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A Night Out
He edged up to the top of the bluff on his stomach, keeping his head low and his breath even. The ground was still wet from the last storm and the turf sunk in slightly, affording him the tiniest increment of comfort. It’s something, at least, he thought to himself. Trees overhead blocked the moon and kept him hidden in the darkness, just as planned.
It took two hours of neck cramps, bugs and bladder control before there was a shift change. Nice and neat, the relief marched out, acknowledged their counterparts, and assumed their positions. Only four. This was going to be easy.
One outside and three within. I still need to be fast, though.
He ran his hands over the pouches and sleeves in his jacket and pants, assuring himself yet again that he had with him everything that he needed, still finding nothing out of place. This moment was something to be savoured. Because there’s always a point when a man’s about to do something violent and irreversible where he knows he can change his mind. And then that sharp, vibrant moment when he recommits and continues on his course as if an obsessive and hungry force impels him headlong. He was relishing all of it, thinking perhaps he had already passed the point where he could change his mind and wondering if he would ever again be responsible for his actions.
And in one lightheaded, giddy moment, his body was up and over the crest of the hill, still shielded from the moon by canopies which whispered him on and rustled their leaves in exultation. The speed with which he moved was astonishing and gave brief alarm at the thought that his mind—though vicious-sharp—might not be able to keep up with such Olympian perfection. Once animal instinct was sloughed off for his imminent explosion of force and savagery, would he be able to control this body or would these fantastic primal drives take over forever?
As feet pounded lithely over grass that hardly had time to fully bend, he looked at his wristwatch in perfect detachment as the seconds moved with unbelievable slowness. _All this time and I must’ve been moving for less than ten seconds…Fantastic. _
The approach was chosen to maximize surprise and nothing had been overlooked. The outer sentry was a boring, simple man who was unhappy with his life and his job. Slouching forward to look at his nails and with his right foot planted against the building, he was just far enough away from the windows that his superiors couldn’t see his slack indifference. No doubt they were sticklers for this sort of thing and it must have given him a pang of guilty excitement to disobey.
It was only a brief moment in which his slackness was disturbed, but the brevity was contrasted acutely with the level of violence it contained. One flashing, steel-tipped boot from the darkness, aimed with grim accuracy, was all it took to break the sentry’s neck and change him from an upright mess to a lateral one. One slash and two quick stabs to make sure no undesired sounds would be heard, then the sentry’s body was dragged to the shadowy end of the lot. So far, so good.
Wiping the blood off of his knife so it wouldn’t be slick in his hands, a distant rumbling sound was heard building in the distance. Whatever it was, it wouldn’t be good news and he knew time was no longer an ally. Fifteen paces to the front door, he estimated. Once through, it’ll be touch and go. I wish I brought more knives…
The wind that met his face was outmatched in fury by the stream of vapour that hissed from between his teeth. Five paces in and he had a knife in each hand. Ten paces in and they were tucked against his wrists, ready to strike or stab. At the seventeenth step, he burst through the door and into a room full of fluorescent light and clean tile. Time is unforgiving and now it seems he can’t move quick enough. All three of them are looking at him before he can reach the nearest.
"Wha-ohmyguh!" is all he got out before the knife tore his throat open.
Already the other two were turning, perhaps to retrieve weapons or maybe in retreat. It didn’t matter because nothing would save them now except for death. The only way you’re living past tonight is if I don’t. In the fraction of a second that it took for the first one to fall, numbers two and three were already picked out and assigned according to the prescribed order of termination.
Number two was the furthest away. Number three began to fumble with something, eyes wide with wordless pleas and gibbering with fear. That’s the thing about most men. All their training goes to shit when it really counts. His waist and everything below was obscured by a counter, hands working clumsily at something out of view. _I’m taking a risk letting him fuck around with whatever he’s got, but I can’t let any of them escape. _
The bloody knife was the first to fly and it missed its target by a foot. Number two slipped in his haste and went down beside the knife. In his terror, he completely ignored it and thrust himself again for the back door, reaching desperately for safety. If it was a straight foot race, number two would have made it with time to spare. But the knocking sound the knife made against the back of his head was strangely distinct amidst the chaos and confusion wracking the small room. It flew elegantly if not perfectly, and would hopefully keep number two out long enough to easily finish off later. The unique crunching sound his nose made against the floor was muffled by the general clamour of his limp body finding itself painfully obeying the strictures of momentum and friction.
