Saturday, June 11, 2011

Table of Contents

Stuff I Gotta Say

So, many, many years ago -- as far back as, like, 2005 -- I started this "Serial" about zombies. It was fun to write, popular among my three zombie-loving friends I dared show it to, and most relevantly completely unsaleable. I put no effort into editing it, and while I found it extremely fun to write, I also found it completely stupid. So I put it on the internet.

One day in, like, 2007, I got REALLY embarassed, and took it all down (kind of; really I just made it hard to find the old ones) and decided to reboot it. I wrote two episodes or so, then forgot about it.

I did it all over again in 2008. Except that time, I only got one "chapter" done. I tried a couple more times in the interim.

Today I got the itch to do it again. So here it is.

This is not a story that's very important to me. The characters are kind of important to me -- they kick around in my head, doing their things, a whole lot. But I can't write them very well; I just dont' feel comfortable putting the effort into them that I put into my other characters. So, in order to exorcise them, and feel like I"m being productive in some way, I'm slamming one new episode out each week.

I mean to make this my mandatory 20 minutes writing every Saturday, and then spend about 20 minutes editing it, to make sure the spelling is right and it makes sense. It's practice, more than anything. This is not polished. I don't mean for this one to be polished. But since it's practice -- I definitely welcome constructive criticism. The things I learn from crafting this are things that I"m going to apply to my other work. The stuff that I mean to actually properly publish. This just gets my engines firing.

The Latest Episode:

Episode 1 - The 7th Beginning

Episode 1 - The 7th Beginning

This was certainly something Todd had never seen before, though it did invoke strange feelings of déjà vu, as if he had done all of this, in some permutation, about 6 times before. There he was, pinned behind the hot dog stand in the baseball stadium (are they called stadiums? he wondered, not aloud; though his sports terminology may have been lacking, he wasn't an idiot), holding a bat caked in a red, rust-scented substance. He refused to look at that substance, and only thought about how strange this all was.

He had, just that morning, been riding across the highways of Denver-Metro area with Waldo and Eliot. They had been on their way to work the concession stands at this baseball game. They were saving up to take a trip to Europe right after graduation (high school), and everything had seemed perfectly fine. And Todd idly thought (back in the present) that he would probably never see his high school again. He probably wouldn't get to graduate, even though it was only a year away. He probably also wouldn't get paid for working the concession stands today.

He took a deep breath and wondered if he'd see Waldo or Eliot again. There was a good chance he wouldn’t, but they were a smart pair. He figured he probably would see them again, if they were going to see him again. He wondered if they would see him again, and his breathing seized up again.

The dark stuff on his baseball bat dripped down onto the ground with a soundless "squish" sound that he refused to acknowledge. Soft moans emerged from the other side of the hotdog stand and he recalled that he would have to get up again very soon. Todd began breathing once more, pushing all the other stuff aside, and trying to remember the layout of the baseball stadium.

Is it a stadium anyway? he wondered again. He pushed that thought aside, and pushed aside the half-formed thought about the way the mind gets caught on the strangest things during a crisis. He took another deep breath and gripped his bat, dripping with blood, in both of his hands. He took another deep breath, remembered that he was on the top floor, that the nearest staircase was 50 meters away (and he usually thought in feet. In fact this whole place was physically marked in feet. Metrics, he thought during his next deep breath, are probably just simpler for a terrified mind to process. Only dividing by ten, not twelve, or three, or five-thousand-two-hundred-something. It must just be easier to work with, with all those zeroes out there), that he only had to descend three flights, and then he would find the exit from the stadium, probably barred but he'd smash that lock when he came to it, another 80 meters away. Not so hard, he tried to hope.

Except that it was July 4th, and this had been a sold out game. Except that the lights were all out, it was only a half-full moon, and he didn't have very good night vision. Except for the fact that he also had to go to the bathroom very badly, and that would not help very much in getting down there quickly. Except for the fact that he could hear screams from somewhere in the city proper. Except that he did not have the keys to Waldo's car, did not know how to hotwire a car, and did not know how to drive. Except that he was very sure he wasn't hearing any gunshots, which, all things considered, was actually a bad thing. Except that he didn't know where to go after he got out of the stadium. (Is it a stadium?!) Except that he thought the bat could only survive two or three more collisions with skulls.

Okay, he said to himself - quietly, quietly -- there's one thing. There's one goal I can cling to. I can find something else to hit them with. Can I pay attention to everything? What is there? It’s a baseball stadi... place of playing. There have to be more bats. Maybe I can throw a baseball. Where can I get a damn baseball?! Down on the field?!

He breathed deeply again, and it suddenly occurred to him that maybe his breathing was too loud. He kept his eyes open, looking either way to the sides of the hot dog cart. Okay, maybe it wasn't too loud. He looked up, expecting that old horror movie cliché -- the monster is RIGHT ABOVE HIM! -- but it’s not, there's clear space, and some rising heat from the hot dog cart.

Oh, oh. It occurred to him then. He had a weapon. He shifted himself just enough to get a good look underneath the cart. Yes! Its wheels were intact and not evidently locked. He had a giant, scalding, rolling shield to use as a weapon.

Todd let himself wonder if they noticed heat at all. He hoped they did. He looked out the bars between him and the baseball diamond.

A horde of the mobile dead milled about out there. They moved with something that resembled, at this distance, an actual purpose. There was someone down there, and they were moving towards him! Or her. Whoever was down there was in trouble. Todd supposed it was his duty to help them, if he could. As if, he thought. But hey, new goal. Better goal. They might have a car. Or be Waldo and Eliot.

Oh, right. The weapon he had, the hot dog cart. It wouldn't do much against the stairs that he had to descend. All three flights. It would get him to the top of the stairs, and he might be able to use it to clear that set, but then he'd be back to the bat.

He cursed, and immediately cursed again. The moans had changed after the first curse. They began to move towards him.

Todd took one last deep breath and stood with a battle cry. He immediately regretted that, too. Not because it had attracted more zombies; they had already known he was there. They acted like they had a hive mind, he thought, though he hadn't observed them enough to know whether that made any sense. No, he regretted that because it had just been your basic "Raaaargh!" What a chance to shout "Spoon!" Another reason to get out of here -- another chance to use a battle cry. He raised his bat behind him in his right hand, settled his other hand on the hot dog cart, and roared again, shoving the hotdog cart forward with a surprising smoothness.

It rammed into the two zombies nearest him, and he immediately saw the flaw in his plan. Mowing them down knocked them over. And when they fell over they didn't die. They might roll under the cart. Well, the cart would roll under them, rather. Todd's roar whimpered out to a squeak, and he jumped backwards. He was pressed against the railing now. The two nearest zombies were on the ground, pinned, evidently confused by being unable to move, if their slow thrashings were any indication of that. One of them was wearing jeans and loafers. The other looked like it had a broken ankle on one leg, and a high heel on the other. Great, Todd thought, I take on out, and it wouldn't have been much good at chasing me anyway.

He surveyed the area around him. There were only ten zombies on the left, and about fifteen on the right. Between him and the stairs -- a straight shot, and a little closer than he had thought -- was a horde whose number he couldn’t guess, if only because he could tell there were more behind.

