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


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


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


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, 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


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


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.”


“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


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


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


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


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


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


 (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


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


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


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.


"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


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


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


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


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.


"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


"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


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.


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


"Afternoon. Mr Joseph Fiddler?"

"I am he."

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


"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


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."