Three down, one to go.
Turning on the ball of his foot, he rounded one of the corners of the counter that kept him from number three. The rumbling sound he had heard earlier resurged and a quick glance toward the door revealed a small cluster of people with the door wrenched open, all yelling and gesturing. Shit, this one’ll be tough to get out of.
"Shit!" he snarled through clenched teeth. Only one knife left. Can’t throw this one away.
His hand moves instinctively to his hip as he reaches the counter. With his left hand he braces for the jump while his right retrieves the blade. His right knee is already coming up as his left prepares to launch his body over the counter. One elegant, fluid motion, that would have been a poetic synchronization of muscle and bone if it weren’t so shockingly beastly.
"Utt—" is the only sound that comes out as the club imposes itself into his cheekbone. Number three squawks and totters backward as both of them fall in a heap, the short piece of wood flying from his hands and rebounding against the inside of the counter. Should’ve seen it coming. Knew he was doing something behind there.
The rumbling was all he could hear now. It’s like the floor was made of solid noise and the air was vibrating in sympathetic patterns. Pain began creeping in and the fuzziness in his head started to clear. Already, number two was getting up to retrieve his club and if he got to that, everything was over. The knife was still in his right hand, clenched tight during the impact and throughout the fall. He leaned on his left elbow and raised his right hand to strike.
"What the fuck!?” came a shout from above him, accompanied by a powerful hand gripped tight around his wrist. His arm was forced back and folded behind him with relative effortlessness. Number three was on his feet and backing away, rubbing his arms and looking to the side. The hand which saved number three’s life brought with it an immense weight that settled on his back, leaving only his left arm free. Unable to look back, he could only grasp blindly at whoever it was that had him pinned, hoping to catch a stray bit of clothing or hair and pull them into a more advantageous position.
When the boot came crashing down on his left hand, he finally began to have real fear that he might not make it out of this mission. He felt some of the tender bones snap and looked up to see the pale, grimacing face of number two, holding a hand to his head where a small trickle of blood ran. Didn’t hit hard enough..
Number two spat out the blood that dribbled down from his shattered nose and bared his teeth while leaning all his weight onto the crushed hand below.
"Whoa, easy buddy. We’ve got it now." And a hand reached out from over the counter to pull number two back, gently but implacably.
Suddenly, things were getting fuzzy again. He could hear his heartbeat slamming the blood through his head and making his ears hurt. He realized he was panting and felt like he was about to vomit but couldn’t get enough air in to allow it. His vision was dimming and his eyes rolled crazily in his head to fight it. As they spun and gradually slowed, the last thing they focused on was the the old, beaten watch attached to his wrist. It looked broken and useless, like his hand. As time slowed again, he realized that the second hand wasn’t even moving anymore. Wheezing and unable to even cry out, he went slack and whimpered once as the man on his back arose. Then he faded away and became silent.
"Jesus Christ, did you see that shit?" asked one of the onlookers excitedly, flapping his hand toward the site of the fracas.
"Only part of it," replied Semper, edging closer to where the unconscious man lay. "What happened?"
"Well, all I saw was that guy run in and start attacking everybody. I’m sure I’ve seen him around somewhere before too, but I can’t remember where. Did you see him get hit with the bat? Fucking crazy!"
"Yeah, I’ll say. What damned shitty timing I have. I only came here to get some smokes because all the other places are closed by now. And of course bullshit like this has to happen before I can even get a pack." Semper lights his last cigarette and throws the empty package into the garbage can to his right. "If I was a superstitious man, I’d be inclined to think it was a sign I should quit. But to hell with that. Superstition never worked for me. I always thought people who cared about that stuff always ended up…" he turned and realized his conversation partner was busy by the counter, rubbernecking at the carnage and trying not to be noticed as he slipped a few pieces of spicy beef jerky into his pocket.
Spicy, huh? Semper mused. I woulda figured him for more of a barbecue type of guy.
since I always visualize women naked… Incessantly.
Perpetually——visualize women naked.. I find I’m incapable of being attracted to female comics who make silly voices.
