Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hiatus Extension

It looks like we're pushing back the hiatus until at least January 1st. Apologies to all the folks who've been waiting for new material. Finances are being sorted. Thank you for your understanding.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hiatus

Life can get ugly and get in the way.  I'm sorry to say that because of this, our hiatus is coming a little earlier than expected.  It's starting today, September the 18th and we'll be resuming again on December 1st.  Again, this wasn't intended, but ugly life issues have pushed their way in.  Thank you for your time and support.

-Jason

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rue: Perdido Part 4

An Undertaker's Task


I hadn’t really expected the visitor’s center to look normal when we reached it. I just wasn’t really expecting it to have become a stepped pyramid either. They hadn’t fooled around with the color; they hadn’t mucked about with the size of the first floor.

However, there were now second, third, and fourth floors. Each one was an equally rectangular, boring little building stacked atop the other. Stairs ascended the side of the building, giving access to each layer of the still under construction pyramid.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Pallbearer: The Barter System Part 1

Incubii


Waking up is closer to death than any other part of life. You thrash and twitch as you come to, your eyes starting to open. That crusty shit gets in the way though and keeps them mostly shut, only letting light barely peep under the lid. Finally, when you do get them all the way open, the world isn’t half what you were expecting. At this point, you’d rather just roll over and forget it. You can’t though. You can’t sleep any more now than you could if a tiger was standing on your chest.

In my case, one was.

The Boy Named Nod: Part 2 of Milk Carton

Hijackers


I had come here to save a boy from suffering and his mother from certain death. I had not come here to peep through windows at rusty skeletons. Here they were though, remnants of the latest disease in a parade to take its turn filleting up parts of the city.

Oh good, the conquering hero, come to throw fate aside. Let us not mention that he destroyed or at very least, delayed one of the sources of a cure. It made me sick to my stomach that so many had died and were left to decompose in their homes. Their bodies served no real purpose, spread no disease that the Corps couldn’t cure. So to hell with them, they could stay in their tenement tombs until they faded back into dust.

Pathetic.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Speechless: Hunting Party Part 4

Eye For An Eye


I thought I was making some pretty good time down that hallway for a cyclops, but the bastard just wouldn’t slow down. He was dodging and weaving through every little corridor, prancing across the catwalks, hopping over guardrails, thinking he was going to get away.

Too bad I’m persistent. Having your arm flayed open, salt scraped into it, and then losing your eye can do that to a man though.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wither The Vain: Part 1 of The Tower

Foundation of Blood


The skull was heavy in my hand. It was a little surprising, I’ll admit. I wouldn’t have expected a weak-minded creation to have such a thick skull. I turned to Wither. He was still clenching his teeth, his fists balled up nice and tight. Christoph and Seth were standing on either side of him. They didn’t look quite as pissed. Not quite. More just tired and eager to hurt things.

I understood. This was an embarrassment. A fucking slap to the face. It would not be tolerated.

Rue: Perdido Part 3

Dead Tired


Those of you unfortunate enough to have been in a similar situation assuredly understand what I’m about to say. The rest of you will, unfortunately, have to use your imaginations. If you took every piece of meat that has ever gone rancid in your personal refrigerator over the course of your entire lifetime, dipped it in liquid fecal matter, and cooked it in a rice steamer, you would understand what feral dog breath truly smells like. Werewolf breath smells only slightly better. I have to imagine that’s because they don’t eat their own shit. I don’t think they do anyway.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Pallbearer: Honeymoon Blues Part 4

Rising


The sun was rising when Cassie and I reached the outside. I had never been one that watched sunrises much before Chrysalis. I was too busy watching strange things happening around me to be bothered. This one though, this particular sunrise, got watched.

It was worth it.

Cassie saw it first as we came up the incline leading out of the tunnel we had walked for over thirty hours. Her head tilted to the right as she saw the sky. She stood that way for a moment, even as I kept walking, my eyes on the ground, trying to tug her forward. Then, just as my eyes started to tilt up and look at the thing pouring light across my toes, even as my Brute’s optics were finally deciding to come out of night vision mode, Cassie ran.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Boy Named Nod: Milk Carton Part 1

Bloodhounds


“Absolutely not.”

“Mr. Nod, please reconsider.”

“I don’t reconsider hunting down children.”

“These aren’t normal children.”

“In case your powers of observation are lacking, I’m not normal either.”

“That’s one of the reasons why we chose to contact you first and foremost.”

“I see. You decided that a child would be useful to hunt down other children. While I’m loathe to forcibly expel a job offer from my home, my colleagues have no such compunction. Make your point swiftly or leave with equal speed.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Speechless: Hunting Party Part 3

Eye Sore


Being held up against the wall by thin air was not what I had been expected. Jack had warned me that the other two had gone on ahead of us but I hadn’t quite pictured this little albino worm with one fish eye and one oily eye to be waiting for us. Jack and I had almost expected it to be Corsair and were ready to charge headlong into death for our own reasons. We were not ready for our lives to be thrown away to some random twit.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wither The Vain: Lost Cities Part 4

Brigadoon


One person swinging four swords tends to make people concerned that maybe, just maybe, they’re now four times as deadly. That’s nonsense. Nandin had always been proof of that. Even with him flailing around wildly like some random Hindu deity on speed, he was more pest than warrior. There was a problem though.

I had no weapons.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Rue: Perdido Part 2

Lookin' Up From Six Feet Down


For the first time in weeks, my optimism wasn’t entirely misplaced. There was no trouble getting past the guards at the gates. There were no guards at the gates. There were no gates. The sign at the main entrance lay in splinters on the ground as blood dribbled out of the guardhouses in sticky streams.

“That certainly makes this easy.”

“Easy? What’s easy about this? People are dead!”

“True enough.”

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Pallbearer: Honeymoon Blues Part 3

Reverant


I have always been accused as having a lack of proper respect for the important things in life. I think that got started the first time I put my gum in the collection plate. Nobody seemed very amused. I figured Jesus could use some gum. Must suck being stuck on that cross all the time. Y’know, the way I figured it, if his death was stopping us from being in hell, he must be there too. And you know, that only pissed off the priest all the more.

That was fine too though. I quite liked the idea that I wasn’t well liked. Never really felt like polishing the holy pole myself.

But here, here, I think they’d all have to shut their fucking mouths.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Boy Named Nod: Seas of Blood and Fire Part 4

Booty


As I stood next to Michael, I couldn’t help but remember the quiet little island where I would sell off all of our captives. The island had a name but I never cared to remember it. I knew all I needed to about it.

It was a clearinghouse for slaves.

Speechless: Part 2 of Hunting Party

In A Blind


Once upon a time, there was a man named Curtis and he liked to play with eyes. It had started when he was little. His third grade teacher brought sheep eyes into class and let them dissect the eyes with little scalpels. It was enough to break little Curtis’ heart. For you see, Curtis had no eyes of his own. That would change though. That would all change when Curtis moved to Chrysalis Falls with his Daddy.

You see, Curtis had already been learning all sorts of things about eyes. He tried telling his mommy once, but she wouldn’t stop screaming. He was telling her about how the dog’s eyes seemed to fit just right when he put them where his eyes were supposed to be. But she wouldn’t stop screaming and waving her hands at the dead dog in the middle of the floor. Well, of course the dog was dead. Didn’t want it to be missing its eyes too. That would’ve been cruel.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wither The Vain: Lost Cities Part 3

Akakor


There’s always someone trying to jam their fingers into the gears. We had only just begun to discuss how Anubis would be dealt with when this little gem arrived via owl. For a moment, we thought it was going to be good news. Should’ve known better. It’s never good news here.

----------------------------------------


Danny Corsair trailed his fingers over the surface of his bathwater and shivered (twice) before dropping in the hair dryer. Every nerve grinned and giggled as the wriggling electric worms squirmed through his body. The sweet juice pouring through the hair dryer cord only lasted until the breaker blew but that was long enough for Danny. He slumped back in the tub and smiled a twitchy smile, every muscle still jerking.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Rue: Perdido Part 1

Land Of The Dead


People always complain about the smell of wet dog in the car. I doubt ever will again. A dead man on a hot day on real leather is far worse. Rick was fidgeting in the back seat; fumbling with his hat, inspecting his nails, and untying/retying his shoes. He was understandably nervous. We knew that his mayoral nemesis hadn’t tried to have him killed. Instead, things were even worse.

Someone was scavenging bits and pieces of the dead in order to bring to life people like Sgt. Johnson. Johnson was dealt with now at least, having found justice at the fiery fingers of those he stole from. His passing though, hadn’t helped us much. All we knew was that the source of this misery was in Cairo District.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Pallbearer: Honeymoon Blues Part 2

Tunnel of Love


Talking had somehow become a festival of stumbling words and bumbling sentiments. When had I become a tangled mess? When had I become a garbage pile of broken ideas and half-finished thoughts? As Cassie and I made our way down the recently cleared road to the Gray Pack village at the entrance to the tunnel they had come through, we spoke little. I had been fighting for the better part of a year to be with her and now that I had her, I had my tongue cut out?

How goddamned stupid.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Boy Named Nod: Seas of Blood and Fire Part 3

Rum


I shrugged off my jacket and tossed it to the ground. My bowtie followed it shortly thereafter. I had already removed my shoes. They didn’t need to be roughed up any further than they already had been.

The Wrecking Crew was scurrying about from underneath my coat, carrying it away across the sand and back to the Wulf brothers for me. Little shouts of “Arr!” burst out from underneath it as they passed the hawk-headed gargoyle manning the gate I had just come out of. He pulled a lever and the gate slammed shut. He nodded to me solemnly and disappeared into the tunnel.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Speechless: Hunting Party Part 1

Pursuit


As it turned out, Nagumo was not so abysmal to travel with as I had expected. We both sucked at conversations so we didn’t bother. Every so often, one of us would laugh softly and the other would notice and start laughing too. It was priceless. It really was.

You see, the hate hadn’t subsided in the slightest. With every step down the bare concrete tunnel our torturers had used to escape, it only grew. It grew in Nagumo as well. I could hear his mouth moving as he talked to himself. He was reciting every Far East mantra he could come up with to calm himself and his swords. It made me feel less guilty about how badly my lead pipe wanted to crush his skull.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wither The Vain: Lost Cities Part 2

Atlantis


It was four in the morning and I was bored out of my beak. Wandering through a theme park prison was not what I had in mind when I had been roused from my sleep two hours prior. A Council owl had arrived bearing Wither’s message that he had been inducted to The Council and that he would be another three days as the meeting continued. After the owl had departed, it had taken me a moment to gather exactly why Wither had bothered to wake me at this deathly hour of the bloody morning to tell me he would be gone another three days. Then it occurred to me.

