Darren May Never Wear Chaps
Darren's Dog is Afraid of Moose
Darren Wants Donair
Darren Vs. Predator 1: There Won't Be a Sequel, yet
By William Odd
Chapter One: A Poker Game with Buddies.
I know that the first time I play Russian Roulette, I'll lose. If nothing else, that is a good reason to never actually play it.
"I see your nickel and raise you three pennies" said Ryan. The stakes were clearly not as high in this game we were playing. Although the penny has been taken out of circulation. Perhaps at some point in the future some person might think it terribly garish of us to be wagering lost coins from a bygone era. No better than if we were using the golden Solidus coins of Ancient Rome to place our bets. "Can you hear me Darren?" he asked in an attempt to break what he thought was my poker face, but was in fact a genuine absence of focus on my part.
My name is Darren. I'm an adult male who is presently playing poker in a well maintained sunroom, at night (I felt like that was worth noting, what with the lack of sun and all) and that is about all that's worth telling about me at this point.
Poker was not my game of choice, but it was a decent enough excuse for me to spend some time with some acquaintances. Said acquaintances are Kyle, the home owner (and therefore, technically the sunroom owner too) is a computer programmer...or repair person...or he writes code? I never really bothered to figure out exactly what he does. I can say that he is quite tall, rather pale and has the sort of shaggy hair that seems to say "hey world, I do stuff with computers, most likely." And there is Xander, who is a rather gruff fellow, despite his name, with a buzz cut, a natural tan and easily furrowed eyebrows. Lastly is Ryan, whose focus seems to be his most defining characteristic. That or possibly the enormous tattoo he has of some sort of tribal scorpion that starts above his right eye (an eye currently conveying a lot of focus), and ends to the right of his lips (currently pursed together, emphasizing the intensity of Ryan's overall focus).
Ryan was the last person at the table to be genuinely interested in the game. The rest of the party's thoughts drifted quite effortlessly to the various, easily accessible distractions filling the entire scope of our vision...most of which existing entirely on our phones. How could one be concerned about the fate of our nickel bets when, at the push of a button, we can access a nearly limitless supply of videos and images of naked people doing naked things? This question enters my mind at most points in my day; but I assume you already knew that about me the very second I told you I'm an adult male.
It was just about to match Ryan's bet when his head suddenly exploded. This took me by surprise, and I suspect it was relatively shocking for Ryan as well. Naturally, I wanted to find out what caused this.
"Fucking aaaah! What in the fuck did that?!" Screamed Kyle, who was obviously planning on seeking out the source as well. He was scrambling to the far wall, so I guess that area was covered, I'll look elsewhere.
I tried asking Xander if this could have been a natural occurrence but he seemed to be distracted with his own investigation as he had already run to the nearby bathroom and locked himself in. I knew about the locking because I could hear him yelling "fucking lock you fucking thing!" at what I can only assume was the doorknob. I lightly chuckled at how silly it must look like to yell at a doorknob, but my chuckling was interrupted by the sensation of Ryan's blood and brain matter dripping off my end of the poker table and onto my lap. "That's right!" I thought to myself, "I have a mystery to look into!"
I stood up and started to scan the area (and occasionally my phone) for something that might clue me in. The third thing I noticed was a spiral formation cut into the glass of one the sunroom's windows (the first and second things I noticed were pictures of cats wearing watermelon hats that were sent to my phone's instant messenger service). This must be the point of entry of whatever did this to Ryan. While I leaned into to examine it closely I heard a strange gurgling sound. Ryan's remains were the source of the sound. The blood on the table seemed to be boiling and before I could fully wonder if the temperature that makes water boil is different for blood, Ryan's fingers exploded. I fondly remembered all the times Ryan would use those fingers to really emphasize his focus with pointing or a clenched fist. Oh how he loved to be focused. If Ryan were trying to solve the mystery of his own head exploding he certainly wouldn't let something as simple as his own fingers exploding or blood boiling distract him. My nostalgia turned into a bit of shame, then I checked my phone for a bit. It kept saying it needed to update but I couldn't access the online store I needed to obtain that update.
"Kyle, you know tech stuff right? Why won't my phone allow this update?" I asked to no avail since Kyle was now weeping and muttering something to the effect of "Jesus Christ! The blood!" The blood. That's right. I'm supposed to figure this out. Boy, how I envied the late Ryan's focus.
Chapter Two: Leaving the Poker Game and Looking for a Donair Place.
I finally found Kalvin's Donair and Bakery about five blocks from Kyle's. I had a serious craving for shaved meats roughly two blocks from Kyle's. When I reached being three blocks from Kyle's I had felt a bit remorseful about leaving Kyle to clean up the mess in his sunroom, but I suppose that is an unhappy symptom of being a host. Back when I was 0 zero blocks from Kyle's (aka, still at Kyle's) I had recalled seeing that same swirly symbol cut into the glass before and felt I should look for it. I cannot recall exactly where, but I knew for sure that I had seen it before in my travels. Finding it again would surely give me a greater clue as to what caused Ryan's head to disassemble so dramatically.
I thought at first that Kalvin's was closed because there was no activity behind the counter. That is bad news for me, since I'm so hungry. The good news is I found that swirl pattern cut in glass again! It is carved into the entrance door of Kalvin's. I must have remembered it when walking to Kyle's. I wonder how the cleanup is going back at Kyle's? I guess I'll find out when I report my findings back to him some time tonight, or maybe next weekend if we play poker again then. While I checked out this carving I noticed that the door was unlocked, so maybe it is still open? That carving really is quite an admirable bit of work. I've always admired glass art. Like stained glass. Is it passe for a non-religious establishment to have stained-glass art? I'll make sure to ask Kyle, since he seems to have some glass art of his own now. And if he doesn't know, surely he must 'know a guy' who made that piece for him. This is what I ponder as I walk into Kalvin's and approach the menu posted high above the counter, adjacent to the sliding door fridge filled with the various Dr. Pepper's I hope to drink in the very immediate future. While I scan the menu I cannot help but notice the abundance of stains and spills all over the walls and shelves. Kalvin and his brother must have been having an embarrassingly sloppy day at work today, hence why they are, I can only assume, hiding in shame from customers like me right now (I don't actually know if the owner is named Kalvin. All I know is they are Lebanese, are brothers, and yell single syllable words at me when I point to the food I want on their big colourful menu).
