Saturday, October 27, 2012

You: Chapter Five (A Choose Your Own Adventure)


  Welcome to Choose Your Own Adventure time! The way this is going to work is pretty familiar. Each chapter, you will be given one or two choices that will dictate how the story progresses. The choices will be given in the body of the story and you vote your choice by clicking on the answer in the corresponding poll on the right side of this here blog. Voting begins on Saturday when the story posts and remains open until Tuesday night. Also, if you have a better choice or just want to throw me for a loop, you can always make a suggestion down in the comments and if enough people support it then that is what will happen.
  A word of warning, though! Unlike a Choose Your Own Adventure book, you can't go back and make a different decision to get a different outcome. Whatever decision wins the vote on Tuesday is final, so choose wisely. If you have any questions, please write them in comments below and I will answer promptly.


Last Week's Results

Choice One
1. Blue Cube! 37%
2. Tiny Ray Gun! 0%

3. Tablet! 50%
4. Not a damn thing! 12%

Choice Two
1. Reveal your hiding place and warn Enis about the glob. 37%
2. Keep hiding in the ship and hope you get towed back to Jacob’s base. 12%
3. Sneak out and head to the domed city. 37%
4. Tell Orson that this is all too weird for you and you want to go back to your own world. 12%

Chapter Five

Stuffing the tablet into your belt, you peek out through the busted window of the flying saucer to see if Enis has noticed the glowing glob sneaking up on him. No such luck. Instead, the dumbass is picking his teeth and humming loudly enough to cover the squelching sound the glob is making as it oozes its way toward him.
“You’d think people on a radioactive world filled with monsters would be more careful,” you mutter out loud. “But noooo! Damnit. Orson, how far away is that tow truck they mentioned?”
“By my estimates, ten minutes at the most,” says Orson, his Yakov-Smirnoff-accented English filling your head.
“That’s not soon enough, because it looks like around here....”
“Around here, Jello eats you?”
“You’ve been waiting to say something like that, haven’t you?”
“I am slave to program.”
The glob is getting closer to Enis and you are having a hard time making up your mind, as if the options to warn him or just cut and run to the domed city are at war with each other. You aren’t a nice person, your days as a con artist probably resulted in thousands of people going bankrupt and ruining their lives, but you never caused anyone any physical harm. Then again, what’s one less redneck in the world? And it isn’t as if there weren’t about a million other things in the immediate vicinity actively trying to kill him. He’ll probably be dead in five minutes even if you do warn him...
And your sole mission is to check out the domed city, right? That is what you are here for.
“Damnit!” you shout, hurling yourself at the open hatch of the saucer.
You hit the ground and roll, raising your ray gun at the glowing green glob. Twisting the dial to maximum power you shoot at the amorphous shape, drilling a scorched-looking hole straight through it. The thing lets out an otherworldly howl and begins to thrash about madly, the hole you burned closing almost immediately. Within seconds there is not a single trace that you even wounded it. You get the sense that it has turned its attention to you.
Enis has fallen off his perch and is staring up at the looming monster with his mouth hanging open. He’s even drooling a bit.
“Better run, dumbass!” you shout as you get to your feet and start running in the direction of the domed city. Enis is now officially on his own.
You’ve never been a capable runner - in junior high you signed on to the cross country team and the only time you didn’t come in last was when you bribed a fat kid to slow down - but it’s amazing what a glob monster can do for your endurance. Filtered air fills your lungs, making your legs feel strong and capable of carrying you for miles. The landscape is a blur.
You risk a chuckle. “Orson, is that thing chasing me?”
“It is one foot behind you.”
You look over your shoulder to see the glob looming over you. The flying saucer is maybe a hundred feet away and you can even make out Enis’s confused expression as he stands there gaping at you. You’re starting to feel your legs cramp.
Pointing the ray gun over your shoulder as you run, you pull the trigger and hope it hits the thing. The warble of the ray gun’s beam is quickly followed by another wail from the blob. You push yourself to run faster.
“That did not even slow it,” Orson sounds incredulous. “It was nice knowing you, you seem like good person...”
“Not dead yet,” you mutter and squeeze the trigger again. Nothing happens. Squeeze again. Nothing. You bring the gun around and look at it, a battery meter on the side has turned a dull red. “Crap!”
“You say that a lot,” observes Orson.
“Shut up!” you shout, deciding to face death head on rather than wait for the thing to jump onto your back. You spin around and stop suddenly. The glob also halts, maybe confused by your actions. Not certain what else to do, you throw the ray gun at it.
The gun makes a plopping sound as it sinks into the thing’s mass, its barrel already being eaten away as it moves towards the monster’s center. The glob begins to lurch a bit as it digests the gun, seeming to forget you for a moment. As it gets eaten away, you notice the core of the gun begin to glow and start emitting a high pitched whine.
You also notice Enis standing by the saucer frantically waving at you. Almost as if he is telling you to.....
“Run, you idiot,” Orson shouts.
You just turn and just start to move, your feet feeling like they weigh a million pounds, when the gun explodes.
For a brief moment, you wonder if you are living your dream of flying with a jet pack. The ground is far below you and a breeze begins whipping your hair. Tiny green globs, like stars, float in space around you.  As you sail through the air you start to smell something burning, like someone has put tinfoil in a microwave. No, not tinfoil. A spacesuit, maybe?
The ground lurches back up at you and punches you in the face. Everything goes dark.