He was gloating.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Rue: Dead Heat Part 3

Dead End


I had never liked Sergeant Steve Johnson, even before he stated his intention to shove me headfirst into a crematory furnace. He patted a hefty gloved hand on the chain link conveyor belt.

“So, Rue, are you going to lay down and roll in like a good boy or am I going to have to carry you?”

“I’m afraid you’ll have to carry me Steve. After all, I had intended to get answers today before dying, not after.”

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Pallbearer: Honeymoon Blues Part 1

Forté


The walls of my new junkyard district were overrun with refugees. They were rats fleeing a sinking ship for another one that had only begun its descent. Bellmaker’s Errata were almost back to full strength with only two hundred memory chips left to implant into a functioning robot but it wasn’t enough. Even up to the original six thousand they had been before West Worthington’s purges, they had to stop all construction in order to simply monitor the tide of immigrants. Alithea and her mate Nar had their thousands working to try and build shelters for themselves AND the refugees. They too were swamped under our new popularity. That was something to this empire running that I hadn’t considered.

That people would want in.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Boy Named Nod: Seas of Blood and Fire Part 2

Drop Anchor


The Commandant’s men were waiting for us as the E-Rail car approached PelĂ© Station. Their stone faces watched us as we sped past their double-breasted slate gray uniforms. Like most of The Commandant’s Gargoyles, they were all humans modified to look like statuary with rock hides. On a rare occasion, he had his engineers reveal a patched together winged monstrosity to serve as a lieutenant. None had bothered coming today though. The Commandant was underestimating us.

How quaint. I suppose it hadn’t been a bad plan on his part, but woefully lacking in imagination. After all, why would we feel compelled to us the station?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Speechless: Aiming High Part 4

Ideals


As the skinless man walked across the floor he squished and squelched. Part of me giggled and wondered what vintage the wine beneath his feet would be. A click click click followed him across the floor above my head. His sister was back again. Would the bitch never leave? He’d be a big enough problem without some acid-spitting whore at my back as well.

Things had been going well enough. I should’ve known better. The Baron’s list of targets had all been too… unremarkable. They died too easy, moved too slowly, and lacked any semblance of bizarre abilities. They were normal humans and all too easy to find and kill. I wasn’t needed for this. Nate had known all too well where every one of our targets had been except for the last one.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wither The Vain: Lost Cities Part 1

Mu


What a sorry sight the members of The Council were. You’d think that they’d be a little better kept. I tossed my hair over my shoulder in annoyance. I was expecting a meeting of gods, not a high school reunion in a lightless, almost windowless tower scavenged from the sunken continent of Mu. Boring.

I put my feet up on the table, mud falling off my boots as I waited. Delilah rolled her eyes and smoothed her skirt next to me. I looked across the creaky banquet table to survey the attendees. Dozens of impish tribal deaths milled about near the buffet line, occasionally snapping off one of their companions’ limbs. Shinigami of various sizes, genders, and pallor stood quietly in another corner of the room. Among their younger members, cartoony features were the order of the day. Each of them would barely have the power to crush a city block. Somehow, that had garnered them a place on The Council. Others wandered about as well. Aboriginal Australian ghosts paced in place as tropical deaths sat near to the bar, drinking mai tais until they burst into flames. It was like the damned U.N. in here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rue: Dead Heat Part 2

Speaking For The Dead


“Morgan, if this is about the eggs, we can always go somewhere else for breakfast. You know that.”

I had Hugo up against the wall of his morgue. I still hadn’t told him why either. The question had really been whether or not he’d figure it out on his own. If the guilt was too great and he buckled, it made my life all the easier.

He honestly had no idea why I’d be here.

I let him down into his little black leather circle seat and sat on the counter in front of him.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pallbearer: Wedding Dirge

Wedding Dirge


It has always struck me just how similar the wedding song and the funeral march are. Don’t worry too much about that to death ‘til us part bit; it won’t be that long until you’re both in the ground anyway. Some people say pomp and circumstance is like that too. I don’t know, never heard it. It wouldn’t surprise me though. Between stunted imaginations and the normal tongue-in-cheek crap, it’d be just about par.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Boy Named Nod: Seas of Blood and Fire Part 1

Salt Dreams


The taste of sea salt never leaves your tongue after you’ve married yourself to the waves. I remember so clearly the sun shining down on my stony self as I handed out orders to the crew. They would snap to attention and move on the double. There had been only one attempt at mutiny by a fellow Englishman that thought me a coward. With a single blow, he had been hurled out to greet the lapping waves. The rest of the crew would never question my orders again. Not once had my orders unreasonably jeopardized them, but they now knew that even the burliest among them stood not a chance at sinking The Gentleman aboard his own ship.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Speechless: Aiming High Part 3

Sharpening


I belonged in the position of Magistrate no more than I belonged aloft and flying through the sky. It was not my failure to catch Jack Lorenz that brought me to this conclusion. It was the actions of my fellow Judges that brought me to this conclusion. I sat in the darkness of Sturm’s office, hands folded, waiting for his return. He would return soon, no doubt. He would not be expecting me to be here. Why should he? I would out hunting Jack Lorenz. I would be being a useful tool, a sword that held swords. It is what I should be.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rue: Dead Heat Part 1

Dead Man Knocking


“Morgan honey, there’s a dead man here to see you.”

I flung the rest of the shaving cream on my razor into the sink. One last scrap of my face and the cheap plastic razor followed it in. I wiped off the last remnants of the rank shaving cream and tossed down a couple ProTabs.

A dead man at the door for me? There went my “vacation.”

I stepped out of the bathroom and crossed the kitchen to the door. Amy was waiting there, watching our guest through the peep hole.

“Any guesses hon?”

“Not really. I don’t recognize him as one of the regulars in our building. He looks a little out of place. He might be freshly dead and trying to figure out what’s going on.”

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wither The Vain: Scavenger Hunt Part 8

Time's Up


Being carried into one of The Scavenger’s hidden temples trussed up for a spit-roasting was not really what I had expected when I let Natalie out of her prison. I had stopped bothering to struggle after the third Sleeper in that damned vulture’s service took it as an excuse to punch me in the jaw. Natalie was waving to everyone happily as she meandered through the wooden pews filled with Sleepers, Judges, and the occasional human. They had all heard The Scavenger’s cries at night and had come, seeking the source of their nightmares. They had thrown themselves before the mercy of Boyd and the others.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Pallbearer: War Part 6

Coalition Forces


I have to say I was beginning to become impressed with the way Mr. Anderson had handled everything. None of our creators had understood that we had emotions. That wasn’t supposed to be a product of our artificial intelligence. We were supposed to be reasoning, not feeling. There was a fine line between the two, truthfully. What else would you call the signal relaying damage to my CPU but pain? Honestly, these humanoids were baffling.

All of them except for Mr. Anderson, of course. The fox woman, Alithea, was less than impressed. She had been shouting for most of the last three days about his idiotic methods. I supposed she was shouting mainly because we were all expecting to be destroyed. Even Bellmaker was willing to accept this.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Boy Named Nod: Walkabout Part 5

Full Circle


It’s easy to see why there are so many pyromaniacs in the world with how beautiful fire looks as it springs to life. It slips its thousand tongues around its prey, clutching so tightly. The lovers of the world wish they could cling so tightly to their beloveds. As the fire’s fuel dies, so does its passion, the flames flickering fervently. Its love is fleeting though, as soon it can find another who claims their heart. It leaps to its new prize with all the burning desire it can muster. The cycle continues ever onward until the flame has naught else to love, or until it is bested by those jealous of its passion.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Speechless: Aiming High Part 2

Sighting


It was almost as boring as playing a video game. Wait. Kill. Repeat. They might hear the bullet coming, but these were ordinary humans in league with The Judges out of fear and survivor’s guilt. A shot, a kill, and I’d move on to my next target. Another level cleared, another thousand points that no one gave a rat’s ass about, another target waiting. They were all just heads to step on as you headed for the boss.

What happens when the game’s beaten though? I turned that thought over in my head as I pulled the trigger on my new rifle. My body shook and my ears bled and I was on the floor squirming in pain, but that wasn’t where my brain was. My brain was waiting for the bonus round.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wither The Vain: Scavenger Hunt Part 7

Ten Sticky Fingers


“How does it feel knowing you’re the father of modern disease?”

“Bah, I’ve been thought of as the father of all disease, modern or not, for long enough it doesn’t matter.”

Josef had his feet up on a teak coffee table and was drinking from a glass of vodka and cranberry. He was taking my visit entirely all too well since the badger invaders had been dealt with.

“Obviously you’re not here to kill me Arturo. If you had been, you’d have helped the Sleepers finish my guards and I off. So what do you want?”

“Those particular messengers were from The Scavenger, yes?”

“Yes. We had been supposed to work out a business arrangement regarding the dispersal of toxins into the water system. I had been informed that a correction to my vaccine had already been released. I thought rather than fighting with each other, that maybe this Scavenger would be interested in some sort of business arrangement.”

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rue: Breakfast

My egg had dribbling of yellow, milky snot leaking from its center. I poked at it absently, feeling my stomach cower in disgust. Hoff was happily stabbing his crusty hunk of toast into the phlegmy eye of his own egg. He munched away cheerily, looking at me from across the table.

“What is it Morgan? The Broken Killings are over. It’ll only be a matter of time before The Revolver Saint’s brought to justice. Pieprzak’s giving you a vacation, even.”

I wiped off my fork with my napkin and started shoveling in my hash browns. They were greasy but good and hot still. That made a huge difference. I waited until I was done with my mouthful before answering Hoff.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Pallbearer: War Part 5

One Man Army


My nightmares walked with me as I made the long haul towards the oncoming Disciples. It was hard to tell apart the nightmares from the dreams. With at least one clone of Arlee having been kicking around, it wasn’t that hard to imagine more. That’s all I needed, an army of Arlee; barking orders and whimpering dinner instructions to their long gone wife in their sleep.