As it turns out, my theory was incorrect. Lying on the floor was one of the brothers Kalvin. His stomach seems to have exploded, as well as his feet. This would explain a lot of the red and brown stains I'm seeing all over the place (but not all of them. Let's be fair, it's a Donair shop and there are plenty of other meats that can create such messes).
"Well, shit" I say to the mess. This certainly kills my craving for Donair. And Shawarma too. Through the slime and gore I can see a very large tattoo on this gentleman's (gentle-torso's?) forearm. It's the same tribal-styled Scorpion design Ryan had on his face before it splashed onto the ceiling of Kyle's sunroom. What a neat coincidence. Not only does Kyle and the Kalvins get the same glass design, but Ryan and this guy get the same kind of tattoo! It kind of makes me want to get a tattoo...and some Donair. My craving is coming back.
All of a sudden I could hear a voice yelling from outside. It was just the word "shit" over and over again, as if the statement I just made found an echo. Alas, it was not my echo, but my Kyle (I say "my Kyle" because I'm aware that there are a lot of Kyle's out there who are capable of saying "shit," but this was the Kyle I associated with most and therefore feel alright with staking some form of claim on him). I step outside of Kalvin's just in time to enter (my) Kyle's peripheral vision.
"Shit, Darren! Shit! Where the fuck did you go?!" Kyle asked, no longer echoing me.
"To Kalvin's Donair and Bakery" I told him, despite the fact that it was terribly obvious where I went. But I wasn't about to rub that fact in his face. I'm not the kind of person who would do that to my, or any, Kyle.
"Ryan! His fucking head! I don't...I mean..."
"It blew up or something. I know. Same thing happened to one of the Bros Kalvin. Well, not his head but his stomach. Oh, and his feet. That's weird, right? Kyle? Is it?" Kyle was now doubled over on the ground weeping while clutching his stomach. He must be hungry and is taking the news about Kalvin's Donair not being open pretty badly. I felt obliged to console him.
"Hey sport. KFC near, huh?" Woof. Talk about needing grammar school, right? I had a nice hearty chuckle at the feeble structure of my sentence. It's good to laugh at yourself when you make little mistakes like that. I suppose I am losing focus, again. I need to say something far more significant to Kyle than just a question or comment about food. I walk over to Kyle and rest my hand on his back while he still cradles himself on the ground. He no longer speaks words, just whimpers.
"Kyle" I calmly say to him. "It's getting late and I have to get up early for work tomorrow. I'll see ya."
Chapter 3: I Woke Up Early For Work
It's 6am and I'm already an hour into my shift at the Mondo Foods Grocery Store loading bay. I have six semis to unload today. At least I'm not working alone this morning. I can tell Harry is here because I can see his ball cap floating around the bay. Hatted Harry as I like to call him, perpetually hatted that he is. I would greatly enjoy calling him Happy Hatted Harry, to keep the alliteration going, but he does not seem to spend sufficient enough time presenting a "happy" mien.
I also know that Eddie is here. This is not because I have seen him, but because I see his jeep parked outside, with its loud yellow paint job and distinctive scorpion illustration on the back window (with a certain tribal flair, not unlike the tattoos I have seen recently). It won't be hard to spot Eddie when he does show his face, what with it being so distinctly covered with facial hair and a plethora of piercings. As well, his movement is a key signifier for he moves like marionette that had suddenly become a real person but has yet to unlearn how to move without strings.
It has now started raining, right at the same time Eddie has appeared in the parking lot. If Eddie has some sort of arrangement with some sort of Rain God to create dramatic effect, they certainly hit their cue nicely.
"You're going to get wet if you don't hurray!" I yelled to Eddie, because sometimes stating the obvious doubles nicely as advice.
"Not a problem dude. Like Tom Waits said: 'a little rain never hurt no..." right as Eddie tried to inform me of something singer-songwriter Tom Waits said at some point, a beam of light struck the truck trailer that Eddie was walking along on his route towards the entrance of our work bay. Sizzling on the side, right where it connected, is a circular symbol identical to the ones I had seen cut into the glass of Kyle's sunroom and the door of Kalvin's Donair and Bakery
"Well, how do you like that?" I asked rhetorically.
"What in the fuck was that?" said a startled Eddie.
"What in the fuck was that?! Said Harry, at a higher volume and pitch than Eddie.
Right then, possibly as an answer to my coworker's question(s) was an unusual grumble followed by a sort of roar. My eyes followed the path of the beam of light right to the source of the animal noises. But all I could see is rain but it seemed to be changing directions in odd ways at one particular spot in the parking lot. It looks like it is bouncing off of something before it can hit the pavement. The area that is creating the strange deflection of the rain drops also seems to be shifting around slightly in left to right motions. Eddie has hustled over to our area and is at the base of the steps leading inside. Before he can step on them another flash of light streamed from where the rain is being mysteriously deflected from the ground and hits Eddie on the ankle. He falls as there seems to be a sort of snare now around his leg. As he looks directly at me he is quickly dragged away from us. Shortly before he reaches the area where the rain is being deflected, a portion of that same area flashes and warps various colours like a bubble that is reflecting the area around it, only it is not circular but some other amorphous shape. The more it flashes the clearer the form becomes. As Eddie reaches it the flashes cease and now sitting in that spot is a large mouthed beast I have never seen in my life. It is like a giant toad that has been bred with a rhino with a group of sharp garden tools for a mouth. This creature, without hesitation snatches Eddie in its enormous jaw and proceeds to eat him. This does not take long. Eddie has been eaten within seconds. Eaten Eddie. I really gottta hand it to Hatted Harry and Eaten Eddie for sticking to the whole alliteration theme they have going on with their nicknames.
Speaking of whom, Hatted Harry has run away. In fact, the few employees that were supposed to be working here today had come to the bay in response to Eddie's screams (what few he could make before he disappeared inside the beast) and then they left almost as quickly as they had arrived. And speaking of disappearing, the beast's form was losing it's clarity again. It has finished with Eddie and a long cord leading from it to the area that is still deflecting rain drops shimmers while it changes. Soon enough it has seemingly vanished. The raindrops being deflected makes me believe that it must have turned invisible but not intangible. I suppose there must be some other being standing next to it that is also invisible. No matter, the rain deflection has stopped so they must have left.
