Friday, January 27, 2012

Down to Die

              I told Carlos the basics of my plan, and no more. I knew he’d flip if he had any clue just how crazy my idea was.  I lied to him about where it would go down to protect him. He’d be there by my side every step of the way if he knew the truth, and that just wasn’t a risk I could take. Most people are afraid to die alone; I’m afraid to die any other way.

            “Don’t do any of that crazy white boy shit, guey. I owe you.” No, he owed Carter, and that’s what got us into this situation. Twelve five, how could Carlos get in so deep without me knowing? I already knew the answer to that: he was afraid I would judge him. As if I could. A couple months ago he approached me about moving product for some extra flow. I didn’t react well; I told him that I didn’t spend so much time fighting with the trash pushing drugs just to become one of them. It was a private war, and he was asking me to work for the enemy. I would die for C-los, and I would kill for him, but that was something I just couldn’t do.

            So he went and did it behind my back, apparently. And just when we were recovering from the strain of him dating Shelly after I broke up with her. We would have to talk about this later, but first I had to save his ass from the consequences of his actions.  What choice did I have? He was my friend; it was my job to bail him out. That’s what friends were for.

            I kept telling myself that all day as I prepared for that night.

            The fence was amateur stuff. Chain length, six feet tall and only three strands of barb wire? Child’s play, I was over it like I See Stars without Carter’s boys noticing a damn thing. That’s straight skills, because I sure as hell saw and heard them. Freaking wankstas, no clue how to be low key.

            “Imma street ninja, straight up baller assassin.” Oh dear god, the ironic fact that I heard the boast from one of them made it that much harder not to laugh at these dumbass thug wannabes.

            “Shut the fuck up, and get to work.” Probably the smartest thing you’ve ever said, Carter. You probably had plenty of practice saying that to little boys, you sick bastard. Family money may have protected you from the cops, but having a rich family wouldn’t stop a knife from sliding into your rib cage. If I had known who you were at that party…

            I was getting off track, forgetting my objective. My mission wasn’t to kill Carter, though I would be doing the world a favor. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a temptation, but that’s just not me. I told myself I wasn’t like them. I was just fighting fire with fire. Sometimes I even believed it.

            The storage complex was outdated, the only place in town that hadn’t switched to electronic locks and keypads. They still had the old school padlocks protecting the possession of their clients. It was shady, no doubt, and the lack of cameras made it ideal for the Brown Boys to use it for their stash. It was probably Shelly that told Carter which units they used. My little spy, she had changed so much since we were kids. I didn’t really believe she was sleeping around with all this trash, I refused to, but I hated that she was even associating with them. It was something the two of us could never come to terms with while we were dating. She saw herself as part of this world, and I hated every aspect of it. She thought we were from different worlds, and I wish it was that simple. We were from the same world; she was just more content to occupy it while I was determined to change it or die trying.

             The tools wish they knew something about stealth. There were six of them, all darker than me, and one of them was practically a mountain. Still, this scrawny white boy stalked them predator style. They had no clue. Cookie was my first target, not because he had the most retarded nickname in existence, but because I knew he was slow and weak. We had scrapped just last month; I knew I could take him. I waited for him to break the lock and struck while he was pushing the door up. I caught him a choke hold from behind with my left arm while forcing the air out of his lungs with a knee to the stomach and my right hand held over his mouth and nose to stop him from breathing or making a sound. It was over less than a minute, he slumped to the concrete without resistance.

            On the shows and movies, that would have been enough to keep him out for half an hour at least. Television lies, I’ve been on the giving and receiving end of enough knock outs to know that. I had maybe two minutes before he woke up confused and with one hell of a headache, if I was lucky. I used plastic ties to bind his hands and feet, and gagged him with his own sock. If he wasn’t such a bastard I might have felt bad about shoving that rank ass thing into his mouth. I’d heard he had worse things in there, anyway. After he was out of the equation I dropped the door back down and wedged the tire iron dropped by Cookie into the lock. The mountain man was next, he was obviously the biggest threat and I’d feel safer knowing he was out of the picture.