I had stumbled through this junkyard before on my way out of Gravesite. I had gunned down phantoms then too. It had been my prisoner disposal unit. I had blown apart their memories and put them to bed. They weren’t haunting me this time. No. This time, it was everyone else.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Boy Named Nod: Walkabout Part 4

Meeting Yourself

It was a little uncomfortable sitting in the middle of a jazz tornado. I had never been exposed to much in the way of jazz and the way it slides over you like you’re a strawberry being dipped in chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, the music was nice and the smoke had a nice cherry tobacco scent to it. However… it just seemed wrong for a place to be this laid back.

Miss Molly had run to the ladies room to freshen up a bit after our encounter in the alleyways. I slowly sucked at a random bottle the bartender had recommended. It was okay. I wasn’t overly impressed with how watered down beer always seemed to be, but it did the job I suppose. It wasn’t like I ever actually got drunk. I just knew when I should be getting drunk and acted appropriately.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Speechless: Part 1 of Aiming High

Redirection


I had not expected to spend the time I had allotted to mourning sitting and chewing the fat with an obnoxious voodoo ghost. I didn’t like his too sweet rum. I didn’t like his top hat. I didn’t like the stink of the swamp that lingered around him.

His cigars though, they were pretty fine.

“You know why she did what she did, doan you?”

I sucked on the end of my cigar and held the smoke in, willing it to paint my lungs black. I exhaled slow, letting the rich, sweet flavor roll out. After sitting and thinking for a minute, I set my cigar down and starting signing back to him.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Wither The Vain: Scavenger Hunt Part 6

Seventeen Dragon Scales


I stood in the pit beneath Meddigo Tower and smiled. The water coursed beneath me and through the water main that ran between my feet and up into the great reservoir that Morelli had commissioned. I wrapped my gnarled hand around the pipe leading into the reservoir and smiled as I felt the corruption flowing through the water within.

My lips split in a splintered smile. Let Wither try to top this. Already, the occupants of the tower would be growing ill and weak. I could just see Morelli’s office plants withering and turning black as they were watered in vain. Darling that image was, absolutely darling.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rue: The Shattering Part 6

Walking Cast



“What are we doing here Rue? I’m not interested in a trip down memory lane.”

I tossed down a pair of ProTabs and felt the little bits of fear from earlier embedded in my spine melting away. I cracked my neck and adjusted my coat. The ofuda, Japanese exorcism papers, I had fashioned prior to visiting Ms. Hamasaki were starting to crinkle up inside my pocket. I sighed and started to straighten them out.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Pallbearer: War Part 4

Fishing With Dynamite


I cried for joy as the air was painted with the screams of the dying and the lamentations of those who would soon join them. St. George was far too strong a beast to cry, but it roared its appreciation of the carnage with volley after volley of high explosive. The ground erupted angrily, spewing shards of old car and apartment windows into the Judge army.

It had been beautifully text book. The Judges had made their encampment in a sloping valley of garbage. They had no cover barring the old husks of long dead cars. The Sleepers had held back in reserve as those Errata with long-range rifles came to the fore. The tank-treaded Errata retrofit their grenade launchers to volley fire and positioned themselves as our artillery. Well out of range of the few Repentant pistols, the massacre had begun.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Boy Named Nod: Walkabout Part 3

The Running of the Ooze


It’s hard not to get a little overconfident when you’ve never missed a target in your life. I mean, really, what is there to be afraid of if you aren’t being outnumbered? You can pick off whatever’s coming long before it gets to you. This time though, staring at the creature in front of me, and the coagulated vomit that it was composed of, I reckoned I might’ve bit off more than I could chew.

The dog-headed thing in front of me began to turn its body toward me. The bear body and cloven hooves twisted toward me, drippings plopping off of it with every step. Its tentacles continued to slither after the redhead. She was scurrying backwards but not fast enough. I let the twins start talking again and they blew apart the tentacles reaching for the damsel I was attempting to rescue. Unfortunately, she continued to scurry back in horror and not clamber to her feet.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Speechless: The Way Part 4

The Price of Redemption


Angela dabbed the blood from my ears as I lay whimpering. We were still in the safe house, hiding in their secret room. Every safe house had at least one room with secure blast doors designed to look just like normal walls. Most people considered them pretty much impregnable and thoroughly soundproof. Sound proof they weren’t. Not by a long shot. Not to my ears. I winced as Angela wiped away the blood pooling in my right. The freedom fighters had called it their safety deposit box. I wondered when the postman would be by to pick us up.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wither The Vain: Scavenger Hunt Part 5

One Fileted Fish


As I pushed open the swinging doors that led into the hospital and saw how many Judges there were in my way, I knew this was going to be one hell of a lot of fun. My hands had led me here, red and raw with hunger. They were eager to feed on the fish tonight. That was good. I was tired of being stuck in old man mode. I was tired of having to worry about this damn cataract. I wanted my black hair back. It would look good with that scar Thane had given me.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

No new posts this weekend as we're taking a short break before starting back Monday with our one a day schedule.  We've just about caught up the archives.  For those just joining, welcome to The Vigilant.  Glad to have you here.  Until I get brought down by one of the Corps, you can count on us.

Stay Vigilant,

Swan out.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rue: The Shattering Part 5

Splintered


When my eyes adjusted, I realized that it because they didn’t really want to see what I was surrounded by. Even through my revulsion, I had to smile. She was almost prettier than I had expected. Almost. Her voice had been sweet and there was no reason to doubt that the honeyed threats came from an equally sugary source. She wore a black kimono with fluorescent pink butterflies adorning, folded reverse for the dead. Her red lipstick was stark against her pale skin and white hair. Her eyes were red. Not fake contacts red. They were red pink like an albino.

The Pallbearer: War Part 3

Conscripts


The first time I had come through this district, I had had the dead following me. I had put down every one of my companions. At the very least, I put away their bloody memories. This time, I had an army of machines out to help me slaughter a massive raiding party of animal men. Except things were more complicated than that. Weren’t they always?

My Errata pushed forward relentlessly. It was beautiful. St. George sought out the largest mounds of trash and blew them apart with high explosives. The Sleepers that broke from cover died, gunned down by the treaded Errata leading the charge. Hardly any bothered to try and charge us. It was appalling to me.

The Boy Named Nod: Walkabout Part 2

Cardboard Communities


Hanging with the homeless and drunk was far more fun than I had figured. During the day, I camped out among the cardboard box villages and shared in the stories they had to share. This city was far stranger than I had ever imagined. Murders, disappearances, people used as test subjects. That was all pretty common. What threw me was the number of people claiming they saw ghosts on a regular basis. There was even an old guy, said he served in the army when the country still existed. He claimed that he saw a man-sized dragon rummaging around in his dumpster a couple nights before. Like I said, strange.

Speechless: The Way Part 3

The Price of Justice


Rynth watched me with rapt attention as I communed with the tap water. I placed my hands in a triangle at my forehead. The stream of water coming from the tap I had found in the security room curved upwards. A head and arms formed from it and it made the same gesture with liquid hands at its chest.

“Namaste.”

“Namaste, Magistrate. I am glad to see you escaped from the purge earlier.”

“I thank you for your kind wishes and am equally glad to see you purified of so many toxins.”

“It is appreciated Magistrate. I know you are not here for pleasantries. What do you seek?”

“I seek Jack Lorenz and the one he has abducted.”

“I am everywhere and nowhere Magistrate. I know where he is. What will you do when you find him?”

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wither The Vain: Scavenger Hunt Part 4

Something Green and Something Fat


Unlike his fellows, this one’s face twisted up in surprise more than fear as I slid my knife across his throat and wiped it off on my feathers. It didn’t surprise me to find that they were using guppies as security guards in places they thought no one could get to.

It was a little saddening, but not surprising. Nine were dead so far and not a single one had managed to hit me yet.

Crawling around in this damp aquarium of a building was grating on my nerves. The humidity was collecting on my feathers, weighing me down. So far, none of the Judge functionaries that could tell me where my target was could be found. It would easy enough to know whom I sought. There had only been one Sleeper captured in the last three months according to the records I had found in the possession of a now very dead barracuda. The other Sleepers had all been killed on the spot and sent immediately to a medical center for summary dissection. I wasn’t sure what they were hoping to extract but I filed away the information for future use.

The Pallbearer: War Part 2

Outnumbered


Cassie’s ring had never shone more butter gold than when I had slipped it on her finger on Bellmaker’s operating table. She was not awake. I hadn’t been able to stay that long. The Errata were already on the march. Landon, the little Dr. Steel fan, had been busy. After the initial intrusion, he had rounded up the other scouts and sent them searching for signs of invasion. What they found distressed the Errata.

Rue: The Shattering Part 4

Twisted


Captain Pieprzak was yelling. I wasn’t listening. I was still reading the case file he was raving about taking away from me. He had said something earlier about taking my badge as well after infuriating the E.F. and the Revolver Saint’s owner, Falci. I was rereading my notes, reading about the old victims, reading about how forty young women, thirty-nine of them prostitutes, had been tortured to death. I was reading their pain, their inexperience at the world’s oldest, dirtiest profession. I was reading about how all of them that had turned to prostitution had done so within three months before their death. Most importantly of all, I was reading about how the corpse on the floor of Kari Ellington’s apartment wasn’t some random john that had scooped her up for a nice night of joint shattering. Instead, I was reading about how he had been found about to deposit the traditional semen all of her corpse, how the Revolver Saint put three bullet holes in him, and how no one yet knew his identity.

The Boy Named Nod: Walkabout Part 1

 Target Practice


As much as I love my brother, I didn’t think he’d understand. It’s alright though. He didn’t need to this time.

“Trevor, what are you doing?”

“Shootin’ bottles.”

“Why?”

“Target practice.”

“I understand that, but you’ve been at it all night. If Nod hadn’t bought this block, I would imagine that the authorities would be expressing some sort of concern. Besides, I didn’t think we had that many extras bottles lying around. Rebecca usually walks them to the corner for recycling.”

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Speechless: The Way Part 2

The Price of Inner Peace


He just lay there, his nose bleeding. Everyone stared at me. I suppose that would put a damper on any welcomes Angela and I would be receiving. It was his fault though. Even that stupid rat Sleeper knew better by this point. Angela’s mouth was open. I’d have to correct that. I tucked a finger underneath her chin and lifted her jaw closed. As my finger touched her chin, we spoke. Quickly.