And speaking of leaving, with all of my coworkers gone I guess there is no more work today. That is fine since this gives me a chance to grab a couple bags of kibble and head home for Juggles.
Chapter Four: My Dog, Juggles. Not literally, That's his name.
I have no idea what breed of dog Juggles is. I was content with just knowing he is a dog and when you look at Juggles, his appearance undeniable screams "dog." I have no other means to describe him except for the fact that he does not seem to be bothered by the presence of other animals at all. He and I do not get territorial in the least. I learned this because I sometimes leave my front door open over night, or while I'm at work, or when I leave for a holiday, and animals tend to wander in. I've seen Juggles be indifferent towards rats, raccoons, cats, birds and innumerable insects. Some cats have stuck around long enough that some might even say I also owned one or two of them, but that simply isn't so. One in particular would always raise his head whenever I said "Juggles'" name, so perhaps it was also named Juggles? I can never know for sure. The only animal Juggles didn't care for was a Moose that had come inside one time. I didn't even know I lived in a Moose region, all I knew that day is that it scared the living shit out of Juggles.
As I pour some kibble into Juggles' bowl there is a thunderous pounding at my front door, which I must have closed (I hadn't noticed). I didn't get to ask who was there, Kyle opened the door and ran inside.
"Oh hey Kyle. How are you? How was the clean up?"
"Darren!" Kyle blurted out before indulging in some storytelling. "I haven't gone home. I've been wandering around all morning. I even looked for you at your work. Did you go? The place was deserted. And there was another one of those goddamn symbols there."
"Oh yeah, that swirly circle thing?"
"You saw it? You were there?"
"Yeah. I've been seeing a few things repeat. Like those scorpions"
"Like on Ryan's face. I mean, while he still had a face"
"The fuck do you mean?"
"One of the Kalvins had that on his arm. And my coworker had one on his Jeep, before he got eaten that is. Well, I guess the jeep still has a Scorpion on it. It didn't eaten. Not like ol Eaten Eddie" I smile in anticipation of Kyle complimenting the clever new nickname I had given Eddie. My anticipation is not fulfilled.
"Eaten?! Jesus fuck. It's eating us now?"
"The fucking hunter! It's been hunting us Darren! The scorpion...that must be a clue. Like, something it's using to track us down with. Or a target that it implanted in our minds that certain people have been placing to show it where to go"
Kyle seemed happy talking about scorpions. He must be planning a tattoo or maybe an neat decal for his car. My neighbour has a nice car. I decided to go say hi to him. Kyle is pretty occupied anyhow.
It just so happens that my neighbour is on his front porch. He is big, black and probably Dave Winfield. I mean, if my neighbour isn't actually Professional Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, then he is a remarkable Dave Winfield lookalike. I've never felt obliged to find out if he is Dave Winfield. I always just supposed that Dave Winfield's business is Dave Winfield's business. He keeps an impeccable lawn and home. Is that a defining characteristic of Dave Winfield? I suppose I'll find out one day.
"Everything alright over there?" my neighbour asked "I noticed some fellow rushed inside. He was making some racket."
"Oh yeah." I noticed he had his morning coffee in his hand. "Say, is that that new Fair Trade coffee you were talking about trying."
"Why, yes it is."
"How is it? I nearly got some myself."
"I'm one cup in, and eager for my second"
"Wow, you don't say? Quite the endorsement" (especially from...Dave Winfield?...)
My neighbour's deep laugh started rolling from his porch and over to my ears but Kyle interrupted it by bursting outside (bursting seeming to be his favour method of entering and exiting a home).
"Get back inside! That thing is still loose!" Kyle screamed, rather rudely. I wondered what he could have meant. All I could see on the sidewalk with me was a surveyor going door to door. I know not everyone is a fan of the Census but I don't think Kyle's yelling was warranted. "I think you might be right! I think it is tracking that scorpion symbol!" Now Kyle was off on a tangent I figure. "I don't see any here so we might be safe but it's still best if we get back inside!" Kyle now approached me.
As he grabbed my arm and started pulling my neighbour yelled "What's going on?" Juggles started barking at my doorway. He doesn't normally do that, and with no Moose in sight I found it confusing. My neighbour started to come over to us, coffee still in hand.
"I think we'll be heading inside now. You're more than welcome to join. I'd offer you coffee but you already have some. Plus some raccoons took off with my tin a couple nights ago anyhow" while I say this to my neighbour I realize I should have grabbed some coffee at work. Although it was still on one of the trailers we were supposed to unload. Darn you Eaten Eddie for getting eaten and preventing me from getting all of my groceries!
"This is a friend of yours?" My neighbour asked, who was now close enough to establish that he is roughly double our size, which would be handy if I did actually need him to interfere (or play designated hitter for a baseball team?)
"That's one thing you can call Kyle I suppose" I say while we all start moving towards the house. The surveyor is now in closer proximity.
"Excuse me sir, is this your home?" They ask, a clipboard in hand and on OFFICIAL Census satchel over their shoulder.
"My tax dollars at work" I think but do not say, which is a shame because nobody else got to that quip first. In fact, I don't get to say any response to him. All three of us look at the surveyor as a snare, just like the one that got Eddie, wraps around his chest and arms. The young fellow is yanked rapidly backwards and stops just sort of seemingly nothing. Said nothing materializes into a large person (I assume it's a person) in some sort of costumey armour with the toothy toad beast at his side (I say "he" but the only clue I have about his gender is his manly stance, manly staff, and manly toothy toad beast creature he keeps as a pet). The surveyor gets no time to recoup. The teeth are upon him right away. What a shame really. He is a young fellow, likely doing this gig as supplementary income during his college days. Fresh air. Meeting people. Not a bad way to make some cash. Now they'll have to spend MORE of my tax dollars hiring another young person to do it, and I'll have to start referring to him in the past tense because as I finished thinking this thought the beast finished eating him.
"Sweet mother of fuck!" my neighbour yells as he grabs me and Kyle and runs us into my house, like a linebacker rushing two sacks of potatoes into the end zone for a touchdown. Such athletic moxy this man shows...how could he not be-
My thoughts are interrupted by Juggles' frantic barking. I have never seen him this agitated. So I guess Juggles is afraid of something other than a Moose. I've learned something.
