I didn’t know the woman. Her history was unknown to me. I didn’t know why she bleached her hair. I didn’t know where the scar on her side just below her ribs came from. I didn’t know if she had a boyfriend or a lover or a kid. Never met her parents. So when I say that I tore her lungs out her ass, I would like you to know there was absolutely nothing personal in it for me other than joy and exhilaration. Maybe some gooey feelings in the lower regions from the sound of her various wet parts hitting the vinyl floor. No, no, not those wet parts. The other wet parts. The ones that had functions you never learned in school because you were too busy thinking of the first set of wet parts you were just thinking about. And as I sat down in that bloody diner, with handprints smeared over the windows and the chef face-down in his own fryer, I realized it just wasn’t enough.
A man hungers, you see. I hungered. I wanted to feel better, and I did at first. When I walked in and jammed that ball of spikes into the mouth of the waitress, then punched her mouth closed, it felt good. The world had to acknowledge my discontent, as it always does. I used my own two hands to leave my mark on the place. No armor between me and my entertainment.
Now, I felt some regret at my actions. I wish I had a joke for when I did that to the woman. “Did somebody spike the punch?” or something like that. Or with this last one I killed, I could have said, “We all have secrets, but it’s time to spill your guts.”
But I hadn’t said anything. Didn’t even laugh. Maybe that was the problem. I’ve been telling y’all out there that communication is important. Maybe that’s what I needed, to communicate with someone.
So…yeah…Carl. Kinda harsh thing to find out.
After I pulled that hardware off my dong the other day and got rid of the malware attempting to have its way with me, I figured I owed Carl more than a cuss word directed at the sky. I resolved to drop an F-bomb in Empyreal City in his honor as soon as this was all done. I realized that wouldn’t be a bad thing to drop on a good Hephaestus target either.
Fucking hell, you know how much fucking work it is to build a fucking F-bomb capable of fucking up a fucking city when I had nothing to fucking do with my time? For fuck’s sake, it’d be a fucking nightmare if I had fuck-all to build one with, like fucking nowadays. Not that you give a fuck, but if my life depending on it, I’d be fucked. Hephaestus shouldn’t have fucked up, though.
Oh, and don’t worry about the virus stuff either. On top of my top of the line protection against it, it had some compatibility errors. It was supposed to track anyone accessing the server. It wound up handy later on.
I tried to find his kids, or even his ex-wife. The CIA has been doing all sorts of spying, but they’re also the victims of casting too wide a net. Far more information out there than there are people to look at it unless you have someone special in mind. So they may have access to every email you’ve ever sent, but they might be too busy to actually read the stuff. And that’s why, right now, someone has been getting away with fucking poodles. And telling all his friends via email.
Don’t worry. It wasn’t me. This time. Anyone with poodles might want to tell them to stop yappin’ and crappin’ right about now, though.
Anyway, I didn’t have the CIA’s resources on this. I had certain tricks to link data together and find people, but trust me when I say it’s hard to find a certain pair of kids online. See? The pedophiles know what I’m talking about.
It meant I couldn’t inform Carl’s family, or do anything stupid like toss money at them. Liquidated, the file said. They could have meant all sorts of things. Fired. Shipped overseas. Shot out of a cannon. Anally raped, had his memories erased, and dumped in an alley somewhere. The possibilities were endless. Unfortunately, the most likely definition was simply killed. And, despite there being no good reason I should feel this way, I was bummed out over Carl’s death. That quite naturally led to me slaughtering a diner’s worth of people.
On top of that, Pivot called while I was at the diner. I knew she wanted to gloat, but of course I answered. I never needed my helmet to take calls, after all. I hit that call bareback. No protection for my head. Well, the usual protections. This time, the various potential target locations were all set up to lead back to another place. They were also receiving reports from what they thought was their virus showing them I was in that spot.
I went for a cheesy televangelist voice.
“Good eveninnguh! Welcome-uh! To the Brother Bishop Weekly Charity Countdown for Christ! Have you made your donation for the good of the Lord’s church on earth? Would you like a little payback from the King of Kings?”
“You never struck me as a religious man, Gecko.” Oh Pivot. If only you knew. I haven’t had a chance to strike you at all yet. I hear it’s a religious experience in that it gets people to their preferred afterlife quickly.
