Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chapter Twelve: A Lovestruck Phoenix Amidst Serendipity

One never knows who is going to influence your life upon first meeting them. Well, unless that one is me. I always know, since I was a little girl. No, it did not make my relationships more meaningful, or help me keep friends. Here's the thing. If you know, absolutely know that the guy smiling at your from the other side of your locker, cute though he may be, won't even register enough for you to remember his name in two years, would you smile back? I never did. Kind of a self full-filling prophecy. Why get to know someone who will have no impact on you? Does that mean you will have no impact on them? Do other people absolutely know, also? I didn't know for sure when I was younger, and I never wanted to be the kid who no one remembers in two years. So, I didn't smile back. I earned the reputation of being a stand-offish bitch, which is hard to shake in a small Kansas town. Once you have it, there it is. Pretty much for ever, even if they don't remember your name, they will remember the bitchiness.

When I met Bruce I knew absolutely that he would not only influence my life, but that we would have sex together, live together and even break up. And I knew it wouldn't end there. I thought about just trying to run the other way and never even starting the fucked up thing I knew was going to end anyway. Would never have worked. Can't escape fate, no matter how hard you try, and he was already smiling that half smile at me. Like a lovestruck phoenix I went to him ready to burn to ash and be reborn.

You might be wondering why any of this really matters in my present situation, while my boss had me driven across town. With no pizza, I might add. I think he wanted me off kilter and hungry. Or he didn't want me to have an opportunity to have more booze. Well, it all matters because of what happened next. None of the crap I just said about 'knowing, absolutely knowing' will mean a damn thing..

The limo stopped in the industrial district just outside the north-west part of Lawrence, KS. Only a ten minute drive from down-town, but it seemed like a different world. From the quaint brick buildings with little trees out front and the smells of food and the sounds of happy shoppers and dogs walking, to the smell of waste and smoke and ammonia and the starkness of metal and huge stacks billowing steam and dust into the air. I really didn't want to be there. It made me even more nauseous and my head pounded in a different rhythm, faster and harder sending spots into my eyes.

“Seriously, I really have to eat.” Normally, I try not to speak to my boss, if at all possible, but hell, what did I have to lose at this point? For all I knew I was going to be 'disappeared' in a few minutes. It would be great to have a bit of food in my belly before that happened. Hate to go out hungry.

Alexander looked at me curiously for a moment, his ageless face showing little of his true self. Well, again, unless you're me. I could see all kinds of thing that would make other people run screaming from the limo. However, I knew he would just catch me anyway and I would end up doing whatever it was that he wanted me to do anyway. It would just hurt more. “No, Ophelia, but I would like you to drink some more water before we start.” He looked over at a bottle of water in the door holder, which I promptly picked up and downed. Never look a gift horse in the mouth, and never argue with an angry vampire.

Just as I was finishing, another car drove up. I recognized it as one of ours. Gavin and another guy we worked with jumped out holding up another little gnomish person, much like the grandma-evil I had had reason to kick in the head earlier in the day. Same white clothes, same wrinkled skin and what not. Not so much attitude though. His eyes were rolling back in his head and the two of them had to hold him up as they approached the limo.

“Now Ophelia, I would like you to take some time and really look at this one.” Mr. Harris smiled at me again, mouth closed of course and opened the window. I obediently looked out and stared at the poor little thing. Not that I didn't figure he deserved it. We all deserve it.

“Ophelia, what do you see?”

I stared, and let myself relax. Generally I try to just ignore everything I see off people, and the bitchiness actually helps. Now was not the time though.

“People. Lots of people.” Which was true. I was seeing hundreds of floating people zooming about the guy's head and body, floaty and white and vacant. Really vacant.

“I don't think the people are alive. They seem...empty, kind of.”

“Like zombies?”

“Crap. Yeah, I guess. Yeah.” They were starting to really creep me, with vacant eyes and no souls. Empty floaty shells. I knew they weren't there, but that doesn't mean they couldn't hurt me. If I had learned nothing else in the past two years, it was that you shouldn't take anything on face value. The weird thing was I couldn't see anything else. Nothing. No feeling of importance, no substance of who this guy was. Usually, when I'm sober, I can see all kinds of use-less crap. Right now, all I saw was a bunch of dead people.

Alexander nodded to Gavin who drug the little guy back into the car, which was great, because all the little floaty things went with him. I sighed and put my head into my hands, pulling on my short hair a little, the pain of that actually making the headache go away a bit. I am usually not a crier, really I'm not, but I wanted to cry right then.

“Ophelia? Look up at me.” Of course I did, one tear running down my face. I saw the weirdest thing I have ever seen from my boss. A real smile, one filled with sympathy and something kind of like thankfulness. Weird. I wanted to look away but couldn't.

“Gavin, “ He called out the still open window. “You may bring it over now.” He looked back at me, his normal self again, all closed and mysterious and old. “I had Gavin make a stop on the way.”

Then I smelled it. Pizza. Oh-My-God. He brought me pizza. Gavin passed the box in to me, still warm and heavenly. I opened it and pulled out a piece taking a bite of cheese and pepperoni and sauce. Serendipity.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chapter Eleven: Five Things That Have To Do With Vampires That Don't Appear in this Story

I slid into the limo seats, not really enjoying the leather as I should. My palms were already sweating and I was so hungry that I was getting light headed. That coupled with the hangover was really fucking with my normal aplomb. 
I looked over at my boss. He wasn't a tall man, or a handsome man, or in any way remarkable physically. However, if anyone, after meeting him, would be asked how tall he was it would be well over six feet, not five six, and he would be two hundred pounds of solid muscle, not one forty-five and lean as a whip. If he was a D and D character, he would have a fucking twenty in charisma.

Ophelia”, Dammit. Why is he the only one I worked with who didn't call me sugar or angel or some other fucked up thing? “We have a problem.” His legs were crossed, his dark hair was perfect, his voice was soft like a shy teen-age girl's and I was still scared out of my pants.

There is nothing in there that I did wrong. Who ever Grandma-evil is, she's pretty fucking unconscious, and the zombie-voodoo-whatever it was, is just a bunch of parts for Duffy to scrape off the floor now.” His dark eyes widened just a bit, and I knew that we both knew any bravado on my part was ridiculously false. I just wanted to go home. And get some pizza. And not be in this limo. Unless maybe it had pizza in the mini fridge and then would take me home.

Ophelia, I didn't mean that at all. I'm sure you handled yourself as you normally do.” He looked amused, rather than angry. The alcohol was leaving my system. I really had to get out of this limo before I completely sobered up.

My dear, you need to be sober.” He leaned back into the dark shadows of the limo, right before he leaned further into my fucked up little head. Ophelia, you need to use your talents for me again. Sober up....Mmmmm...I think I should feed you.

Yeah, one more thing you should know about me. I know about these people, and non-people, and little witchy Willow like people, because my head is full of whatever is in their heads. Well, not entirely. I can't read minds, but I can can tell if they are human or just pretending to be. I can tell, before I even see them properly, whether or not they are dead, or undead or a ghost. I can tell if they intend to harm me, or anyone else, and I can usually point to who the target would be if that poor sod is nearby. The worst part is the little pictures in my mind. Or, at least I think it's in my mind. Alcohol helps, but not completely. I just thought I had weird dreams when I was a kid, and my kindred, all those people in my family, they just thought I had a dark-Gothic side. Which was true, I did. 
The first time I saw my boss I was unfortunately stone cold sober. I was on my way to get pizza at Joe's, ironically enough, and I was a starry eyed, thought I was a worldly freshman out about town. He walked out of this little Japanese Zen garden that people like to neck in, right near the other pizza joint, the one I hate that has all the healthy shit on the pie. He stopped and looked right at me, and I swear I saw shapes just zooming right out of him, like tentacles on Cthulhu. They writhed and ducked and speared right into a dozen poor unsuspecting people like little deadly white powdered glass shards. Right into me. No one felt them but me. Well, I'm guessing about that, but I was the only one who ended up on the pavement. When I opened my eyes, there he was, smiling down at me like I was his long lost daughter.

My dear,” he said in his velvety voice, “my name is Alexander Harris.” I think I laughed about that through the tears running down my face. I mean, come on. He might well have picked Van Fucking Helsing. It wasn't his real name anyway, not that a name really mattered. I knew what he was, he knew that I knew, and he had plans for me. He picked me up off the pavement and whisked me down the block to the old Mason's Temple building where he had set up his offices. (Okay, now think about that for a moment. A Free Mason's building. Lord, the irony.) Trust me when I say, I have reason to be concerned about my well being. It wasn't that he was evil, or good. He was old. Very, very, very, very, very, very, very fucking old. You don't get that way by being nice to freshman girls with a headache.

And use me he has. Repeatedly. But that's another story. Today, in the limo, with my hangover and injured foot, my ex-boyfriend outside, and no pizza in sight, I was getting another little vibe off my boss. I saw it before I had even touched the shiny chrome door handle. He was angry. If you looked at him, even up close, he would have looked calm, even lazily content. Unless you happen to be me. I was seeing blood, and people impaled on spikes, and the very flames of hell. Use me, he would.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chapter 10, Silent Apocalypse and Duffy

Gavin got on the phone and immediately started talking non stop, which he does the week of a full moon. “Hey there pretty lady! I couldn't help overhearing. So we have some zombies at Joe's. Oh, God, is Joe dead? Man that would suck, he makes the best freaking pizza, like the absolute best. Way better than over at Keno's. You remember when we went there for Liz's ten year? That was cool...”