            I hadn’t expected him to be patrolling the area, though, that was actually showing some kind of common sense. I saw him a second before he saw me, and I knew my cover was blown.

            “He’s over here!” I knew that voice. But that made no sense; what the hell was going on?

            “Carlos, what the fuck?!” He said nothing in response, and I just stood there like a dumbass in shock as he raised his gun and pulled the trigger.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Down to Ride

            Taking a break from one story to tell another, a two-parter.  This has been lurking at the back of my mind for a few days and I feel like getting it out of there to clear some space. Language warning: wirty dords.

            There was something mesmerizing about the glint of sunlight on a newly sharpened blade.

            I could spend hours sitting in this tree sharpening my knives. With a collection of over thirty bladed weapons, sometimes it would take me hours to hone them all. Some nights I could hear the sound of metal grating in a smooth motion when I closed my eyes. Other nights I was kept awake by the sound of gunshots and blaring music. You get to that kind of stuff, living in a neighborhood called “The Rat”.

            It was called The Rat’s Nest in my parent’s day, but our generation was lazier. Either way, it was not somewhere you wanted your kids to grow up. I did my best to hide the trophies of life on the street – bruises, burns and cuts among them, but I knew my parents worried. They had no way out though. I would find a way, I’d be damned if I brought up my kids in this trash heap. No one should have to bruise their knuckles on a drug dealer’s skull to protect their friend at a party. I admit that putting him through the sliding glass door wasn’t my smartest move, but I’m not the type to sit and think things through when I see someone drop a pill in the drink of the girl that came to the party to meet me. I was dogfood, Carter had yelled as footed it the hell out of there. Give a guy a couple connections and suddenly he thinks he’s gangsta. Welcome to the thug life, enjoy your stitches.

            “Woodstock!” Hearing my street name shook me from my wandering thoughts, bringing me back to the bark beneath me and the blade in my hands. That was a rookie mistake; this was not a neighborhood you let your guard down in. I learned that lesson a long time ago. Luckily I had some good people who had my back. Like Carlos, who was standing at the base of the tree looking up at me. Always down to ride; I knew I could trust Carlos with my life. We had grown up together, played cops and robbers together. I was always the cop, go figure.

            “I need your help. I’m in some deep shit.” Carlos looked scared, that was freaky. The boy was 6’ 5” and weighed over a couple bucks. It took a lot to scare what our friends called “the world’s biggest Mexican”. I preferred Chupacabra, myself, but maybe that’s just my laziness talking. All jokes aside, something big must be going down to scare him like that. That meant I should be scared, too. You’re never alone when you have your boys at your back.

            “I’m down to ride.” That’s all I needed to say, and he knew it was on. To be down to ride meant you were in it to the end. To be down to ride together meant to be down to die together. He was my down to ride, and I was his. The only person closer to me was my brother, and he didn’t know the street like we did. He wasn’t stuck in The Rat. Like 50 always said: they’re ain’t shit in this world deeper than loyalty and love, except loyalty and love between thugs.

            “Carter is going to call a headhunt on me. I owe him a lot of money I can’t pay back.” Friggin’ A, I told Carlos not to get involved with that dealing asshole. How many fights have we gotten into with Carter’s crew by now? That was dirty, I’ve lost and spilled a lot of blood in throwdowns with the druggies and Carlos was doing business with them? You’d think he would have learned to stay away from the Carter the last time we got jumped by his boys. Oh well, none of that mattered now. It was time for Woodstock to save the day, again. It was the shame that on the streets the hero was seen as the villain.

            “Lay low. I’ll handle this.” I dropped from the tree before he could answer, landing in close enough to smack him. It might have knocked some sense into him, but I resisted the urge.

            “Take this.” I glared at the pistol he set in my hand. First Carter, now guns. Carlos was making bad calls, and they were biting me in the ass. I needed to check him, but it would have to wait until after I bailed him out of this mess.

