Saturday, February 5, 2011

Part XLIX

Part XLIX

The glut of small spiders things hit us like a wave. I found a hand hold and tried to let it sweep by. I mumbled under my breath just in case they were hungry and dropped a small repelling charm across my body. I forgot about my guide though and his screams almost burst my ear drums. Evidently there is no love lost in the mountain. I looked down just long enough to see him get carried past, half the demon he used to be.

Like water, they passed by and I was soon able to push myself off the wall. I tried to orient myself, and pushed my werelight further down the tunnel. I added four more balls to the mix and sent them in formation ahead of me. If the brood was this close, then there was no way momma could be too far ahead.

Grandfather Lee had figured out what Momma was. She was a special kind of demon. Her brood weren't so much her children as her mouth. She birthed them once every few years and they ate everything they could, then scampered back to her and entered her mouths and fed her. Kind of like a long distance stomach with a lot of mouths. He estimated I had a few hours before they returned, and she would be fairly weak before they did.

Twenty minutes or so later, time was a bit odd in the mountain, I came to the end of the corridor we'd been walking down, and where there had once been a web covering the cavern entrance, there was now a well chewed web with a big hole in it.

I stepped through and shot the werelights up and in all directions lighting up the cavern like some rave.

The scream that echoed through the room just about brought me to my knees. I mumbled under my breath and protected my ears so I could at least stand back up. I hoped my ear drums had survived.

The demon had tried to scramble away into the dark, but her egg sac hadn't broken free yet, and even as big as she was she looked like she was dragging a deflated hot air balloon behind her. I mumbled under my breath again and dimmed the werelights as far as I was willing to go, then brought the ear protection down since she'd stopped screeching once she'd tried to escape the light.

Once the lights dimmed she turned her head and drew a bead on me with all 30 eyes. I stood my ground and brought a canister of the sauce I'd made back at hotel from off my belt. It was basically Valium for demons. I filled the air with the aerosolized mixture and waited for her to calm down.

I need you to tell me where the Tall Man walked?

Her voice sounded like children crying.

He has walked many places, and has stood his ground.

I just need to know where the reliquary is. Tell me that and I'll let your brood live. Don't and I'll burn 'em before you taste even a single bit of sustenance. You might make it to brood time again, and you might not. Your choice.

What business do you have with him?

Just the business of killing.

She picked at her brood sac with her hind legs, finally freeing it from her body. She came at me fast, and I wasn't ready. One of her front legs took a swipe and I left the ground, just long enough to make returning to it hurt. She was on top of me by the time I rolled over. Her pincers just inches from my face and her breath hitting me like stale urine.

I pulled the trigger on the can and gave her a full spread in the face. She screamed again and backed up enough for me to pull myself up off the ground. She tried to charge again, but the sauce had set in and she looked like a giant drunk spider trying to walk on greased glass. I posed my question again.

Where is the reliquary?

She finally succumbed to the sauce and slumped to the ground.

You're standing in it.

She passed out cold. I guess I'd given her a bit too much, and as I thought back through everything that had happened I realized one thing. I didn't know if she meant the cave or the mountain, and I only had 30 minutes to figure it out before the brood came back to feed their queen.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Part XLVIII

PART XLVIII

Its lair smelled like rotten meat and Lysol. It became obvious when I stepped inside. The floor was littered with rotting carcasses and the ceiling was covered with hanging car fresheners. I jumped when the first Hula Girl freshener smacked into my face. I mumbled under my breath and threw some werelight balls into the air. I almost slipped on the fresh viscera of a bear, but I tensed up when I felt the meat spread under my shoe.

All right you nasty bastard, I'm here to talk.

Nothing, not a sound beyond the squeak of rotten meat under my shoes.

I looked around and found its bed. Something stirred.

WAKE UP!

There was groan and the bear hides shifted, then it sat up.

Dude, I’m so not appreciating your manners.

He'd been eating too many skiers.

Dude, I don't give a rat's ass. Now shake your nasty bits off and do whatever it is you need to wake up, or I'm going to start blowing very small bits off you.

I waved my hand, and the balls of light surrounded him like lightening bugs. He tried to swat them away, but they had a little autonomy of their own and easily stayed out of reach.