“Shhh. Keep quiet!”
You feel a hand on your shoulder, gently shaking you. You bat the hand away and are rewarded with a shooting pain that travels up your arm and down your back. You gasp and flinch, which causes a few more waves of agony to course through you. After a few seconds you decide to focus on what parts of you aren’t sore or burning.
You think your pinky toe may be okay.
“Who’s Polly Shore?”
You open your eyes and see Enis kneeling over you. He has a dopey grin on his face, which is illuminated by a slant of reddish-yellow light. You look around him and see that you are in a very small, circular cinderblock chamber.
“Where am I?” you ask, your voice coming thick around a swollen tongue.
“Oh, we’re in a dug-out,” Enis answers with a whisper. “We got lucky there was one so close by. Otherwise we’d a gotten caught out when they showed up.”
Enis points out at a small porthole window set into the wall. You get up on your knees, hissing as your body protests, and shuffle to the wall. It looks as if the tiny stone Igloo you are in is buried in sand, but enough has been cleared away for you to see outside. The sun is setting in the distance, turning the sky a brilliant orange as it dips down below the horizon. You can see the shape of the crashed saucer in the distance, its shadow pointing at you like an accusatory finger.
Oh and there are about two dozen of those insect aliens prowling around about ten feet in front of you.
“Uh oh.”
“You betcha,” Enis agrees. “They musta seen that gomur blow up and came a’runnin’.”
“Goo Monster From Uranus.”
That word still makes you giggle.
“Now you know why we call ‘em gomurs,” Enis smiles. Then he looks confused. “Wait...where are you from? They must have told you about gomurs in New Vega.”

Choice One

1. “I have amnesia. The kind where I remember who I am but have no idea what’s going on in the world.” 38%
2. “I’m from far away. It’s a pretty obscure place, you probably haven’t heard of it.” 0%
3. “I come from a town called ‘Nunya’, located in a state named ‘Bidness’.” 15%

4. “I’m from a parallel world and I’m here to gauge whether or not we want to sell Reeboks to you or something.” 46%

“Hold on a sec,” Enis says before you can answer. “Looks like the Titans have some company. Maybe we’ll see a Martian.”
A soft humming fills the air above you and you press your face against the glass to get a better view. Another saucer, this one much larger than the one you accidentally wrecked, slowly spins into view. It hovers over to where the insect aliens are congregated and bathes them in a beam of light that emanates from the bottom of the craft.
“I thought those insect guys were Martians.”
“Most folk do,” Enis says, a note of pity in his voice. “Those there are Titans, as in they come from the moon Titan that orbits Saturn. They been enslaved by the Martians for thousands of years. Or they will be...I don’t know, time is kind of weird around the Martians.
“The Titans are sorta foot soldiers. They do all the Martians’. grunt work. Truth is, no one’s seen a Martian in decades. There could be one on that mothership though.”
The Titans all stop what they were doing and look up at the mothership as if they are listening to it. After a few minutes of silently staring, they split off into pairs and walk out your line of vision. Soon the hum of the mothership is joined by sounds of other, smaller craft powering up.
Six craft, identical to the crashed one, rise up around you and circle the mothership. As one, they glide over the desert toward their fallen vessel.
“Cover your eyes,” Enis warns, putting his hand over the porthole and looking away. A blinding light flashes and the ground rumbles. Dust and sand falls down from the ceiling onto you, getting into your hair and filling your mouth with grit.
Looking back out the window, you watch as the small fleet rises straight up into the sky, disappearing into space just as the sun finally slips down behind the distant hills. The crashed saucer is now little more than a smoking hole in the ground. As darkness claims the world, you notice that a green light is suffusing the igloo.  
And that it’s coming from you.
“I’m glowing!” you shout, looking down at your emerald hued hands. “Why the hell am I glowing?”
“You got caught in a gomur explosion,” Enis says as if it were obvious. “what did you expect? Those things soak up radiation like a sponge. You’re probably gonna mutate.”
“Radiation?” you ask, incredulous. “Wait, did you say ‘mutate’?”
“I wouldn’t worry about it. My cousin Roscoe got dosed once, now he grows antlers every spring. It’s kind of pretty, really. Course, I also knew a guy once who got a little too close to a Venusian engine and his eyelids turned into batwings. That wasn’t so great to see.”
“Radiation doesn’t work like that!”
“How do you think it works. Where did you say you were from, anyway?”
You can’t stop staring at your glowing hands.
“Look,” Enis crouches down and looks you in the eye. “My people probably think I’m dead, which is actually pretty good news. See, a lot of our folk back home are sick and we need medicine. And a doctor. I’ve been planning on sneaking into New Vega for months now, but Jacob wouldn’t let me. Now he ain’t here to stop me.
“If we can get into the city, we can probably find a way to cure you before you start...I don’t know...growing fifty feet tall or something. I could use the help.”