            “You know how I do, all knives on me.” Not that my knives would do me much good with what I had in mind. He knew better than to argue, and simply took back the weapon. At least the timing wasn’t bad, not at all. I knew, thanks to Shelly, that Carter and his boys were planning on hitting a storage rental joint that the Brown Boys used. Exes in low places, Carter probably told her over pillow talk. Either way, I had contemplated crashing his little party and taking him out of the game once and for all. With Carlos in his sights, my mind was made up.

Friday, January 20, 2012

One Step Closer to the Fun Stuff

It has been brought to my attention, in varying degrees of obnoxiousness, that I’m overdue an update here. Language is pretty rough with this one. Still building up the main event, but after this one we’ll start to see the fangtastic action. Now back to your regularly scheduled legged leech program.

A vampire. A vam-frickin’-pire.  She could have said it was an angel, bigfoot, Yankee Doodle or a zombie. Those things I might have believed. Hell, she was more like to meet the Easter Bunny or Santa Clause in a bar. Lord knows I’ve met some weirdoes. Come to think of it, there was this freak in a trench coat and eyeliner that called himself a vampire. I had only seen him at the bar once, and he left with a regular there that offered to drive his drunk ass home. Maybe he was the one the girls were stalking.

            “I thought she’d never leave.” Oh Aerie, the door had barely closed behind Tammy. Ara didn’t understand what I saw in Tammy and reminded me of it constantly. As if I needed it, lately I often forgot what I saw in Tam. It had gotten to the point of where I quit bothering to feint offense when Ara called her a less than flattering nickname. I don’t know if Tammy is aware of the moniker, but she no longer told anyone she was from Blair, Nebraska.

            “And now that she’s gone, you two can tell me why you are following some creeper around at night.” That annoying sneaky glance again, when would these girls grow out of this secret squirrel shit? I wonder which part the glance was about: me not defending my girlfriend or asking about the mosquito man.

            “After you tell us while you’re still with the Blair Bitch Project. You can’t blame PMS; no girl is ragging twenty-four seven.” Gee dearest sister, tell us how you really feel. Maybe Tammy wasn’t the only one subscribing to Midol Monthly right about now. I had never heard Ara be so crude before. Then again, I had never been around my sister while she was drinking before, either. It was a night of new experiences.

            “She’s in one of her moods. It’ll pass.” Plus, she’s the best lay I’ve ever had, but I wasn’t going to say that to my sister. Not in front of Kate, anyway. Kate’s smile, shy and fleeting, almost seemed to ask what would happen if it didn’t pass. For the first time, I asked myself the same question.

            “That’s a shame. I know a girl that would like the chance to date you, if you ditched the dead weight.” From the umpteenth look she shared with Katelyn, it didn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out who she was talking about. Kate looked away when I met her eyes, and suddenly the taste of cherry lingered on my lips again. Ara had never tried to play matchmaker before. She was just full of all kinds of surprises tonight.

            “Don’t tempt me. I want to know why you’re tailing Dracula around town.”

            “Fine. We’ll tell you, but it’s a long story.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Let's Just Get This Sappy Stuff Out of the Way so We Can Get to the Blood Sucking Action

And let’s continue the Edward Bites chronicles while I still have any time for nonprofit writing.

            It all started with a game of Truth or Dare.

            A kid’s game, I know. At twenty-one I was too old for such childish stuff, and Tammy a year old still.  It was Ara’s idea, of course, but what do you expect from a seventeen year old. Maybe it was the alcohol, maybe she was just being bitchy because it was the time of the month; it doesn’t really matter. Whatever the reason, Tammy was not holding back with her dares.

            “Um…what?” The bottle stopped halfway to my lips, Jack Daniels pausing in shock. There was no way I was hearing this right. Not from my girlfriend.

            “You heard me. Kiss Katie.” That damn smirk, I hated the power it held over me. She knew she could get me to do whatever she wanted with it, and you know a girl will not hesitate to pull out the guns on a guy. It was like going deer hunting with a tank; I didn’t have a chance.