"Damnit!" he shouted, and he did not notice the zombies on the field turn to investigate the sound. Whoever was trapped used that opportunity to surge forward, and had Todd been watching, he would have seen quite an impressive feat. At least ten people came charging out of a locked room on the edge of the field, bats swinging, all of them silent. The vanguard of the field zombies fell to this onslaught, and the ones left over turned away from the sound that they could do nothing about.

Todd knew nothing of this, of course, and knew nothing of what happened to them afterwards. He only stared at the problem in front of him. He grinned, having what he was sure was finally a good idea, and turned around to peer over the railing.

Not a far drop. No zombies in sight in the stands. He turned around, waved his bat at the zombies, and climbed up onto the railing.

"Wish me luck," he shouted again, as he jumped backwards into the next seating tier down.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Issue 0: The Sun's Conquest


Undeath Toll: 0

It was a bright and sunny day. About a week before, it had been a dark and, actually, clear night. The day is when this tale begins, but the night is when this story begins.

The weather forecast for the day immediately following the night, as of 2 A.M., was non-stop rain, a darkening drizzle, depressive and dreary to the eyes of most. To the eyes of the man who begins this story, everything was depressive and dreary. He was a scientist. A mad scientist, of course.

This man was mad in a fairly unusual, though not particularly unique, way. Not in that he hated everyone and everything that exists; that’s an exceedingly common way to be mad. And he wasn’t mad in that he felt the world had slighted him; the world had been very kind to him, and had easily paid his way through college and given him very comfortable living arrangements. Nor was he mad in that he was megalomaniacal; he had no desire to rule such a chaotic world as this. He was mad in that he believed the world should be operated purely by order, that everything should be unchanging and linear[1], and that he worked towards this end every moment.

A week before our tale begins, our story begins with this mad scientist standing rather maniacally in a secret lab that was built, for some irrelevant and likely now indeterminable reason, deep beneath a suburb of Denver. He was delivering a monologue to his four laboratory assistants (for he was a government sanctioned mad scientist) on the success of his life’s work, which seems to him to have occurred just moments before.

“Finally,” went the end of his monologue, his tinny voice tinted with maniacality (for “mania” is too kind a word to describe it), his hand holding a sickly looking vial of obvious importance, “I have completed the virus, Anthrax Leprosy Omega, which will cure death!” One of his more observant, sardonic, and all around post-modern assistants used a small and simple device of her own invention to create a flash of sharp and quite nearly angular light and the sound of her metal trashcans falling down. The mad scientist was far too involved in his speech to give her a Look. “And with it, so shall we cure Life, and Chaos itself!”

“Yeah,” said the mandatory “dumb” assistant, educated in the ways of science but damned to be a trusting crony for his whole life who had a voice something like Ringo Starr’s, “but the government’s just goin’ to use it as a weapon, right?” The mad scientist looked at him and blinked., and spoke slowly.

“Ye-e-es… About that.” He dropped the vial, and before it had hit the ground he had pulled out of his labcoat a nasty looking switchblade and a simple revolver. In one motion he stabbed the nearest lab assistant in the stomach and shot the farthest lab assistant in the same. The sardonic lab assistant and the dumb one stood in shock for a moment, staring at the madman between them, who without hesitating shot the dumb one twice through the chest and tossed the gun to the opposite end of the room from the last one. He grinned dispassionately at her, for that is what mad scientists are supposed to do, and advanced on her with the knife.

“I must, you see,” he began without her asking, she being too busy trembling and backing away to ask, “make sure that the virus works before I begin full deployment. Don’t worry, you’ll be joining your comrades in a moment. I’ll be joining you soon as well—the virus should take ten minutes to fully activate, after first-death. Don’t bother begging—even if I spared your life now, you’d be caught within a year. And don’t bother screaming, either, the walls are soundproofed. Which you know, of course, but still, I feel I should remind you. Now, please, bare that pretty little neck[2] for me…” He lunged at her, but she had regained herself enough to throw herself to the side, causing his knife to collide with the metal wall, creating a particularly nasty sound. She stood and began to run towards the gun, ignoring her faintly gurgling co-workers as best she could, but the mad scientist had turned and grabbed her, holding her from behind in the classic knife-against-the-throat pose.

“And you’ll never be able to open the door; I altered it today to only unlock to my handprint. Do you see where hope, courage, and all those daft human things get you?” If he were the type to laugh, the mad scientist would have cackled then. His hypothetical glee was interrupted by a sudden flash of light and crash of sound—the sardonic assistant had managed to surreptitiously pull her device out of her pocket and get her hand up high enough to activate it directly in the mad scientist’s face. He shut his eyes, and dropped the knife and his grip on her as he clutched at his ears. He did not scream out in pain, which rather disturbed the young woman, but she still drove forward to reach the gun. She spun around and pointed it at the mad scientist and pulled the trigger violently, an expression of sorrowful triumph crossing her face.

One which faded quickly as his dispassionate grin, hovering some distance above the glint of a metal and bloody knife, approached her. “Hope! Do you see where it gets you?” he repeated. “I only half-loaded the gun, just so you could feel it, you foolish young woman. Don’t bother with terror, either,” he added suddenly. And, as she finally screamed the shrill scream of terror that comes from anyone dying in this situation, he lunged forward and slit her throat. She gurgled terribly as she slumped to the ground, blood spilling from her throat, her eyes rolling backwards. He watched as she died quickly, and then turned to survey the room.

The two he had shot were already dead, and the one he had stabbed was bleeding far faster than he should have been, and was breathing only barely. He nodded to himself, satisfied, and waited until all four were dead. Then he moved to the control panel for the facility’s doors and ventilation systems. He opened all the vents, and activated the fan that drew air out of his personal laboratory and distributed it throughout the rest of the facility. He turned to watch the corpses of the two he had shot.

As he waited, he went through a mental checklist; he had actually completed the virus the previous night, and had that morning sent nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine vials of it—its reproductive rate was astounding—around the world. His most guarded estimations assumed that one hundred of them would be shattered or opened by accident, and three would be shattered or opened on purpose, before any notable effect was felt. It was his hope, though that word is not quite accurate for this man, that the rest would be broken in the ensuing tumult. He listed, to pass the time, every place that he had sent them. It would be a waste to copy his list here, so it shall suffice to say that it was a very comprehensive list of the most centrally populated areas on the planet.

Finally, one of the first of the dead began to stir, and then the second, and then the young woman’s. As all three stood and looked around, quickly catching him in their sights and beginning to advance with a minimum of thought and speed, he smiled almost passionately, and there was a definite air of his eyes very nearly tearing up. He had predicted the possibility of not all the corpses rising, but He took the knife in his right hand and slit the wrist of his left, and as his last act as himself, Dr. Sunny Mabus (for that was the mad scientist’s name) fell forward onto the button that opened all the doors in the facility.

Ten minutes later, the body that had once belonged to the mad scientist stood and followed the other three out the door. A few hours later, it was a stormy, and Sunny’s, day.

