Friday, July 13, 2012

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.

When I did travel it wasn’t too quickly and only at night. I didn’t particularly like the idea of anybody we had infuriated finding me. My own safety I could handle. I didn’t like the thought of a swarm of old foes making a beeline for Nod because I was gone. I suppose that’s giving my role a bit too much credit, but if you don't talk yourself up, nobody will. Am I right?

Well, I was getting pleased with myself though, having walked across the skinny side of Akarin in just five days. For taking in so much of the culture, I was making damn good time. I had just stopped in at a particular nice looking box community with five burn barrels and a shed with a roof when I ended up getting myself into trouble. I suppose I should’ve seen it coming. Jonathan always warned me about being the type to stumble onto scorpions.

I bunked down next to a real pleasant old woman that smelled like two weeks of bad days and had green teeth. She had a nice smile though. Real nice. Would’ve been better with white teeth and more of them, but it was nice anyways. She had leaned back after eating some burn barrel roasted rat and I had tipped my hat down over my eyes and started to doze too.

Then, I smelled rot. It wasn’t subtle. Sometimes, you catch the whiff when you’re around as many dying people as there are in a homeless village. Never like this though. The stench marched right through the stink of no showers and no toilets and punched me in the nose. I tilted my head and strained my ears and nose.

“Are you… satisfied?”

The stink was coming from that voice. Everything about it popped and hissed and fizzled in my ears, filling them with a festering feeling that made me want to gag.

“No, I’m not.”

Now that was a change. She sounded pretty, whoever she was. It was a perfumey, too-sickly-sweet, make you nauseous voice either. She was willing to get her hands dirty. That was probably what she was doing talking to Mr. Bog Stink.

“Well, that is quite unfortunate.”

“For you! You promised me that you’d get it right this time. You killed three innocent people and you still didn’t get me my ring back! All I wanted was my ring back from that asshole.”

“I suppose that may have been the case. He doesn’t have it anymore at any rate.”

“Doesn’t have it anymore? How would you know?”

“Because I ate him.”

Things got quiet here. I had the distinct feeling she hadn’t really been ready for her ex-boyfriend/husband/lover/whatever to be devoured by the Smell from Hell over there. No tears, but I could catch the scent of pissed off flowing out of her pores. I shivered. God, I love the smell of a hot-blooded woman. You just can’t beat their pheromones.


“Because I was hungry. It also made it so that you could get your ring back.”

“After it makes it all the way through you? No thank you.”

“Nothing makes it through me. I digest everything I consume.”

“Then what was your plan?”

There was another pregnant pause and I leaned forward, straining to hear, to smell, to SOMETHING.

“Tell me Katherine, since we made our bargain, what have you given me? You make all sorts of demands. You called me uncaring about the price, just desiring to get your little ring back. And I’ve gotten it back, from each person you gave it to, and then decided against. Your contract is up my dear. Now I expect my payment.”

“No payment before I get back my ring!”

“Oh, you’ll get it back. With the way my stomach digests flesh so much faster than metal, you’ll get to wear it for a good half hour at least.”

The screaming started and I could smell the putrid stench bloom as it touched her. I was up on my feet and down the alleyway before my box mate had woken. I rounded the corner at the far end of the alley and pulled the twins from their holsters.

It didn’t stand so much as it oozed upward. Pus, bile, sewage, phlegm, and blood coalesced into this foul entity. The vile liquid had the body of a Kodiak bear with the head of dog and cloven feet. It had no arms, only tendrils of muck that extending out from its mass and had lashed around the lovely little redhead it was hoisting in the air. She had red hair, green eyes, and more curves than a mountain highway.

The twins roared and blew apart the tendrils of filth holding her in the air. The shit beast rotated its dog head with turning the rest of its body to stare at me. Its tendrils were snaking back across the pavement towards the sweet young woman.

“Who are you?”

“Ah’m jus’ a gentleman come to rescue a damsel in distress. Now ah suggest you take yah hands off the lady.”

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