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Rated: 18+ · Serial · Action/Adventure · #2304126
Episode. pt 1- A man who's lost everything, walks a path toward vengeance...
Alive (Nightmare)

         Parked across a table opposite from some guy. Listening to him jaw away. The cadence of his voice. His mannerisms. His follies. The spittle flapping at the edges of his gums. And wonder. Letting his thoughts wash over you. Stare into the hollow wells of his eyes. What price it takes to shut him up? Then his gray confetti decorated the floral print.
         What’s the price?
         Nothing, not a damn thing.
         The more barren your insides, the easier it slides.

         I noticed the duo shadowing me several blocks back.
         It was careless. No doubt. They closed in like feral cats stalking the unwary. In this world negligence gets you dead. But it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve died.
         Still, she would’ve been disappointed.
         The pair looked like sore thumbs, clumsy gait, wide forehead, and cauliflower noses in customed tailored suits. At odds with the urban landscape. These were ranch hands playing big city. Broad shoulders as inconspicuous as a pair of rhinos in ballet. The hulk’s knuckles resembled cinderblocks. While his sidekick, only diminutive in comparison to his colossal comrade, sported a hardware bulge under the breast of his mustard suit. His fedora sat low; the brim cast a shroud over his bulldog features. I’d wager there wasn’t a single marble ricocheting between their collective ears. Not to be mean, but that’s the things with goons.
         They will try and make with the tough.
         But after you show them the stick, they break.
         I slackened the muscles of consciousness. Seized my shadow and cast a glance through the spheres at the pair. Mostly human, with a dash of enhancements for defense and augmentations for offense. Cryptic runes and incantations shimmered within the seams of their suits. The power of the charms were meager. The work of a hasty tailor or negligent practitioner. Their feeble magic might provide a semblance of security, but don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.