Undeath Toll: 27

[1] Relatively linear, really. Very few things in the universe would work properly if they were truly linear; by linear, the mad scientist really means “describable by equations that I can write down in less than a 70 page notebook”

[2] This may seem a very emotional thing for a life-hating mad scientist to say, but he had always found the phrase “pretty little neck” the most mathematically brilliant phrase in the English language, which just goes to show that there’s no accounting for taste or a faulty ability to calculate.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Episode 47: Screaming Masses

Zach found himself waking up from a strangely lucid dream-the strange part was not the lucidity, as he was used to that-to a shrill, ear shattering sound. It took him a bleary-eyed moment to deduce that it was a scream. It took him a more awake moment to realize that the reason that it surrounded him was that everyone in his vicinity was screaming. It took him a much more armed moment to realize that he too was emitting the sound. He struggled against himself to silence the scream, and when he did was struck by a memory of a penguin being assaulted by something silvery, and then everything falling apart...

* * *

Laban had been lying awake all night, until he finally fell into a restless sleep populated by penguins and a strange feeling of revelation. That was about an hour before the screaming began. When Laban managed to quiet his rapid yelps, he took stock of the room.

Everyone was screaming; Disciple Dohntkallmeethat’s screams were the worst and Hanh was a close second. Scratch that, the man with the sword thought to himself, Ujer isn’t screaming. She’s as alert as me. Laban, normally, would have sighed in exasperation at this new development. Instead, he looked around in a daze. He knew that they were screaming for something, the same thing. All he could remember was something black and white being attacked by a snake, and then everything fell apart in the worst way possible…

* * *

Joan did not scream with those surrounding her. She had not been asleep when the screaming had stopped, and as such she had no memory of the penguin and the snake. She stood up and surveyed the room. Everyone else screamed

For the first time in her life, Joan Riese was frustrated.

* * *

Sunny lifted himself off the ground, his terrible inverted smirk reasserting itself over the momentary expression of sheer bliss that had taken control on his face at the moment of his awakening. He remembered clearly, becoming a snake, and snapping the neck of a small black and white flightless bird. It felt good

“I hate,” he whispered grimly and hopefully. He ran off into the light of the morning and killed the first living thing he saw.

* * *

“What the fuck?” Zach screamed as soon as he was done trying to piece together his dream. His coherent scream quieted some of the others, all of whom had still been wailing. The refugees in the television station who had stopped screaming slowly began to turn towards Zach. He looked out over them and spoke again. “What the fuck?”

“What the fuck!” some of them echoed reverentially. Zach blinked out over them and gripped his sword. When he raised it, all screaming finally ceased. Zach raised an eyebrow-several of the refugees raised their eyebrows in response-and sighed.

“What just happened?” Zach asked unto them. There was a pause.

“We know not, o great one!” someone called out. “What must we do to earn the knowledge?”

“Yes!” another voice cried out. “Tell us what we must do!” Murmurs and echoes of agreement ran through those gazing at Zach. Zach stared across them some more.

“Oh, Christ!” The crowd turned to look at each other, mystified by their leader’s words. “You people… I’m n…” Zach grunted. “I’m outta here.” He pulled his katana to his side and began to move to the hole in the wall barricaded with a small car and a pickup truck. Before he was far, he gave Kevin’s body a quick kick, just to make sure it wasn’t moving. As he advanced the hole in the wall, the crowd parted to allow him through. All eyes were fixed on him except for the two pairs owned by Charrone Portinari and Chaz Raymond.

Chaz and Charrone were looking around amongst their fellow refugees, wondering at this foolishness that even Tyree would find embarrassing. At least, both of them had thought that he would; he had been the first person to echo “what the fuck” to the new leader, and had not even paused to look at his old friends.

“Charrone,” said Chaz, “I think that the world is falling apart.” She turned and looked into his eyes, some clichéd imagery passing through both of their minds in unison.

“Then the best thing we can do is fall apart with it.” She snatched his hand and held it tightly in her own. He thought that she was warm; she thought that he was warm. They turned to watch the crowd.

Zach reached the hole in the wall and, before pressing onwards, turned to look at his followers with bemused disdain. He shrugged to himself before leaning against the dual-vehicle blockade and pushing both objects out of the way. He raised his hand to his eyes to shield them from the harsh light of morning. The refugees in the television station crowded behind him to be the first to stand with their new leader. Zach’s eyes quickly readjusted and he stepped out.

* * *

Ujer ran to Laban’s table. He stood confidently on the table he had been sleeping on, but when he turned to look at her his eyes betrayed his panic. Ujer tried to smile up at him, but it did not work.

“What do we do?” she yelled to him, barely audible despite their close proximity. Laban ran his lips through the phrase and then nodded.

“We get everyone to stop screaming.”

“Then what do we do?”

“We find that out later.” Laban dropped the sword onto the table and jumped down to Disciple Dohntkallmeethat and began to shake him. His screams would not quiet and his eyes would not settle. They caught Laban’s for a moment and held a terror that Laban recognized but could not define. Ujer scuttled to Hanh and leaned down close to his face. His scream was pushing forth a burst of breath which made her eyes water. She told him this and the scream faltered a little. She smirked grimly and began trying to make him laugh.

Disciple Dohntkallmeethat stopped screaming for a moment and sharply drew in a breath. Laban was already smiling at him when the scream returned to full power. Laban groaned and slapped him, which did not affect Disciple Dohntkallmeethat in the slightest. Laban stood and rushed to another screaming man, who was quieted more quickly. When he did quiet down, he began to speak rapidly and madly.

“He has been killed, the lord of all fantasy, the greatest dreamer, the Eternal Sleeper! We must never return to his realm! We will be destroyed!” cried out the man. His lips were trembling and his eyes were darting.

“Oookay…” Laban began to stand up, but the man’s eyes locked onto his own. They carried atop the terror that all the eyes bore a madness which froze Laban instantly. The man reached up and gripped Laban’s shoulders and pulled himself up.

“The next men to sleep will be destroyed! Death is a preferable fate to such a terror! This happened last-long before humans lived! The great ones could not… Oh, god! I must escape before I dream!” The man shut his eyes and began muttering something. Laban, blind to the man’s eyes, finally pushed him away.

“Look, man,” Laban muttered. “We can’t be worried about these things while…” The man’s mutterings grew to a monstrous utterance, reaching frequencies somewhere between those that Laban could identify. The eyes of all those who had regained control of their motor skills spun to watch the man. His eyes had burst open and were bursting with green and blue light. His mouth began opening wider and wider and soon was not moving at all, though the sound still came from it. White light erupted, pulsing in time with the chant. It reached a crescendo, and the man exploded in blue, green, and white light.

Half a minute later Laban’s eyes were the first to readjust from the blinding light. He gaped at the empty and charred spot where the man had stood. All screaming in the room had stopped, but the room was filled with a low rumble of confusion. Laban searched it; Ujer had Hanh propped on her shoulder and was blinking to readjust.