“And you never struck me as one to gloat when your precious booty is in the hands of so many law enforcement agencies it won’t see the light of day for a decade-uh! As the good book says in 1 Samuel 17: ‘And these are the golden hemorrhoids which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering unto the Lord’! Can I get an amen?”
“You should know how this works. We’ll get it all back. It’s just a matter of writing big enough checks. This is just a minor setback. I was impressed to hear you managed it all without putting in a public appearance. You even took two of our pawns out of the match. Tell me, where is this temper tantrum leading you next?”
“Jeremiah 19:9 says ‘And I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters. And all shall eat the flesh of their neighbors in the siege, and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life afflict them.’ I shake down Hephaestus vigorously like I’m holding the donation plate and feeling the spirit of the Lord babble made up words through me!”
“God you’re strange. It’s going to be entertaining to taunt you with how badly you fail even when you succeed, I’ll give you that.”
“I’ve been wondering if you’ve settled on a name for that cast of baby corpses you assembled called a supervillain team. To quote Psalm 137:9: ‘Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock.’”
“You should feel good that you’ve gotten a head start on religion now that we’ve recruited. The Annihilation Eight will help you to hell soon enough.”
“You’ll find I have been blessed with an ingenious mind, a homicidal temperament, and an amazing amount of personal slipperiness, much like in Mark 14:51, ‘A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him. But he pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked.’ Also, you’ll have to change the name. By the latest count, it’s the Annihilation Six. Once the bodies start piling up and the asses start getting violated, you’ll find that some prefer life and dignity to money.”
“Some men prefer stupid dance jams to money, but that doesn’t make them irreplaceable. And…,” Pivot trailed off.
Off in another part of Newark, there was an explosion.
“…Gotcha,” Pivot finished. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
“Shame on you, Pivot. Shame! SHAME! Your aim was bad and you should feel bad!”
I heard a distant “Dammit!” and the sound of a phone receiver being tossed through something made of glass. Possibly a TV, judging by the sound. I’ve been part of a lot of annoying conversations in the past.
“Much as I enjoy our conversations, my favorite part has to be when you try to find me and then blow up where I made you think I was instead.”
“Just another minor setback Gecko, as always.”
“What’d you hit this time? The hospital? Orphanage? Local porn store?”
“No, this time we went deeper.”
“Oh, you certainly dug yourself in deeper then. Just how much of your equipment was in that evidence room after all?”
“The evidence room of that police station. Right where your computers told you I would be. If you can get your stuff back from that then I will truly be surprised by the size of your check. Tell me, baby, you got a long line of rock hard zeroes waiting to blow my mind?”
“Even if I have to wear you down bit by bit, I’m going to come out on top of this.”
“That’s what she said.” I snickered.
“Stop that, this is serious! You don’t say ‘That’s what she said’ to a threatening supervillian!”
“Because it’s childish.”
“I know you are but what am I?”
She hung up. I think she liked me better when I was trying to sound like a preacher. At least there was an upside to the conversation.
Well, it was about time to leave that diner. The cops were pulling up and besides, I owed it to Carl to get off my ass and go wreck Hephaestus even more for all this.
When I stumbled out of the diner, covered in blood, the police told me to put my hands in the air. When I did, that’s when they could all see the blood flowing out of my mouth.
“Jesus!” I heard someone say.
Eyes wide, I kept pointing back inside urgently. Then, with a cough, I spat up my severed tongue. Not mine as in the one still attached in my mouth. It was mine in the sense that I took it off a guy and claimed it as my property. Also, I figured it would make hot fanservice for y’all if I had another guy’s tongue in my mouth. Did it work?
The officers stopped suspecting me and one of them guided me over to a pair of paramedics waiting by an ambulance. Thirty minutes later, I pulled up to the Skid Mark Trailer Park with a shiny new ambulance. I threw open the door, standing there with my bloody face and clothes, a few bits of gore still stuck to me. Sam and Holly were watching the news coming live from the diner.
They took one look at me, then Holly called out toward the bathroom, “You were right, he did it! I owe you five bucks, Max.”
It was a good precedent. It was time to stop betting on if I survive and start betting on how badly I made sure other people didn’t.