He finally removed the animal skins and stood up, it was like he'd fluffed the sheets and the stink of rot hit my nose so hard my eyes started to water and the mucus in my head began to clear.

I coughed and shot him in the leg.

What the fuck, dude, I did what you said.

You'll heal, and I needed to make sure I had your attention.

You're the one looking for your Uncle's bits.

I shot him in the other leg, and he sat down.

Dammit. That smarts.

Focus on me and it won't hurt so much. There's a reliquary here in Utah, and I need help getting too it.

You're not making a positive advance on having me assist you.

You're not dead, nor are the rest of your siblings living in the mountain. I can change my mind though.

So what makes you think I can help, and by the way, what was your reasoning with choosing me?

I found you first, and I need safe passage through the Wasatch gauntlet.

The gauntlet is dead. Hardly anything there any more. They wiped us all out, and you know that.

It's not you I'm worried about. I hear there are still traps, things that separate a man from his useful bits, as well as a well-guarded crypt. I have no desire to desecrate sacred ground. Or in your case unconsecrated ground. I need a guide into the tunnels.

What do I get out of it other then you not shooting me again?

A warm fuzzy feeling inside.

Not fair.

I'm sure the last snowboarder you ate felt the same way.

He had a broken leg. I had to put him down.

A small short chortle echoed through the chamber.

Look, I don't know my way through the tunnels, but I know someone who does.

I leveled the gun at his head.

Seriously, I do. I'll take you to her.

I lowered the gun and he shambled up, the wounds in his legs already starting to heal.

Put some pants on.

I haven't worn pants in fifty years.

Fine, but stay in front of me. Your junk looks like a cow's utter gone sour. Don't make any quick move or I'll shoot you in the ass.

Fine.

He grabbed a weird bandoleer he'd made out of ten or twelve head lamps. Most were fairly modern LED types, and I wasn't even going to ask where he got batteries. He threw it over his shoulder and the lights spun face front and lit the way as he moved into a shadowed corner revealing a tunnel opening. I let my lights trail between us, even though the sight of his spiny back gave me the chills.

As we progressed deeper into the cave, the air actually cleared a bit as cold currents of fresh mountain air worked their way down through, pushing the stink behind us. I was down wind, which wasn't great, but it was better.

He didn't talk much while we ambled through, though unlike me he had to stoop on a number of occasions as the ceiling went up and down. I'd thought I'd have been sweating in the get-up, but the cave got colder as we descended, and I started to have to walk more carefully as the moisture made the ground slick with ice. There was also an uncomfortable amount of thick organic webbing. I rattled my brain to try and figure out what the demon we were going to see, and finally asked grandfather Lee if he had any idea. He'd kept quiet the entire time I had been negotiating, but once I asked him, he began to chatter again, and on this one occasion I found it more comforting than I ever would have thought possible.

We walked for about an hour before he stopped. I was carrying on a conversation with Grandfather lee and almost ran into his ass.

What's up?

Quiet.

I stopped and listened. Slowly, I began to hear something that reminded me of the Discovery channel special on ants, and the nasty ones in South Africa that can eat a whole cow. The noise was low, like a thousand tiny feet skittering in unison. In unison, toward us.

Ah shit, she just had a brood.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Part XLVII

Part XLVII

It was a two bedroom, so I pulled the sheets of the bed and laid plastic across it. I took inventory and laid out all the equipment Bruce had sent. I liked the look of a bed full of guns. The crate contained seven pelican cases, each custom fitted to its contents. The first one I checked was the one labeled with a skull and cross bones. The skull had horns and really big teeth. The gun inside was creatively named The Reaper Weeper. It was designed to fire 2000 needles of frozen mercury a minute. It was good for killing, but bad for the environment. The case contained the gun and three magazines of Bruce's own design that contained liquid nitrogen vapor. You definitely needed goggles to use it, and in one of the smaller cases were the goggles; they were full spectrum and fully sealed. Bruce had fitted in a digital laser range finder and put it all in a snug steampunk looking package that included a snap on helmet and spooky looking fear inspiring respirator, all covered in hand tooled leather.