Choice Two

1. Go with Enis to New Vega. 23%
2. Gently knock Enis the hell out and go to New Vega on your own. 61%
3. Convince Enis to go with you to meet with his people. 0%
4. Antlers? To hell with this, I’m going home. 15%

So, there you go! You have until midnight Tuesday, October 30th to make your choices and the new chapter will post on Saturday, November 3rd. Have fun!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Revenant (Chapter Three)


Chapter 3

It took about a week or so to get everything set up.
Seamus did his usual “leaving town” bit, where he'd slash all the prices of his tonics, hire as many dancing girls as he could, and do pretty much everything he could to turn the whole town into a gigantic party. He claimed it made him memorable and served as advertising, but I think he just liked seeing folks have a good time.
So while that was going on, the rest of us got ready. Molly met up with the local butcher, who had somehow fallen on hard times, and told him she knew all about his illicit slaughter shack outside of town. She informed him that it would be in use for the next few days and that, if he was smart, he'd not return to it for a while. Like ever.
Felix and I got busy digging. It was hard work, but Felix really threw himself into it. So to speak. It helped that I had gone up one side of him and down the other about keeping his big mouth shut. I informed, with as much grisly detail as possible, just what would happen to us if folks found out about Seamus and how he went about creating his little cure-alls. It took a couple days for the color to come back to his cheeks.
When we had finished digging up the body I spent some time re-sanctifying the ground, so we wouldn't get any spirit's pissed off at us, and Felix got to sawing. When he was done, he told me that he knew how to sew and had also worked at a taxidermist's shop for a short while. I felt a little uneasy having him take on a thing like that, especially cause my life was on the line if he screwed it up, but I had to show that I still had faith in him as well. In the end, I sent him on his way to get started while I re-buried Father Arthur MacDonald and said a little prayer over the grave.
Darryl had tried to help a bit, but whatever was haunting him was getting stronger. Every time I saw him he had a new cut or a bruise. Felix watched him fall down flight of stairs one night at the saloon and Molly saw his wrist just dislocate itself one morning over breakfast. And IT? turned out that Darryl wasn't exactly a man to keep a stiff upper lip when it came to pain. His whining had even started to grate on Seamus.
When he wasn't contributing to a town-wide hangover, Seamus was busy in the wagon cooking up something new or he was out on the plains communicating with the loa. I hated it when he did that - he always came back a bit different from those meetings - and seeing his face all done up in that skull makeup always gave me the creeps. But that was what he needed to do in order to give me the tools I would need to send this ghost back to Hell, even though I still had my doubts over doing it.

All that preparation led, as it always seemed to, to me sitting out in the cold on a hill waiting for something to happen. The ghost never seemed to manifest around Seamus so he and the rest were a few miles away waiting for my return. Darryl was sitting in the shack playing at being bait, which he moaned about incessantly, and I was busy getting ready.
Seamus had inscribed some kind of writing along my eyes, he said that it would help me see into the spectral plane, and he had made me drink about a half dozen of his tonics. My stomach was churning by the time he made me swallow the mushrooms, which had already started to kick in as I sat on my ass. That was the part I hated the most, that dusty and distant feeling that came over me as the drugs took effect.
I hated it even more than putting on the gloves.
Guns and knives weren't all that useful against vengeful spectres, so a person had to use other tools to take one of those spirits down. The only way we knew of, then, was to make gloves out of the hands of a dead holy man. Supposedly, these allowed you to partially cross over to the spirit world enough to grab a hold of the damn things. And once you had a hold of them, then it was just a matter of killing them again. Sure sounded easy.
If the damn thing would ever show up.
It was past midnight when I saw it. I had spent the last few hours quietly hallucinating while Darryl had somehow fallen asleep in the shack. It took a moment for me to realize that the shape I was seeing wasn't another mirage, that it moved with a purpose towards the shack instead of just hanging around and making me giggle. I think I had expected something like out of a book, a bluish see-through person draped in a gossamer gown or something, instead of what was lurching in front of me. The only word that seems to fit it is rage.
It was a churning maelstrom of violent color. Red, black, purple, all mixed up and twisting together and moving with speed toward the shack. I stood up and flexed my hands in their dead gray skin-gloves and proceeded down the hill. That's when I saw the old geezer standing next to me.
I stopped and stared at him for a moment, making sure he was real. He was a lot shorter than me and seemed to made of beard. It was long and white and hung down to the waist of his overalls. He was glaring at me and shaking with anger. He held something behind his back.
“Who the hell are you?” I asked.
He answered by hitting me in the face with a shovel.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Revenant (Chapter Two)