“Goddamn,” Laban cried out. Disciple Dohntkallmeethat lay on the ground, his eyes staring upwards. His breathing was shallow and his eyes were empty. Laban was most frightened by the fact that the poor kid was obviously not asleep.

* * *

Joan sat in the middle of the floor, her eyes shut, her hands pressed against her ears, and Excalibur limp in her lap. She bit her lip, trying to drown out the screams. She had been trained to deal with screams of all kinds. She was used to ignoring the pained screams of targets, of families, of children. She was used to silencing screams of terror, of horror, of uncomprehending pain. She had no idea how to deal with these screams.

Lucy and Steve were the first in the house to regain command of themselves. Steve jumped to the nearest person and began trying to calm them down. Lucy looked to Joan and frowned. Now, lies would have to be told to keep Joan in the messianic role that she needed to have to keep this army together. Lucy grunted and rushed to the next nearest screamer.

Within ten minutes, Lucy and Steve had hushed all thirty survivors. Each of them asked why their heroine was sitting in the middle of the room looking so troubled; those who asked Steve simply got a shrug while those who asked Lucy were told that

“She is consulting higher powers to determine what has happened.” Some of them would ask why she looked so pained. Lucy would respond “The higher realms are frightening places; she does this so that you and I will never have to visit them.” This invariably silenced the inquisitor, who would nod knowingly. They would then turn to look at Joan.

When everyone was silenced, Lucy approached their heroine, and bent down over her.

“They’re done screaming,” Lucy hissed into her ear. “You want to keep control of them, you have to do exactly what I say. And you do want to keep control of them. One person against those things is doomed. Now, be confident as you stand, and answer my questions cryptically.” Joan loosened the death grip that her eyelids on her eyeballs, though they remained shut. She pulled her hands down from her ears slowly and silently took Excalibur in hand. She stood without a twitch and when she was standing upright, she opened her eyes. The crowd sighed and Steve watched them. He watched Lucy as she stepped back and brought her voice to a boom.

“Mighty one, what have you learned in the higher realms?”

Joan frowned grimly at her, and then frowned grimly at the rest of her followers. “I have learned,” she said silently in a quiet but strong tone, “nothing of what has occurred. But I have learned what must occur. To survive, we must band together-we must form an army!” Joan’s voice had risen to a crescendo. Lucy’s eyes spread wide, and a smile crept onto her face for no more than a moment. It disappeared as she turned to the crowd.

“We must form an army!” Lucy boomed against them.

“There are weapons in the basement,” said Joan. “Each of you, take one!” The army, after a moment of milling about unsurely, scurried down to the basement. Only Steve, Lucy, and Joan remained in the room. Joan and Steve both looked at Lucy.

“Who are you?” Joan asked. Lucy and Steve smiled together.

“I am a psychiatrist and a sociologist. My husband is a soldier and my favorite book is The Art of War.” Steve chuckled gently. Joan lifted Excalibur and turned its hilt towards Lucy. Lucy laughed, and waved her hands.

“You have to be King Arthur,” Steve interjected when he saw Joan’s confusion. “My wife is merely Merlin.”

* * *

Zach surveyed the damage outside of the news station. Several of the surrounding houses had been burned to the ground or had simply collapsed. Those that still stood generally had all their windows smashed open. Some of the windows had been boarded up. Most of the doors swung in the morning’s gentle breeze. Some doors had been torn off their hinges and lay in yards and on porches. Some were simply gone. At least one could be seen nailed across the door of the neighboring house. The other buildings nearby had been ransacked. Their were interesting looking holes and collapses in many of the walls, each of which had a story that Zach did not care about in the slightest. All of the glass windows and walls had been smashed. The Burger King across the street now looked like a very large bus stop, as it had only one major wall and an entirely undamaged ceiling. Zach took a step forward and heard a motion behind him. He turned, katana at the ready, frozen halfway in a swing to the head of whatever was creeping up behind him.

A whole lot of people were flooding out of the building behind him. They looked around, some of them gazing at the cleansed world in awe. Zach blinked again.

“What the fuck are you people doing?” he screeched.

“We are following you master!” a voice-Tyree’s-called out. Zach narrowed his eyes, pondered at them for a moment, and then shrugged his shoulders.

“No skin off my ass if you wanna follow me. Just stay out of my way.” They all nodded in unison. He began to turn around, but then decided better. “It’s probably safer in there.” They shook their heads, and someone called out something encouraging that Zach missed. “Alright, whatever. Just don’t tell me you’re hungry. And try to get something to kill with; I don’t want to have to take care of every fucking thing.” They nodded in unison. Zach cocked his eyes at them and glared for a moment before turning. He looked around him once more, and then began walking East.

“To Moda Garden,” He muttered to himself. A few minutes later, a clatterous crash erupted from some distance behind him. He turned to look at it, over the heads of fifty followers (and Charrone and Chaz who, despite their skepticism, had decided that it was at least safest to follow someone with a weapon who had not expressed a desire to kill them) and saw that the tall news station building they had just left was no longer in the skyline. He shrugged.

“Guess it wasn’t safer,” he said loudly. After about ten minutes of walking eastward, they had only encountered a single “live” zombie which Zach had decapitated without hesitation, generating a tremendous rallying cry. Zach had a feeling it was going to get worse, and was suddenly glad to be leading an army.

* * *

The residents of the school gym were circled around the body of Disciple Dohntkallmeethat. Laban, Hanh and Ujer were at the center of the circle, leaning over him together. He was still breathing, and he seemed to be awake in every respect except for the fact that he would not move or respond to anything. Hanh’s eyes were still darting around rapidly, looking for something about which he was sure of nothing besides its desire to destroy everything. Laban and Ujer were focused on Disciple Dohntkallmeethat. The others were looking at him nervously, but their eyes kept straying to the charred point where the man had vanished. Laban finally moved.

“Does anyone know his name?” he asked loudly. Everyone shook their heads absently and then returned to their strolling gazes. Laban sighed. “I was calling him Disciple Dohntkallmeethat. Now that he’s… like this… it seems disrespectful. So, let’s just call him D, okay?” Some of the crowd nodded absently again, and Ujer put her hand on his shoulder. He sighed again. “D is for a lot of things,” he muttered. Ujer patted him, and then had her hand brushed aside by him standing.

“Hanh. You and this guy,” he pointed to the nicest looking member of the crowd, “pick D up and carry him.”

“Carry him where?” Hanh asked reverentially with a newfound stutter.

“With us,” Laban said. “We’re moving out.”

“Where are we going?” asked Ujer. Laban turned to smile at her.

“To cleanse the earth with a righteous army.” He reached down and grabbed the Sword of Laban. “It might not wake D up, but it can’t hurt.”

* * *

Joan Riese stood on the second step of the staircase that led to the second floor of the mysterious house that she had liberated last night, holding Excalibur before her in her best attempt at a valiant pose. On her left, and one step down, Steve stood with his arms folded behind his back, his torso thrust forward, and his eyes staring forward without wavering. Lucy stood to Joan’s right, one step lower. Her face was unreadable, but an unskilled face-reader would have seen faith in her eyes. A particularly skilled psychologist and actor would have seen this layer and the deeper one, itching for power. There was no one of any such skill in the ranks ahead of them.