"It does not like having others crowding around its prey" said a voice that did not belong to me, Kyle, my neighbour, Juggles or (I assume) any of the cats who have not yet left my house (including the Cat Possibly Also Known as Juggles). We all look to the voice and see a stranger. I suppose I should maybe starting closing my doors when I'm not home. The stranger dons combat boots, cutoff jean-shorts and an athletic top with a large scorpion logo on the chest. "I know how he hunts. I know how he kills."
"You talking about the costumed dude outside?" I say, still making gender assumptions.
"You stupid piece of meat! That is the ultimate hunter! He has crossed galaxies to seek out his prey!"
"Are you fucking telling me those are aliens out there?" Kyle asked, clearly hoping, like I am, that this stranger would get to the point!
"They are the ultimate killing duo" the stranger continued, not getting to the freaking point after all! "They can bend light to hide, consume any person in seconds, and they will boil your blood!"
"How did the blood boiling metaphor even start?" I wonder out loud, to deaf ears apparently.
"If that thing is hunting, then you're next pal!" Kyle states while pointing to the stranger "that scorpion on your shirt!"
"What of it?" The stranger asked.
"That thing is targeting people that have a scorpion on'em!"
"Technically Eddie had it on his Jeep" I add.
"The fuck are you talking about? Scorpions got nothing to do with.."
"Holy fuck!" Kyle hollered before the stranger could finish talking as a beam of light appeared right over the scorpion logo on the stranger's shirt, proving Kyle right.
"No" the stranger chose as his last word. The beam flickers and sparks and right after the stranger starts howling in pain. Ripples run from the site of the beam, through his arms and up to his face, which promptly explodes ala Ryan's. So he might have been wrong about the scorpion thing, but the blood boiling bit I'd buy. Hey! Bought Boiling Blood Bit. Boy, I wish Hatted Harry and Eaten Eddie were around and/or alive to hear that swell alliteration!
"What in the fuck have you guys gotten me into?!" my neighbour yelled in an uncharacteristically high-pitched yell. Once again, he grabs us, throws us over his shoulders and proceeds to haul us out my back door, which is wide open. Juggles chases after us.
My neighbour ran us straight into his home before he dropped us. My goodness he has stayed in great shape in his retirement years. It is a total natural reflex when I compliment him.
"Great hustle out there Mr. Winfield." I had finally done it. I called him Winfield.
"I'm sorry, did you just call me John Olerud?" he asked.
"No, I didn't sir"
"Oh sorry, I guess I'm tired. When I'm tired I'm always hearing names of those guys."
My eyes widened in anticipation of clarification of his identity, but I got interrupted when a beam of light shot into the room, illuminating it with a silver and blue sparkling. Then my ass exploded.
Chapter Five: My Ass Exploded.
"My ass exploded" I explained to anyone who was not clear about the situation. The group of us, Kyle, Juggles and possibly Dave Winfield are in a hospital where it seems that my ass has been bandaged up. How I got there? I'm afraid I don't know. Blacking out seems to be a symptom of a spontaneous ass explosion. It was the next morning. I must have been asleep throughout the night. My explanation of the situation seemed sufficient so I moved to my next topic. "They allow dogs in hospitals?" I asked.
"So what can we do if he is the target?" my neighbour asked of Kyle.
"I thought it was the scorpions" he replied, staring at a random portion of the floor.
"Well it ain't. Those things want Darren!"
Now this got me wondering: did he mean any Darren, or me as the nearest Darren? So I ask "Do you mean any Darren or just me as the nearest Darren?"
"There's a tracking device on you man!" my neighbour started to explain "its drilled into your shoulder!" I have a feel and sure enough, imbedded in my skin by my right shoulder blade is a box about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide.
"Huh. Well that might explain all the buzzing and tingling in that area whenever I've showered"
"The doctor's are worried about removing it. It seems pretty imbedded. They're trying to find a way" Kyle noted "that seems to be what this...this alien hunter has been tracking. Everyone it's killed just seems to be collateral damage!"
"Well that's annoying. Hey Kyle, you know computer's right? You can probably figure out how to turn it off. I mean, how the heck can I do grocery shopping or enjoy some schwarma if an alien keeps killing everyone who handles my foodstuffs?"
"I can't even begin to imagine what kind of technology that thing is using."
My neighbour chimes in as well "But these doctors are working hard to figure it soon. They don't know about the alien. But we know. And we know its going to keep tracking it and you down. But we're in this together...wait a minute...no we ain't. I'm getting out of here" and he proceeded to leave, which seemed reasonable given the luck people around me have had lately.
Kyle looks at me "yeah..."
I look back at Kyle "So did the receptionist give you a hard time about bringing Juggles here? Oh and did they mention anything about a prosthesis or something for my ass? I'm not really sure how much I have left back there."
"We have no real idea what is going to happen next. This thing has been tracking you, and it did get you with its weapon. Lord only fucking knows why it made your ass explode instead of your head..."
"Or my stomach"
"...but will it come back to finish you? Is it just trying to feed that pet of his? I can't wrap my head around this"
"Has any of this been on the news?"
Just then an elderly patient in a wheelchair wheels herself into my room and with a very focused vigour shouted "Look at you, with all those caramels! When there are so many who have nothing!"
There are a lot of answers I have not yet found, and I suppose it is my task to sniff them out.
Chapter Six: I went back to the Donair Place.
The grand mystery has finally been solved! The Donair shop has indeed stayed closed due to the death of a Kalvin (the mystery about whether that is actually his real name, remains). There is police tape surrounding the entire building. I suppose if the police didn't close it down, the health inspector eventually would have. All that human blood sprayed over the Kebob cannot be up to code.
"Would it be at all possible for us to have lunch at your place? You're the closest and its going to be a bit tricky getting around in this wheelchair" I reasoned with Kyle, although I now felt a bit guilty about trying to invite myself over for lunch. "I can pay for it. Like, I can order a pizza for us." There. Now I feel less guilty.
"Ryan's head exploded at my place" Kyle reminded me "I don't think I can go back there for a while unless I want to be arrested. Same goes for your place."
Oh yeah. A stranger's head exploded in my house. Darn. I should have told my neighbour to close the doors when he went home. I don't think I want folks peeking inside at that, thinking I'm too lazy to clean up a mess they'll think I MADE when it was really that stranger and the alien's fault! The last thing I need is judgmental eye rolls from my other neighbours while I try to explain I was in the hospital at the time. What gets blood out of carpet anyways? Is cola the secret? Am I remembering that correctly?