            “You have to be kidding. That’s illegal. She’s, what, seventeen?” She was cute though, for a kid. Definitely the kind of body that would send lesser men to jail if she wanted to. Not that she was that kind of girl. Ara had some questionable friends, but I didn’t get that vibe from Katelyn at all. Of the girls Ara had brought home, I had to admit this new one was my favorite.

            “I’m eighteen,” She corrected with an arched eyebrow that rivaled Tammy’s seductive smirk. “And you’re only three years older than me.” That changed everything. With that simple sentence she went from cute to hot in my book. Three floors down was the limit, and suddenly she was in range.

            “What if she doesn’t want to?” I couldn’t even look at her, so I directed the question to Tammy. I couldn’t let my new found interest show. Tammy would own me if I made that mistake.

            “I don’t mind.” The trap was sealed. I don’t know whether that was the answer I wanted or not, and I probably will take that mystery to the grave.

            “Fine.” Again, I couldn’t afford to show enthusiasm. Kate and my sister shared a look, almost too quick to be noticed if I hadn’t been looking at them, and I knew there was more to this story. It was Tammy I refused to look at now. My girlfriend wanted me to kiss another girl, fine. I would not give her the satisfaction of backing out. It was just a game, after all. Right?
            It was more than a quick peck, that was for sure. Her lips were soft and sweet. Flavored lip gloss, it reminded me of the things I missed about teenage dating. One thing about Tammy that always bothered me was the taste of her ever present chap stick. It was like kissing a candle. Not my idea of good times. I felt my  pulse start racing and I knew it was time to pull back while I still could. I’m not sure how long the kiss lasted, time had lost all meaning when her tongue slipped into my mouth, but I knew it had to have been longer than the dare called for.

            “My turn.” I found the courage to stare Tammy down, but her smirk had grown even wider. Her gaze drifted to my lap and I prayed to Jesus, Budha and Chuck Norris that my pants would not betray how much I had enjoyed the kiss.

            “How was it?” I had expected the question from Tammy, but not from my sister. Again they shared some secretive glance. Teens and their secret language spoken with their eyes.

            “A gentlemen doesn’t kiss and tell.” I decided I wouldn’t either, for my own safety. Tammy got crazy when she was angry. Or when she was drinking. Hell, my girlfriend got crazy for no reason whatsoever. I didn’t need one of those scenes tonight. So far it was a damn good night. “Truth or dare, Aerie?” It was the easiest way to change the subject, and I’m not above such cheap tricks.

            “Truth.” Trust Ara to play it safe after a dare like that. She didn’t need to worry about me upping the ante though, not to my little sister. But I couldn’t help but be proud of her. Better safe than sorry when the writing on the wall says things are about to get intense.

            “Alright Sis, tell me why you’ve been sneaking out the last couple weeks.” I hoped the answer wasn’t boy related, but I knew better. She had done so well in avoiding those kind of guys. I knew it had been too good to be true, and there was no way it could last forever.

            “We’ve been going to the bar,” I sure as hell wasn’t expecting that. Judging by the look of sudden panic on Ara’s face, she could see my urge to kill rising. I didn’t think it could get worse, but when she kept talking it signified the beginning of the end of my life “We followed this guy there. He’s a vampire.”

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Suck it, Twilight

It’s been a while since I wrote as a means of escape but here goes. This is just the start of a longer story, and I’m hoping to do some justice to the vampires in a post-Twilight world. Enjoy.

            I lost.

            That admission doesn’t come easy to me; the familiar taste of defeat is difficult to bear. It tasted of copper and bitterness. It tasted of certain doom.

            She simply watched, calm in her smug superiority, as I struggled to my feet. My legs held, but barely, and every second was an eternity of agony. She gave me that sardonic smirk, somehow still sexy, for spitting out my blood. It was a feeble act of defiance, but defiant it was. She replied with sweeping her fiery mane back and binding it into a pony tail. I knew my torment was only beginning if she was actually going to take the time to pull her hair back for this.