The thirty stood in six columns, each five deep, doing their best to mimic Steve’s pose. Even the younger, rebellious ones did not refuse to fall in. Each of them held a weapon from the basement-most of them swords, but at least one mace was held, as well as a flail. One person held a crossbow and another held a short bow. Each had awkwardly affixed a quiver to their backs. There had been no guns in the basement.

The house, Joan knew, had been built primarily as an inconspicuous armory for her when she needed to complete an objective without using modern weaponry. On occasion, her masters rented it out to their own employers when they needed to keep hostages or their enemies somewhere for a time. Some of the upper rooms had once contained modern armaments, but Joan had ascertained that all of those had been removed sometime before all this had happened. She had told all of this to Lucy and Steve while the thirty were below getting weapons, after Lucy had explained to the other two what had to be done. They had filed it away for later consideration, because the army was beginning to come back upstairs.. After the first of the thirty had returned, Lucy had gone downstairs and within moments returned with a sword so short that it could almost be considered a long dagger. Steve still held the last modern weapon in the house, the shotgun that he had used to rescue those few of them who had survived. During the night, he had gone back upstairs to gather the rest of the shells in the building. While he had waited for his wife and the rest of the army to return, he had gone outside into the eerily silent morning and gathered those that the dead boy had left behind. When he had returned, he had immediately taken his place at Joan’s left hand.

“You,” Joan announced in her most authoritative voice, which just managed to be authoritative enough to convince the thirty, “are going to save the world. I am only the leader; you are the true heroes.” Lucy and Steve nodded to them. “We will be an army, an army to scourge this planet of that which will destroy it! When the world is safe, we will be honored as heroes, as kings and queens, perhaps even as gods! But we are not gods!” her voice was carried to a passion unfamiliar to her by the words. “We are simply humans. We are heroes! Follow me, and you shall have all the power a human can have, in this world and the next!” A cry rose up from the thirty, which shook the house. Lucy allowed a smile to dance across her face. “Let us advance, and slay the demons who do not belong here! The dead shall lie on the ground once more!”

Steve called out something unintelligible, and the six columns turned towards the door in one fluid motion. Joan stepped down the two stairs and advanced around the columns to the three person deep door. Lucy and Steve walked directly behind her, and when she reached the door they stepped forward to throw it open. The three of them advanced through it, followed soon by three of the columns and then the next three. When they were all outside, Joan, Lucy, and Steve turned once more to inspect the troops. They finished arranging themselves back into the six columns. Joan looked to Steve, who looked to Lucy. Lucy nodded, then Steve nodded, and finally Joan turned to the troops and nodded.

“We march!” she boomed. She turned once more and marched towards the center of Moda Garden.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Episode 46: Death: Cured?

“You won’t get away with this, Mabus!” Hunter yelled, shaking his body threateningly. His ray gun was on the floor at his feet.

“Most people don’t shake like that unless they’re being physically held,” Camron growled, thrusting the rifle into the captive’s back. After entering and making the four captives freeze, Camron had circled around them so that he was behind them. Hunter didn’t respond to the thrust.

“Get away with what, exactly?” Doctor Mabus asked absently as he continued to dissect the writhing and snapping Nole.

“Well, there’s a lot!” Hunter said, stilling his body against another jab of the rifle. “You’re knocking people out…”

“We never told you that,” Joseph interjected. Nurse Lotus’s voice was still weak from being shot, but she seemed to be a little better off than she should have been. Andy was standing stock still.

“…And dissecting the undead, putting everyone alive here at risk!”

“I am trying to save everyone alive here,” Doctor Mabus mumbled idly.

“To do that, shut down the man’s brain!” Hunter screamed. Amy and Desiree gave each other a look.

Doctor Mabus paused and looked upwards, toward nowhere in particular. Nole continued to thrash on the table. “I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.” He nodded curtly and returned to his cutting.

“There’s nothing to prevent!” Hunter cried out. Doctor Mabus paused again.

“You’re right,” he said after a moment. “This disease is a boon. It is the cure for death.” He smiled distantly.

Hunter frowned. Aegrescit medendo,” he said with perfect pronunciation.

“The remedy is worse than the disease?” Doctor Mabus translated casually, smiling. “Then you agree that death is a disease.”

“No,” Andy said distantly suddenly. Hunter and Camron were both surprised to hear him speak, and so turned their heads to stare at him. He looked blankly around the room and continued. “Life is the disease,” he mumbled. Silence swept over the room.

Hunter finally broke the silence. “That wasn’t as profound as you think it is.”

“Actually,” Camron responded, “It’s pretty profound. Life is a disease; fatal and sexually transmitted.” He jabbed Hunter in the back with his rifle for good measure

“Oh for…” Hunter would have shrugged his shoulders and shook his head, but the gun in his back suggested that he not. “That is so cliché! Spent all your time on the internet before we got together, didja boss?” He spat the last word.

“Don’t take that tone, Hunter,” Camron sounded hurt for a moment. “We can still be a team.”

“No, we can’t,” Hunter sounded sad. “It wasn’t meant to be in this universe. For one thing, Lotus wasn’t with us.” Everyone in the room except for Hunter, Doctor Mabus, and Nole froze. Hunter continued talking. “I tried to tell you that. I tried to tell you a lot of things.”

Camron’s voice was filled with wonder as he interrupted. “You’re not just crazy… are you?”

“I told you. I’m an alien.” Hunter prepared to strike, but was beaten to the punch by Desiree flying through the air. Amy had thrown her with all her might directly at Camron, and she struck him. He fell to the ground and his rifle scattered out of his hands, to the one side of the room with no one in it. Hunter spun and dove at it; Camron pushed himself up and leapt towards it; Desiree cried out and held her left arm with her uninjured right; Amy dove towards Desiree whimpering a half scream; Joseph struggled to try and get up; Nurse Lotus’s chair was knocked over; Doctor Mabus ignored all and continued to dissect his subject; Nole continued to thrash in his bindings. He had no legs now. Andy stood. Hunter and Camron both pushed each other, attempting to slow the other down, at the same moment. Amy reached the wailing Desiree and lifted her up. Nurse Lotus yelped and attempted to clutch at her throat, to confirm that the searing pain she felt wasn’t connected to a new bleed, but her hands were bound to the chair. Joseph, with a roar that sounded more like a grunt, ripped his hands out of the ropes and began to untie those around his ankle. Hunter and Camron continued to struggle with each other. Desiree’s screams softened to pained moans as Amy clutched her right arm comfortingly and examined her left arm carefully. Joseph got himself free and stumbled to the floor quickly to untie Nurse Lotus. Hunter and Camron stopped fighting directly with each other and both reached for the rifle. Andy continued to stand there. A shoe came down on the rifle from the shadows and dragged it just out of reach of Hunter and Camron.

The room froze except for the thrashings of Nole and the knife of Doctor Mabus, as all eyes except for those and Andy’s scrolled up the shoe that had claimed the gun, watching the figure bend over and pick up the rifle.

