Tuesday, November 16, 2010

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 2

"Okay. Up the stairs. Lets see if anyone is watching your truck." I let him go first. That didn't go unnoticed by him. His smirk didn't go unnoticed by me either. I was right. They had lived above the shop. We did a quick tour of the rooms. Someone had tried to set the mattress on fire in the master bedroom. The other bedroom was a kids room. Someone had painted a unicorn on one wall. They had done a nice job of it too. The unicorn was the only thing that interested Thursday in the place so far. He stood and stared at it until I told him from the door "We can see the truck from the window at the end of the hallway."

We looked out and saw that someone had been smart. They had posted three guys as sentries and they looked miserable. Nothing like standing around guarding a pickup while lightening strikes and rain poured down on you. Plus they had to have heard gunfire. So yeah, they were miserable and jumpy. So I was going to have to be subtle. Maybe even think up some tactics or a plan.

Thursday was growling and muttering to himself. What, I didn't know because it was in another language. He sounded a lot like Freya. Once again I reminded myself to have a talk with him later.

I called the kid over and told him "See them people standing around that truck?"

"The one with the weird shiny sheep heads on the front"?

"They're goats!" Thursday told him.

"Yeah those." I told him. Now was not the time to squabble about fucking hood ornaments.

"That's my truck!" Thursday added.

I so wanted right then to lay the Ruger upside his head. Zane told him "Nice truck!" Thursday grinned and told him "You betcha!"

"Both of you shut the fuck up about the fucking truck." I didn't yell. I didn't raise my voice. In fact I said it very quietly. They looked at me and shut up.

"Here's the plan. Zane. I want you to stand here and watch them. If they look like they are going to shoot us then shoot them. Me and Thursday are going to go down and talk to them."

"Talk to them?" Thursday asked incredulously.

"Okay. We're going to get close and kill them." I told him.

"Okay. That's a good plan." Thursday told me. I really wanted to reply "Thanks for your fucking approval hammerhead" but we were trying to stay focused here. Then Zane asked "How do I shoot them if the window is in the way?" I took a deep breath, and growled at him "You shoot through the fucking window." Then I started heading down the stairs before I lost it. Damn, I missed Ninja at times like this. Him and Max. If I had them I would have been halfway back to Night by now."

I heard Thursday clumping along behind me. That man walked heavy. Maybe it was carrying the hammer or maybe he had rocks in his boots. Whatever. I knew I would never take him on a job that required stealth. Door opening? Yes. Sneaking up on anyone ? No. I wasn't worried, at least at the moment, of him dropping that chunk of metal on my head. I didn't sense any animosity towards me now. Probably because he was looking forward to hammering the soldier boys.

I paused at the door and told Thursday "Okay. What I want to do is walk towards them. When they spot us I want us to smile and wave. Got it?"

"Trickery. Sure. I got it" was his reply. I yelled up the stairs "Hey kid!"


"When we get in that truck you best come running down them stairs."

He yelled back, his voice as high pitched as a girls "Got it!"

I pulled the door open enough for me to squeeze out, looked around, the street was quiet, and told Thursday "Okay." I waited until he slipped out and propped it back up. Then we started walking.

I was really hoping the kid wouldn't need to shoot. He was up there for a reason. To keep him safe. Not to be a sniper. If we died they would probably find him and send him back to boarding school. It would suck to be him but he would live. I put him out of my head and focused. Just before we turned the corner I looked over at Thursday. He had picked the same time to check on me. Our eyes met and we both grinned. So far he had been a bit of an asshole at times but he loved this shit as much as I did.

I whipped a little Freya talk on him for the hell of it. I growled "
Doda dem alla" I had been in a growling mood today. I kind of liked it. I was going to do more of it. I thought it fit the occasion much more than soldier talk. What I didn't expect was his reaction to it. He yelled it back at me and took off running while he yelling it over and over loudly. Very loudly. Amazingly loud. I thought "Fuck! You idiot!" I drew both guns and followed him thinking "Why do I even bother to plan."

He was fast for an old man. I had to open it up to stay a couple steps behind him. He was still yelling as he turned the corner. Yelling always made me feel good in these kind of situations too so I joined in adding "
Freya!" at the end. I swung out a bit to his left to give me room to work and lost a couple steps on him doing it. They were still where they had been we looked at them from the window. Their positions had only changed by a couple of steps.

They had frozen in place when Hammerhead rounded the corner yelling but these laddies weren't going to run or panic like the last had. Weapons were going to their shoulders and I was still at least 75 yards away but closing fast. This was going to be tricky. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Thursday throw his hammer. I remember thinking "One shot and he wasted it" and I started pulling triggers. At a full run, off the hip, all I could hope for was spoiling their aim. While I shot I watched that hammer fly. It didn't twirl like a tomahawk. It sailed on a laser beam straight line, head first into the chest of the soldier boy who was getting ready to shoot Thursday. He went backward like he had been hit by a bus.