Chapter Two

Turned out Squirrely’s real name was Darryl Whitcomb. Seamus had made me ride out with him to Darryl’s hideout, an old abandoned mine shaft a few miles outside of town, so that he could spill the beans about how exactly he came by the notion that he was being haunted. I didn’t like the idea of tangling with ghosts, I preferred dealing with things that I can wrap my hands around, and I wasn’t too pleased that we were even considering taking the job.
See, ghosts are....depressing. Most folks think ghosts are spirits that just can’t let go of the mortal world and spend eternity roaming familiar patches of land or haunting a house. That isn’t quite the case. Rarely is a ghost a complete spirit; they’re almost always just a fragment of a soul that has somehow gotten tethered to an object. Normally it isn’t a house that’s haunted, but a favorite picture frame or a pocket watch that had been worn everyday. Ghost’s know just enough to know that’s something is missing; they long to join the rest of their soul in that place that exists beyond the living realm and they can’t rest until they find it.
Vengeful spirits with murderous intent are almost unheard of, outside of campfire tales, and tethering a spirit to a concept like revenge or justice would require an almost unholy act of betrayal. Which made me think that my old friend Squirrely here must have done someone a grave disservice if he was being personally plagued by a violent spirit. I had my money on murder.
“I’m a murderer,” Darryl said, stirring the coals of the campfire he had built at the mouth of mine shaft. “I maybe killed a dozen or so folks over the years.”
“Well, that answers that,” I said, getting up and brushing off my pants. “Good luck to you, son. You’re going to need it.”
“Sit down, Titus,” Seamus said. “Let’s hear him out.”
Darryl wouldn’t meet my eye, just stared into the fire. “I fought for the South during the war. I was a good shot. A great one. I could just point and hit whatever I wanted, didn’t even feel like I had to aim. Like my arms just knew where to point. Pistol, rifle, cannon, didn’t matter. If I was pointed at it, I could hit it.
“I was in a handful of battles, mostly in Virginia, and I’d spend them just hanging back and picking off blues. Like I was shootin’ cans off a fence post. And then one day I shot a civilian.”
I’d sat back down and took out my flask, handed it to Darryl. He met my eye, thanked me, and took a swig.
“I don’t know what she was doing there. Camp follower, maybe? Some farmer’s wife or daughter? I don’t know. I put a slug right through her throat. She just stood there, blood gushing out of her, looking around until she saw me. We stared at each other for....forever. And then she just pitched forward.
“I deserted two days later.”
Seamus and I exchanged a quick glance. I still didn’t like the look of this guy, something about him rubbed me the wrong way, but I could tell Seamus wanted to help him. Probably because of his own little ghost problems.
“So when did the apparition first appear to you?” Seamus asked, reaching into his coat and pulling out his pipe. He claimed pipe smoke helped him think. “Has it been following you since the day of the incident?”
“Oh no,” Darryl said. “Its been months know. It was little things at first. I’d stay at a hotel and wake up with my bed across the room. I’d taken to drinking so I didn’t really question it. Stuff would go missing or wouldn’t be where I set it.
“And then one day I was in the shitter doing my business, when I got punched in the gut. Hard.”

Friday, October 19, 2012

You: Chapter Four (A Choose Your Own Adventure)


Welcome to Choose Your Own Adventure time! The way this is going to work is pretty familiar. Each chapter, you will be given one or two choices that will dictate how the story progresses. The choices will be given in the body of the story and you vote your choice by clicking on the answer in the corresponding poll on the right side of this here blog. Voting begins on Saturday when the story posts and remains open until Tuesday night. Also, if you have a better choice or just want to throw me for a loop, you can always make a suggestion down in the comments and if enough people support it then that is what will happen.
  A word of warning, though! Unlike a Choose Your Own Adventure book, you can't go back and make a different decision to get a different outcome. Whatever decision wins the vote on Tuesday is final, so choose wisely. If you have any questions, please write them in comments below and I will answer promptly.
If you need to catch up, just click on the You: The story so up there at the top of the page and it will lay out how the story has come along up to this point.