"Can we at least stop some place for some cola, Kyle?"
Before Kyle could agree to my reasonable request, a gaggle of bikers rode up to us. The collective rumble of their motorcycles was impossible to ignore. Nor were the bright yellow Scorpions stitched on their vests. Their matching vests made me think that they are a gang, and that they'd likely prefer to be called a "gang" instead of a "gaggle," Like I did just now. If the opportunity arises I'll ask. Maybe if I find out who the leader is. I'd assume he'd be the most knowledgeable about the formalities of their group's titles.
Juggles barked. Maybe he thought they were Moose? What do you call a group of Moose? It's certainly not a gaggle. It's not Mice, though it kind of feels like it should be.
One of them spoke "I think you fellas need to come with us." Maybe this is the leader? Should I ask about my "gang vs. Gaggle" conundrum?
"Wh...why is th-that?" Kyle asked with a substantial stammer to his voice.
"I think we'll ask the questions here" he replied, even though none of them had asked any questions at all. He doesn't seem to bright when it comes to grammar. Maybe he isn't the best person to ask about what to call them after all? "We gonna ask you bout where you hidin' Ryan an Xander" he continues with but STILL has not officially asked a question.
No matter, there no questions will get to be asked. As one biker goes behind Kyle and presses a rag against his face, another seems to be doing the exact same thing to me. I smelled a smell I had never smelled before. I think I'm learning what chloroform smells like. I theorize this because I'm blacking out at a quick pace.
The last thing I see before I enter into darkness is Juggles jumping at the throat of the biker who has felled Kyle, and a beam of sparkly light stretching to the Scorpion symbol on the back of his vest.
Chapter 7: Juggles killed a guy!
The first thing I see when I come back to consciousness is a big yellow Scorpion insignia, which I'm getting a little friggin' sick of seeing by now! Surely I'm not alone with this, what with so many of them leading directly to murders. Someone is a much harsher critic than me. Wearing the Scorpion is a young Native woman with a fierce outfit, a fierce gaze and a fierce body (you can now add heterosexual to your list of facts about me).
I'm cognizant of my visual surroundings before the audio kicks in. Kyle is already awake. I cannot make out what our location is, but it appears to be a basement of some sort. Kyle isn't tied up, neither am I. The woman seems to be the only gang member here. If this has been a biker gang kidnapping, they are definitely defying my expectations. I understand that a computer geek, a man with no ass, and an assless man's dog are not exactly an intimidating crew, but I'd hope more than one gang member would be here to keep watch.
"That fucking dog ripped out Ajax's goddamn throat!" is the first thing I heard, and it was coming from the biker.
"Chelsea, I'm so sorry but..." said Kyle before I interject with:
"Your name is Chelsea?"
"Darren! You're awake! Yes, this is Chelsea Thunderblanket"
"Holy crap, that's an awesome name. What did Juggles do?"
Chelsea Amazingname screams at me "He killed Ajax!" The name Ajax meant nothing to me but what I gathered was that Juggles killed the biker that was pressing the drugged cloth against Kyle's face earlier. Juggles was currently sitting near the wall, big dumb dog smile on his face, as well as a shitload of blood stains on his fur (which reminded me of Donair stains...and here comes my craving again!
"All of them are dead Darren" Kyle says.
"All of who?" I ask.
"My crew" and Chelsea makes three. "Some...fucking...thing killed them. Fucking shot them or something. They were fucking exploding!"
"It was the alien, Darren. It shot them all"
"Except Ajax" I correct Kyle.
"FUCK!" Chelsea screams before hurling a wrench she had been holding against the wall near Juggles. Juggles doesn't bark.
I start to scan the area a bit more, "How did we get...wherever we are?" In response to my question, Chelsea proceeds to tell us about how, after the alien started systematically blasting the bikers with its blood boiling beam (that bit of alliteration was my salute to Hatted Harry and Eaten Eddie) Chelsea ran a chain from her motorcycle to my wheelchair. So while me and Kyle slept, we all road off, an alien hunter shot lasers, my dog killed a guy, and a gang of bikers started exploding. It's really a shame that I wasn't awake. It would be neat if I could describe such an adventure in exciting detail. Oh well. What I CAN describe is the substantial amount of pain the is presently returning to my lower body as the painkillers have started to wear off.
"It feels like each of my thighs are volcanoes and they're firing lava into chasm where my ass used to be" was my first attempt to do the pain justice for all the hard work it is putting into making me feel the worst I had ever felt.
"Why did we leave the hospital again? Why didn't we allow the Doctors to remove that tracking device from your back?" Kyle asks.
"Because we went for Donair" I tell him.
"No, we wouldn't just.."
Chelsea bursts in with "What the fuck do you mean a tracking device? Who the fuck is tracking you?"
"I think that's how the alien keeps finding me"
Chelsea moves towards me with a menacing cadence to her walk "are you fucking telling me my crew is dead because that fucking thing is chasing after you?!"
"oh!" I exclaim "I finally pieced it together! Juggles must have been spooked by the alien, that's why it attacked your friend!"
"My fucking crew is fucking dead because of you! You worthless piece of shit pain in the ass!"
"At least you have an ass! All I have is pain where my ass used to be!" I had never spoken like that to a woman. I fear the incredibly high amount of pain coming from my lower region might be effecting my mood. "I fear the pain might effecting my mood" I say directly to Chelsea as she reaches me.
"You got a lot of pain huh? Well I got a cure for ya right here" She says as she storms over to a satchel that's placed by her motorcycle's rear tire. I cannot make out what she is fiddling with, but when she finishes she walks back over to me with a large syringe, filled with something unknown to me (but I assume known by her). "Enjoy this fucker" she says as the needle is jammed into side. The pain of the needle manages to distinguish itself from the rest of the pain I'm experiencing, and I can't help but admire this accomplishment.
It is not long before all the pain disappears. I really have to hand it to Chelsea she really helped me take the raisins off the boat I rented. Thunderblanket is the President I'd elect. Whatever she gave me certainly doesn't DogPope. I know a DogPope, and this was no DogPope.
Chapter 8: The Celestial Hammock is the House of our Life Nap.