Another case held a back sheathe which housed pure silver samurai swords; these were his babies. They had been custom made by one of the last sword makers in Japan. They were folded steel, with thin layers of silver added between each fold. The finished sword was then electro-plated with a silver finish. If I lost or damaged these babies, I'd owe him more than a new eye. He'd also sent along an Australian range jacket waterproofed with a special oil infused with mistletoe, nightshade, wolfsbane, belladonna, and lavender. It smelled like the Old Man had drunk lavender water and then threw up, but it worked.

The nine mil's were standard, but the bullets were an herb mix Bruce called “Popuri of Death”. He dried and then ground everything down into powder and formed the bullets using high pressure. They hit, making the demon laugh at you until their face changed as the bullets started to dissolve; then they cried and either blew-up, melted, or smoked. I loved the look of confusion that interrupted their laughter.

He'd thrown in The Big Sleep, but I wasn't sure I was going to needed it as long as The Reaper Weeper didn't freeze up. There was also a small tear down blowgun with darts made from the bones of Saints. I didn't want to know which ones. The last case was a hodgepodge of little things that clipped to the mesh vest and straps. Pretty much everything but a Holy Hand Grenade, although Bruce had been trying for years to make a real one. The casing was easy, but he never quite figured out what would actually be in one. That's what you get trying to reproduce a Monty Python weapon that actually worked. Plus, as kitschy as the casing was, it was impractical. Crosses, as they were in the real world, were little more than decoration and meant nothing to the things I was going to fight.

I tried everything on for comfort and set the straps, locks, buttons and zippers. I looked at myself in the mirrored closet and thought I looked ridiculous. But I'd rather look stupid and stay alive then look stylish and die with a set of ten inch claws clipping my spine, or my eyes melting; some of them spit.

I grabbed some kit from the van and pulled out the few pots and pans the hotel provided. I set to making some sauce. Two hours later the room smelled like something had died in it. I opened the balcony doors and set the thermostat to FAN. While the room cleared out, I walked a few blocks away to a nice little place called Poplar Street Pub. They had a full bar and a number of beers on tap. Being Utah though, the taps were 3.2 % by volume, so I got a bottle of Squatters IPA and backed it with a jack.

The atmosphere was nice. It had three separate rooms and a back patio. While I waited for the alcohol to hit my system, I chatted with a few of the locals and the bartenders. A couple were Jack Mormons, but mostly it was tourists in for one convention or another. When they asked me what I did, I told them I was location scouting for a low budget film. I didn't know what I was getting in to, because before I left I had three business cards and four or five napkins full of names and numbers of people who needed work. Evidently film was dead here too.

I got the bison burger for the old man and got a club salad for myself. Back in the room, the Old Man clawed the bread off the burger and hissed at the lettuce until he decided it wouldn't move on its own. I reached down and picked it away so her could get at the meat. He fell asleep on my lap while I watched Leno die a horrible ten 0'clock time slot death. I fell asleep listening to Letterman talk about screwing his staff.

The next morning, I pulled out of the Residence Inn and drove toward the Wasatch mountains.

There's a bit of lost history about what Brigham Young did when he moved into the Wasatch Valley. Sure they had to endure the harsh winters, but they also had to deal with a brood of nightmares that lived beneath the mountains. The Mountain Meadows Massacre was a direct result of Young and his militia, along with his Native American allies, trying to purge the infestation. In retaliation, the demon brood possessed his men and made them turn their guns upon the Fancher-Baker emigrant wagon train. The media fury, trials and general outrage of this caused Young, the then Governor of the Utah territory, to make a secret pact. The Mormons could keep the valley, but the nightmares got the mountains. It's even rumored that the persistence of polygamy was necessary to provide enough children to both keep the population of Salt Lake City growing, while supplying enough surplus offspring to make the required sacrifices the pact called for.

Polygamy only went out of style in the 1910 excommunication of polygamists from the church. Like the relationship of the knights Templar to the Catholic Church, the excommunication was a cover. The secret reason was that certain families had been chosen to provide the sacrifices solely, and the excommunication was enacted to distance the church from the secret pact. In 1917, as the First World War was beginning to take its final breath, the polygamist Knights of the Later Days went deep into the Wasatch mountains and fought what would be known as the War of Final Sacrifice. The brood never recovered, and at last count there are less than twelve demons still calling the Wasatch mountains home. I only needed to see one of them, but I was willing to finish the job the Mormons had started if I had to.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Part XLVI

Part XLVI

I mumbled under my breath as I passed through the doors to the hospital making myself unremarkable. It was past visiting hours and I needed to make sure Destiny wasn't getting any from things that shouldn't ever get a pass. I passed by the nurse on her way out of Destiny's room and she shuttered and looked around. I sat down in the chair and watched Destiny eat her Jell-o for dinner. It was magic to see her awake and responding, and I wasn't sure I wanted to reveal myself just yet.