“He cussed. I don’t allow that word around me.”
“So you dropped him? He’s the resistance leader at this safe house.”
“How am I supposed to know these things? I told you, I’m antisocial.”

The Pallbearer: War Part 1

Casualties


There wasn’t a mop big enough to clean up the shit storm that the Errata and I had started. That’s what it looked like anyway, when West Worthington failed to send any troops to reclaim The Junkyard after a week and a half. I was vaguely amused. It must have taken them completely off guard to have their operations effectively neutered. There were corporate stragglers still wandering back from failed patrols deep into The Junkyard only to find that it wasn’t a safe house for them any further. Those that wanted to fight were cut down without regret, but those smart enough to surrender were spared. It seemed the fair way to handle things.

Rue: The Shattering Part 3

Beatification


Just as painfully revolted by maggots or rot or age or as some people are, The Revolver Saint revolted me. East Fredricksburg had commissioned the white and red Kevlar wearing vigilante after the initial Sleeper attacks. When the wall first fell, The Revolver Saint had appeared in ragged priest garb, blasting away at Sleepers assaulting a church. The battle caused such a commotion that East Fredricksburg snatched up the conquering hero and poured money into an advertising campaign. Compliance levels shot through the roof as thieves were hunted through the streets and left in a pool of blood by the city’s new hero.

The Boy Named Nod: Lords of the Pulpit Part 5

The Return


I ran my fingers along Father’s steam powered teeth, furrowing my brow. So delicately designed, so intricately forged, it was remarkable. A chill trembled up my spine as I pushed down on a molar and all the teeth rotated. Click clack click. I trailed my hand up the steel plate that had been his cheek and traced the rivets with the very tips of my fingers. My fingers followed the steely crease of his cheek up to his eyes. They were soulless orbs now, even more so than when he still was breathing. I touched one of the smooth bronze balls and it spun in the socket, an insane globe careening through space.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Wither The Vain: Scavenger Hunt Part 3

Five Sharpened Pencils


I jerked my pencil from the neck of the security guard behind the desk. His fellows were already wading in their own blood further down the hall. I stuck the end of my pencil into the sharpener on his desk and whistled to myself. Things were going smoothly.

Wither would be amazed. I had made sure to complain to such a length that he would be certain to send me after Pox regardless. I smirked. It wasn’t an enviable position I suppose. Hunting down one’s own mad creation with the ability to sling poisons and diseases about with impunity. That didn’t matter to me though. Not now. I had a score to settle with him.

Speechless: The Way Part 1

The Price of Honor


I have never believed in seppuku.  Even with my predisposition towards things Japanese, I have never believed that seppuku is enough to redeem one for the loss of honor.  One must serve, and serve well, to work off one's debts.  These things are not just deducted from your karma for good intentions when removing yourself from existence.  No, the deeper you go, the more you owe.  One's end must be prolonged until their honor is regained.  Only then can they die in peace.  That said, Jack would have to die before I could.  His life, his freedom was my shame.

"Magistrate, there are signs that they have been down this tunnel."

"Good work Rynth.  Pursue.  You four are the hands of justice.  Follow them, wherever they are going, follow them.  We will cut this sore from our flesh."

Wither The Vain: Scavenger Hunt Part 2

Three Candy Kisses


I slogged through the sewers, my root system trying to filter out usable water from the filth.  It was truly foul.  Thankfully these weren't like the pipes near the wall or the dock works.  There would be no high pressure flushes this far in.  Which was good, I didn't feel like trying to cram myself into a stuffy little metal coffin for a half hour at a time.  I had more important shit to get done.  Boyd and his retinue were on my mind.  Their komodo had gotten off easy last time.  I was looking forward to breaking him into tiny pieces the next time I met him.  According to Seth, the komodo was a war hero and the only Sleeper to ever survive The Commandant's arena out in Gravesite.  It would be good to crush someone strong again.

Anything to stop thinking about Holly.

The Pallbearer: Bad Blood Part 4

Swallowed Whole


It's kind of funny.  I think me and the old man are the only two people I know of who could spill their guts on all their devious little activities while chasing each other around an office that had been torn to hell.  I'd gone charging after him, shotgun in hand, as he bounded away.  He was giggling as he had told me about my parents' death and his occult associations.  He had stopped dead in his tracks when the last word spilled from his mouth, caught my shotgun, and bent it in two.  He had stared into my eyes with a bit of sadistic glee then.

"Your turn boy."

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rue: The Shattering Part 2

Fragile


I take a lot of pride in my ability to research things that no one else knows about.  I look through newspapers and figure out how other events tied into the cases I'm working.  Once Amy died she started letting me in on the fact that most things I used to think didn't exist, sure as hell exist and are plenty hungry out there.  So I made it a point to cross reference books of mythology, demonology, occultism, and fairy tales looking for some of my suspects or victims.  I was coming up dry on this one though.

The Boy Named Nod: Lords of the Pulpit Part 4

Prodigal


There's a certain level of trepidation when you see your father again for the first time in years.  Even more so, when you've parted last time under less than favorable conditions.  Like him killing your mother.  There aren't butterflies exactly.  I wouldn't use any living creature to describe the feeling.  It isn't some positive jumpy nervousness.  It's like an icy cannonball is sitting in the pit of your stomach with worms wriggling in and out of it.  It's disgusting and it makes you feel infected every time you think about the person.  It just gets worse the closer the time comes to seeing them, and when you do finally see them...  the worms erupt out and you have to choke back the bile in your throat.

Wither The Vain: Scavenger Hunt Part 1

One Broken Mirror


As I shaved, I peeled off the skin beneath the stubble, even though the switchblade was plenty sharp enough to just take the hair.  The old man look would help me in the days upcoming.  Besides, I could handle the damned cataract for a little while.  This was in celebration.  There would be no more nonsense about where we were heading.  That was the good part.  Our path was clearly marked out ahead of us.  No more half-assed guesswork from half a set of hands.

Holly was gone though.

It wasn't that big a loss really.  Christoph and Arturo would probably disagree the most.  Arturo appreciated having someone other than me being vaguely human around him, and Christoph saw in her a rebound from Delilah.  Oh well, such was the life of a horseman.  They already knew that.  I slammed my razor down into the counter next to the sink.

Speechless: Sound, Mind, and Body Part 5

Shattered Glass and Flopping Fish


Few things are as soothing as sitting where no one can see you with a high-powered sniper rifle in your arms.  No one knows where you are, they can't find you, and you can exert your control over a situation with impunity.    It's terribly relaxing.  The only trouble is that it all ends with the first shot.  You have to decide at what point losing control is worth gaining your goal.  All of life's dilemmas summed up in one tidy little package.  I hate tidy little packages.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Pallbearer: Bad Blood Part 3

 Retelling


Somehow, I expected the story of my birth parents' death to be more exciting, particularly seeing as their lives were sacrificed to a dark god by my inhuman (non)grandfather.  I had been looking forward to finding out all the juicy details when I finally died and was burning in Hell.  Unfortunately, it was boring and trite.  Oh no, there was a car wreck due to failed brakes.  Tragedy, the occupants were robbed and their throats cut.  That was it.  That was all the old bastard had done.  He cut their brakes and their throats, drank some blood, and bailed.  He took some back to grandma (who was not my grandma either) and she drank some too.  He killed her six months down the road because he was bored with her and wanted all the power to himself.  The only thing of faint amusement to me was that he claimed to worship Jack of the Lantern, and that he had taken to calling himself Mobius.  Whoop de freakin' doo.

My story was much better.  And it went something like this...

Rue: The Shattering Part 1

Snapped

 (Snipped before the jump due to a crime scene.  No sense subjecting folks to it if they aren't ready.)

The Boy Named Nod: Lords of the Pulpit Part 3

Communion


I was never the problem solver of the batch. Nod was. He wasn't good at fighting, but he could bargain, wheedle, bluff, and plan better than the rest of us combined. I was not entirely stupid though. Even facing the mechanical monstrosity that was Nod's father, I didn't lose my wits. The gleaming, golden construct clacked its piston teeth at me with annoyed arrogance. It would've sneered, might have been, but without skin, it was impossible to tell.

"How old was Michael when you killed her?"

Adam snorted.

"I didn't kill her. I fed her to the Sleepers as a peace offering. She tasted delicious."

"How old was he?"

"Why? His memory is beneath me."

Wither The Vain: Feast Of The Dead Part 4

Last Dance Of The Night


Have you ever been hunted? It isn't like they tell you in novels. You don't ever feel like someone's watching, don't feel hairs rise on the back of your neck, don't see flashes out of the corner of your eye. At least, those things don't happen until you know you're being hunted. Then, you realize just how deep into it you are. You start realizing why the roads have been clear in the direction you're going. You realize why the alley you chose to hide in was empty of vagrants. Seth said it first.

"We were herded here. Right into this alley. We need to leave. Now. Find somewhere that suits us better. We can look for a place."

Wither shook his head.

"No time for that. I can feel them coming. We have to choose. Rooftops, sewers, or the streets. Quickly."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Speechless: Sound, Mind, and Body Part 4

Shipwreck


It had been years since I'd worn greasepaint. I really didn't care to think about exactly how long. Back then, I had friends. Back then, I had family. Now all I had was a death wish, some C6 in my pockets, and a desire to scream.

So I screamed.

No one heard me of course. They couldn't. That worked just fine though. I pretended to close a door and fight with it until it finally shut and wiped my brow of sweat that wasn't there.

The cheers would've felt rewarding if they didn't blast into my eardrums like missiles. I bowed silently and smiled through my black and white face paint. No one minded a mute if you were a mime.

The Pallbearer: Bad Blood Part 2

On The Rise


You never expect to see those you bury ambling around again later. You especially don't expect to see them slowly eating their secretary, waiting for you to get wasted by a shotgun blast to the head. I suppose it was my own damn fault for putting him in the ground still breathing.

He had tried to cut my throat, like he had cut my parents', and consume every bit of life I had in me. Papa was a bitch that way. I remembered little of my real parents. They had died when I was six, and for four years, my Papa had watched over me. It turns out he was just fattening me up for sacrifice. Clean the soul for a couple years with meditation and a little bit of religion, and you've got yourself a tasty snack. Fucker.