Corwin smiled at them all as he straightened back up. “Time to purge evil,” he said loudly.

* * *

“Daddy, where are we going?” Dinah asked her father in that sweet little voice that always made him smile.

“Well, honey,” he tightened his grip around her lower legs to ensure that she wouldn’t fall into the disgusting “water” below. “That’s very hard to explain.”

“Well, you could try daddy? You never told us what was down the caves in the basement!” Lee stepped over a dead rat.

“Well, one of them leads to the sewers that go to the basement of the hospital! Isn't this place gross? That’s why I never let you go down there.” Dinah giggled. “The others… Well, you’ll see.”

“Oh…” Dinah whimpered a little. They were both quiet for a minute.


“Yes, sweetie?”

“Doctor Ruby is dead.”

“I know,” Oswald said sadly. “He was my best friend, you know.”

“Tell me about him, daddy!”

“Jack Ruby was a great man…” Lee Harvey Oswald began.

* * *

“Okay,” Hunter said calmly, standing up very slowly. “Let’s think about this rationally.”

“Rationally,” Corwin said, “The best way to save everyone would be to kill the infected.”

“No,” Camron snapped. He too was slowly standing up. “The best way to save everyone is to cure the infection!”

“Okay, both of you make very rational points, but…”

“Quiet, alien scum!” Corwin yelled. He pointed the gun at Hunter and squeezed the trigger tightly. A bang erupted from it. A bullet erupted from it. A bullet struck Hunter in the torso. His torso seemed to wobble. Camron was the only one at the correct angle to see it become silvery…

“Kill him!” Camron screamed immediately. He began scrambling for some sort of weapon. Hunter, unfazed by the gunshot, sighed.

“This is just not a very good situation for any of us.” Corwin began to fire as much as he could.

In the meantime, activity in the rest of the room had resumed. Amy, after making sure that Desiree was not more hurt than she had been, was lowering herself to the ground carefully so as not to drop her friend in order to attain Hunter’s ray gun. Joseph had returned to untying Nurse Lotus, whose eyes were beginning to flutter as if she were going to fall asleep. Andy still stood stock still, and Doctor Mabus still sliced and examined various parts of the still-writhing Nole’s physiology. He severed the left arm at the shoulder, eliciting no direct reaction from the wolfish corpse.

“Look,” Hunter said after Corwin ran out of rounds and Camron had pushed himself to the back of the room. Before he could continue, Camron began yelling once more.

“One of the killers! He’s behind this! All this time that he’s been with us, he’s been against humanity!” Corwin grimaced in response to Camron’s words and threw the rifle drastically at the alien. It struck his neck, which shimmered silver and lined for a moment. Hunter ignored this and stared at Camron in puzzlement.

“One of the killers? Against humanity? My people would never kill humans! I can’t imagine...” A strange look crossed over his face, one that human faces are not permitted by their very arrangement to generate. “Oh, you mean… Oh, damn. I knew something was wrong when I lost contact…”

“JUST KILL HIM!” Camron screamed. “Axe to the forehead!” He began scrambling around for some sort of weapon again. Hunter looked puzzled again for a moment, and suddenly nodded vigorously.

“Yes, so, the prototypes did escape. Why did they come here, though?” He finally really noticed the two terrified men in front of him. “Oh. I should probably stop talking to myself about this in front of you two. Camron, Corwin, it would be very beneficial to everyone if you were to sit quietly right there for a little while.”

Joseph screamed in agony, startling even Doctor Mabus and Andy. Hunter spun to look, as did Amy and Desiree. Nurse Lotus had latched her teeth into Joseph’s arm. His scream continued to cut into their ears. Hunter took note of the fact that Nurse Lotus’s eyes were empty and frowned. Amy shot up and pointed Hunter’s gun at her and pulled the trigger. She cursed when nothing happened. Desiree bit her lip and, after a moment, began trying to push herself away from Amy. Amy gripped her more tightly. Andy returned to his frozen despondency. He stood in the middle of the room, doing nothing. Hunter pounced forward and jumped directly over the two girls, knocking Andy to the ground, and landing in front of Joseph and the dead Nurse.

Doctor Mabus continued to cut into the corpse of Nole; he had now severed the spine down to the fifth Thoracic Vertebrae, and Nole, despite the amputation of his arms legs and the majority of his torso, still snapped at the Doctor, gnashing his teeth. Doctor Mabus was unphased.

Corwin pressed himself farther into the shadows, trying to disappear, wishing he could remember how he had gotten so quietly into the room. Camron ran wildly around, looking for any sort of weapon. His face was screwed up into an expression of utter hatred. Two words would not leave his mind: “Betrayal” and “Kill.” With every thought of them, he became more furious.

Hunter paused to think for less than a moment, which is a very small amount of time. He screwed up his face into another expression that the human face cannot produce and thrust his right hand towards Nurse Lotus. His hand did not stop at the end of his arm and continued to extend, forming into a fist and then into a silvery, line-marked ball. It struck the Nurse in the forehead, knocking her back and detaching her from Joseph. Joseph’s scream abated and he fell to the ground, clutching at his arm where she had bit him. Hunter crouched down over him.

“Are you alright?” Hunter asked softly.

“Kill me, alien,” Joseph growled through a grimace. “I don’t care what your reason is, but kill me now. I don’t want to come back like her.” Hunter screwed up his face into still a third expression, and thought about it for what stretched on for him and the failing hunter an eternity. In objective reality, it was no more than a few minutes. Hunter’s face finally returned to human proportions and his body became solid again.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, apparently to Joseph. “I’m so sorry.” He thrust his left hand towards Joseph’s forehead.

Andy had not stood up, but was still breathing.

Amy began pulling back, taking a struggling Desiree with her.

“Let me go!” Desiree screamed.

“I won’t,” Amy whispered back. “I won’t let you go.”

“I’ll kill you!”

“I don’t care. I’ll be with you until then.”

“I don’t want you to die, Amy!” Desiree lowered her voice.

“It’s probably too late for that,” Amy chuckled nervously. “I’ll hold onto you until…”

“It’s some sort of physical issue!” Doctor Mabus burst out suddenly. Nole had stopped gnashing his teeth futilely as soon as the seventh Cervical Vertebrae was separated from the rest of the spinal column. “It must be spread by virus,” Doctor Mabus said, “But the actual condition of zombism is caused by something in the spine and brain!” He grinned madly. “I’ll just need blood samples from the infected to be sure…”

A piercing scream rang out from all directions, from outside of the Hospital. Six of the seven still alive in the room covered their ears and cringed in horror. Nurse Lotus began to crawl forward, towards Hunter. Andy joined the sound.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Episode 45: Rock the Boat

“I do not know who you are,” Captain Clark said, raising his hands slowly. “But I know now that you are in league with whatever is in the cargo hold.” Quasimodo Weishaupt did not react physically to the Captain’s words, although his mind began racing. He had not heard the Captain’s announcement over the intercom in his urgency.

“With their help,” he began to bluff quickly and deftly in Italian, “I am going to take this ship. We are going directly to Switzerland.” Captain Clark blinked; that was a stranger demand than he had been expecting.