Chapter Four

“Yakov Smirnoff!” you scream as you pull the trigger on the ray gun. You really hope that’s the last time you have to yell that out in a moment of passion.
A bright orange beam of light crackles out of the gun, striking the alien in the middle of the chest. Your nose is filled with the smell of ozone and burning alien space suit. The alien looks down at the smoking hole you’ve burned into its chest and emits a noise that sounds eerily like a chuckle. It begins to walk towards you.
“Oh crap.”
“I am seeink you havink a bad time of it,” comes the unmistakable sound of Yakov Smirnoff’s voice in your head. “Maybe you are aiming for the head?”
“Oh no, you really sound like that?” you yell, frantically backing away from the looming alien.
“Who are you speaking to, human?” the alien growls, his voice slurring a bit.
You answer the alien by shooting him in the head with another stun blast. Its head rocks back and for a moment it stands there glaring at you, multifaceted eyes glimmering with hate, before it finally pitches forward and lands at your feet.
“Good shooting, Tex!” Yakov’s voice fills your head. “You are havink one minute until vehicles are arrivink.”
“Great,” you say, stepping tentatively around the alien. “So what do I call you?”
“I am referred to as O.R.S.O.N. It is standing for Orbital Reconnaissance Satellite for Op...”
“Fascinating, Orson,” you shout. “Now where do I hide?”
“How am I knowing? You are in middle of desert.”
You spin around, frantically looking for a rock or, at the very least, a hole you can crawl into. Nothing. You can already hear the motors of the ground vehicles getting closer and  two clouds of dust are rapidly approaching you on either side.
You finally turn around and look up at the crashed flying saucer.
Eyeing the unconscious alien, you make your way over to the crippled vessel. You find an open hatch and peer inside. It looks exactly like what you would imagine the inside of an alien vessel to look like. It also doesn’t look very big. If someone decides to go poking around in it you are sure to be seen.
Crawling up into the ship, you close the hatch behind you and peer around. Moving around is awkward, since the ship plowed into the ground at an angle, but you manage to wedge yourself into a position that lets you look out of the broken dome of the ship while keeping you out of immediate sight. Looking around the cockpit, you blink and take several photos of the interior.
Three things leap out at you as the photos slide into their folder. A small cube sits nestled into a nook on the side of the pilot’s chair, it glows an eerie blue and an occasional image flickers across one of its surfaces. There is also another ray gun sitting on the floor, though it is much smaller and probably easier to conceal. The last item is a tablet computer, one that looks very similar to the one you almost brought with you, only smaller. You only have room to carry one of these, which will it be?