Rue: Rats In The Cellar Part 4

Sentencing


After meeting enough supernatural beings, proper etiquette really becomes second nature. I think it's probably made me more intolerant of my co-workers. However, if that's the way it must be, that's the way it must be. I'd certainly rather mind my manners when communicating with beings that c could rip my soul of and eat it rather than bantering with the drunks and drug addicts that serve the peace. Still, it's enough to make you wonder. How many accidental deaths are really because someone pissed off an entity they didn't even know existed? The museum tonight would be a prime example.

"Don?"

"What is it?"

The voice came from behind me as Don Yoku materialized from the shadows. I could hear the snarling of his foo dogs joining him.

The Boy Named Nod: Lords of the Pulpit Part 2

Blood on the Altar


I never understood why Nod feared his brother Abraham Cain so deeply. Trevor understands passion and anger. Gregor understands logic. The wrecking crew understands chaos and childhood. I know vengeance and cold cool calculation. Love and anger I have learned through my family. I take and kill and do because I have the ability to. Ergo, fear seems… silly. Distant. As I sprang for Cain, I started to understand.

Cain came without hesitation, dagger in hand. Unlike most fools that hold a knife, it wasn’t thrusting upward or stabbing down. He held it sideways, pressed back against his arm. My razor connected and slid down his blade. I rolled to the side and planted my feet against the nearest pew. I launched myself towards Cain once more, teeth bared, nostrils flared.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Speechless: Sound, Mind, and Body Part 3

Filter


He dragged his teeth along the bone as he sucked off the last bits of meat. His teeth tapped a knuckle as he dragged them and slid open his mouth just enough to compensate. Most of his kind didn’t much care for fingers, feeling that the meat wasn’t sweet enough to warrant the time it took to peel it from the bone. Magistrate Nagumo disagreed. The flesh was just as tender as one could hope for. The work was easy; you simply had to be smart about it. Don’t pick at it in little bites; consume it sequentially. Start closest to the hand and see it through to the end. That was Nagumo’s philosophy in all things.

Nagumo set the fleshless hand in a pile with the rest. He dabbed at his mouth with a blue silken kerchief and laid it upon the table. He stood from where he knelt and strode to his closet. He slid aside the paper door he had installed on his own and assessed his wardrobe. Something practical would be best. Several arrangements for the festivities tomorrow still had to made. The meat still had to be prepared, guards reassigned, and the human populace readied for the carnival.

Wither The Vain: Feast of the Dead Part 3

Intermezzo


I finished my last sentence and ended it with a stabbed period. The words tore themselves from the page and slammed together at the end of the alleyway. Soon where the entrance had been, there was another wall… and then a roof over our heads… and finally a round table for us to sit at with sub sandwiches already made and on paper plates.

“I didn’t what kind of bocadillos everyone wanted…”

“Oh shut up Arturo.”

I sneered at Wither. I’d have loved to see him do that. Wither sank into his folding chair and leaned back sighing. Seth spun his chair around and took his place. Christoph sat on the floor and was still taller than we were. Holly and I sat, pulled our chairs in, and started in on our sandwiches.

The Pallbearer: Bad Blood Part 1

Emergence


On the twentieth floor of the West Worthington Headquarters overseeing the Jeng District, a quiet man in his late sixties stood motionless. He was watching out the great window walls that made up his building. Down far below him, people scrambled around the feet of the great structure. They were his security forces and they were preparing themselves.

Neil Anderson had been found. Rather, Neil Anderson had found them.

His powered suit, a Brute model, was marching towards the front gate as the quiet man watched. Several Fafnir class helicopters had already been shot down by its mammoth rifle. The quiet man was uncomfortable.

Rue: Rats In The Cellar Part 3

Leading The Witness


It’s always depressing, having a client that has no idea what you’re all about. Don Yoku knew even less than the dolts back at the precinct. That would work in my favor though.

It usually did.

Amy had been murdered three years back by a serial killer that thought I’d get scared and back off afterwards. I found him the same night I found her left in pieces on our bed. Everybody was surprised I didn’t kill him when I found him. I broke his arm in six places but I refused to commit murder.

Mark Messier, this guy who killed twelve West Worthington guards with a broken chair, killed him. Mark owed me. I had testified that the guards provoked him and got him sentenced to The Bastille.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Speechles: Sound, Mind, and Body Part 2

Plastic Seaweed


Nine times, I avoided death out of sheer cowardice. And disgust. The thought of drowning in a river of high pressure sewage is just foul enough to prevent one from self-murder. Thankfully, there were plenty of "clean" rooms along the path I took. The thought of being in a steely tomb surrounded by other people's filth isn't much above drowning in it...

But it is above.

Every time the sludge would subside, I'd slip back out. Rabid would be waiting and would expect a progress report. Not that I would give him much of one. I owed that Sleeper nothing and desired from him even less.

Desire. That word's the problem. If it were only what we desire.

Speechless: Sound, Mind, and Body Part 1

Aquarium


I never had the courage to cut myself. I never had the bravery to hang myself and risk not snapping my neck. Same went for jumping off of a building. Too messy and too many chances for being wounded badly but not dying.

Suicide's as much what this is about as anything else.

I took another bite of my half-eaten breakfast rat and tossed it aside. Three Juries were wandering through the building above me. There were eight Judges on the fourth floor, moving in two person teams. On the third floor a base had been established so they could direct their hunt all the easier. Ten of them sat or stood there, typing frantically at their tracking systems. Their fancy motion detectors were scanning wildly but coming up with nothing.

The Boy Named Nod: Lords of the Pulpit Part 1

Sunday Driving


I have no idea how humans put up with bare skin. It's cold, lacks proper texture, and leaves one feeling completely nude. It's no small wonder Nod never likes removing his jacket.

Nod.

"Gregor, take care of him while I'm away."

"I will. I always do."

"I know."

"You aren't going to tell him?"

"I can't. He'd follow. I expect you not to tell him where I went either for at least two days. By then, I'll either be dead or on my way home."

Wither The Vain: Feast of the Dead Part 2

Dance Partners


Screams and rending flesh and mythological beings colliding. How goddamned typical. I mean really. Yippie, time to prance our asses back into battle. That's delightful. I wonder if they'll let me write something down first. No? They won't? Then the little Spaniard over here is fucked.

Christoph and the giant Komodo Dragon man collide and commence to wrestling. Good matchup. Wither howls and punches Boyd in the head as the badger-man continues to strip the flesh from his arm. Keen. Holly and Seth stand back to back, encircled by the jackal and hyena. Not a bad comparison there either.

And that's where the fun ends. I mean, really. Everyone's going one on one, no real weapons of note. But at least they vaguely resemble fair combat.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Pallbearer: Fevers In Berlin Part 5

Perpetual Motion


I was living in the belly of a dragon when I first met Cassie. I was its weapon system and she was the navigator. Captain Chris Grant was in charge. Our heli was the only one to escape the quarantine of Gravesite when the wall fell. The rest were either shot down or grounded themselves and swore allegience to The Commandant.

We were put on death row for escaping. Like most executions, ours was to be televised. Death coming to you, live from The Hill.

As far as most people knew, we died. It was an asphyxiation night. If we'd have left Grant alive, he'd have been pissed to learn it was just another pair of prisoners made up to look like us that they strapped the choke collars on. But we didn't.

Rue: Rats In The Cellar Part 2

Exhibit A


I have seldom been more bored in the whole of my natural life. It wasn't really Don Yoku's fault, but I already wasn't trusting him and had no real interest in his cultural treasures. Other things were going on that piqued my interest somewhat. The last thing I really cared about was the stuff that hadn't been stolen. Over an hour after I'd arrived and seen the dubious message spelled out with the clock by the main entrance, Don finally cut to the chase. He presented me a circular room directly underneath the domed skylight visible on the roof. The center of the skylight had been shattered and pieces of glass lay scattered about the room.

"This was one of our most popular exhibits. Each one of the thirteen stands positioned around the room held a ceramic foo dog. The glass center case held a pair of sapphires commonly referred to as the Salamander's Eyes. Legend had it that they were the eyes of a rebellious dragon that dared to grow an extra toe in defiance of The Emperor. The Emperor offered a great reward to any who would slay the dragon for its impudence. Many tried but it was eventually a merchant who outwitted the dragon."

The Boy Named Nod: The Doctor's Office Part 4

Dissection


"Mr. Jonathan, we're leaving."

"Nod, what happened up there? We saw you disappear into the vent."

"One of Faust's minions was stupid enough to try and bribe me with the antidote. He's already begun to rot."

"What about razing the place to the ground?"

I shrugged.

"I don't see any reason to test our luck further. We have enough to make a killing from this vial. Besides, we can always come back with high explosives and wipe it out that way."

Wither The Vain: Feast of the Dead Part 1

Invitations To The Ball


As a writer, it's always thrilling to see that one of your creations is well-received.

I was not, however, pleased when Wither read the headline of Tuesday's West Worthington Gazette to us out loud.

"Josef Saria; Miracle Man."

"What did you just say Wither?"

"What do you think I said Arturo?"

"I think you just mentioned Josef."

"I'm glad you noticed. This is a problem. The article here says he's been appointed Director of Health and Human Services for Chrysalis Falls."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Pallbearer: Fevers In Berlin Part 4

Declaration Of Intent


Cassie always hated red roses. She preferred the fake ones, painted neon blue or lemon yellow. Never thirteen. Always one at a time.

A rose every Sunday and Wednesday, her worst days. The day before the work week and the never-ending halfway day.


I tore the rod out of The Conductor's leg and tried to stand. He grabbed me by the collarbone and squeezed, bones cracking, pain on intravenous drip through my veins.

I drove the steel rod into The Conductor's stomach about an inch before he caught the rod and flung me over his shoulder.

Rue: Rats In The Cellar Part 1

 It Comes With The Job


As I walked through the door, I was still holding the coffee pot.

"What in the hell are you doing with that Rue?"

I slammed back the puny styrofoam cup of coffee and poured myself another one.

"I'm not done yet."

"It's for everybody Rue. That's why it sits in the break room."

"My apologies sir. I'll put it back as soon as we're done here. You know how slow I am in the morning."

The Boy Named Nod: The Doctor's Office Part 3

On The Slab


Mr. Rook grabbed the fanged head of an attacker (a vampire?) lunging for me in a single stone hand and rammed it into the steel wall.

"One of these days sir, I won't be here to deflect incomings like that."