The guy next to the one who ate the hammer, I was closer now, close enough to tell it was a woman, shot a three round burst at Thursday, while the third one tried to kill me. He shot high. I had missed too but I was closing the distance. Then the hammer Thursday had thrown went sailing back to him like some kind of bizarre high speed replay.

I hadn't heard it but the kid must of cracked the window open because my guys throat exploded in a burst of red spray. The woman soldier was staying calm, she sent another burst towards Thursday and then she spun awkwardly to the side. The kid had hit her but he hadn't put her down. The hammer that hit her did. Even that was an awkward hit because of the fact she was falling, and off balance. I heard bones crunch, saw the grimace of pain, and she was gone, tumbling gracelessly backwards.

I kept running towards them holstering my weapons. I was going to switch to the 30-30 I had slung on my back which as usual I had forgotten about. Plus I didn't like what the flying hammer had told me. I had an idea of who I was dealing with now. Another pain in the ass left over from another time wannabe god who spoke a language that no one else did and wanted to be treated like he was somebody still. Well, I liked the hammer. Maybe he had a spare he didn't need.

We came to halt and stood there looking at the bodies. I looked up and down the street and saw nothing. I didn't expect it to last long. I checked the window. No kid in sight which hopefully meant he was hauling ass towards us. I told Thursday "You got two kills. You want to strip them?"

"No. I want you cut off this ones head." He walked about twenty paces past the truck where the first soldier he had hit landed, grabbed him by his boots, and dragged him back to the truck. While he did that I stripped the other downers and tossed their gear in the back of the truck. I noticed they were wearing crappy quality vests and their boots had seen better days. I thought "Supplies running a little thin or second rate troops?" I filed it away. Night loved knowing this stuff.

The kid had come pounding up grinning until he saw the bodies. I put the grin back on his face by telling him "Good job Zane." Thursday had pulled the soldiers helmet off and positioned the body horizontal to the truck with his head, shoulders, and arms hanging over the side and into the bed. He told me "Okay. Ready when you are." He opened the gas tank and was standing there grinning at me. There was a bit of a challenge in that grin too. I thought "Okay. So you want to see hard core? Fine." I reached back over my shoulder, drew the sword, and stepped forward at an angle to the right of the body. As I did I had to tell Thursday "Move. You're in my way." He was standing there staring bugeyed at my blade. I yelled "Freya!" pivoted, and brought the blade down hard and fast.

As I did Thursday yelled "No" and moved towards me, his hand reaching out to grab my arm and stop my swing. He wasn't fast enough. The blade gleamed brightly as it went slicing through the air. I remember thinking "He's going to be pissed when he sees the gash my beauty puts in the side of his truck." I had put everything I had in it and it felt right and true on the down swing. It sliced cleanly, even though the angle was a little off. It cut like it always cut flesh, like nothing in the world would ever stop it. Then it bit into his truck and my world exploded.

I came to with Zane kneeling next to me. His face floating above me, vaguely seen between the blue white after images that danced through my vision, leftovers from the arc torch brightness I had just seen. He asked me, actually sounding worried "You okay?"

I still held the sword in my left hand I could feel the grip glowing, it was a nice warm heat in my hand. I told him "Yeah. I'm fine." and got to my feet feeling more than a little off balance. Thursday had the neck of the soldier whose head I cut off jammed into his gas tank opening. He was muttering and seemed extremely pissed about something. I looked at the sword, it looked fine, and I sheathed it. Zane whispered to me "What is he doing?"

I replied "Filling it up with unheaded kid."

"Get in the truck." While he did that I walked over to where Thursday was finishing up. As I watched, I told him "We need to move soonest." He replied "Who's we Freya Warrior?" Then he yelled at Zane "Get out of my truck!" With that he dropped the body, which looked more than a little shriveled, jerked open the truck door, and tossed his hammer inside. He settled himself behind the wheel, rested his elbow on the window jam, and told me "I'll make this quick. You got your head up your ass as far as your priorities. You got the killing down but you suck at the rest. You are sworn to Freya. I could work around that but you carry the Sword." He looked at me, sighed, I guess he saw I wasn't getting it "Damn, if you aren't one of the dimmer candles in the beer hall." Then he turned the key, yelled "You got 20 seconds!" put it in gear, and was gone.