            Then my legs gave out and the rough asphalt caught me again. She was going to kill them, and there was nothing I could do to stop her. Some vampire hunter I turned out to be.

            I want to blame them for this. Ara and Katelyn, it all started with their wild ideas. But that wouldn’t be honest, and I’m not dying with lies on my heart. What kind of brother would I have been if I had let Ara run amok without protection? And what kind of man would I have been if I hadn’t agreed to anything to get in Kate’s pants? For all the good it did me, looks like I’ll never taste that peach. Maybe I should have listened to Ara. She warned me not cheat, but I was beyond the point of thinking with the main brain. I wasn’t wearing a ring; girlfriends come and go.  It’s only cheating if you get caught, I rationalized, otherwise it’s intelligence.  

            So maybe it was my fault, too, but I didn’t cheat. I wanted to, sure, but the bitch beat me to the punch. Sure, it was screwed up that I wanted to leave Tammy for Katelyn, I’ll admit it. What she did was so much worse. If I had known what she was capable of, I would have asked Lizzy to prom my senior year instead. If only.

            “You brought this on yourself.” The vampire whispered, suddenly leaning over me. “Was she worth it? Was that size zero piece of ass worth dying for?” She crouched beside me, her emerald gaze unwavering in its intensity.

            “Let them go. Take me, turn me, do whatever the hell you want with me. Leave them alone.”  I was going to die anyway, the least I could do was try to save the girls. They didn’t deserve any of this.

            “It is too late to man up now. You can’t protect them this time. You can’t even protect yourself.” Any hope I had of buying time by keeping her talking vanished then. I knew it was over from the glint in her eyes, the sheen of insatiable hunger. I’d like to say I kept my eyes open to face death, but that would be a lie. My eyes slammed shut as her fangs slid slowly into my neck. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pimpin' Ain't Easy, ie Shameless Promotion

I’ll keep this short and sweet because it’s midnight and the girls are crashing around me. My Canadian cohort, Marie Landry, released her debut novel a couple weeks ahead of schedule. Right now it’s available only on Amazon, but she assures me it will be available on B&N soon as well. This effectively means I’ll be buying it twice, as I have a Nook but I don’t intend on waiting to purchase it. I wonder if Calibre can convert Kindle format books…

Anyway, get your clicky on and check it out for yourself.

And no, that’s not an affiliate link. I get nothing out of this except the satisfaction of helping out a friend and introducing you(the reader) to quality literature. Because clearly you’re not getting it from me. I’ve read the manuscript and the book rocks, and I don’t even like romance novels. Go. Buy. Read. Now.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Good to be a Gamer - Schoolin' Time

So, fun story. I had the last part of Smoke and Mirrors finished and ready to post as of New Year’s Eve. My plan was to wait a couple days, post the Dirty Driving comparison and then post the S & M conclusion a couple days later. There was one teeny tiny problem with this plan: the draft was blank tonight when I went to post it. This annoyed me more than a little bit, and I considered taking a night off from my writing to hang out with friends. I got as far into this plan as texting a couple people when I decided I didn’t really feel going out after all. This lead to me playing games for a bit, which in turn lead me to this post instead.
            Video games are very educational, I don’t care what the self-proclaimed experts say. To prove that point I decided to list a few of the lessons I’ve learned from video games since I’ve gotten back in the saddle.

            We’ll start off with the tricks I learned that will keep you alive during the inevitable zombie outbreak.
1.      The safest place to be during the zombie apocalypse is the hood of a car.*
Thanks to Dead Island for informing me of this nifty little survival technique. It turns out that the undead can’t climb, and aren’t smart enough to reach up and grab you. Occasionally you may have to worry about an especially fast moving necro tackling you off the top of the car, but those are rare and so those deaths would be in the minority. If that happens, all the other zombies will patiently wait for you to fight your way to your feet before resuming their attack on you.