My wheelchair has a heartbeat but it is having a hard time deciding what the rhythm is supposed to be. At first it felt sort of like a Salsa beat. It matches very well with the Salsa Boat parked next to me, and the Salsa coat I'm wearing. Soon enough this heartbeat feels more like a pulsing, Industrial Metal tune of some sort. My wheelchairs heart was beating faster and faster. It almost seems like it's angry.
You might wonder how I know it has a heart. I know because it told me. My wheelchair only seems to speak Yiddish, but thankfully a translation eel was biting me at the time. Those things are swimming all over this basement. Almost as many as there are these big balloon scorpions crawling around. The squeaking they make while they waddle around is making me giggle. It sounds like cartoon squirrel farts.
Just then an even bigger balloon creature drops through the roof. It looks like our alien pursuer, but in a lovely rainbow pattern outfit, and made of balloons. Boy, how that alien sure hates Scorpions. He's throwing liquorice at the balloon Scorpions and popping a great many of them. They make even bigger fart sounds as they pop.
I cannot help myself, I'm in hysterics now. Tears of laughter are rolling down my face.
So many it's actually soaking my whole upper body. The translation eel cannot keep a grip and it falls off.
I'm laughing so hard that the tears themselves start laughing too. Tiny little laughs.
WSS WSS WSS
The symphony of laughter and balloon Scorpion farts was joined by the complaints of my wheelchair heart, who was objecting to all the wetness dripping onto him. But I paid no mind to since his complaints are in Yiddish and my translation eel is long gone. The Rainbow Balloon Hunter Alien was leaving square marks wherever a Scorpion had popped.
Just as a gigantic square started to hover over the entire event and recited Gordon Lightfoot lyrics, I can feel the darkness creeping back up on me. It would have been poetically suited, to some degree, if it were reciting "Sundown" but I have to settle with "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." which seems to be the song that most reference these days...or maybe it's just me...and speaking of me...I'm out.
Chapter 9: Apparently Some Rhinos Showed Up.
I came to and looked around at yet another bloodbath. I don't even know if I know what a room NOT soaked in human blood looks like anymore. Kyle, like the room, is soaked. He is staring at the wall.
"How are you doing Kyle?" I asked him.
"I'm fine. Thank you." He says without changing the blank expression on his face, or blinking. I suppose, as long as the blood isn't his, I shouldn't be concerned.
Chelsea is still around. She is wiping blood of a some new stranger. He also wears a biker vest, but it's symbol is red (is this because it is stained in blood? I can't rule out that possibility). He speaks.
"The wheelchair guy is awake" in reference to me. Chelsea brings her fantastically intense gaze to me and starts storming towards me.
"You mother fucker! First my crew gets slaughtered because of you! Now you almost get my Jorge killed?!"
"Is that Jorge?" I ask while pointing the man in the vest. Y'know how Hollywood actors look when they portray bikers in movies? When they grow a bit of stubble and figure that is plenty to add some grit to their normally polished good looks? Jorge has that sort of thing going on. Suspiciously handsome is how I'll describe it.
"They're lovers" Kyle says, not looking at us, and still not blinking.
"Stay the fuck out of this!" Chelsea says, taking a brief break from burning a hole into my soul with her glare.
"Jorge is from a rival gang, The Red Rhinos" Kyle continues.
"Of course!" I think to myself "that makes sense. The Rhinoceros. The natural enemy of the Scorpion."
Apparently a symptom of going nearly catatonic during a bloodbath is relentless exposition, as he continues to tell the story of what occurred. Essentially, The Red Rhinos raided this basement, which is a hideout for Chelsea's Scorpions (that is not their official name, but as the lone surviving member I feel she has earned having her name featured), and while said raid occurred, our alien hunter pal arrived and turned the Red Rhinos into something closer resembling Borscht. Kyle didn't use such flair when telling me this story. He was pretty bare bones with his telling actually. It's a shame I was high on some sort of hallucinogen or else I could have offered all sorts of spectacular details about the story of star-crossed lovers from rival bikers gangs reuniting during a gang war that is invaded by a homicidal alien. Wow, what a story that would have been!
So it seems that in my drug-dream I saw the Red Rhinos as the balloon scorpions and the big square must have been the alien and his deadly laser...thingy...huh...maybe my storytelling skills aren't as colourful as I thought they were. I send a mental apology to Kyle, who doesn't blink.
Juggles barks. Maybe he accidentally received my mental note? Can dogs do that? For that matter, can I even actually send mental notes? I wonder. I also wonder if the Red Rhinos might be a bit miffed that I imagined them as the symbol of their arch-rivals, scorpions? Then again, they're dead so their opinions are not really a factor nor do they have the capacity to have their feelings hurt anymore. Thinking about those balloon scorpions has given me the giggles.
"What the Hell is so funny?" Chelsea asks.
"Balloon farts" I say, with complete sincerity.
"Is he still high?" asks Jorge.
Chelsea puts her hands on my shirt, as if she's about to lift me out of the wheelchair and says "It's all your goddamn fault!"
"Darren was already shot by the alien" says the ever-unblinking Kyle.
"The alien already hit him. That's why he's in that wheelchair. The weapon doesn't always kill. It causes body parts to explode and blood to boil..."
"My ass went instead of my head, like Ryan's" I add.
"What about Ryan?" asks Chelsea, in an almost whisper.
"The alien shot him and his head exploded at Kyle's place"
"Ryan is dead?"
"Well I didn't check for a pulse but I would says so, yeah"
Chelsea lets go of my shirt. She is quiet. She walks away from all of us humans and towards Juggles. She pets him on the head. I get she has forgiven him for ripping through tthe throat of her gang buddy as a reflex to being startled by an alien. Some Red Rhino blood gets onto her hand. Juggles doesn't seem to mind either way.
"Ryan's my brother" she says.
I ponder this for a second then ask, "You mean...Ryan's last name was Thunderblanket?"
"He was the reason I joined. He was supposed to protect me. Ryan was high up. I thought he was a lifer"
This would explain the tattoo, I thought.
"Ryan split...he fucking left me there. Stuck. Y'know what its like being a woman in a fucking crew like that?! I had to draw focus to vengeance...the scorpions needed him gone cuz he left. At least, I made sure they thought that. I had to get him. You can't leave your family...I...had to..." Jorge comes over to console Chelsea, who is losing a small bit of her tough demeanour.