Because I think they’ll do that in bed.
And I don’t think I’d like that.
Premise: our reality is occupied simultaneously by us and our others who live in a tweedle-dum/tweedle-dee manner where they know what is about to happen at all times.
[event happens where protagonist is able to converse with his alternate]
pro: “So you are claiming that you know everything that’s about to happen?”
alt: “Within reason.”
pro: “Basically, just what happens to me. Us?”
alt: “Yeah. And right now you’re about to stop yourself from saying ‘ugh, that sounds like the plotline from some lame sci-fi novel.’”
pro: “Ugh..” pauses for a moment, frowning. “Goddammit…”
alt: “Go ahead, just think of me as the ephemerally convenient narrator for what’s about to happen and what currently is happening beneath the surface. You’re going to do it anyway.”
pro: “Great. So that just replaces my free will with an impending sense of unavoidable determinism, huh?”
alt: “Pretty much, yeah. But if you can forget about it, you’ll find the story is actually pretty cool.”
"How long did it take granpa?" she asked.
"How long did what take, flower?"
"How long did it take everyone here to rebuild everything?"
"Oh", a slight twist of the mouth was the only tell of what he was really thinking. "That weren’t really too big a probl’m."
"Well. We didn’t need to rebuild nothin’. It was the same then as it is now. We knew it would be. We thought about that ahead a’ time."
She looked at him; looked at the worn leather around his eyes. She could tell more about what he was thinking by the part around his eyes than she could by looking directly into the orbs themselves. He could hide only so much from her, he was after all a passionate man and had to wear his heart somewhere.
"But…but why haven’t we built anything since then, granpa? Why isn’t there anything new?"
"D’y’think we need it?" he asked, still playfully.
"Oh, I dunno…"
"C’mon sweetie," he said, changing tack, "let’s get up and check the barn. I’m sure we can find something to do there. If’n I don’t get up soon, my back’ll start t’ act up" he said, straightening his shoulders.
"Wait granpa, tell me more. What do the other people out there do? What do they look like? Are their houses like ours? Will I ever––"
"You cut that out!" The lines around his face had lost most of their curves and his mouth was thin. "It’s not normal t’think about these things, you stick t’keeping the farm in mind and don’t bother with nothin’ else, y’hear?" He stood up and planted her on her feet, stretching beside the padded chair and straightening his shirt. "Yer too young t’talk about things like these. Now c’mon, we’re headin’ outside."
She wasn’t mad. She wasn’t even disappointed. This was how a number of their conversations had ended over the past year. She used to feel bad about making him upset like this, but now it just made her think. ‘How could things have been so bad that even now he didn’t want to think about anything outside of the village?’ she wondered. ‘Could it have been that bad? Could it still be that bad?’
I did write this in February of 2009 and had high hopes. I’ve since reverted to thinking any president is a quickly-greying finger puppet with a million fingers up his ass.
It was originally titled “a joke?.rtf” and I’m now seeing that as the only bit of prescience contained herein.
upon the realization of Obama being a beneficial force for world economics and a breath of less-stale air:
"Now what I want to say - Or shout even - Into the faces of the fucks who claimed that what we needed to revitalize everything was more of the exact same shit that fucked it up in the first place — is ‘hey. You remember saying that? You remember being really really wrong and stupid? How’s it feel now, dummy? I got a packet of salt in my pocket here to make those words you’re eating taste better.’
"But I can’t… there are far too many of them and I’m far too unmotivated. So I’ll say it to you instead.
"Y’see my hope is that if enough of us THINK it, then perhaps those rotten shills screaming garbage, hatred and propaganda on the TV will smack their heads a little more often when climbing out of their BMWs and Mercedes every morning. Or scuff their brand new Italian shoes when they dodge a bum in the street. Or maybe they’ll choke a little on their morning glass of imported puppy tears.
"Yeah, now that’s fucking karmic justice!"
infinite number of monkeys working on an infinite number of typewriters would eventually create the entire works of shakespeare:
We are the monkeys. We made it. We’re still making it.
Sign: “Be prepared to stop”
-That’s when it feels the best: when you know you might have to stop at any moment.
That’s when it feels best to speed up.
It’s when you’re extra alert and wide-eyed, staring at the present and absorbing every second.