She ate slowly, letting the Jell-o melt on her tongue. She stuck her spoon back in and paused. She looked around the room, then settled her gaze right on me. She smiled and took another bite. I stayed where I was. She got it, and that was all I needed.

She finished and put her spoon down and pushed the tray back and away from her. She leaned back and sighed, and patted the bed next to her. I hesitated, then joined her, not knowing what it must have been like to feel me but not see me as I slid in next to her. She turned on her side and we spooned like high school kids not sure what should happen next. She drifted off to sleep and I lay there feeling her breath and getting angry inside.

The window to her room was facing East, and the sun hit me like a pin prick on the back of my neck. I woke with a start and made sure I could still feel her and she was warm. I moved carefully away and sat back in the chair.

On the small side table next to the chair was a pad and a pen. I tore off a piece of paper and made a swan, it was the only piece of Origami I knew, but I'd practiced it a lot. I put it on the pillow next to her head and then laid my palm on her forehead. I consulted with Grandfather Lee, then mumbled under my breath and made her forget me. I locked all her memories so deep in her mind it'd be almost impossible for anyone to find them. If I made it out of this alive, maybe I'd come back with the key.

I paused at the door and felt my spine go rigid. I was done playing around. The Tall Man would pay. I was a hunter now, not a victim, and come hell or high water, I was going fuck him up so bad he'd wished he'd never met me. As my hand slipped off the door jam, I mumbled under my breath and sealed the room. I didn't take my hand off the wall until I reached the front door. Outside my nose began to bleed and Grandfather Lee complained that I was endangering myself by trying to lock down the whole hospital. I told him shut the fuck up.

Back at the hotel, I checked the laptop. It was finished. I was heading to Utah, and I was bringing death with me. The Old Man started to purr when I picked him up. He could feel the anger in me and it made him happy. I scratched him behind the ears and put him back down on the bed. I picked up my cell and called Bruce back.

I need a drop shipment.

I need a new eye.

What color do you want?

I want green.

Green it is.

Not hazel.

It'll be so green people will think it's fake.

I gave Bruce an address and a list of things I was going to need. I hung up and packed my gear. I picked up the Old Man and walked out of the W hotel. As I pushed through the front door, Steven Segal was walking in. I mumbled under my breath and heard him shit his pants. I smiled like the Cheshire cat and didn't break my stride. He was no Chuck Norris.

I pulled onto Wilshire, then dropped to Westwood. I turned right onto Santa Monica and onto the 405 and merged onto the 10 until I hit the 15 North. Grandfather Lee was mumbling low in my brain, keeping me focused. We had a plan, and on top of that I was done messing around. I was focused for the first time since the whole sorted affair had begun. I was out for blood. I was out for retribution, and I no longer cared who got in my way.

I made it to Vegas in record time and pulled into the Fed Ex where I'd had Bruce send my package. The package had to be moved to the van with a lorry. It filled up a quarter of the free space. The kid helping me get it in the van wasn't happy about it.

What they hell d'ya order?

A shit load of guns.

He laughed. It made me a little nervous he thought that was funny.

I laughed as I pulled out and hit the road, because there were guns in the box. Big magic guns, the kinds of things that look like props in a Sci-Fi film and put stupid amounts of hurt on things that shouldn't exist. I was carrying a box full of one-of-a-king Bruce specials, and I was going to use them in very imaginative ways, on very imaginative things.

I stopped in Salt Lake City five hours later and me and the Old Man grabbed a hotel room. I picked the Residence in in city center. We were going to be here for a bit and I needed a room large enough to work in. It had a full kitchen too, and I had things to cook.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Part XLV

Part XLV

The nurse woke me and asked me to leave. Destiny was still in a coma. I stood up and felt my knees pop.

How long have I been here?

About nine hours. You spent the fist six mumbling something then you fell asleep.