"You're free from them baby. He's gone"
"That's very true" I add "they're all gone actually. So there isn't even really a gang to be a part of persay. Come to think of it, same goes for the both of you!"
I could almost feel the power of their growing bond. What I can definitively feel is moisture rising past my ankles. Now it's almost at my knees. Juggles doesn't bark, he likes the water. Kyle still won't blink as the water reaches his waist.
Just then a stranger burst in through the basement doors and screams at us "It is the end of days! The great flood is coming! It is the end times!" It does appear that the area is flooding. The water levels are rising and I can hear massive rainfall out side.
"What in the Hell are we supposed to do? What the Hell is all this?!" Chelsea yells.
"I am your saviour! I have a canoe!"
Chapter 10: Don't Worry, it doesn't get all Biblical.
Sure enough, the stranger has a canoe. We all board said canoe and begin to ride down the street that has now become a Venician-esque canal. The rain is still pounding down but it does not touch us. There seems to be some sort of invisible ceiling above us. I recognize the way the water is being deflected from the time I first saw the (then invisible) alien hunter at the bay of the grocery store where I work. A couple of blocks East of us there is an opening allowing the rain to flow in, creating a current that leads our canoe Westward up the street. As our lone option, we sail West in our snazzy invisible water tube. Said tube does not go down this one street, but winds down several in a path leading us to some destination we have yet to discover.
It is morning, meaning we have lost another day since Ryan's head explosion. My first indication of this is the bright morning light. My second indicator comes as the flood stream leads us along my street and I see my neighbour standing on his front porch with his morning coffee in hand. Holy Shit! What a great advertisement this would be! Even when facing some sort of apocalypse, Dave Winfield still takes the time to enjoy his Fair Trade Coffee. Hot damn, what a commercial that would be!
I wave at my neighbour. He raises his mug and waves with his other hand. I like my neighbour. He is a friendly guy. I really would love to chat about that coffee some more but it's proving to be really tricky what with there being an invisible force field between us, as well as this great flood carrying me away. C'est la vie, I suppose.
As we travel along Juggles starts barking. Initially I'm concerned that this means the alien is nearby but nope, just a Moose he sees through the invisible wall. It is withstanding the high waters just fine, with hits stilt-like legs.
The invisible tube seems to be retracing the steps we took and is taking us right back to Kyle's place. I didn't really take note of how fast the flood water is streaming until I noticed how quickly we were approaching Kyle's front door.
"We can't stop, aim for the window!" shouts Jorge. There is police tape all over the property, at least whatever the flood waters have not swept away. I guess this will mean that Ryan's body was taken away and the police are likely searching for me, Kyle and Xander, assuming he was able to run away before they arrived.
I can't exactly tell if it was any form of "aiming" or just pure luck, but the canoe does crash through Kyle's front window instead of into the wall or door. The impact vaults us out of the canoe and onto the moist floor. As we get our bearings I can already see that in the sunroom, Ryan's body has not been removed. I sense this could be a chance to earn some brownie points with the outlaws Chelsea and Jorge.
"Pfffft, typical lazy cops. Can't even haul a corpse out of here, am I right?" I say to them with a showy smirk.
"That's...Ryan? That's my brother?" Chelsea says, staring at the headless cadaver. Jorge embraces Chelsea. While they stare I notice that there are a few other headless cadavers in the adjoining rooms, all of whom are wearing police uniforms.
"Ah. So maybe they weren't lazy after all" I say and then try to get Kyle's attention "Hey Kyle, looks like the alien killed a bunch of cops in your house."
"Peachy" Kyle says in very steady voice.
"I guess the alien isn't around though. Juggles is calm. Hey, the bathroom door is closed. I wonder..." I started to wonder if Xander was found in there. I go to inspect it. Every time I step on the carpet water squishes up. If he had hardwood floors or even some linoleum this wouldn't be an issue. Then again the warping caused by this severe amount of water would be pretty bad with wood floors. I'm sure Kyle would have insurance to cover such a thing though. Or would he? Do they offer flood insurance in our area? I have a few curiosities to settle. The first of which is now proving tricky as the bathroom door seems to be locked, or jammed. Then something else dawns on me.
"I don't have an ass" I tell everyone "I probably shouldn't be walking around like this. Oh, and Xander might still be in here."
Chelsea breaks from her silent staring and storms over to the door "I've got this shit" she states the second before she kicks the bathroom door down. Sure enough, there was Xander. Dead. Jorge comes over to examine him.
"Dios Mio! He's so gaunt. This is where he hid when the alien attacked you?"
"It's almost like he starved. But...it's only been a couple days."
"Yknow" I say as I start to ponder out loud "Xander was talking about some diet he's been on. He hadn't been eating much at all. So maybe that gave his starvation a head start? Good grief! I just realized we didn't have any breakfast!"
"It doesn't matter" Chelsea states, anger showing in her tone "everyone here is dead. Everyone who comes near this fucker dies" she looks at me while making that last statement. "It's only a matter of time before we get taken out too!" Now her entire body is facing me. And right then, we are all bathed in an incredibly bright light.
Chapter Eleven: We are all taken out...of Kyle's place.
I could tell we were no longer in Kyle's place because the place we are currently in had no flood water, no sunroom and a lot of hovering robots that were shooting globs of neon, glowing slime onto random parts of the grey-steel coloured walls. After the globs connect, they continue to move. They start as a perfect oval then start to bubble and shiver with small cones and spikes protruding from them in a random fashion.
The entire group has been transported somewhere else, including Juggles. Juggles starts to bark. The stranger who provided the canoe steps away from the group and starts to turn in circles and spread his arms out as his widened eyes take in the new surrounding.
"This is it! Our reckoning!" he says, spinning to the point that I was getting some vicarious dizziness. "We have been chosen! We have been granted absolution and shall be risen to-" the spinning and speech suddenly stop as a familiar, circular design appears on his chest. "The mark...I have been cho-AAARGH!" it was a that point of the stranger's scream that his ass exploded.
"Huh, so now I'm not the only one" I say.
The stranger, minus his ass, crumples forward to the ground. Then, about two feet from his head, which is currently emitting a hodgepodge of groans and whimpers, a small staff imbeds into the ground. Along with the stranger's expressions of pain, I can also hear an almost wet-sounding growl, which made me wonder if the stranger's ass had become sentient because this certainly sounds the type of voice a recently exploded ass would have. Suddenly, the top of the staff starts to shine and the wet-growl turns into a voice.
"Chosen?" a deep voice asks "I have never encountered such pretentious prey. You all think you're so special"
I have yet to spot where the voice was coming from. Then another voice, a higher pitched but much more aggressive one, starts yelling "Fuck off!" repeatedly. I scan my group and nobody's mouths are moving.
"I suppose whatever gives you satisfying pangs of solace before you perish" says the deeper, disembodied voice.
"Fuck off!" replies the other.
About 30 feet from us a shimmer occurs, as an area by the wall starts to shift just the same as when I had previously seen when the alien hunter came out of his invisible cloaking. So it comes as no surprise that the alien hunter then appeared right where the image bending had been occurring.
It speaks in its deep tone "I suppose you all feel incredibly special now that you're on my ship."
Chelsea chimes in "Well you did fucking bring us here. Are you just going to kill us?"
Jorge adds "And how the fuck can we understand you?"
"Fuck off!" yells the unknown voice.
"The universal translator is handling that" the alien says as it gestures at the rod imbedded in the floor "It is able to translate any and all species' intended communications, and make them comprehensible to all in its proximity. Oh, and some of you will be killed, yes. I'm at the last phase of my experiments."
"Translate THIS you piece of shit!" Chelsea yells as she gives the alien the middle-finger.
A new voice chimes in from the translator "Hey you! Look at this finger!"
Jorge yells "What experiments?! You've just been killing people! You killed my crew!"
"Fuck off!" adds the unknown voice.
"It was more than just that. Your planet has served as a living lab for my molecular manipulations. The killing was the occasional symptom of me injecting nano bots into your species' blood streams. They would test the boiling temperature of human blood-"
"Is it the same as water?" I ask but am ignored.
"Fuck off!" says the voice, possibly in an attempt to also get the alien's attention.
"And once done, they required an escape route through the nearest extremity, be it hands, head..."
"Or the ass" I interject.
"Or yes, the rectum."
"Fuck off!" adds the unknown voice.
"I suppose there was some sense of sport to the chase"
"We aren't sport you fuck!" snarls Jorge.
"I assure you, sport is a step up from lab experiment, so take it as a compliment."
They kept using the word "sport" and it was hitting my ears weird. I kept wanting to hear them say "sports." It was kind of bugging me.
"What about feeding that big fucking pet of yours? Was that an experiment?! Was that sport?!" yells Jorge.
"Neither really. But as you had said, that is my pet, and therefore my responsibility to feed and care for it. Simple as that." The alien left the argument and went back to his exposition "Creating the floods by engineering your weather, that was just amateur stuff I felt like utilizing in an effort to create a speedy vessel to bring you to the extraction point. I tried to bring you all here by converting some of your species into drones using nano bots on their brain cells but they were proving less than effective"
"Oh, like the other assless fellow" I said then look over to the man who provided the canoe while also thinking about the stranger who was inside my home before. The assless fellow isn't moving at all. "Huh, he might have lost too much blood...how much blood is in an ass? How much blood did my ass have?"
"Now I just need one of you to continue my experiments back on my home world. It really doesn't matter who, so I'll just take the one nearest to my drones."
Right then the flying robots I saw firing globs onto the walls earlier latch onto Kyle's wrists.
"What the Hell?" he says, as they quickly raise him into the air and hurry him over to a pod of some sort. It seals itself the very second he is inside. Before anyone can say or do anything, the pod disappears, and Kyle with it.
The alien starts pressing buttons on a remote it has pulled from its belt "I'll be retrieving him from the space port right away. Clearing him through customs will require a bit of paperwork so I don't want waste more time here. But before I leave, I'll deal with you lot"
"Fuck off! Fuck off! Fuck off!" yelled the voice. Just now I noticed Juggles' mouth is moving but I don't hear any barking.
"Are you going to be shooting us up with that circular laser? Or will you be using the square one this time?" I ask, genuinely curious.
The alien looks over at me "What square laser?"
Right then the square targeting beam used during the gang war appears on the alien's chest. It looks down in time to see it's own chest explode. It crumples dead as a completely new alien (well, "new" to my eyeballs) comes out of its own invisibility cloak.
"Huh" I say "I guess that guy was getting hunted by an alien too."
This new alien is bulkier than the now deceased one, and the horns on the helmet it wears suggest to me that it is a new species all together. As I examine it, the alpha alien (as I've just now decided to call it) pulls out a device that resembles a hand grenade and flicks a switch on its top. There is an overwhelming blast of light. When I'm able to see something other than blinding white, I see my neighbour's front porch. Amidst this light I lost all sense of direction and time but if I were to measure the time it took us to be transported back to terra firma, I would say it was 'immediate.'
"That thing took your friend" said Chelsea.
"Kyle? Don't worry, he loves technology and stuff. That'll probably be like space camp for him."
"That alien is dead I guess" Jorge says " But who the fuck was that other one?"
Right then I noticed my neighbour was still on his front porch.
"Hey, that didn't take long at all. Dave Winfield still has coffee."
I'm sitting in my living room drinking a fresh cup of the Fair Trade coffee that Dave Winfield recommended to me. It is just as good as I had hoped. Juggles is playing with a stick of some sort. He brings it over to me and drops it, likely expecting me to play fetch. I then noticed that one end of the stick was lit-up. It was the universal translator. Juggles must have taken it from the alien's ship. Juggles' slobber had gotten into one of the buttons. I try to clean it out and it starts to hum. I toss it away, fearing it might shoot out more of those ass-erupting alien lasers (jeepers, what a cool phrase that is). Instead of that, it projects a hologram with some text on it. I examine it and it appears to be a letter from Kyle. He explains, in the letter, that due to the alien hunter/experimenter not following him to the spaceport, the locals there assumed he was not just unclaimed luggage, but an important visitor from Earth, the first to ever do so at that port. The letter goes on to detail how he has since become an interplanetary diplomat and is living quite handsomely with all of the privileges that being Earth's representative in another galaxy can bring.
"Well good for him" I say out loud to no one in particular. Juggles barks in response regardless. After he does, the translator kicks in.
"I am Juggles. No moose are present. All is well."