"Until that day Mr. Rook, keep up the good work if you would."

"Of course sir."

As we spoke, he had grabbed two more of the vampires by the throats and smashed their heads together. James scurried up Mr. Rook's leg, the wee imp fleeing from a pursing werewolf. Or least it had appeared so.

Wither The Vain: Q and A

Q and A


Being the youngest of the family, they always question my judgement.

"Did you have to kill him?"
"Why'd you bring that one back?"
"Do you have any idea where we're going?"

Blah. Blah. Blah. It never ends.

"Wither, why did you bring Moon back?"

"Because I had a job for him Seth."

"Care to tell us what that job was?"

"Not particularly."

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Pallbearer: Fevers In Berlin Part 3

Cause


Everyone has something they're fighting for. I'm fighting for Cassie. For my future. For three children not born yet. For a nice house I've never seen. For a city where you have a better chance of living through the night.

I had a witty line for Grendel. I always seem to have smart-assed comments when it looks like I'm about to die.

It went something like:

"You're not really Grendel."

"Yes I am. Why would you say otherwise?"

"Because you've still got both arms."


(And right here, I'd rip off the arm that held me up by the head and beat him with it.)

"Oh, my mistake, maybe you are Grendel."

Rue: Snow Ghosts Part 3

 Blood and Iron


She still stole the covers, even when she was dead. It was okay though, I was used to it. I just snuggled a little tighter against her and drew in another breath.

Ghosts are cold to the touch.

But never so cold as sleeping alone after twenty three years of sharing a bed.

Dinner had been shrimp and scallops. She loved to find black market imports from the dockworks and steal them from smugglers. After all, the smugglers stole them from The Judges, why not steal them from the smugglers?

The Boy Named Nod: The Doctor's Office Part 2

Down In The Lab


Hate tastes like blackcurrant tea, but desperation is rose wine.

I slipped out my .38 and took aim at the nearest Sanitation Suit rising from the ground. A severed hydraulic line. Sparking wires.

However, its twin chainguns continued to spin up.

Mr. Rook snared me by the back of the neck and tossed me onto his shoulder as the suit's guns started firing. The bullets shredded the air and the knees of Mr. Rook suit. Stone chipped as he lumbered forward grabbing the suit by an arm. He swung the Sanitation Suit like a club, smashing three other newly risen suits back into the ground.

Wither The Vain: Spare Change Part 4

The Arts


Being beheaded hurts less than you might think. Especially if they sever the spinal cord on the first swing. That's the key. That way you don't feel the two or three follow up strikes it usually takes to finish the job.

Arbiter Moon had no intention of taking more than a single swing.

Foolish.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Pallbearer: Fevers In Berlin Part 2

Dragon Slayer


I spent a lot of summers at my cousin's house growing up. Train tracks ran behind their house. A big black locomotive ran down the line every afternoon at three. Some loony old man that always wanted to be an engineer.

It belched smoke. Thick black clouds. The first summer I saw it was the summer I got confirmed in the church. Sitting there, trying to choose my confirmation name, I came across a passage about St. George. The same moment I read the words "dragon slayer," that locomotive blew its whistle as it charged past.

And I wanted to kill a dragon.

Rue: Snow Ghosts Part 2

Pieces


"Afternoon. Mr Joseph Fiddler?"

"I am he."

"Mind if I ask you a couple of questions?"

Quiet.

"Sure. Come in."

"No, but thank you anyway. Your father should be returning soon and I'd hate to be caught in your den between the two of you."

The Boy Named Nod: The Doctor's Office Part 1

Check-Up


Sisters are, without a doubt, a pain in the ass.

Not a fleeting pain. Not sitting on a tack. More like a vicious beating with a paddling board.

"That's fine Becca. If you want to be a pacifist, I have no issues with that. We, however, are mercenaries by trade and need to work to pay for food."

"We've got plenty of money for right now. If everyone got a conventional job, we could do this without violence."

I pushed away from the table in disgust and stamped off.

"Will someone, anyone, shut her up so I can plan this raid?"

Wither The Vain: Spare Change Part 3

Art Appreciation


I have never been impressed by Wither's winds of change. Be they the will of our creator or not, they are tedious, cryptic, and annoying.

Much like Wither himself.

"What are we looking for once we arrive."

"A warehouse full of weapons."

"I'm not that simple-minded Wither."

"Then stop acting like it."

"What are we supposed to change?"

"The number of casualties after we clean this place out."

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Pallbearer: Fevers In Berlin Part 1

Turn That Frown Upside Down


There was a wall between Takt District and I. No wall made of steel or masonry. A wall of trucks, armored vans, and flames.

I had parted company with Beast... Czernabog... Nikolas... whatever the hell he felt like calling himself, once the plant was turned into rubble. A word of direction to his brother's makeshift grave and I was on my way. Too close to bother stopping now.

Cassie, I'm coming home.

Rue: Snow Ghosts Part 1

Snow Drifts



I hate eating around corpses. Everybody else does. Chaws on donuts, gobbles up eclairs, gives head to a chili dog. I dunno.

I drink my coffee because I always drink my coffee. That's different.

The Boy Named Nod: Feast-Days

Feast-Days


We chose a wreath of honeysuckle.

Rebecca told me its what out Mother smelled like.

Mr. Rook carried the imps and I on his shoulders, plowing the snow aside as we walked through the cemetery. It was over my head now and still coming down. Rebecca wore Mr. Jonathan's coat, pulled tight around herself. Trevor and Mr. Jonathan led us through the drifts, scenting out the path to her grave.

It was a simple headstone that we dug to find. Plain and simple. Efficient and caring.

Jolly Part 3

Out Of The Woods


Zings must've been going too smoothly, the story must've needed zome zort of climax. Bah. All I knew vas zat it vas Christmas Eve and night vas falling.

Bartel and Krampus ver vatching zee factory. Everyone had been behaving zemselves nicely. Zee gangers ver assembling dolls and toy trucks. Zee machine men ver focusing on zee video games and remote controlled cars.

Zings ver on schedule.

I should've known better.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Wither The Vain: Spare Change Part 2

White Christmas


I was about to raise fire, brimstone, and the embodiment of Hell itself from a snow-covered garbage dump.

Then, I started singing along to the old Mother Goose rhyme "Hot Cross Buns."

Seth was not amused. Nor was Christoph. But I think Arturo started to snicker. Only because he figured the other two were going to beat me to death for it.

Arturo had been educating them as to their roles as he had escorted to the garbage dump. Christoph had not spoken once since I had caught up with them at the dump gates. Seth, on the other hand, had been more... vocal.

Jolly Part 2

Elves


Zis vould not do. Zis vould not do at all.

Vis Krampus and Bartel both in chains behind me, I had gone scouring zee city in search of a zuitable factory.

And yet, the only factory zuitable for zee task vas old.

And dirty.
And abadoned.
And nearly fallen apart.

It had been used to manufacture toys first, before being converted for veapons manufacture later zat same year.

The Pallbearer: Harvests Part 6

Holiday Greetings From Point Heston


Nothing stinks like chicken shit on butchering day.

Nikolas asked if I had ever been to a slaughterhouse. Two years in a row, I was at my cousin's farm when they killed their chickens. Squawking, squeaking, shitting, feathers flapping. They had me picking pinfeathers after the heads were cut off. The first year, I gagged up my breakfast fifteen minutes in.

And it made it smell better.

Jolly Part 1

Staffing


It vas a veek and a half after St. Nicholas' Day and zis vas not Bavaria.

It vas not Europe at all. But it vas the only place humans still gathered. So it vould have to do.

I trailed my gloved fingers through Brittany's mane and my steed clopped forward, soft vite among ze falling snow flakes. She stepped gingerly among zem, prancing forvard thoughtfully. She had been mine for ze last thirty years. Hopefully, she vould last thirty more.

Zings had changed since ze last snow fall. So many rules. Only vere humans are, only ven it snows. Bah. Foolishness.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Boy Named Nod: Recess Part 5

Tomorrows


Jorgensen's throat fit into my hand rather nicely. I squeezed once to wake him up. I squeezed a second time once his eyes opened, and kept my hand tight.

"Listen to me. We're going now. You're going to call everyone off and let us out."

"Why would I do that? I've got enough disposable guards. You'll die eventually."

I curled my fingers, digging them tight into his greasy flesh.

"You aren't listening. I told you to listen. What do you think I'm going to do first if you refuse to submit? I'm going to tear your bleeding throat out."

The Usurper Part 3

A Dissertation On The Fickleness Of The Common HouseGod


My wife had never believed in the gods. Stupid woman.

She refused to worship, to pray as we should. And so we were cursed with girls. Three girls. No sons.

I had the first two kidnapped from their bedroom one night. They were sold to a company overseas. I told my wife that it was a gift from my employer in concern over our loss.

He never even knew that the girls had been kidnapped.

The third, I paid the doctors to claim was stillborn. The newborn was deposited outside of a respectable orphanage.

Wither The Vain: Spare Change Part 1

Catechism


Groundhog day was once called Candlemas. It was an abbreviation of "Candle Mass," a rite where they blessed all the candles the church would use over the next year. In effect, it also was a day that helped to chase winter away. If the weather was bad that day, one could count on winter not being intimidated and hanging around a little longer.

It wasn't just any one church or religion. Everybody seems to have their own version of it.

I miss it.

I miss the candles, the light, the way it shone. I miss being able to see the glow around each candle as it was blessed. By pagan hands or by christians. Didn't matter. They still had an aura of hope. Of peace.

The Usurper: Part 2

A Study In Charcoal


Yama was a slow and methodical god, as most old men are. But he was full of wisdom that I was not yet ready for.

Yama sat in my computer chair as he spoke, crimson robes draping over the arms of the chair.

I lay on the floor, still smoldering.

"I have a question for you Rajid before we begin our talk of vengeance. Why did you choose that verse as the password?"

"Excuse me?"

"Indra is no usurper. The son who councils is Shiva's son, Ganesha. Your verse is less than accurate Rajid."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Pallbearer: Harvests Part 5

Grand Guignol


Never close your eyes. The first and foremost rule of attending a performance as grand as ours.

Never close your eyes. There's murder in ours. You can see it if you look.

Never close your eyes. I'll close them for you before I tuck you in.

