and slam the door shut next to me.
Anna gets her door closed, too, which I notice she left open for a couple extra seconds to make sure Mr. Swift didn’t hightail it away from there without me. Kind girl. Very kind.
Johnny Swift puts his foot on the accelerator right as the Scanner flips the cop car off its back and stands up. I won’t bother to express surprise at this feat, the image of a monster one-third human, one-third octopus, and one-third security camera lifting and heaving a fully-loaded cop car across the street, because for some reason this seems like it was always a foregone conclusion. Of course the new Scanner Super Police can flip cop cars. What would be the point, otherwise?
As we speed down the street, doing 55 in a 30, I find enough of my voice to ask: “Why the hell were you going to leave me out there?”
“Because this is your goddamned fault!” Mr. Swift yells back.
“What!? I’ve been blackout blotto’d for over two weeks!”
He takes his eyes off the road long enough to give me a deathly glare, the kind only a lawyer with a very good knowledge of contract law and asset allocation can give. “You…what!?”
“He doesn’t remember,” Anna replies. “Keep your eyes on the damned road. We need to head to the Voice and the Sleeper Agent.”
With a heavy, long-suffering sigh, Mr. Johnny Swift turns back to the road.
In the back, I sink down in my seat (as far as A Brief History of Constitutional Law will allow me to do) and gulp.
What the hell did I do, this time?Share This: