On the surface of the desolate little rock that barely passed for an island her voice was an annoying whisper, a frantic little mosquito. She sounded so alone and scared, I couldn't help but stay tuned in. I guess I thought I owed it to her. Even though I know she couldn't hear me, I found myself talking to her after awhile.

It didn't take too long to set up camp. After the capital city massacre I didn't have too much gear left. But I unloaded the skimmer and tied it off to the rusted out dock as best I could. I knew a storm could rip it loose, but I wasn't really planning on staying very long. Back in those days there were still a lot of fanatics, wacko "loyalists" still clutching the emperor's dead, irradiated hand like it was the only thing left in the world. Maybe it was.

So I tried to stay moving. I was a high profile target, after all. When I heard the stories coming out of the north about General Aeneas' men, I thought it was best to stay real low on the radar. Those poor bastards didn't do anything wrong, they were just following orders. And the man lead them into a loyalist meat grinder.

Haaj was a cruel bastard, but he still had one of the best pocket books in the free world. If loyalty to the crown didn't grease the mouths of peasants, hard gold sure as hell did.

I was alone. The last of my men laid down weeks before. They paid the worst cost. They didn't even make it a mile out of the capital. That kind of hard radiation would cook an egg in under a minute. I really shudder to think of what they felt when they cracked open their shelter, so meticulously built over the years only to take a deep lung full of scorching Uranium 259.

They had survived a direct and focused nuclear strike. Not the dirty bomb bullshit those mud folk along the coast like to play with. But hard, unadulterated superpower shit. I could see them drop from the skimmer.

Tasris even managed to radio me from the beach. Through the periscope I could see she was torched. She said goodbye and told me to get the hell out of dodge. Pity the bomb played tricks with circuits. The poor girl couldn't even off herself, she just laid down in the surf and bled out.

The annoying little mosquito talked about that, the capital city disaster while I set up shop in one of the abandoned barracks. She was certainly well informed for a woman sealed beneath a quarter mile of granite.

At first I never intended to help her. I didn't think the begging would have much of an affect on me. In my years I'd heard it all, some bitch who found herself in the land of the lost didn't really fit on my list of folk to meet.

But I kept the radio on anyway. She was with me for days while I tore the surface compound apart, looking for supplies. She even sounded nervous when I found a couple of the "locals" and put them out of their misery with the last couple of shots left in my gunblade.

For the epicenter for the virus, they went down pretty easy. Still as hungry and dim witted as ever, I couldn't tell if they were the Haz-Mat techs abandoned here, or the original poor sods who were just dumped here from the mainland.

Curious, though. I didn't find any munitions. No power cells, shells or scraps of rod-fuel. Most of the food was gone, too. I don't know if those scrawny, flesh hungry bastards knew how to work a can opener or what, but the place was picked dry.

But she was always there for me. She'd explain her day, how she went about watering her crops, replacing light bulbs and purging her CO2 filters. She didn't sleep much, saying she was too old to waste much time on it.

So, one day I just up and decided to do it. I broke out my headlamp, grabbed my radio and crammed my rucksack with whatever food I could and that was it. I climbed into what was left of the access tunnels to the compound below and I set off.

She said she was waiting. I didn't realize how serious she was.

Altima seemed like such a beautiful name when I thought it belonged to someone human. Now, not so much.

The sun has fallen once again, the night has returned. Like a flash she woke up the moment the sun went down, and now she's looking out the window, her little face pressed against the glass. Her eyes dart back and forth as she looks at the city below, then she looks over her shoulder at me, her eyes tell me all I need to know.

She's hungry and she wants to feed.

I tried to dress her but she was restless, she shifted and squirmed in an attempt to get to the door; she really must have been hungry. But I made her know that if she was bad I wouldn't feed her, and she complied with what I needed to do. The moment she was dressed, though, she was at the door, almost scratching at it; she must have been starving at that point.

People looked at us as we made our way through the building, from my place on the 20th floor to outside, wondering why I would dress her in such a way, but they didn't matter; she was hungry and my little darling just couldn't be starved any longer. I considered maybe letting her feed then and there, but then that would just complicate things.

We wandered the city, still so alive after the sun fell below the horizon. She stayed close to me, even though she was always curious about the world around her; I made sure of that the last time when she was almost hit by a car. Her cute little eyes seemed to see through the darkness around her, her nose twitched as though she smelled something. Perhaps she did; I never really could figure out how she exactly found what she wanted to eat.

She tugged at my hand as she began to move as quickly as she could with me in tow, I could tell she found something tasty to eat. We went on for almost five minutes before we found the prey, sitting in a park. She licked her lips in anticipation, her eyes seeing through the darkness born of a blown out light; even if there was anybody there they wouldn't see.

She looked at me with those eyes and I nodded, telling her it was alright. I released her from my grasp and she went to feed on her prey, but I couldn't watch; I never could stomach the way she ate. I turned away and even plugged my ears with my fingers, the sounds were just as bad as the sight. I could still hear some of it though, the sounds of pleasure and squealing as she fed in her unique way. I could almost feel the screams on the back of my eyes...

And then, it was over. My cute little pet came up to me when it was over, nudging her face against my back in a way to tell me she was done. I turned and removed my fingers, and she looked up at me, those eyes staring into my soul; she was full of life and vigor again, that much was certain.

"Master... let's go home."

She said softly with a smile as she took my hand and I nodded. We walked off into the night again, and I knew that by tomorrow morning there would be a small blurb on the news about how another body was found, killed in the same way as all the others. They would say that it was a serial killer, or some kind of disease, or something else altogether different, but I didn't care; they would never link it to my sweet little pet.

But still, it was hard for me to accept the death of my fellow man... but then, I guess this is just something I'll learn to live with. After all, my sweet little pet will likely outlive me... and now I can't see my life without her.

I don't think I could live without my sweet little pet succubus.

Your beautiful features had rotted away long before I realized that I had lost you.

The trail was hard and brutal, no one had maintained it for quite a number of years. The gravel, laid down two decades prior had slipped and rolled downhill. It made the hike pretty grueling. Before long I was sweating through my cheap cotton shirt and yuppie shorts. When I tried to whine and complain you just smiled at me, waved down from an impossible distance ahead and barked some words of encouragement.

I loved that about you. You knew I was always the natural pessimist and chronic whiner. But you put up with me, even as you laid there gargling on your own blood.

Civilization was far removed. You were always the adventurer. Your sense of direction was uncanny, even after I forgot to pack a map in compass in my infinite wisdom. You simply shrugged off my intellectual negligence and said you could find a route if you needed one. It was a state park, after all. Most of the trails were pretty well groomed.

You were like some wild cat. You had reflexes that'd put even my Halo trained trigger finger to shame. So why was it you I found yourself suddenly floating, tumbling into me like some bloody boulder?

You joked about how you'd find a thinner man. You never meant it seriously. Sometimes my mother would ask why I put up with it. I'd always just shrug it off. I knew you were never serious. You knew it. That's all that mattered. We could always see past the faux cruel facade to the truth, even when we thought we meant things in the heat of a shouting match.

So why was it you didn't see the root snaking under the steeply inclined trail, or the loose patch of gravel?

When I woke up last week the world had been dead for nearly thirty years. Every microbe, every single celled plant and every Africanized honey bee. I'm not sure how I know. Even if I still had the faculties to count every sunrise and sunset, I couldn't have possibly done so face down and frozen solid in a puddle of mud. I just know. It's somewhere in my bones.

Every day I can feel the clock running. It tells me how long I've been the way I am and how long I have until I fall apart. It's the same clock that tells me it's time to eat. But when I look around, I only see the snow covered wreckage that used to be Winnipeg. There's nothing to eat. Not a blade of grass or a single puppy.

I groan and look anyway. Sometimes I pass people who used to be like me. Most of the time they're alone. Sometimes they're in groups of five or ten, huddled in ruined apartment buildings or malls. They look really old. Most of the clothing they wore when they were alive has been weathered to shreds. I don't think there's been anything to eat away at their dead flesh for awhile. When I try some of it it tastes bad. Like freezer burned bananas.

None of them move. They're all bloated with what used to be animals and plants.

I don't know why I'm the last one still around. Maybe I was the last one to die. I don't remember it, but I'm missing most of my throat and blood stains whatever mud doesn't. Maybe when the winters got real cold I got lucky and froze like a side of beef. I can still feel the ice in my belly, all sharp and prickly. But as I shuffle around it dissolves into slush.

When I close my eyes sometimes I can think. Sometimes I can catch glimpses of those who died before my awakening. But it's foggy and distorted. There hasn't been anything dead and moving for ten years.

So I pick an arbitrary location and move. I can't go very fast, but that hardly matters. As the clock ticks down I begin to feel stiff again. There's more snow. It's colder here.

Eventually I fall face forward. I don't close my eyes. They freeze wide open.

I spend the next six thousand years staring at a rock. It's not very interesting.

  1. Barry had no idea quite yet that his life, as full of snack food flavored joy and Star Trek reruns as it was, was just about over. While it's true that the middle aged, over weight desk jockey didn't exactly take care of himself or his (sometimes severe) health issues it's a strange twist of fate that it'd nearly save him from being eviscerated by his best mate's mentally deranged brother in law. Almost.

    It started strangely enough with a visit to the comic book store.

  2. I was dead by the time they found me nearly sixty eight years too late. My body wasn't so much decomposed as it was evaporated. Sure, the parched Sahara air did it's fair share of preservation. But the real thing that kept me from falling apart, would you believe it, my flight suit.

    It was made of this real neat material, all shiny patches and mission buttons. This pencil necked flight tech once told me that it was probably smarter than I was. He chuckled at me like Fat Albert.

    I didn't exactly have a Ph.D in quantum theory, but I see a shot at me when I see one.

    It was kind of ironic that when they cracked the seal on the landing module I sank my teeth into the poor bastard's grandson. He tasted like astroglide and chips.

  3. Todd wasn't exactly my friend. He wasn't exactly anyone's friend.

    They say that you always have to worry about the quiet one. You know, the guy who sulks in the corner all the time reading and listening to death metal. The one you never see with anyone else at the campus hang outs, always by himself hiding behind his coke bottle glasses and smug sense of self satisfaction.

    I never really gave the guy much thought. Even after the shootings at NYU and MIT, I never really thought anyone capable of, you know, just fucking tweaking out.

    How wrong I was.

    Todd was there. He took a bullet in the spine for me. I want to say that he did it out of the kindness of his heart. But I'm sure he hated me. I think he did it to prove everyone's misconceptions wrong.

    I could have sworn as the life drained from his cross eyed face I could make out a smirk and an "I told you so." on his lips. And I hate him for that.


  4. A lot of innocent people were affected by the writer's strike. The big fight was between the worms at the top rolling in their dough and the twerps who pound on keyboards all day. It's natural to cheer for the underdog.

    But there were hair dressers who couldn't work. No actresses or actors to doll up for sitcoms. And there were cameramen. Nothing to shoot. And there were the folk in wardrobe. No one to dress up all pretty.

    But who gives a shit about them?

    What about the fucking dog washers, man. What about them?

  5. I miss Pauline Redeker. Even now I think about her a lot. How was her life after we left one another in that shower of sparks that barely passed for a relationship? Did she ever remarry that asshole broker she was so in love with? The one with the blue BMW and single testicle?

    I hope she did.

    I found out last week that the bastard died of AIDs.

Trolls III

The Search for the Middle Man
Mr. Well for all of his good deeds, charity work and over zealous attitude toward the approaching apocalypse was far from a good man. So as it was when Laura needed him the most he was huddled in his personal shelter, playing with his wooden trains and figurines. The door to his vault was sixteen inches of solid steel and smart plastic and hid quite cleverly. Even if he wanted to hear her screaming bloody murder he would be unable to respond.

Laura not knowing his whereabouts continued to scream as the rotting tank which introduced itself of Seven Legs feasted upon their twitching child. She hardly paid attention to the shadowy men who were even now tearing apart their suburban home, searching for her husband in absolute vain. Unable to answer their questions in a non hysterical manner, she simply beat against the hide of the Troll.

The Mechanical Man wheezed, his lungs in need of replacing.

"He's not here."

The Blue Haired Man crushed an ancient and priceless vase beneath his enormous foot. He was clearly agitated.

"I can see that we've been fed inaccurate information. Tell me, Kyle. Why is it your prisoners are always so willing to volunteer their secrets, however flawed they might be. While my prisoners occasionally hold out for days and spill their guts only at the last second?"

Kyle's leg joints hissed as he carried himself over the broken heap of a body guard. He sharply pinned the corpse with a long, multiple jointed leg. It took a moment, but the body guard began to stir.

"Because my prisoners don't literally have their guts spilled."

He replied as the freshly reanimated slave began to drag himself toward Seven Leg's general direction.

"Then maybe, my friend, it is about time that you make a couple of policy changes in regards to who you interrogate and who you execute."

Kyle The Mechanical Man narrowed his eyes and sized up his mentor. He could have argued his point six months prior, when he was whole of body. But now he had certain disadvantages. He coughed and whispered in a bitterly digitized voice.

"Yes. Sir.

And Sain?"

The Blue Haired Man rummaged through some business papers. Mostly ordering invoices for cattle feed.

"Let Rodney deal with him. They always had an interesting relationship. It'd be interesting to see what his imagination can come up with."

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