The tunnel only last another hundred yards and four dozen popcorn corpses. I think four dozen. Was hard to tell after we passed by. Erin and Natalie perched on Beast's new body, hacking and rewiring. The children marched in silence. Gremlin's voice was back in their minds, whispering soft lullabies in their ears.

The Usurper Part 1

Dying, The First Time


Being murdered hurt less than I feared it would.

Sayam strangled me while I was finishing the documentation on my latest work. As he choked the life from me, Samir flipped through my paperwork. He stopped and turned back to us as the edges of my eyes faded.

"Let him go."

Sayam released me and I fell to the floor at Samir's feet. He kicked me in the mouth with the very toe of his shoe and I swallowed a half dozen of my teeth.

The Boy Named Nod: Recess Part 4

Resemblances


Have you ever smelled honeysuckle? That's what my mother smelled like. I never knew until Trevor told me while we stood at her grave.

There's a great deal I don't remember about her. I remember her face ever time I drink brandy. Warm and sweet, with the slightest burn of anger. The one that bandaged up my leg when I fell down the stairs. I still have the scar. And when I trace it, I remember mother then too.

I've debated with Mr. Jonathan before as to whether or not she put up a fight against Adam 2.0. I never say against my father, because by then my father was already dead.

Mr. Jonathan tells me that she must've. Probably got in a few good shots too.

Wither The Vain: Mightier Part 3

Pride


There are few things in life that have ever brought me pleasure. One of those was the growth of new life. A tiller of the soil. Until the Nameless Faceless God turned away my offerings. Until I irrigated the soil with my brother's blood. Until I was banished.

And in banishment, I found pleasure once more. The Nameless Faceless God left me alone and I wandered, exploring new life, learning about the earth. My journey brought me to Nod, to the dreaming lands. I remember my home in Ayer's Rock. I remember living and learning about life anew with the aborigines. The soil once more began to open to me, small plants once again rising to greet my fingers. Then that life too was stolen away as others came to the dreaming lands. They raped the lands. They raped my friends. And the soil that had grown to obey me opened to their blood once more.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Pallbearer: Harvests 4.5

Pruning


"Misser Beast, are we gonna die?"
"Are you scared of death little one?"
"Uh-huh. I... I fink I killed somebody before. I didn't mean to."
"It's alright. I have too. But I meant to and that's worse."
"Who did you kill?"
"Lots of people. But a long time ago, I killed my brother. He.. he betrayed our friends. He betrayed me. I just wanted to stop him. To find out why. But..."
"Iss okay Misser Beast. I know. But.. you never answered me."


"Da. I know."

The Pallbearer: Harvests Part 4

 False Idols


Somewhere, Cassie was safe in an apartment building hiding as best she could.
Somewhere, Cassie was crying over a life lost and a marraige never to come.
Somewhere, Cassie was.

But it wasn't where I was.

And I meant to rectify that.

The Boy Named Nod: Recess Part 3

Family Reunion


I spent two years in the dark with no one to keep my company but the thoughts in my head. I was not pleased to find that Jorgensen's sub-complex was almost entirely submerged in darkness.

The Wrecking Crew would've loved it.

For a moment, I considered toying with the buttons on the control I had taken from the little bugger. Like most of my toys, I discarded the thought. Moving through the dark was one thing, setting off random alarms and alerting any and all of those that dwelled in this part of Jorgensen's base was an entirely different one.

Wither The Vain:Mightier Part 2

Lead Poisoning


No one ever remembers Arturo.

War on a red horse.
Famine on a black horse.
Death on a pale green horse, Hell riding with him.

One to be unsealed before them all. Brother to Famine, assistant to War.

No one ever remembers Arturo and his white steed, bow gleaming in the sun. No one ever remembers that the end begins with Victory.

The Pallbearer: Harvests Part 3.5

Sheba


Violence is fun.
Creating is ecstasy, teaching a joy.

But violence is fun.

I've always tried to hold myself back, to keep the bile from rising in the back of my throat, to keep myself from separating heads from shoulders with a single sweep.

fourty whacks
fourty whacks

The Pallbearer: Harvests Part 3

Wants And Needs


My body craved a hot bowl of three-day old coffee as black as tar and twice as thick.

Castor and Pollux lumbered forward, the mark of the Commandant glowing on their chests. A rectangle with seven short lines thrusting up from its lid.

"They exist for one purpose Erin. They exist to bring pain unto those who would oppose The Black Symphony. You understand."

"I understand that you're leaving me in the custody of this lunatic. Norman, he killed Alex."

"Inescapable casualties. We have to hold the wall."

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Boy Named Nod: Recess Part 2

Elevator Music


There was pepper in my brain; a burn, a twist, an itch.

"Nod, get out of my head. Your only warning. I'll tear you apart and have a janitor hose this room out."

"Understood sir."

I swiveled my head to look at Nod. He grinned, then turned away, looking into the mirrored sides of the elevator. He adjusted his tie, straightened his bowler.

As he preened, the elevator died. Silent stop as the fluorescent lights ended. No flickering. Blown out like candles.

Wither The Vain: Mightier Part 1

White Space


The only place Eli ever sleeps is next to me. I take a lock of his hair and keep it wrapped around my fingers. His hands stop burning and as he sleeps, he squeezes a little tighter.

He'll never forgive me for the fight against Christoph, for twisting the big tree around my finger. I laugh, quietly. He'd never have let me hold him if he wasn't exhausted.

Eli's not mine and I know it. He's not anybody's. He was made to end the world, so there's no one made for him. No happily ever after. Just riding a pale horse off into the sunset as it bleeds in a slow steady pulse across a charred horizon.

The Pallbearer: Harvests Part 2

Threshing


When I still worked the wall, I was promoted to Supervisor for four hours and thirteen minutes. After pouring together the blood of four dozen Sleepers and twenty-three of my own men, they demoted me.

I didn't kill them. They just couldn't keep up.

That's why St. George blew apart the ceiling above Conduit.

That's why St. George blew apart the ceiling above my head.

That's why I was alone and walled in with my executioner.

The Boy Named Nod: Recess Part 1

Between The Lines


My tongue was bleeding.

I kept my back straight, my head tall, my tie straightened. My suit was meticulous. My shoes were shined.

My tongue was bleeding, a slippery trickle of heat in my mouth.

Four guards escorted me into an antiseptic fortress. Hospital stink. Covered up rot stink.

It was not, as anticipated, the corporate arcology.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wither The Vain: Wicker Man Part 2

Wooden Head


Christoph stank like a Judas Tree three days overripe.

His left fist came in over my head and I bent back, doing the limbo. As his arm flew over me, I finished flipping backwards, wrapped my legs around his arm. He lifted his arm, sneering at me through a forest of cherrywood teeth. His right was grasping for me, fingers lashing out as rose whips. I was already swinging forward, lunging for his throat. My hands caught hold even as thorns sprouted and buried themselves deep into my hands.

And nothing happened. My hands were cold and thick, weeping as the thorns bit deeper. I looked past Christoph's grin and saw Miss Geri standing in her gibbet, smiling. She was holding a glove.

One of my gloves.

"So soon..? I know you don't much like it here, but you don't have to run so quickly every time."

"Yeah, this soon. You're as bad as you've ever been, you realize that?"

"I know, I know. You keep telling me. Now c'mon back to bed."

"I have to get going. Work to do."

"You and those hands. They ever going to give you a reprieve?"

"Not until the end."

"That sucks and not the fun way either. If you're going to go so quickly, the least you could do is give me a souveneir."

"Right. You want a lock of my hair? Oh wait... nevermind..."

"That's not very fair."

"Who ever said I'm fair?"

"C'mon... something?"

"Alright... here... have a glove. I've got a few pairs. Happy?"

"Delighted."


She giggled tucked my glove back into her pocket, keeping her hand on it.

Long branches were wrapping around my chest. Christoph peeled my off of him and squeezed. Three ribs cracked and forgot to mend.

"She's mine. All the more mine once you're gone."

"You're not the first one to think that. Won't be the last."

I strained, air scare. Ribs were driving themselves against my lungs.

"Trying to escape?"

"No. Succeeding."

I roared, even as my ribs scraped across my lungs, bursting from Christoph's hand. His fingers cracked and twisted, branches snapped in half. He screamed like whistling with a blade of grass. I dropped to the floor, and rolled forward.

Winding both hands together, I swung doubled fists into the side of Christoph's knee. It jerked sideways and the giant tilted, howling in agony. I was still moving, wrapped my arms around his other leg. I planted my feet and lifted, every muscle taut.

Christoph toppled over, flailing his legs wildly. He caught me in the back with a sharp kick and I flew through the air, driving my left shoulder into the bar. It dislocated and broke in three places before I finished sliding to the floor.

I pulled myself up with my right hand.

"What does the big guy drink?"

"Whiskey."

"Then get him a drink."

The bartender stared. Stared at the vaguely human tree thrashing about the floor trying to stand. At the old man with broken bones demanding a drink.

"I said, get him a drink. And I need a smoke."

The bartender turned to his wares. I looked in the mirror. Blood dripped my forehead and down my neck. All from my hands no doubt. I grabbed the person next to me and wiped my face against their shirt. They didn't argue. I was disappointed. But it was alright. I still had landscaping to deal with.

Christoph was up again as the bartender set the fifth of whiskey on the bar. He was standing behind me as the bartender lit my cigar. It was a beautiful blend. I slipped off the barstool as he brought down his fist. With my good arm, I lobbed the bottle at his cedar chip teeth. It shattered, covering him with liquor.

"Hey Christoph."

He swung again but this time I drove a leg from the broken barstool through his hand, through the bar, and bent it over.

"Only you can prevent forest fires."

I flicked my cigar in his mouth. The whiskey lit and so did he. Screaming as it poured down his throat, all wooden.

Right.

I turned to Miss Geri and smiled.

"Hi hon."

"I'm not speaking to you."

"You should."

"Nope."

"C'mon, I beat him fair and square. He's mine now. Either give me back my glove and drop the act or he dies."

"You wouldn't. He's part of your assignment."

We both turned and looked at the howling tree blanketed with flames.

"Sure about that? He looks pretty good that way to me. Been years since I've seen a Wicker Man, but he makes a substitute."

"Oh fine."

She through my glove down to me. As I caught it, my hands began to burn again, itching, peeling. Whole again.