Choice One

1. Blue Cube! 37%
2. Tiny Ray Gun! 0%
3. Tablet! 50%
4. Not a damn thing! 12%

You make your decision and a few seconds later a truck skids to a halt outside, just in front of the alien’s body. The truck looks old, like it was originally built in the 40’s or 50’s, but you don’t recognize the make or model. Not a speck of rust mars its cherry-red paint job and several odd looking skulls have been strapped to the sides of it. A car that looks almost, but not quite, like an old Cadillac roars up next to it and the passenger side door pops open.
A man, tall and wearing what looks like a homemade radiation suit, steps out of the car and walks over to the prone body of the alien. A few more people hop out of the back of the truck, each of them wearing a motley array of scuba gear and plastic sheeting, and surround the alien.
“Would ya’ lookit that, Jacob,” one of them says to the tall one. “I think he survived. He ain’t had time to suicide yet.”
“I see that, Enis,” the one called Jacob replies. “Why don’t you get the chains out of the truck and get him tied up before he wakes up and kills us all. Debbie, how’s the radiation count?”
“Fine, boss”, the one you assume is named Debbie answers, waving some kind of wand around. “We should be fine for an hour or two if you want to take the suit off.”
Jacob takes off his helmet and looks around, almost seeing you when he examines the fallen ship. He’s an older looking black man with grey stubble dotting his cheeks. Three bright pink scars run across the top of his close-shaved head, the width of them eerily matching the claws of the alien at his feet. He begins wandering over to the ship and disappears from your line of sight, but you can hear him talking to someone who must have circled around where you couldn’t see.
“What do you think, Larry?”
“I don’t know what brought it down,” you hear Larry answer. “Whatever hit it came from above, you can see where an energy beam or something punched straight through it here. Maybe the Venusians have started up with the Martians again?”
“If that’s true, we can ask our friends here,” Jacob says.
Three sleek hover cars glide up across from the trucks. They’re look like old convertible Corvettes, but with tail fins and a large rocket engine on the back. You really want to drive one and make a vow to do just that. Each car has two people in it, all of them armed with ray guns. One of them jumps out, stomps over to the alien body, and begins to yell at the men who are busy chaining it up. You also notice that each of Jacob’s people are carrying guns, though these are the more traditional rifles and handguns that look like they could’ve come from your world.
“Afternoon, Darius,” Jacob drawls as he saunters over to the newcomer. “What brings you out here today?”
“What have you done, Jacob?” Darius yells, removing his helmet. He’s white, almost to the point of being an albino, with long silver hair and a short goatee. Your years of being a con artist have given you the ability to size people up at a glance and you can instantly tell that this guy is a prick. He just has one those faces. “You’ve doomed us all! You attacked a Martian ship! And if the Martians catch you...imprisoning one of their Titans they will take it out on...”
“You’re right, Darius,” Jacob says, reaching into a pouch on his belt and bringing out a walkie-talkie. “My boys and I, in our cobbled together space suits, built an orbital cannon, launched it into space, and shot down a flying saucer as it flew over the desert at two hundred miles an hour. We are damned crafty.”
Jacob turns his back on Darius and begins whispering into the walkie-talkie. Looking over at Darius and the men who came with him, you notice that your space suit and theirs are almost identical. You begin to wonder how the people at the Omega Conglomerate managed to match them so well using only satellite images when you see a flash of green just over a small rise in the distance.
“Jacob,” Darius as walked over and lightly grabbed the taller man’s arm. “You have to hide all this. If the Martians find it, they will blame us and raise the tax. Or worse.”
“We wouldn’t want that,” Jacob says sarcastically. “Heaven forbid your little utopia gets a spanking from its masters. What are they going to do? Cut back on that food they give you and don’t tell you where it comes from? Make you cut your lawns in a more uniform manner?”
“You know what they’ll do,” Darius says flatly, his voice grave. Jacob looks defiant for a moment longer, then sighs.
“I’m already taking care of it,” he says, showing Darius the walkie-talkie. “I got a truck on the way that can haul this back to the base and we’re going to bring the insect back to the base for interrogation. We haven’t gotten a live one in years.”
“You have maybe two hours before another patrol will run through here,” Darius says, watching the other men strain to pick up the alien and carry it over to the back of the truck. “How are the other projects going?”
“I ain’t telling you. Bad enough you know we’re even out here. I can’t have you cracking under pressure and spilling the beans.”
“That’s probably wise,” Darius concedes. “We’re heading back to the city. Try not to leave any evidence.”
Jacob snorts and walks away. As Darius and his men climb back into the hover car,  you notice that green shape again. This time it just pops up for a moment and then ducks back down out of sight. You can’t even get an idea of its shape.
“Orson?” you whisper.
“Yes?” Orson seems to shout in your head, making you flinch enough to shake the ship slightly. Jacob turns at the sound and, again, almost sees you.
“Is something coming closer? Over to the....south?”
“Yes. I am seeink a glob.”
“A glob?”
“A glob is what I said. A green, moving glob that is gettink closer to you.”
Jacob and his people have gathered around the truck and seem to be looking at the alien. You see the man Jacob had been talking to earlier walk up to them. You’ve never seen a more mad looking scientist in your life. Jacob makes a few gestures and everyone, except Enis, gets back into the vehicles.
Enis, rifle in hand, walks over to a small rock and sits down. He waves at the group as they pull away and then he just sits there. Waiting. Your leg is beginning to cramp up a bit, but each time you shift your weight the ship groans a bit. The way he’s sitting though, you are pretty certain you can sneak out and get out of sight without him seeing or hearing you.
“The glob is very close now,” Orson informs you. You look over and see it. It is a glob all right. Its colored an almost radioactive green and you can almost see through it. It is moving with purpose up behind Enis, though you can’t see any eyes, ears, or anything that could be described as a sensory organ.
What are you going to do?

Choice Two

1. Reveal your hiding place and warn Enis about the glob. 37%
2. Keep hiding in the ship and hope you get towed back to Jacob’s base. 12%
3. Sneak out and head to the domed city. 37%
4. Tell Orson that this is all too weird for you and you want to go back to your own world. 12%

You have until Tuesday, October 23rd to place your vote and a new chapter will post on Saturday, October 26th. Have fun!

Tornado Trailer Park (Complete Book I)