2.      Zombies and psychos can’t open doors.*
This one I learned from the Dead Rising games as well as Dead Island. Whenever I need breathing room in either game, I simply put a closed door between me and the zombie horde. This also works for people driven mad by the outbreak or who are simply dirt bags up to no good during bleak times. We’re not talking high quality steel doors, either; a simple screen door will keep the agents of death at bay. Glass doors on the other hand, should not be counted on.

3.      Molotov cocktails solve everything.
I picked this one up from pretty much every zombie game in existence. The concept is simple: douse a rag in a flammable fluid(I’ll be using Everclear myself when the outbreak hits), and jam it inside a glass bottle filled with the same fluid or another flammable substance(again, I’m sticking with Everclear). Light the exposed portion of the rag and throw it in the direction of whatever you want to send to hell. Viola, problem roasted.
Supplies for a party, or the apocalypse?

4.      Running like hell is always the best policy.
This one offends my proactive nature, but it’s true. You see, with a population of 7 billion and growing – there will pretty much always be more zombies. You can stand your ground and fight, as would be my preference, but you have limited resources and facing a nearly infinite threat. The smartest and most efficient method when presented with a threat is to run whenever possible. The obvious exception to this would be the slow, in which case you should hide or accept the fact that you’re a buffet waiting to happen. Don’t be surprised if you’re surrounded by faster runners – you’re their insurance policy that they won’t be the ones getting eaten.

5.      Malls and stores are a very bad idea.
Think about it: everyone and their sister will be flocking to these locations for shelter and supplies. You’re not original or clever at all in this idea. Instead the masses will be swarming the place, and more than likely at least one of the two situations will greet you if you take this route. Option A) they’ve picked the place clean and/or Scenario 2) the place has so many pale and unfriendly faces you’ll think you’re witnessing opening night for one of the Twilight movies. These areas are zombie bait; find more creative ways to get your supplies.

            Now that matters of survival are out of the way, we can move onto more general knowledge gained from games.

1.      People will like you if you buy them stuff.
Thank you, Fable series (and Sims to a lesser extent), for teaching me this shallow and materialistic life lesson. It turns out the secret to friendship and romance is to simply shower the subject with gifts. If you do that you can kill their family and steal all their stuff, but they’ll still love you as long as they don’t see it. Even if they do see it, they can be bought with more presents. Oh, and being famous apparently doesn’t hurt either.

2.      Everyone has a rat problem.
An overgrown rat problem at that. Pretty much every RPG I’ve ever played has reminded me of the extent of the pest problem. You’d think with all the novice adventures whacking rodents for cash that they’d be less of an issue. The disease ridden bastards better leave my cheese alone. Good thing I foresee a pet tiger in my future: a big cat for big rats.

3.      Mounted guns always have unlimited ammo.
Two decades of experience with FPS, and I can’t think of one example of where a mounted gun had a finite amount of ammo. They’re may be some, but they’re not springing to mind. Guess we should tip off the military to simply mount all their guns onto something and we’d never have to worry about a soldier running out of ammo again. Maybe they already know this, since mounted guns seem to be pretty easy to find in most shooter games.

4.      People stash stuff in the weirdest places.
Again this one has mainly come from RPGs, but still many games in general employ this practice. You have an entire inventory, often containing pieces of armor and weaponry. Where exactly are the characters keeping this stuff, and how do they draw it so fast? I have my theories, but I’m not willing to test them. I’ll stick with my pockets, as limited as they are, thank you.

5.      Some things are simply impossible to destroy.
Whether it’s a beach ball in Dead Island, or the buildings and trees in pretty much every game in existence: the world is generally invincible. Some games may feature more destructible environment than others but your surrounds tend to be pretty sturdy. Sure you may be able to shoot holes in the wall or set something on fire, but odds are that it’ll be back to perfect condition a few minutes later. I wonder if ACME sells this magical regenerating material. If so, I want everything I own to be made of it.

      And that’s all folks. Feel free to comment on the many lessons I left out.
            *Unless of course the outbreak is actually an infection (ie the Left 4 Dead series). If that’s the case, you’re pretty much screwed following this rule.