I sauntered casually to Christoph's side and grabbed his free arm by the wrist. The wind came and stole the flames, drinking them down. Embers and ashes covered him, peeling to revealing pink softwood beneath.

Christoph thrashed as black turned to brown turned to green, embers smoothing into bark.

He collapsed, face down, gasping for air. I knelt beside his head, skin hanging off of me in folds, shaking and twitching with nerves misfiring.

"You are mine now Christoph. I am strongest. When you get up, take this card. Through the sewers under the city, you will travel. Another is already waiting down below. Show him this card and await me. I have two others to find and then we can begin in earnest."

I struggled to me feet, brushing the hair out of my eyes.

Miss Geri swung out of her gibbet and dropped to the floor. She smiled and step-saunter-swayed her way to my side, touching my cheek tenderly.

"You look terrible hon."

"I f-f-feel terrible. If someone hadn't toyed with the p-p-plan..."

"You needed a challenge."

"A challenge? That a challenge?"

She kissed me and left a grin behind.

"C'mon old man, let's get you recharged. Some disposable bodyguards still hiding the backrooms."

"Isn't help hard to find?"

"Yeah, but its worth seeing you with black hair again." Shiver.

As we slipped through the back doors, I grabbed my coat off the floor. The kid had run off. Typical.

All eyes were on us until the doors closed. All but Christoph's.

He had seen enough already.

The Pallbearer: Harvests Part 1

The Harvesters


Staring down the mouth of that tunnel with seven tanks, a mad cat, a praying mantis, and a horde of Blind Children behind me, I single thought came to mind.

What the fuck am I doing?

"Beast, please remove the guards at the front door."

"It would be my pleasure. Gentlemen, on my mark."

Six voices answered him. Six voices that were all his own.

"Fire."

The Boy Named Nod: Latch-Key Part 5

Retribution


Father's hand on my shoulder.

Glasses twisted beneath my foot.

"My true son. My only son. My Cain.


"Come on out little brother. I will end you quickly."

The last two of my White Guard followed me down the basement steps. A filthy hole for a laundry room. I was not surprised in the waste that my brother lived. Pitiful technology. No divine integration.

Heresy.

Wither The Vain: Wicker Man Part 1

The Bastille


Nothing draws attention like an old man wandering through a rave.

Unless, of course, no one in attendance is remotely coherent. Then things get fun.

The lights flashed and burst and darted past me, smeared across my eyes. No sign of Miss Geri. Apparently the Warden wanted to be fashionably late to her own party.

But I wasn't here for the hostess, as much of a delightfully depraved piece of ass as she was. I had a job to do.

Business before pleasure, I always say.

Free E-Books!

For today, Sunday the 24th and tomorrow Monday the 25th, the Boy Named Nod Collection Sons of Adam and The Pallbearer Collection Rate of Decay are available for free to Amazon Prime members.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Pallbearer: A Hundred Tiny Hands Part 3

The Depths



Holly deserved better. She deserved a real funeral, with friends and family in attendance. A classy ceremony, a eulogy, and a wake. She deserved a better tombstone than one charred helmet in the middle of a trash heap.

She didn't get it.

I was three days walk away and more than a mile underground when I woke up. I still stank like peeled tires, cigarettes, and scorched carpet. Neither set of eyes would open and my Brute refused to budge. Crippled. Nice.

The Boy Named Nod: Latch-Key Part 4

Deliverance


You are inadequate.

You never could beat me little brother.


I hit the wall hard, biting my tongue, spitting out a mouthful of blood.

"Trevor, get him out of here. Now."

Mr. Rook was in the doorway, the metallic shards of a White Guard's skull in his fist. Gunfire echoed throughout the apartment building as a war broke out between the Disciples and Judges. The two barracuda squealed, a shrill cry that punctures your eardrums. They were dead before the sound reached my ears, torn apart.

"I told you Trevor, go!"

Wither The Vain: Wherever The Wind Blows Part 3

Exchanges


Corvus Corone: The Carrion Crow, devourer of the dead. They call a grouping of crows a murder.

Now myself, I have been accused of murder often enough to know better. While Seth was by all means a champion among The Sleepers and crow-kind in specific, he was not a murder. More of a scavenge.

So as he cawed and spread his wings, I reached into my pockets and pulled out a pair of black leather gloves. I pulled them on and zipped them up. Skintight.

This was going to be fun.

The Pallbearer: A Hundred Tiny Hands Part 2

Cook-out


Even when she's naked, she won't let you see the scars. She's afraid of them. Not just of what they were, but of what they mean. Something's eaten her, and wants more. Always more.

She was eight when her house burnt to the ground. Everybody survived but she was the last one out. Made it out her bedroom window. No one had worried about going back for her.

The flames had sunk their teeth into her back and slithered their way up her spine as she leapt from her window. Broke her ankle in the fall. But she was more worried about the flames licking at her back.

Stop, drop, and roll. Stop, drop, and roll.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Boy Named Nod: Latch-Key Part 3

Discerning Tastes


My baby teeth and the keyboard keys rattled across the hardwood floor at the same time. I slammed to the floor right behind them.

"Hit him again my son. Show me who is strongest."

Abe grabbed me by the throat, shaking me, my head slamming against the floor. His lips... his lips were moving....

"Now we'll see who he loves more. Huh? Huh? Now we'll see you little sissy."

He let go. Why'd Abe let go?

My head rolled to the side and he was standing in front of Dad. Dad smiled. He had metal teeth. Click click click click. Thirty-two pistons driving thirty-two forged teeth together. Abe was bowing to Dad. Abe, help me up. Come on. It's not fun anymore.

Wither The Vain: Wherever The Winds Blows Part 2

Cry Murder


I shaved in an alleyway with a rusty razor blade. It snagged skin, peeling it away like shaving a candle. I bled.

It was an uneven shave, but it would do. I threw the razor in the nearest dumpster. A tiny bit of metal still shined as it arced through the air and landed with a soft clang.

My face itched. The skin was already growing back over the muscle that had been laid bare. As my face became whole, the world lost focus and blurred. A picture taken out of speed.

The cataract was back again. I sighed and stroked the newly born skin. The trade was worth it.

I hated looking old.

The Pallbearer: A Hundred Tiny Hands Part 1

Mouth


Nothing but cunt fruit Neil, they're nothing but cunt fruit. Why shouldn't we make a couple bucks off of 'em?

Holly Ka and her exterminators; the Tulugal.

C'mon. We go flush the sewers looking for blind brats, collect some souveneirs, make a killing.

I scraped my teeth across my tongue and spit. She had kissed me with that mouth before I met Cassie.

On my shoulder, a scared five year old was singing "Pop Goes The Weasel." At the furthest tips of my ear, I heard gunfire.

"Samson, hold on."

"Yes s-s-sir."

The Boy Named Nod: Latch-Key Part 2

Goin' Fishing


The tip of the harpoon kissed my forehead.

"You took long enough Mr. Rook."

"My apologies."

Mr. Rook bent the harpoon in half and rammed it through the barracuda's foot. The barracuda sank its teeth into Mr. Rook's arm as it squealed. His arm jerked away, ripping half of the barracuda's teeth out as it went. The barracuda sank to its knees, blood streaming out its mouth, a river turning to rain that fell to the floor.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wither The Vain: Wherever The Wind Blows Part 1

Change


Cities like to shift their feet. So many ants squirming between their toes, they can't help it. So they go on a shifting, rocking everything back and forth. A city moves its foot a little to the left and a car takes out a transformer station. A little to the right, and a kid's ball rolls out into traffic. They can't help but shuffle their feet though. Too much squirming.

It had only been three days, and my hair was already white. Too small a change. Needed something bigger, juicier. The wall kept whimpering, like some three-year old scared of wettin' itself. Always came back to the walls. Never failed.

The Pallbearer: Sittin' Up With The Dead Part 2

Roll Call


"I see you found their dump right off the bat. Good place for a freak like you."

I kept walking, crunching old flutes and paintbrushes beneath my steel feet.

"Took my job without hesitation. Bet you were falling all over yourself to call in to Home Office weren't you? Look where it got you."

"Mr. Arlee, you're dead. Do me a favor and shut the fuck up."

The Boy Named Nod: Latch-Key Part 1

Bus Fare


Destitute. That was a fitting word for my predicament.

Hey boss, how much did we get paid for that one?

20,000.

That's only half! They trying to pull something?

No Trevor. Blank killed the mark. We acquired Blank's pay.

The Pallbearer: Sittin' Up With The Dead Part 1

Tuck Me In


She too was a Pisces. Another goddamn fish. Just what I needed.

Not that I minded much, or that I really believed in the stars telling my future. I just hate the fact that Pisces always get me into trouble.

Never fails.

She was a New Yorker too. Well, as much as anyone was anything but human these days. That was a fine enough line itself.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Boy Named Nod: The Paper Route Part 4

I Spy


Jefferson Blank had never been scared. Unnerved. Bothered. Worried.

Never scared.

There never had been a reason to be scared. Some kids got beat up in school but Jefferson Blank had never been noticed. Not; nobody liked him or talked to him. Just; nobody remembered who he was when they looked in their yearbook.

No straight A's. No straight F's. Went to business school and did something worthwhile.

The Pallbearer: Where The Dead Belong Part 3

Insubordination


My father; embedded in my car.

"Associate Anderson,"

My mother; screaming when I told her.

"the West Worthington Corporation"

Noose; the first try.

"no longer has need for you."

State Hospital; rotten eggs and hangover puke.

The Boy Named Nod: The Paper Route Part 3

Playtime With The Twins


I coughed as the Twins shouted at 'em again, blood erupting with each bark. Once from me, twice from them.

Fuck me.

Things had gone straight to hell after the transformers blew. According to the prints, once they died, Gregor'd put a hole in the wall, and we'd be to the elevators. Easy as that. The prints were dipped in shit apparently, because waiting on the other side of the wall was nothing but more wall. And more wall. And more wall.

The Pallbearer: Where The Dead Belong Part 2

The Angels


Lightning never scared me. Always loved storms as a kid. Sat out on the front porch as the rain came down. Lightning was just part of the experience. The smell of sky being ripped in half, the way your hairs leapt up on end as a bolt of pure energy drives itself into the ground. Watching storms, listening to thunder, face all lit up... Mom always said that thunder was angels bowling.

Dad landed on my car when I was 16. I was stopping by the office to bring him his lunch. He had forgotten it at home.