I spent two precious seconds processing his remarks and the rapidly disappearing back end of his truck. It didn't help that his exhaust pipe was glowing a deep red, almost like an eye, which I thought was rather cool. Then it clicked. I yelled "Run!" and took off for the end of the street. I heard the kid behind me and hoped he kept up because we were going to cut this one close. I cut around the corner, saw a house with a yard and headed for the overgrown bushes besides it. The kid turned the corner just in time. A second slower and they would have seen him. I heard vehicles stopping where the bodies lay and a truck went hauling ass down the street we just cleared in the same direction as Thursday had gone. I thought "Good luck catching that asshole." Anyone who fueled their truck on unheaded and whose exhaust glowed like a dragons eye was not going to be caught by someone driving a Ford.

The kid slid into the bushes. Thank god they weren't holly or something equally obnoxious. "You up to doing some serious running?" I asked him. He whispered "Yes sir."

"You like dogs?"

He looked at me like it was a perfectly normal question to ask when you hiding in a clump of weeds and bushes and replied "Sure. Who doesn't."

"Good." I told him. I unslung the 30-30, asked him "Ready?" I waited for his nod. Stuck my head up and looked around, and said "Go!"

We had to fade and freeze a few times. The kid, for being so young, moved well. He also didn't try talking to me which was good. It was definite plus that he understood basic hand signs. Maybe two hours later we were back to where we had dropped the dogs. We could of been there quicker but I took a roundabout path to get there and approached from the other side. Instead of going to the exact spot I stopped about 500 yards from it and settled down behind a downed tree. I told the kid I would watch for a bit. Of course he told me he wasn't tired and then went to sleep about three minutes later.

I looked at him as he slept and saw the parts of Carol in him. His skin was her color, ivory pale, but it tanned easy instead of burned. The hair was brown with streaks of gold like hers. He had Max's face. The eyes were all Max too. Not a bad combination if he hadn't been too damaged along the way. Then I fell asleep. It was one of those dreams that were totally life like, in color, and I could feel every emotion at twice the power of what I would feel awake.

I was back in time, another world ago, high school. I was looking for Carol. It was the day of graduation practice, a practice I was not invited to, and I knew I had to find her and talk to her or I would never see her again. The thought of that almost made me sick. I kept running into people who wanted to talk but I either brushed them off or asked them if they had seen her. A couple of girls laughed and told me where they had seen her last but she wasn't there. I would run up to groups of people, search each ones face for her, but she was nowhere to be found. Even her the group she should have been in -- she wasn't. She was gone. Gone for ever. I wandered away, found a private place, and I sat there and cried and cried.

In the dream it seemed like I cried for ever but at some point a hot wind began to blow into my face. My tears stopped, then dried up. In my dream I realized the breeze had changed. It stunk now of rotten meat and drops of rain were falling on my face.. I woke up with a start, my brain shrieking "Oh my god! I fell a sleep on watch!" Jeebus, the adrenaline kicked in then. It didn't help that I bolted straight up and bumped noses with Woof who standing over me. He had a wet nose too. I told him "Damn Woof...get off me." and wiped the drool he had dropped on my face off with my hand. I was going need to wash my face. Woof's saliva smelt like his breath. Foul.

The kid woke up a lot calmer than I did but then he wasn't sleeping on watch or breathing in fresh Woof breath. He was a little bit wide-eyed. Woof's friends who surrounded us were sitting, laying, and in one case, licking himself, would do that to most people. Especially to a kid that weighed, maybe, as much as the scrawniest dog there. I looked over at Zane and said "Don't worry. They're on our side for now." I pushed Woof aside, got up, stretched, and checked where the sun was. We had a couple of hours to go before sunset. Woof was sniffing the kid who much to my surprise reached up and scratched Woof behind the ear. I heard him whisper "Hey doggie." Woof liked that. I knew that because his tail wagged.
We moved fast without stopping. I ran us back the way we had come but I planned on looping down towards Kentucky and then back up. Too many people had been stirred up to go back the same way. We were going to have to find us some more water soon too. Fortunately it wasn't that scarce. Filtering it was going to take some time. It must have been nice to be able to drink from a stream without having to worry about spending the rest of your life sitting in the woods shitting your insides out. I wanted to find a spring. I also wanted a lot of things but I would take what I could get and like it. Supposedly once upon a time that had been a joke. I never got what was funny about it. It seemed to sum up life for most everyone I knew.

We made camp on the opposite side of a hill with the road about a mile or more on the other side of that. I decided to go light on dinner. We had eaten pretty good that day. Better than I know I was used too. We settled in. I didn't know what to do about watches since their was only me. I was glad no one else had witnessed my falling asleep on the job. We had the dogs so I was going to use them as watch standers. I knew they would run off to hunt though. I just hoped they stayed close. Regardless, I was going to be up before dawn.

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