“You cannot get to Switzerland from the sea. It is landlocked, and in the middle of the mountains.” Quasimodo twitched nervously and almost began to lower his gun. Captain Clark considered reaching to grab it, but did not. He hoped that this crazy man would be easy enough to deal with.

“Then take us to the point nearest to Switzerland along this sea path.” Quasimodo commanded.

“That will add at least five hours to the time it will take to get to land.”

“And will cut at least ten hours off of the time it will take me to get to Switzerland. Now, Do as I command, or I will bring my allies up from the cargo hold.” Quasimodo shook his gun intimidatingly, an international sign for “turn around!” Captain Clark obeyed, slipped down a GPS map and compass. He quickly calculated a path to the Northernmost part of Italy and set the helm in that direction. He gradually turned the engine of the ship to its maximum speed, and began watching the instruments carefully.

He hoped that First Mate Jesus would not be able to find Mate Rozenkrantzandgildanstern anytime soon.

* * *

First Mate Jesus knocked as hard as he could on the door to Mate Rozenkrantzandgildanstern’s room. He waited a very short moment, and then did again. The Mate was not responding. Jesus grumbled, imagining that they too had vanished. He did not like this tendency of people to vanish tonight. It did not go well with screaming and gunfire. It was extremely unsettling. More than that, though First Mate Jesus did not concern himself with things like this usually, it was worrying. He reached down for the doorknob and hoped that it was better cared for than the one to Second Mate No-Name’s room. He gripped it, and pushed it open.

Inside, he was surprised to find two beds; each contained a sleeping figure. Why, he wondered, would Mate Rozenkrantzandgildanstern need two beds? At first he thought maybe he had a son or daughter that he had to take with him on trips; he had never bothered to learn much about the Mate’s family life, after all, and neither had anyone else. But no, he realized quickly, both figures were male and approximately the same age. He wondered for a moment if perhaps the two were lovers-something that First Mate Jesus would not care about at all, because it was their business-but quickly realized that if they were, they would sleep in the same bed. And then he noticed that one of the beds was not really a bed at all; it was a cot, on which the sleeper barely fit. Finally it made sense; an un-ticketed passenger! Ah, well, that was nothing to be concerned about now. He moved to rouse the Mate in his bed.

Wait, that didn’t look quite like Mate Rozenkrantzandgildanstern… He had the right eyes-maybe-but not the right, well, anything else. First Mate Jesus was very confused. He looked at the second man in his cot; he had the right haircut. Jesus sighed in exasperation, and stopped caring. He reached out and shook both of them; they both woke with a start and rolled over to look at him.

“What’s happening?” the one in the bed asked wearily in Italian. The one in the cot nodded and rubbed his eyes.

“We don’t know,” Jesus could not decide which of the two to look at; his head kept swinging back and forth. He didn’t risk calling either of them by name, in case he called the wrong one the only name either could have so far as he knew. The sentence he had just thought threatened to destroy his sanity, but the concern for his life overrode this and he continued. “There is something in the cargo hold, and the frequencies are filled with horrible screams of pain and death.”

“Oh, god, not again,” the one on the cot said.

“I hope there aren’t barrels this time,” the one on the bed grumbled.

“Or incomprehensible non-Euclidean angles.”

“What incomprehensible non-Euclidean angles?”

“Last time, we ended up on an island, remember?”

“Not really, and besides, it was a long time ago; last time, we ended up on an island.”

First Mate Jesus watched this exchange in bewilderment. He really did not understand any of what was happening anywhere, and he didn’t want to understand anymore.

“The captain wants you, Mate Rozenkrantzandgildanstern.”

“Yessir!” Both of them said at once. First Mate Jesus almost hesitated, but changed his mind and turned to return to the helm.

* * *

“You aren’t getting all of them!” Gaz screamed. “There are too many!” Zombies were still coming up the corridor, and, despite Bob the Assassin’s perfect accuracy, they were slowly closing in over the mountain of safe-corpses. He wasn’t used to close range assassinations like this; he was used to taking the time to aim and focus and shoot. He frowned, pulled his gun close to him, and reached down to scoop up his fallen sunglasses..

“Head up,” he commanded brusquely, before turning and running up the corridor. Gaz followed him without hesitation. They rounded a corner in the corridor and encountered a door to the outside of the ship. Bob hesitated for only half a moment before throwing the door open. He advanced into the morning; it was light, but not very due to dreary cloud cover. A light drizzle fell over the boat, making the outer deck very slightly slippery. Bob slowed his speed just enough to ensure a maintained balance, and dashed up a staircase one person wide to a higher deck. He assumed that, since the enemy was coming from below, higher ground would give him a tactical advantage. A good assassin always takes every tactical advantage open to him. Gaz knew that this was what he was doing immediately, being an intelligent young woman, and sincerely hoped that his assumption was correct.

When they were both up, Bob put his rifle down at the edge of the staircase and, after pulling a sort of tripod thing out of his jacket, unfolding it, and affixing the rifle to its top, pointed the rifle downwards. He put a fresh ammo feed in, and slipped the old, unexpired one into a pocket on the inside of his jacket. When he pulled his hand out, he held two handguns which he quickly checked the clips on. He held one up towards Gaz without looking at her. She took it.

“I would prefer to focus my attention on the area where the enemy definitely is.” He said as if he were teaching her how an assassin worked. “You are to watch the direction down this deck that is open. If anyone comes, fire directly at them, no matter what form they take. The head is the preferable target, but I do not expect you as a non-professional to be capable of hitting that consistently. Aim for the figure, and do not concern yourself with the head, as most targets will be disabled by any hit to the main body. Do not fire until you are sure there is someone. Do not say anything if you think there is someone; I will know we are in danger by the sound of your shot. Do not concern yourself with anything ahead of me or elsewhere on the deck below; they are my concern. Do not move more than two feet from where you are; wait for targets to come to you. Do you understand?”

Gaz nodded, forgetting that he could not see her; he did, because of his specially reflective sunglasses. Even so, he repeated “Do you understand?”

“Yes,” Gaz said, forcing calmness into her voice. “I do understand. I will do what you have said. Thank you.”

“Bear in mind that I have not abandoned you only because you seem to show promise of usefulness,” Bob said after a moment. “The very fact that you know I exist means that you know too much for the long run. For the moment, we both need each other. When we are no longer in danger, I will have to make a decision about you.” Gaz blinked, and breathed in that halting frightened way of someone who does not want to cry. Bob shifted uneasily, wondering what he was supposed to have said.

They waited.

* * *

Burt and Daisy began, as you read last time, by charging into the zombie hoard. Both had started out simply; Burt begun smacking zombies in the torso with his broom or mop, which knocked most of them over and snapped some of the older ones in half, and Daisy had begun a whirling, graceful, even ballet-like pattern of stabbing and slicing with a pair of Deli knives. Neither at any time stopped to see the fates of their targets, and in this fashion, Burt moving too powerfully to let the zombies anywhere near him and Daisy moving too quickly for the zombies to actually touch her, the both of them found themselves on a third side of the cargo hold, without any doors. Daisy smiled proudly at Burt, who returned to her a look of acceptance of everything. Together, they turned away from the steely wall and surveyed the damage.