I cut the little chatter box off, but I had already missed half of what Bruce and Joe had been saying. “Gavin! Shut. Up.” Blessed silence from the other end of the line. “I need a clean up crew here now.” I looked down at the recently knocked out Grandma-evil. “Send Duffy. He'll at least know what to do with the little madam I found, and we don't want another silent apocalypse like we had last year.” Bruce stopped talking at that one and gave me a quizzical look. “Yeah, look, it's a long story, I'll tell you later.”

Gavin popped back over the line, “Tell me what?”

“I wasn't talking to you, fuzzy. Just get your tail over here now, with Duffy, the cleaners and...” crap, I didn't want to say this last bit. “Bruce is here. We better tell the boss.”

“Ummm...okay, Bruce, huh? Is he mad about the bottle you broke over his back last night? Because, damn, if you were my ex, I would have you up on assault charges. And all the pizza that you ordered for everyone...”

“What?!? What pizza? There wasn't even boxes in my..” and I was cut off again.

“Well, there wouldn't be, sugar, you threw most of it out of the window. That's why everyone left! Hell, I'd still be there, but I was hungry, and there are all these little rabbits that had been living in the park...”

“GOD!! GAVIN!! SHUT THE FUCK UP!!” We both paused and there was a couple seconds of silence all around to digest the bitchiness that is me.

“Yeah, okay, I have stuff to do.”

“Too right you do!” I slammed the phone down and took a deep breath. Yelling made my head hurt. I went over to where Bruce and what was left of Joe were on the floor. Their conversation seemed to be over, and of course I missed it. Joe peered at me with filmy dead eyes that still had a bit of frost on them.

I really didn't know what to say. What can you say to a man whom you barely know, but who has fed you repeatedly for the past two years? Sure, I paid for it, but...”You made the best pizza Joe. Thanks.”

He smiled a bit and closed his eyes. There was a little flash from the amulet and Bruce reached out and took it off Joe's chest.

“Okay, that's that.”

We looked at each other over the now completely dead Joe. “So,” I asked the question not really expecting an answer, “What did you have to ask him?”

“Ophelia Lenore Flowers, you know I can't tell you that.” God, I hate my name. I blame my parents for every single weird thing that has ever happened to me.

Before I could answer there was knock on the alley door and Gavin came in, scruffy and looking like a younger, skinnier Grizzly Adams. “Hey there, sugar, lets get this show on the road!” I looked behind him and saw the long limo that meant my boss was here too. Tinted glass, motor running. Gavin followed my eyes, even as he started directing the workmen he had brought with him to various stages for clean up. As he passed me he leaned down. “Just get it over with. It's daylight for another five hours at least, so he's pretty mellow.”

Duffy passed by us with a big bag slung over his shoulder and gave me a sympathetic smile, but he kept walking.

I looked at Bruce, who was standing now, and I walked out the door. As I reached for the door handle of the big black limo, I couldn't help wonder, once again, what had Joe had to tell Bruce that was so important that he came back from the dead to do it?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chapter Nine: A Lunar Anomaly and A Spider

I dialed the office, not waiting for Bruce to answer my question about pizza and praying someone other than my boss was there to answer the phone. My prayers were answered, but, as often happens when praying to gods, their sense of humor is not my own.

Hello, you have reached the Fellowship, can I help you?” The voice was chipper and gravely all at the same time, with a genteel Southern drawl that brought up pictures of plantations and the movie Gone With the Wind . I knew that voice.

“Barnaby, what the fuck are you doing answering the phone?”

“Oh, hello, my dear! You are going to be late if you are calling from anywhere but down-town.”

“I'm calling from Joe's. A zombie infested Joe's. Don't change the subject. Are you at my desk?”

“You, my dear, are crabby.” I could hear a drawer being opened. Damn parasite. “Yes, as a matter of fact I am at your desk. It is a mess. I was thinking about cleaning it out for you...”

“Touch anything and you will not live to see your next lunar anomaly you fucking spider.” Like my boss being a life-sucking vampire, that statement was more or less accurate.

“My, my, very crabby!” I heard the drawer being closed. Barnaby sighed, and I heard a bit of a shuffle which probably meant his eight hairy arms were putting things back where I left them rather than where he put them. “All right, sweet thing, I won't touch. Now, zombies you say? How exciting! Not ours I take it?”