I guess I was tired.

I left the room and went to the cafeteria. I got a coffee for myself and a chicken patty sandwich, which I took it to the old Man. He was a little pissy and panting when I got to the van, so I cranked it up and ran the AC on Hi. He jumped in the passenger seat and I tilted the vent so it hit him square in the face. He reached his head toward it and tried to rub it out of the dash.

I climbed in the back and lay down on the bed. I sipped my coffee and grabbed an errant WiFi signal from somewhere. I pulled up the mapping software. I rang Bruce on my cell phone.

You owe me an eye you slick bastard.

I'll try and work something out. I need a favor.

I'm in the office, so what is it?

There seems to be a pattern I'm not seeing. Some sort of order I'm supposed to find the reliquaries in and I don't know what it is.

What have you found so far?

I filled Bruce in. When I was done, I heard him tapping on keys.

You have Internet?

Weak, but yeah.

My cursor started moving without me doing a thing as Bruce hijacked the laptop.

I'm downloading some pattern recognition software onto your machine. It's something DARPA is working on.

I didn't even ask how he got it.

I'm putting in all the data points we've got, from your Uncle's location the reliquary pings to the GPS log from your trip. It will probably hate you for a bit. Look at the screen and I'm going to show you how to put in data points. Everything is relevant, tag them any way you like. It just needs the data, not the tags.

Forty minutes later I signed off with Bruce and started entering as many data points as I could. Everywhere I had ever seen or interacted with The Tall Man as well as everything I could remember. I called and e-mailed a few people as well. I input everything the way Bruce had told me. I ran the software and left the van to check on Destiny.

Destiny was still critical, so I touched the EKG and mumbled under my breath so it'd PING me if she coded or if she improved. Back in the van I checked the laptop and it was still crunching and thinking. I pulled out of the hospital lot and got me and The Old Man a nice room at the W hotel on Wilshire. We deserved something nice. The Old Man jumped on top of the air conditioner and I went down to the bar to Star Gaze. Hell, if I was going to be in LA, I might as well make some stories.

The bar was quiet, but I could feel the souls being taken. Not really, but the smiles on some of the girls were guarded as they talked to older men in suit coats, with their shirts open as though chest hair had made a come back. One of them caught my eye and gave me a bored sad look, then returned her attention to the obvious exec who still thought sun glasses were cool after the sun went down. I ordered a scotch and sat at the bar with all ears open. I mumbled under my breath and listened to all the conversations in the bar. It was simple trick, but one I really trusted. You could hear a mouse running across the floor if you wanted, instead all I heard was desperate sighs as people got up to go to the bathroom. LA was a cesspool. The air was full of regret, I was pretty sure it wasn't all mine.

At the end of the bar some kid was pounding away on his laptop while arguing with someone on his fancy bluetooth ear piece.

I don't care if she blows you, unless she loses fifteen pounds, I'm not even going to return her call.

I didn't like the cut of his jib, so I mumbled under my breath.

He screamed and grabbed at his ear, ripping the earpiece off. The high pitch scream coming from it could be heard as it sailed across the room and smashed against the wall from the force of his throw. He slapped his laptop shut and stormed out, telling the bartender to bill his room. It was much quieter now.

I ordered another drink and took a look around the room again. It was nowhere near as interesting or as exciting as I thought it might be. The only difference between here and a bar in a Holiday Inn was the d├ęcor here cost more than a Holiday Inn and almost everyone in here was rich but me.

I finished my drink and walked back to the elevators. The doors opened and I was staring at Neil Young. He smiled and looked forward. I stepped in and then stood like a kid needing to take a pee. I realized I was hoping on both feet, giddy as a schoolgirl. I settled down, and when the doors opened again he stepped off and I kicked myself for not saying Hi. I finally understood what the meant by star struck.

The old man was hungry when I got back so I ordered room service. I got him steak tartar just to blow his mind and got myself the club. No matter what hotel you’re staying in, if they have room service, the club is rarely disappointing.

I dabbled some potion on the tartar and The Old Man purred all the way through it.

I started to drift off to sleep, but then the spell I'd laid on Destiny's monitor pinged. Her heart rate was up and looking good. I bid The Old Man goodnight and headed back into the parking lot. I pulled out and headed back toward the hospital.