Worst. Road trip. Ever.
That thought came up a lot. This Blackstone guy and I just don’t mesh. Blackstone had a car with a working heater in this timeline, which did a lot to alleviate the weather problem, but I intended to get better clothing first thing. There was a little town near this asylum he had been concerned about. Apparently Blackstone had a reservation at a little one-story motel where nobody seemed to care if someone walked around with an unknown woman inadequately dressed for the weather.
He went in to check on the room and took the keys with him. I stole his car anyway. Have I mentioned I love how computerized cars have become? And those nice little ATMs? Feels like forever since I was sweet talking all the green out of a machine. Nice to know I have a fallback option as a prostitute to robots if we get back and Skynet’s taken over or something.
By then, the clothing store, located right next to a hardware store, was closed.
I walked up to the hardware store, cut the door’s handle and lock off, and pushed it open. I didn’t have to go far to find anything usable or to set the alarm off. I tossed a pickaxe through the display window and stepped out after it, glad I wore shoes with a decent sole on them back when I was tree decorating. It seemed smart with all those pointy, easily-broken decorations laying around on the floor.
Whistling a tune I’d had stuck in my head (Blue Monday, if anyone’s interested), I picked up the pickaxe and walked over to the door of the clothing store. What do you do when a store’s closed and won’t take your money? Open it and don’t leave money, that’s what. Plus, since I busted the windows to get in and out, I didn’t have fingerprints. It’s like the perfect crime.
You know, until the cops showed up to figure out what was happening with the alarms and broken glass. A couple cruisers showed up. Nice to see they’re getting modern cars out here in the boonies. I wonder if the police out here have nice life insurance policies. So the question is, do I meet my dates outside, or do I let them come in and make ’em late?
The answer would elude me a little while longer. When I checked through a window, the cops who got out were standing around with their eyes closed. I walked out, spinning the pick axe around in my upper arms. The lower arms were hidden from view inside my long coat. Still humming to myself, I walked right up to the one who had his gun out. “I just can’t get this beat out of my head. I wonder if I can get the beat out of yours?” I practically spit the second “beat” as I raised the pickaxe’s pointy end over my head. It didn’t come budge when I tried to bring it down. I looked up. The head glowed faint purple. I looked around. Blackstone stood over by his car, hand raised and glowing the same faint blue as the pickaxe head.
I sighed and took my hands off it. “Fine, I won’t kill them.”
The pickaxe flew into his hand. “Haven’t you killed enough?”
“Nope,” I said, walking over. “Gotta do something, though. I can erase the footage, but erasing their brain’s a different matter entirely.”
Blackstone gritted his teeth and turned to the car. He recited something low enough I couldn’t hear it while I helped myself to some free money I found laying around unclaimed in the cops’ wallets. When I turned back to the rented car, it had gone from silver to red. “Festive, yet subtle. We better hope they didn’t see the license plate.”
He turned and a bolt of purple came right at me.
I woke up in bed the next morning, fully dressed, no Blackstone in sight, at the inhuman hour of 6 AM, unless the clock radio on the nightstand was a broken as it was old. A knock came at the door as soon as the clock turned to 6:01.
“Go to hell!” I shouted, and rolled over. The door opened, so I turned back to see Blackstone there holding coffee.
“Wake up! The day’s wasting,” he said, far too cheerfully for someone awake, showered, and dressed at 6 AM.
“Go masturbate with a hacksaw,” I said.
“You should be ready go to after that sleeping spell,” he said.
I sat up and threw a pillow at him. He dodged it. “Don’t ever cast some spell to knock me out like that ever again.”
He sighed and raised his hand. I woke up in the car this time. I shook my head and turned to Blackstone. He raised his hand. I reached up to pull down the sun visor above the seat and played like I was checking myself over in the mirror. “I’m hungry and I need to pee.”
“Are we going to have any more problems?” he asked.
“Also, I need a shower. You didn’t let me shower. You didn’t, right?” I asked, looking down at myself for wet spots.
“No, I didn’t,” he said. Just when he seemed ready to relax, I pulled the visor off the ceiling of the car and held the mirror in front of me. Blackstone resorted to his trick again, and the spell bounced off the mirror. He slumped back in his seat while we went down the interstate at 60 miles an hour. Being a considerably better person than Jesus, I grabbed the wheel.
I ended up with plenty of time to stop and tend to my own needs while he was under. Just a little highway exit place where you’re pretty sure every inch of the room has had cum sprayed on it some time or another. I took the time to use the facilities, shower, get a bite to eat, and get caught up on the news. A new Chief of Staff had just been appointed, for instance. This timeline’s version of events didn’t include the White House being tossed in another dimension, so they got this guy my facial recognition system pinged as a former target I’d once killed. Dye the hair a different color, add some facial hair, lose the glasses, and it looks like that clone of Hitler made something of himself after all.
Blackstone let himself in after a couple hours of napping, hand glowing. I raised an eyebrow. “Instead of constantly casting spells, you could treat me like a person and do this the easy way,” I suggested.
“You’re a monster. I know what you do,” He said.
I pointed to the TV. “Looks like I’m a useful one.”
He waved to it as well. “There was something in it for you, every time.”
“Yeah. Earth was my home too. I’d like to get back to that version of events. So how are we doing that? I assume you were driving us somewhere for a reason?”
He glanced outside, then stepped in and closed the door. He sat himself down on the lone chair left in the place. “We need a book.” When he saw me reaching for the nightstand drawer, he added, “A specific book on magic. Los Cinco Soles Dorados. It’s a translation off the walls of a lost Nahua temple discovered by a conquistador and his men separated from the rest of their party. It’s said he bound the book in the skin of the native translators he brought who refused to discuss the wall’s writings with him. That’s horseshit. I had the book in the other world. It’s fine parchment.”
“You don’t remember enough to figure things out without it?” I asked.
He shook his head. “I don’t have an eidetic memory. I took photos, but they would never turn out right.” He pulled out his phone and frowned, then began to mess around with it. “It’s out there. I took it from the home of a wizard who died a few years back. He fought Captain Lightning in D.C. And it went bad for him. Here, see?” He held up the screen of his phone for me to see, showing off photos of what might have been a book behind an intense reflective shine.”
“You couldn’t turn the flash off?”
“That was with the flash off,” he said. “Anyway, I thought we could try D.C.”
Sploosh. That big white house is just ripe for a break-in while he’s hunting down the book. But with time of the essence, I felt the need to ask, “We’re already going to take long enough on this road trip. Can’t you look into a crystal ball and scry or something?”
He looked down and adjusted his coat. “I don’t seem to be capable of finding it that way.”
“Then do some sort of remote viewing of the wizard’s lair you said you’ve been to before,” I suggested.
He coughed. “I can’t. I think it’s warded.”
A wolf howled outside. He looked up, curious, and checked the door’s peephole. “What in the world… is that a zombie dog?”
I went to go check the window next to the door. Outside was some sort of skinned, eyeless dog padding around in a fog bank that had drifted in. It left a confused mess of bloody paw prints in the snow, and I started hearing this fuzzy crumbling sound like cosmic background radiation. It’s just the one at least. Kinda spooky-looking, but just a dog.”
Blackstone joined me at the window. “That’s not the one I was looking at.” Another walked over to join the dog I’d seen.
“You hear that?” I asked. “Like from an old TV? The snow?” It kept getting stronger and stronger.
“What are you talking about?” Blackstone asked a moment before a dog scrabbled up from next to the window and threw itself at the glass. The cheap window gave in one jump and the blood canine tried to crawl in. I put my shoe on its back and drove its body down into the sharp glass and pushed it to the side. Sanguine muscle tore open and blood dribbled down. The dog twitched and tried to get up, but it stopped once I finished stomping its head in.
The sound got less intense until the others got closer. “Huh… something related to those thingies. Magical interference.” I looked to Blackstone, who stared back out the window. “It happens.”
“It’s about to happen even more.” He said, raising his hand hands and gesturing to leave runes of purple light hanging in the air. I looked outside at the four dogs the pack had grown to. A purple coil wrapped around one of them and threw it high into the air. The other three came at me, bro.
I moved past Blackstone to open the door for them. The one in the lead obliged and got it closed on his neck. I stomped its head straight down. That didn’t stop the second from jumping and pushing the door open. I backed up and raised an arm to catch the bite of its strong jaw. I swung my arm, lifting it off the ground. The dog smacked into the wall and the low ceiling. I held it up and punched it where its nuts hung. It yelped, and yelped again when I grabbed them. It let go of my forearm, but I grabbed onto it.
I was missing a dog though. I heard ripping from the last of the dogs tearing Blackstone’s coat sleeve. He kicked the dog toward me. It took the hint and launched itself at me. I shoved its packmate toward it and watched as it bit down on the other blood hound’s nuts. Forget yelping, that dog fucking sang. The biter let go and went after my leg instead.
I reached around for anything to put it out of my misery with and settled on a lamp. I brought it down, smashing it off the floor. It bounced, then burst when I pushed the lamp down hard onto its chest.
Purple enveloped the dog on my leg and pulled it off me. Blackstone lifted it up to chest level. “Something is very wrong on this Earth,” he said.
I flipped the lamp around, took a stance, and batted the dog into the TV. The TV sparked and the dog convulsed, but neither were working anytime soon. “All the better to GTFO as soon as possible. The faster the better.”
Blackstone smiled. “I know a shortcut. It’s one where we can take the car. The world sucks, but I like the car.”
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hardware (store and cut) the door’s handle –> store, cut
trick (again and) the spell –> again, and
prints in the (snow and) I started hearing –> snow, and
tore (open and) blood dribbled down –> open, and
I’m not gonna comment any more of these; they feel a bit nitpicky, and they don’t really alter the meaning/(disrupt the flow) of the work.
I’ve made some corrections. It helps, even if it raises a small comma-tion.
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