Tornado Trailer Park

Chapter One

ripping the battered trailer home off of its cement slab and flinging it into the swirling, debris choked cyclone.
“Oh God, no!” Clem wailed as he clung to the worn brownish carpet that covered his floor. Tears ran freely from his eyes and collected in his bristly black beard. “I regret every bad thing I done! No, that's a lie! I don't regret sleeping with Arlene! She was a fine woman and her husband was a turd! Please don't kill me, Jesus!”
Deep down though, Clem had always known he was going to die in a tornado. He had joked about it when moving into the Sleepy Grove Mobile Home Park seven years ago with his bitch of an ex-girlfriend, but in his marrow he knew it was no laughing matter. Whenever anything good had happened to him, like the time he won fifty bucks on that scratch ticket or when his bitch of an ex-girlfriend finally moved out, he feared that that would be the time a twister would strike down from the sky and wipe out whatever joy he had. Clem knew that when a man was on top of the world it just meant he had further to fall when when the world decided to fuck him.
The problem with Clem's logic though was that nothing particularly good had happened to him lately. His plasma screen had started making everyone on it look kind of green. The water company was threatening to shut off service if he didn't pay up. His truck had started doing a funny little shimmy thing whenever he got above sixty. Yet still, a tornado had touched down just a few miles south of his home and tore a path directly to him, as if God Almighty had decided to personally flick him off the planet.
He had been having a pretty good nap though.
Clem looked up, prayers and vows to every god he could think of (and a few he may have made up) screaming from his lips, and looked around his rapidly disintegrating trailer. Maybe he could find some place to hide and somehow avoid death. He'd heard stories of babies and puppies being lifted up by a tornado and placed gently back onto the ground miles away from where they had started and without a single bruise or scratch on them. Of course, he'd also heard more stories about people finding other people's heads in their rain gutters or cats being driven through oak trees as if they were nails. As Clem crawled toward his television cabinet, hoping that he could move the old VHS tapes out of its bottom drawer and crawl inside, he decided to focus on the happy puppy side of things.
The wind and sound of the twister's scream got louder as his front door was ripped off its hinges. He looked at the gaping hole just as his neighbor's tireless Ford Festiva went hurtling by. The new hole created a vacuum within the trailer and Clem felt himself being dragged towards his doom.
“You go to hell, Baby Jesus!” Clem screamed, rage filled him as he clawed at his filth encrusted carpet for purchase. “Vishnu, Odin, Hammurabi, ya'll can kiss my ass! You go to hell and you die!”
As his body was dragged inexorably toward the howling chasm that used to be the front of his house, Clem began to hear a deep rotating sound come from the middle of his living room. Looking up, he saw that somehow his glass-topped coffee table still stood perfectly still in front of where his pull out couch used to be. His back issues of Oui sat peacefully, their worn covers flapping gently as if being whispered over by a gentle breeze. The rolling sound was coming from his Budweiser commemorative pewter stein, which he mostly drank Milwaukee's Best out of, as it rotated slowly on the table. It stopped for a moment, then seemed to float above the table for a moment.
“Oh crap,” Clem managed to say before the thick cup hurtled towards his face at remarkable speed, the eyes of the its Clydesdale's seeming to pass judgment upon him.
Everything went black.

He felt a gentle breeze blow across his body, gently tousling his hair. Opening his eyes, he saw that he was laying face down on a sheet of rusted metal siding. An ant crawled slowly by an inch or so away from his face, it seemed as amazed by its own survival as Clem was. Dazed, Clem slowly wiggled each of his extremities to make sure that he wasn't paralyzed. Relieved that everything was responding appropriately, he started to see if he could make it to his feet. He made it into a kneeling position before he noticed the maelstrom wall of the tornado not twelve feet in front of him.
At first Clem thought that he had survived being tossed out of the tornado only to have it run him back over but then he noticed that it wasn't getting any closer or further away from him. Standing, Clem looked up and saw the wall curved around him, stretching up as far as he could see and extending to either side for what looked like miles. It curved slowly around him, encircling him in a swirling chaos of debris and dirt.
“I wouldn't get much closer to that, buddy,” A voice shouted behind him. Clem hadn't even noticed that he had started walking towards violently swirling wall. “A few more feet and you'll be shredded to bits. Seen it happen before.”
Clem turned around to see who was talking to him. A man, white bearded and looking like an old hippie, sat on a lawn chair that was set up on top of a vintage Airstream trailer. He was holding a worn out transistor radio in one hand and a clay jug of moonshine in the other. A smile that had said goodbye to more than a few teeth cracked his windblown, red face.
“Welcome to The Eye!”

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Revenant (Chapter One)