It took a moment for them to process that they had done almost nothing to the horde. Daisy noticed now that there were some biting heads and clawing arms struggling near the ankles of the majority. She looked to Burt.

“Weaknesses?” Burt asked brusquely.

“I was never trained in combat with this kind of invincible creature.”

“Their weaknesses, I mean.”


“I don’t know any either.”

“Strategic withdrawal,” Daisy said automatically. “Nearest door?”

“The one we came through.”

“Let’s go. Just don’t die,” the two of them leapt forward, and carefully began carving their way to the door they had come through. They moved more slowly and unsurely this time, because of their failure last time. Burt had the misfortune to notice one of his snapped-victims from the earlier assault grabbing his ankle at the very last moment; he had the fortune to pull his ankle away and crush the ankle-biter’s skull with his still strong broom.

They pushed their way towards the door.

* * *

John the Master Thief was now attached safely, by his climbing gear, to the top of a corridor which he estimated to be directly beneath the ship’s helm room. He clung desperately to the ceiling as he caught his breath and allowed the fear to wash over him. He had learned one way to deal with fear many years ago: he lets it wash over him, run its course, and then he no longer wanted to scream and vomit. He could then get his thoughts in order, which he soon did this time.

After about ten minutes of gripping the ceiling, he let himself drop, stood up, detached the suction cups from his hands and knees, brushed himself off, and walked calmly down another corridor. He spun and stared momentarily after a loud sound burst forth from where he had been, and a matching pair of holes appeared on the ceiling and floor at that same point. He smirked at his latest escape from death, having conquered fear for a while, and went on his way.

* * *

“So who are you,” Captain Clark asked his captor, hands raised, eyes glued to the meters and displays of the ship’s current status.

“That is not your concern,” Quasimodo Weishaupt said gruffly, standing threateningly a few feet behind him, directly in front of the door.

“You’ve hijacked my ship in the middle of a massive crisis without a word of explanation. Who you are is very much my concern.”

“It is not your concern!” Weishaupt boomed, and fired into the floor.

“Alright,” Captain Clark said meekly. A moment passed; all that they could hear was the disturbingly mundane lapping of the water against the hull of the ship.

“I am Quasimodo Weishaupt, the rightful heir to the throne of Bavaria,” the hijacker announced after a moment.

“I thought this wasn’t my concern,” the captain muttered.

Quasimodo ignored him and continued. “I am too late in my life and of improper birth to take the throne, and as such…” Quasimodo grunted and stumbled forward; the voice of First Mate Jesus cut through the cabin.

“I found Mate Rozenkrantzandgildanstern, and… Huh?” Quasimodo had spun and fired his gun. The bullet had lodged itself in First Mate Jesus’ stomach, and he was very confused at this development. Captain Clark took the opportunity to leap onto Quasimodo Weishaupt and try to wrestle the gun away. Mates Rozenkrantz and Gildanstern rushed into the room to pull First Mate Jesus to the side, out of some unusual instinct. The Captain and the Hijacker wrestled around vertically for a moment, and the latter finally escaped from the grip of the former; the gun, however, was now held by both of them, and pointed directly up. As they struggled invisibly with each other, and First Mate Jesus began to bleed to death, and Mates Rozenkrantz and Gildanstern crouched around uselessly, a new voice chimed from the door to the cabin.

“I’m here to steal the shi… Oh, I see, someone’s already doing it.” John the Thief smiled to an unwatching five. “Alright, you two go ahead and struggle with each other, and you three go ahead and be there. I’ll steer us to land.” He sidled around the struggling hijacker and Captain, neither of whom could spare their attention for him. First Mate Jesus was too focused on his bleeding to do anything, and Mates Rozenkrantz and Gildanstern thought that letting him take control was as good a plan as any. Unchallenged, John took the wheel and, after a cursory glance at the compass and map, turned towards land.

“This isn’t much tougher than flying,” he chuckled aloud.

* * *

Bob fired his rifle into the crowd at the bottom of the stairs. He was glad that the enemy had not presented any further obstacles; this was the only defense he could think of against them that would not require at least ten un-had minutes of set-up. As it was, he was keeping the entire force from advancing farther than the second stair from the bottom. He had, by this time, set down his hand-gun, realizing that he would not need it as all of the enemy combatants were focused on getting up the stairs to him rather than going around. He worried that eventually they would get smarter-and then worried that they were stupid without a reason.

Gaz had not yet fired her gun, but was getting antsy. She, despite her orders, occasionally glanced down the stairs at Bob’s field. There was a barricade of corpses beginning to form at the bottom of the stairs, and s stench began to rise from it. She swallowed hard, and held her gun forward.

A shadow moved around a round protrusion from the ship; Gaz pulled her finger closer to the trigger. The shadow moved again, and seemed to get closer. Gaz tried to focus the gun on it, and it moved again; she pulled the trigger. The shadow spun wildly, there was a clang, and it was in the air flying towards she and Bob. Gaz screamed as it fell towards her, and pulled the trigger madly twice more. The shadow spun mid-air, and there were two clangs. Gaz felt something smack her hand, and felt the gun fly to just beneath Bob. He spun and raised his own handgun at the assailant.

A thin and buff woman with her brown hair in a ponytail, a blue blood-stained apron on her front, a belt full of cooking sprays and utensils, and two frying pans in her hands stood above Gaz, with those frying pans held inches around her head. Bob pointed the gun at her aggressively.

“Don’t shoot at me,” Daisy growled, “Or your friend gets her head crushed.” Bob grunted, and lowered his gun. He returned to his rifle and fired into the crowd.

“Release her.” He said bitterly. “She thought you were an enemy. She is new to the game. She did not realize that you were a kitchen ninja as I would have.” Daisy smirked, and pulled her frying pans away. Gaz sighed, and looked at her.

“I’m sorry?” She said hesitantly. Daisy smirked at her.

“An amateur assassin should not be able to come so close to hitting a Kung Food adept.”

“She is mine,” Bob growled. “Do not consider it.”

“What the hell are you two talking about?” Gaz asked suddenly. Bob hesitated before his next shot, but said nothing. Daisy chuckled lightly, and then took on a grave expression.

“They’ve killed a master of Broom Jitsu,” she said. “I had to abandon him in the cargo hold. I do not know who either of you truly are, though your floppy hat tells me that you are someone I should wish to ally myself with.”

“Do not expect success in this,” Bob said gruffly. “Though for now, it is in all our best interests. Prepare for combat.”

Gaz stared between the two of them. This was not something that she had been expecting. All thought was eradicated from her mind when something shiny glinted through the air. She leapt down, grabbed her gun, and fired madly into the air. Daisy the kitchen ninja stared at her for a moment, and Bob took a glance at her through his sunglasses.

A large spray of water leapt over the edge of the boat, caused by the crash of something massive, and organic. Gaz looked over the edge, which was just close enough to see over. She grinned.

There lay a giant Jellyfish.