“Would I be calling you if they were ours?” My head was killing me, and my foot was definitely bleeding again. “Get your hairy ass away from my desk and put someone on the God Damn phone who can do more than just clean it!”
I heard Bruce clicking his tongue from the other room, and there was silence from the other end of the phone. I sighed and tried to get myself under some semblance of control. It wasn't the fault of a gender confused mutation that I was having a bad day. “Look, Barnaby, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that. I'm just.....” I turned away from where Bruce was in the kitchen and spoke more quietly. “Look, Bruce is here, okay, and I don't...I'm not dealing well with things...and I have a hang-over...I'm sorry...”
I heard more shuffling from the other end of the phone line, then a distinctive sniff. “Hmmm, well, apology accepted, but only because of our long standing friendship and because of the completely enjoyable party you threw last night.” Huh. I don't even remember him being there. 

“Gavin is here. Will he do?”

Speaking of lunar anomalies. “Yeah, I suppose. the boss in?” I was hoping for a negative. It was morning after all, and he was more of a night person. But we were all more or less night people, including the ever sunny Barnaby.

“He came in about twenty minutes ago, but seems to be distracted with something else. You want to keep this quiet?”

“I don't want to bother him with it if we don't have to. Might be some new people in town.”

I could actually hear his eight eyes blinking as Barnaby digested this. Probably the layers of mascara I'm sure he had on. “Oh, that is not good, honey.”

“No kidding. Get Gavin.”

I waited on the phone for Gavin, and looked back at Bruce. He was taking what was left of Joe the rest of the way out of the freezer. I felt a little odd admiring his bunching back and shoulder muscles as he moved a corpse that really was too heavy for one guy to be moving so easily. A little odd, but not much. He looked up and caught me looking. Good thing I never blush.

“Hey, I could use that amulet now.” He stood up with that little half smile on his face and sense of humor showing through. Dammit, I wish I didn't look like I know I looked, like some chick with a hang-over who didn't care enough to even take a shower. I had forgotten about the amulet.

“Sure.” I put the phone between my neck and shoulder and fished in my bag for the ebony amulet he had given me. Really should have given me instructions, honestly. He was lucky I had brought it at all. I tossed it at him, and he easily caught it without even breaking eye contact with me. Mental sigh.

I watched, curious as hell as to what that thing did. He carefully put it onto Joe's chest and leaned down to whisper something into a dead man's ear. Wicca stuff. If I had been anybody other than me, I would have been creeped out when Joe opened his frost covered eyes and looked up at Bruce.

“I'm dead.” It wasn't a question, but a statement of fact.

Bruce nodded. “Yeah, man. Sorry bout that, but I have to ask you some questions.”

Gavin got on the phone at that moment, so I didn't get to hear the whole conversation. I should have told Gavin to hush the fuck up so I could listen. It would have made a difference later, but hind-sight, right?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chapter Eight: The Ludicrous Swimmer and the Cauldron

Bruce moved first, which was good, because I was fucking tired. The day was not going well, what with the hangover, the glass in my foot (now removed), the zombies and the evil grandma Moses. I think the kick I laid into her head opened up my wounded foot again. I could feel blood seeping into my shoes. Fantastic.

Bruce walked cautiously down the steps, knowing that I looked ready to snap, I'm sure. I would have moved cautiously around me and I like me. Bruce had every reason to truly hate me, but he didn't. Life is complicated. “Have you been in the back yet?” He glanced over the counter top, taking in the plastic bottle full of voodoo crap.

“No, not yet. It's on my to-do list.” I picked up my bag and put my umbrella in, before heading to the little door by the counter that led through to the kitchen.

“Are you sure you want to put the umbrella away? Might be more old people to hit back there.” Gotta love a man who can do sarcasm without sounding bitchy. He always just sounded happy. No matter what. Opposites attract I suppose.

“It's here if I need it. You coming?”

“Yep. You still have the amulet I gave you?” For a second my brain cycled through all the presents Bruce had ever given me while we were dating, and I wasn't coming up with anything until I remembered the ebony amulet I found this morning and had put into my purse. Oh, yeah, that.

“Yeah, I have it. What's it for?” I walked into the kitchen and passed a cauldron bubbling away with some evil smelling crap in it. It also had a couple of cockroaches looking like ludicrous swimmers in a tub of goo. I turned down the heat to a simmer and made a mental note to check on the little guys in a few. It would be interesting to see what a radioactive-zombie-making-voodoo potion would do to the most resilient form of life on the planet. That's me, always working.

“You'll see in a minute." I hated when he did that. Just answer the damn question. But I was too tired to be bitchy about it. “Think your boss will help clean this up?” Bruce had come to the open door to the deep freeze and I could see a pair of Joe looking shoes attached to some dead Joe legs hanging out. Probably what grandma-evil had been dragging..

“Maybe. Maybe. He doesn't much like other people working his town. It upsets him.” I shuddered a bit. My boss upset was not a pretty picture. Remember when I said my boss was a life-sucking vampire? Wasn't being poetic. That would be more or less accurate.

“I have to be at work soon.” I sighed and picked up the phone, getting ready to call the office. “Before we do this, do you know some other place to get pizza that doesn't have all that healthy shit on it?”

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Zombie News

Okay, hope to have the new art up tomorrow with chapter eight, but in the meantime, here's some breaking zombie news straight from Ophelia's office:

Talk at ya all tomorrow, when the weather is warm and zombies are at the gate.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chapter Seven: Smelly Bananas and Cigarettes

Just as the little evil voodoo elf in front of me smiled, I heard a noise behind me. I swung my umbrella around in a arching rap shot in the hope of blocking or at least stunning, whatever had made grandma evil smile. The heavy wooden handle vibrated in my grip as it struck a rather lively looking Voodoo-Joe-doll, which moments ago had been just sitting there in the middle of the pizzeria floor, completely inanimate. Just my luck. Now at least I knew what they were doing with the hemlock and plutonium. Crap.

The thing was over six foot, like Joe, had a hefty weight to it, like Joe, and smelled like cigarettes and smelly old bananas, also like Joe. Unlike Joe, however, it obviously had an oak skeletal structure, or some other hard wood, as my numb fingers would attest to. Zombie voodoo dolls. That's weird even for me.

The thing was glaring at me with its button eyes, or at least I think it was a glare. Hard to tell with buttons.

“You should have gotten your pizza down the street at Keno's like everybody else today.” Grandma evil was practically jumping up and down with glee.

“Yeah.” I dodged a chunky, white clad arm as the Voodoo-Joe-doll swung clumsily at my head. “But I hate that healthy shit.” I dodged away again, narrowly missing the still glowing green fountain. “All feta cheese and spinach with avocados...” I did a flip with a bit of a spin landing on top of the Joe things back. “I prefer grease..” I pulled on the hat, pulling it off and quickly rammed my umbrella into the soft head, yanking backward and pulling it off. “...and pepperoni.” I jumped off the now falling, smelly Joe and landed on my feet in front of the now gaping Grandma-evil.

“What...? Who the hell are you?”

“A refugee stranded in Kansas.” I rabbit kicked up into her small head, knocking her into the wall behind. “And all I want is some GOD-DAMNED-PIZZA!” I screamed the last into her prone form and stood panting, my feet aching with the wounds left from the earlier glass, and my head exploding with the even earlier tequila.

“You have got to start getting your anger issues under control.”
I spun around to see Bruce standing at the stop of the stairs that led from the street to the now rather wrecked pizzeria. He looked good with his hair short, still black, and his too pale skin. Dammit, I wanted him to look like crap. I looked like crap. “Yeah. You should be glad all the bottles in here are already broken.”

“Fair enough.”
We stood there, staring at each other for a few moments, wondering what to say, whether the other would speak first and all the other stuff people wonder when they see their ex. God, I hate Mondays.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chapter Six: Radioactive Material and Hemlock

I held my umbrella at the ready with the heavy wooden end forward like a club, and contemplated my situation. The door to the street was about twenty-two feet away. Probably wouldn’t make it if I made a run for it, and it is entirely possible that it wouldn’t matter if I made it outside. Zombies don’t care if its day or night and any sunshine, even the filtered gray light coming through the clouds, would just hurt my eyes.

I glanced around the pizza parlor again. I noted that the little indoor fountain that had been a selling point for years at Joe’s Pizzeria was glowing a faint green in the dim light. Great. That didn’t bode well. Radioactive material as well as plastic. These guys, whoever these guys were who had used the Joe voodoo doll in the middle of the room, really were idiots. They deserved to have Joe eat their brains. And the rest of them too.

From around the corner, towards the kitchen area, I heard a bit of shuffling and I pressed myself against the wall, waiting for whatever was going to come round to see who had entered the door with its little ringing bell. Stupid bell. It was not going to improve my mood if I had to kill a zombie Joe. It would make me downright depressed. And if it was Bruce…well, I probably wouldn’t kill him, but I might hit him. Just to make a point. I could be in an alcohol soaked stupor right now, but noooooo…Bruce had to come to my party, make me break a bottle on him, get glass in my feet and end up here. Not to get a pizza, which I really needed, but to defend the planet from poorly done voodoo and zombie pizzeria staff. Dammit, my brain fired again, That was Bruce at my party wearing his own shirt. Not just some guy. Dammit.. Oh, yeah. I was going to beat the crap out of somebody today.

The shuffling got louder and then there was a thumping sound and footsteps and the sound of something being dragged. All coming closer. Just as a bit of white t-shirt peeked around the corner I swung the end of the umbrella in a sharp rap shot, hoping to hit in the head or throat area. I didn’t wait to see what I was hitting. That’s how you end up like Joe.
There was a sharp crack as my umbrella connected with someone’s head, and then a whole lot of cursing as whoever I had hit dropped whatever they were dragging and jumped back around the corner.

“Fuck! What did you do that for?’

For those of you lucky enough not to know, zombies seldom, if ever, speak in complete sentences. Usually it’s only one or two words like ‘Brains!’ or ‘No brains?’ Happily, this sentence eliminated the possibility that it was a zombie, but not that they deserved the head trauma.

“Where’s Joe? What the hell’s going on here?”

“Dammit! That really hurt, bitch! What the hell?”

“It was meant to hurt. And don’t change the subject. Come out here where I can see you. If I have to come to you, I’m going to be pissed.”

The white thing turned out to be a small woman dressed all in what was once a white dress, but was now smeared in what had to be blood and Goddess knows what else. At least I think it was a woman. The hair was gray and short, the skin brown and wrinkled, the head bleeding red, the expression annoyed, but not surprised, and the whole about five foot two and maybe one hundred pounds soaking wet.

“I think I’m going to need stitches!” A small brown hand was pressed into a wound on her forehead.

“Great. Then we should probably speed this up.” I waved my umbrella for emphasis. “First: What the hell is in the fountain? Second: Where is Joe and maybe Bruce? Third, and this one is important and your answer could result in me letting you get stitches or leaving you here with something a little more serious than that: Where is my FUCKING PIZZA!”

A slightly clever look took up residence in the wrinkled brown face. I probably should have worried about that more than I did at the time. “First: Plutonium and hemlock. Second: Joe is on the floor behind me. I don’t know any Bruce. Third, and I will answer you the same way you asked: NO PIZZA! And you should probably look behind you.”

Oh, crap.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chapter Five: The Spasmodic Delirium of Plastic

(The words given me for this chapter were 'spasmodic delirium' and 'plastic'.)

I took my umbrella out of my large bag and flipped it around so that the heavy wooden hook on the end was forward and my hands gripped the fabric about six inches from the bottom. The smiley faces on black fabric seemed out of place till I spotted the one I had put a red bullet hole in. Right in the forehead. Now it just seemed ironic instead of out of place. I left the purse on the floor.

I tried to get my eyes to focus a little more and wondered if I should take off my coat, but I figured I didn't have time. I peered around the corner of the pizza counter, back to where the kitchen was and I saw a large plastic bottle and a few buckets filled with blackish liquid, and I think it was then I started to put together what had happened, though all of it didn't occur to me until later.

The black stuff in the bottle was used when creating zombies, and other little voodoo things. Yeah, zombies can be made with voodoo. We won't talk about the other things. The giant voodoo-Joe-doll propped up in the lobby behind me was most likely used to make my favorite pizzeria boss into a zombie. That pissed me off. Nobody could make a stuffed pizza like Joe, and Joe's was the only place I felt comfortable lately. But, back to putting together what had happened here last night.

They, whoever they were, had made the mistake of using plastic in a ritual that any two year old knows has to be done with a natural material-iron, glass, wood-any of those would have been fine. As it is, they used plastic. Stupid fucks. Now they are most likely lying in the back store room in some spasmodic delirium, while a zombie Joe is eating them rather than creating the pizza I ordered.

That thought also brought back a few more details from the previous evening. The guy wearing a shirt that looked like Bruce's shirt, yeah, that guy was actually Bruce. He had come to tell me about Joe's current dilemma, which didn't really sink into my alcohol soaked brain at the time and resulted in a bottle being thrown at Bruce's head and the glass becoming embedded in my feet, which really hurt and were not improving my mood.

One question I didn't know the answer to at the time though. Who had answered the damn phone when I ordered my pizza? Hence the umbrella being held at the ready.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chapter Four: Umbrellas Are Important

Chapter Four: Umbrellas are Important. (A small aside.  The words for this chapter are Umbrella and flaccid Balloon.  Hardy-har-har, nice try.)

I stared at the amulet for a moment more, it’s dark shiny surface glinting up at me, teasing me with a foggy memory just out of reach. But, I really couldn’t let it bother me. Pizza. That’s all I really needed. A little pizza in me, and all those fuzzy bits from the night before would come into focus, and I could think about getting ready for work. Maybe.

I stuffed things back into my oversized bag, taking care to put all the useless bits back into place around the more useful ones, like the umbrella I always carry. The weather in Kansas is iffy on the best of days, and it has been awhile since the best of days. Umbrellas are important. After checking to see if I had any cash for the pizza, I slip the ebony amulet into a side pocket on the purse and head for the door.

At the door, I pause. The mirror by the exit to my apartment was telling me something. Not just telling, screaming, even though my head was screaming back. My hair was a mess. It might have vomit in it, but I still couldn’t smell anything…thankfully. My face looked like a bruised, flaccid balloon that someone had puffed up around the eyes and a quick glance at the floor showed that I was still wearing the blood soaked bandages on my feet rather than any sort of conventional footwear. They might be considered shoes. It shows how truly messed up I am that I was considering to consider them shoes. I thought better of it and put some rubber wellingtons over the thick gauze. The rest of the outfit, stained and smelling, would be easily covered by a coat, which I did. 

A second glance at the mirror and a bit of a squint led me to believe that I looked at least passable for an Autumn resident of Lawrence, Kansas. Hey, we get all types here, and anyone wanting to judge can get a bottle to the back like the guy wearing Bruce’s shirt. Man, I wish I could remember who that was. That one was going to come back on me, I was sure.

I stumbled out the door of my second story down-town apartment and headed for Massachusetts Street, the main drag in this little burg. Joe's was on Mass and ninth, so it would be a quick jaunt of five blocks. Luckily, the sun wasn't shining, otherwise I never would have made it. The clouds were rolling in with thunder, matching my mood.

I walked into an empty, dark pizza parlor, which isn't all that unusual for eleven am on a Monday. Unless you live in a college town, which I did. At Joe's you could assume a twenty-four hour clientele, if he was so inclined. He wasn't, and the place would have just opened twenty minutes ago. It usually had a few hung over, twenty-somethings trying to make it over the hang-over hump, of which I would have been exhibit A. As it was, I was exhibit only.

I rang the service bell at the counter and waited, looking around. My fuzzy brain took in a few more details at this point, that I really should have noticed on arrival. I might have decided to forgo the pizza, but probably not. First, none of the lights were on. The only light coming in the place were the dim little basement windows around the top of the main dining area-Joe's is a basement level establishment. The second was the up-turned chairs and the knocked-over drink cooler. Trendy tea was all over the floor along with the pretty and decorative, now broken, bottles they come in. Third, was the large voodoo doll that was obviously a Joe look alike, complete with the silly blue chef hat he always wore, the equally silly almost beard he always wore, and the T-shirt that said 'Eat At Joe's' on the the front and 'It's Jo-riffic!' on the back. 
Damn. Voodoo. I put my hand up to my red-rimmed eyes and sighed. Not again.
“Well,” I mumbled to myself as I opened my purse. “At least I brought my umbrella.”

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chapter Three: Chaos and the Ebony Amulet

Chapter Three: Chaos and the Ebony Amulet

Blessedly the phone rang, my shaky hand having dialed the number correctly. On the third ring, it was answered, and so I hoped would be my desire for pizza.

“Yes?” Not the cheerful pizzaria how can I help you query, but I soldiered on, not willing to admit defeat.
“Ummm…is this Joe’s Pizzaria?”
“What?…oh, wait, yeah, Joe’s. Sure. Yeah. What can I get ya?”
“You forgot?”
“Forgot what?”
“That this is Joe’s.” I was beginning to suspect that someone’s hangover was worse than mine, and that couldn’t really be possible.
“What? Oh, ummm…no, just new. Do you want to order or not?”
“Definitely yes, yes please.” I perused the quick menu in the phone book that I found behind the toilet. Not a great place to wake up, but still, there was a phone book, right? “One medium pizza with the works, thin crust, and extra olives. Got that?”
“You bet.”
“Can you read it back to me?”
“Read what?” The other person on the other end of this phone had better have my pizza. Other wise I might be getting more blood on that bathmat today.
“My order. Look, is Joe there? He knows me. Just put him on…”
“Look, Joe ain’t here, you can come pick up your pizza, and bring the money with you.”
“Pick up? No, I want it deliv…” and then the line went dead. Dammit. My life was in chaos, all I wanted was a fucking pizza, and now I had to pick it up.
I sighed, levered myself up on the bathroom wall next to that god-awful clock that Bruce’s mother gave me and hobbled out the door on my bandaged feet.
I picked up my purse and rummaged around for some cash. I couldn’t find any right away but among the various receipts, ATM notes, and cough drops out popped this darkly shining ‘thing’ onto my floor. 
I picked it up and turned it over in my hands and it felt cold and hard, warm and soft all at the same time. Stupid hangover. I blink my blurry eyes a couple of times and focus on the unfamiliar object in my hand. An ebony amulet. What the hell did I DO last night?!?!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chapter Two. The Clock and The Ugly Sea Creature

Chapter Two.
The Clock and The Ugly Sea Creature
I woke up on the bathroom floor with the phone book clutched in my hands. Again. I blinked and tried to get the sand out of my eyes, and the hangover started so that I could then begin to get over said hangover.
I immediately regretted that decision and laid back down on the nice comfy bathmat, that happened to be stained with blood. Again. I prayed that the pounding in my brain would miraculously go away with no effort being put forth on my part. Stupid broken bottle. Stupid glass. Stupid party.
Thinking about the glass that had been imbedded in my size seven feet, I cautiously opened one eye. When the room stopped spinning I opened the other one, and after two misses, pulled myself up to a sitting position with the tub behind me and the precious phone book clutched to me like a life preserver.
I glanced at my feet and was pleased to see that I had apparently removed the glass and clumsily bandaged them. They hurt, but not the kind of hurt that meant there was still glass there. I have no memory of doing that, but I don’t remember a lot of things that I apparently did. At least this wouldn’t end up in litigation. I fuzzily recalled throwing a bottle at someone, or someone’s shirt, and then walking on the glass. Stupid tequila.
I cautiously looked down at the phone book and turned the pages, quietly, until I hit the pizza section. I scanned all the usual suspects and noted what times each one was open. Crap. I had no idea what time it was. Was it even day? With a sigh I forced my neck to work and craned my head to see the clock that I had put in the bathroom, thinking it might be easier to read than my watch.
Bruce’s Mom had given it to me last Christmas. It was an artsy affair, and probably had cost her a fortune, but for some reason was shaped like what can only be described as an ugly sea creature. It had the tentacles of a kraken, but then somehow segwayed into a mermaid, and it had tons of sparkles. It belonged in the room of a twelve year old girl who likes mermaids, but wants to be older than a girl who likes mermaids. I was neither, and never cared for mermaids or anything fanciful or girlish. I liked skulls and zombies, not unicorns. I felt a flash of sympathy for my mother who had stopped trying to give me things like that clock around my eighth birthday. I felt a flash of unreasonable dislike for Bruce’s mother, who really had never gotten to know me at all. Which was probably just as well.
As soon as I get this pizza, I thought as I dialed the numbers on the portable house phone which luckily still held a charge, I am going to throw out that damn clock

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Image by Annie Hintsala, copyright  2011

Chapter One: Broken Bottle and a Phonebook.
The glass on the ground was getting stuck in my shoes, but I couldn’t be bothered with it at the moment. I had broken the bottle earlier, in a small rage, I admit, but it did miss the man’s head, so why did everyone leave? All my parties end up that way. A broken bottle on my kitchen tile, winking mockingly at me in my crappy florescent lights and me looking for a phone book to order last minute pizza. I wish I knew how to program the speed dial on my phone. At least there was no blood to clean up this time, and no police had shown up in the last hour, so they probably wouldn’t. Probably.
I wandered around to the living room with green glass scrunching on the tiles as it became imbedded into the rubber soles of my shoes. The couch cushions were off again, and the bong was tipped over onto one of them. Dammit. No fixing that. I think I had already turned the cushions once because of stains, but I couldn’t be sure till I looked. I won’t be bothered till I find the phone book and order my damn pizza though. And maybe not even then. I hate Sunday nights.
Sunday night is the last moment before Monday. The last gasp of a dying weekend giving way to an already dead week filled with the zombies in the office, garnished with a life-sucking vampiric boss. I glance at my watch and wait for my eyes to focus on the tiny numbers and little black hands moving around the gold circle. Dammit. It’s already Monday. Where the hell is that phone book?
One of my standing lights fall over as I sway into it on my way through the living room. The bulb breaks and winks out with a small crash, adding to the problem of broken glass. Good thing I live alone. Or at least it’s a good thing in this instance.
I giggle a bit as I search fruitlessly for the phone book, and the pizza that is never going to arrive. I have been alone for three months, two weeks and three days. Correction. Three and a little bit of a fourth days. Bruce had walked out then, taking the cat, taking the PlayStation and possibly taking the phone book. I didn’t blame him. I’m a bitch. I know that, but I can’t change it. Trying just makes me bitchier, which makes me smoke more, which makes me drink more, which makes me throw bottles at strange men’s heads just because they were wearing a shirt like one that Bruce had.
I have to find that damn phone book. Why would he take the phone book?
At this point, I notice the trail of blood from my shoe and I feel a sense of closure. Ah, here was the blood. Now my night is complete. I head for the bathroom, leaning against the wall as I go. I pull my shoe off, toppling over in the process and ending up on the floor, which also adds to my sense of closure. Then I see it. The phone book, behind the toilet, splendid amongst the hairballs and beautiful with the add for pizza on the front. Right before I passed out from too much of everything except blood I thought, Who reads the phone book in the toilet? Oh, wait…dammit…that was me.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Web Comic: It all Started With a Broken Bottle and a Phonebook

Soon I will start posting illustrations to go with the online story I have been writing about a girl and her search for pizza, zombies and some guy named Bruce.  It won't be in the format of a traditional comic as I'm a little wordier than that, but it will start from the beginning and each chapter will have at least one illustration to accompany it in a variety of styles.  Talk at you later, hopefully this weekend.