Chapter One

The “Doc” had put on a good show. He’d been off his game since the last showdown back in Dodge, but it looked like he’d finally put that little bit of bad business behind him. Didn’t hurt that we’d added Molly to our little troupe, I suppose.
The hard work the Felix and I had put into repainting the wagon seemed to have paid off. Now “Doc Harker’s Magnificent Medicinal Caravan Of Cures” could be seen from a mile away and had all the staples one would expect from a good ol’ fashioned snake oil salesman. Not that Seamus would agree with that little moniker. And I suppose he’d be right to take offense, considering his stuff actually worked.
Not that we didn’t sell colored water laced with camphor and turpentine. Those little multi-colored bottles were the backbone of our operation. Without those we couldn’t feed or clothe ourselves. And Seamus wouldn’t be able to buy the ingredients to the stuff that did work; the little bottles containing chicken parts or cat’s claws or ground-up raven bones. You know, the stuff that made even a guy like me feel a little queasy.
It was that stuff he was trying to sell now, but he was choosy about who got the real thing. I couldn’t blame him though, not after seeing how much of himself he put into those little cure-alls. So while most of the folks (men) gathered around Molly so they could buy the bottles with the fancy labels and maybe flirt a bit, Seamus Harker stood at the back of the wagon and patiently lit a pipe while the ones who really suffered formed a line a short distance away from him.
Felix strolled by where I sat outside one of the local saloons and didn’t even spare me a glance. Instead he was marvelling out loud at how that liniment had worked miracles on his wounded knee and that Doc Seamus Harker must have been sent by the good lord himself to cure the world’s ills. Before joining up with us, Felix had been an actor up in Chicago and he had a tendency to get a bit overexcited when it was his job to be the shill. I would have to remember to tell him to tone it down a bit in the future.
But for now, it was time for me to do my job. I’d been lurking around town for about a week now and had kept my ear open to all the local gossip. The people lined up in front of Seamus weren’t much of a surprise to me, except for the squirrely looking guy who was hanging back at the rear of the line. I didn’t recognize him and I figured he must have come in from one of the outlying farms. Harker would have to deal with that guy on his own.
For now though, the first one up to him was the local butcher. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but he kept messing with his right shoulder and had a look of absolute agony on his face. I figured he must have hurt himself chopping up one of the local dogs that he had caught out back of his shop and used to supplement his beef supply. Or he could have pulled something one of the times he led a sick horse out to his hidden butcher shack out in the hills. It was hard work, butchering things and hiding them in the meat you sell people. Mighty hard work.
Seamus looked sympathetic and listened to his story. About halfway through whatever sad tale the butcher was feeding him, Seamus’s eyes flicked up to mine and I furrowed my brow a bit. Not enough so that anyone would notice, but enough to tell my partner that this guy didn’t deserve the real stuff. So Seamus dropped a reassuring, though slightly forceful, hand on the man’s shoulder and gave him a good old shake. Grinning and stating that he had just the thing, he reached into the back of the wagon and handed the wincing butcher a large poultice. The butcher, recoiling a bit at the smell, thanked the “Doc” enthusiastically and proceeded to put it on his aching shoulder.
Of course if he’d known that the ingredients in that poultice contained, among other things, horse piss and rat feces he probably wouldn’t have been as thankful. And he certainly wouldn’t be if he knew that it had a tendency to make any dead meat within a ten foot radius of it go rotten in less than a day.
The next three or four people were also terrible in their own little ways. Nothing too alarming, so they just got the watered down whiskey and red pepper that the other rubes got. It was best not going around giving everyone a bad case of hoodoo anyway, one wouldn’t want to get the wrong kind of reputation.
The second-to-last person, the one just in front of Squirrely, was an older lady I had been keeping an eye on since I had first come in to town. She had been, I was told, a feisty woman who wasn’t afraid to tell you what was on her mind and had involved herself considerably in the town’s small political arena. But that was before she had married the local dentist/sawbones. It seemed that he hadn’t been fond of his new wife’s tenacious spirit and had taken to slipping morphine into her tea whenever she began to get too rowdy. Years of this treatment had dulled her and made her an addict. Now her husband was dead and she still had no idea that he had been drugging her for the last decade, she just knew she felt horrible all the time and that it had nothing to do with her shitbird dead husband.
I gave Seamus the nod and so he relaxed and gave her the genuine kind treatment that he reserved for the good ones. He gently took her by the elbow and handed her a large, purple bottle with a rose etched into it. I could see him give her direction on its use and she, eyes filled with tears, gave him a quick peck on the cheek. The bottle was also filled with things best not mentioned, and it would give her a hell of a hangover, but she’d feel like her old self by this time next week and wouldn’t get the shakes and headaches ever again.
I looked back and saw that Seamus was talking to Squirrely. My little nickname seemed more accurate than I had imagined, he was frantically waving his hands and his head was constantly darting around as if he expected something to sneak up on him. Their talk went on for about five minutes, enough time for Molly to finish up and start packing the wagon back up. I was supposed to help her, but I wanted to see how this was going to play out. Soon enough, Seamus gave him that trademark pat on the shoulder, said something reassuring, and sent him on his way.
Relighting his pipe, Seamus sauntered over to me and leaned against the hitching post in front of where I sat.
“Afternoon, Titus,” he drawled at me, his accent coming out.
He gave me that look.
“I’m sorry,” I said, taking a cigar out of my coat. “I meant ‘Doc’.”
“That’s better. We must keep up appearances, after all.”
“That is true. Saw you made a new friend there at the end.”
“I did.”
“He seemed nervous. Almost squirrely.”
“It seems he has every reason to be.”
“That so?”
“It seems my new friend,” Seamus said, puffing his cigar and looking at me over the rim of his spectacles. “thinks he’s being haunted.”