         The harbinger’s melody.
         The gun’s click echoed by my temple; the cold acupressure felt good. There’s a certain sense of familiarity in a hollow point round primed. Hammer cocked in a veritable symphony of annihilation.
         What was with today, was it amateur hour?
         How could I be this far off my game.
         The gunman yanked me into the side alley. City folk and their penchant for willful blindness. Midday, bustling street and nary a soul batting a curious eye. Not one good Samaritan or aspiring hero in the bunch. Humans and their compliance to ignorance.
         But let’s get back to the firearm.
         Smith & Wesson etched on the snub-nosed barrel. Black synthetic grip over stainless steel. A whiff of gun oil, Brute cologne, and a quintet of shots designed for concealment. If I lingered, I could regale with tales of the gun’s origin, the bullets’ assembly, and the lives of those who crafted them. Alas, such curiosities are mere side effects of the krunk. We will get to that parlor trick later. I have more pressing fish to fry.
         Guns aren’t my forte, but surgically those five rounds could rearrange gray matter to abstract art. The gunman instructed in guttural grunts, shoving me deeper into the putrid alley. A stench of vermin, excrement, and putrid decay. The rats and pigeons scattered like the cowards they are. My foot plunged into a pool of iridescent muck, defiling my fresh sneakers. Served me right for sporting new kicks on a drizzly day.
         The goons lumbered behind. The behemoth’s true size fully revealed. Large was an understatement. This manwall punched through schools. I’d bet my last dollar he spent every non-shakedown moment pumping iron. He brandished a set of brass knuckles from his suit pocket. The Bulldog in mustard held the .45 close to his waist. Goons always boast, but their collective IQ wouldn’t power a bulb. Like I said, goons always want to bark tough. But not a working brain cell among the three of them.
         I comprehended faith, once. The devotion to something beyond oneself. Seeking solace in the divine. In this moment, many would implore a higher power for salvation, repenting for past indiscretions. But faced with a gun pressed to my head, I opted for a more hands on approach.
         The grin spread across my face.
         It was their mistake.
         They ought have pulled the trigger while they had the jump on me. Not that it would’ve made much difference. Perhaps it might have nudged their odds a smidgen. You see I suffer from a peculiar affliction.
         And in sixty seconds, these guys would be dead.
         “Gentlemen, I’ll tell you now. You don’t wanna do this.”
         “You killed Ruffus. For that we are going to lay you out.” The gun spoke.
         “Ruffus? Which one was that?” My inquiry sincere. Too many faces, too few names to recall.
         “Ruff was our boy. Witness his glor…”
         Before he could utter another syllable, I decided I had my fill and struck.
         My hand snatched the shadow and dragged us into the realm of the spheres. If they were prepared, their faces betrayed no hint. It didn’t show.
         In the spheres, gravity clenched jowls of a ravenous beast. Existence undergoes a metamorphosis. Air and molecules thicken like a viscid soup. Matter pulls with tenfold zeal. The once familiar distorts and burgeons. Amputated connection to the semblance of normalcy.
The thickening honey pooled from my shadow. The spheres leaking out, infecting validity. Primordial. Yet for the untrained, breaths become a laborious endeavor. I see the dizziness spread across their face, bursting capillaries in their eyes. The realization of lions drowning in the sea with a shark.
         Every atom sings. Transmuting the boundaries of the corporeal and the ethereal. The laws of physics flexed and warped with elasticity. Sensuous entities caress, oppressive against flesh. The hairs on my arm erect with tiny starbursts of energy. Even time, that restless taskmaster, inches to a standstill.
         Welcome to the Daedalus.
         The gun roared to life. Its rapport reverberated a cry of thunder. But I was long gone. The muzzle flash cemented in celluloid frame. I circled around the outstretched arm of the gunman. Coming face to face with the disbelief etched in his eyes. I am lethal. Nature and destruction.
         I gripped the wrist above my shoulder and wrenched it downward. Ligaments and muscles snapped as the bone dislocated from socket. Gun slipped from his fingers. Pivoted on the ball of my foot, I swept his legs from beneath him. I rose and snatched the falling revolver. Placed to his head. The gun is cold, the weight is balanced and felt kind of good against the base of his skull. Like the pressure of it all.
         Squeeze the trigger.
         Crimson gore. Fragments of brain matter and the front of his skull splattered my pant leg and sneakers. These fuckers now owe me a new pair of J’s. That shit ain’t ever coming out.
         Bulldog and Manwall were swifter.
         Their shields enhancements and augmentations afforded them an edge within the spheres. The runes crackled; sparks of energy dispersed into the fog. The spheres amplified their power. The goons blurred, obscuring their agility as they sped across space. Bulldog squeezed off a round. The shot ricochets launching debris and wall.
         I fired twice.
         Sloppy today. I don’t miss.
         One round went astray. But the second found its mark in bulldog’s shoulder. Not fatal. Yet sufficient to make Bulldog’s second shot go low. I squared up. The next bullet pierced his forehead. Unleashing a geyser of carnage. His face goes porcelain, expression pale as a plate.
He dropped.
         Where’s Manwall?
         The brick wall hurt.
         Cold, unyielding texture bit into my cheek. I marveled at its resilience. Forcing a momentary appreciation for the unwavering strength. The surface grazed my skin, embedding an ornate spectrum of pains. My face pressed against it, leaving an indentation of force. Were it not reinforced within the spheres, I would have been launched through the building.
         Manwall attempted to fuse my atoms into the brick. Hoisted from my feet, he heaved me again. The heartbeat of the wall pulsed against my cheek. But it held firm, refusing to relent.
         Manwall's grip was implacable. His sheer size a grotesque mockery of human and brute. His hulking grasp engulfed my skull. The enormity rendering me insignificant. My head felt like a bruised fruit, overripe and ready to burst.
         I was up against something more than muscle and bone. A behemoth of hardened sinew and chiseled flesh. I lifted effortlessly. Limbs flailing. Seeking a weakness. The more I squirmed the tighter the vise became. It was less of a grip and more of an environment. A crushing universe pitted against the ebbing tide of consciousness. Clarity fading fast. Desperation fueled my limbs. Think you fool. A tendon, a nerve, anything tender. But it was like kicking a mountain, a fortress of stone.
         The ground approached with speed. The impact reverberated, power crumbling wills and bone. He slammed me hard to the ground of the alley. The dumpsters jolted into the air, their lids screaming in derision of my foolishness. A cruel mockery wept from my cask. Raw, ragged breath. Tasting of iron, laced with the metallic twang of blood. I felt the sharp bite of splintered ribs and bile spat from my lips.
         You cocky fool.
         The purple and blue things pranced in front of my eyes. I’m not sure how many ribs busted, but thankful they hadn’t punctured a lung. Literally knew I couldn’t take another one of those. Not like that.
         Manwall reached skyward, his fist threatened to snuff out the heavens. Nope that was me fading from consciousness. Twisting my head in Manwall's grip, slivers of the world bled through. Snippets of light hinted at life and surged defiance. Between calloused and monstrous fingers, I saw opportunities. Nexus of brutality and grace spawned. Final inhale before the strike.
         Seize my moment.
         I wrapped both my legs around his forearm. Let’s take a moment to smell the beautiful rose known as the elbow. I squatted my weight against the joint until it contracted. Then heaved with all my strength and barely got a budge, but it would be enough. The act folded his arm slightly, giving me reach.
         From under my jacket sleeve, I activated the spring mechanism. Released. A split second and the straight stiletto is in my hand. Then into the softness of his eye.
         And twist.
         The Manwall howled and released me. Stumbling backward, hands grappled wildly for the tissue that once was his eye.
         The pause would have been nice. To catch a full breath. Allow the fire and adrenaline burning within my lungs to subside. I got to my feet and centered myself against the wall. Our heartbeats in union. Hello, ole friend.
         Manwall’s face wet with blood. Caked to cheeks and hair indiscriminately. Even blind the goon seemed to tower among the alley. For his size, he was incredibly fast. But I was quicker.
         He came at me. Clumsy and off balanced, filled with rage and anger. Fatal flaw. Humility ruled over predatory emotions. His blow swung high. Dipping under, I slid in close narrowing the distance.
         In a single motion, the blade sliced the meat at the back of his knee. The splash of warmth tacky across my hand. The slash continued upward. Making a zigzagged sever to the femoris and into the groin.
         The giant toppled. His weight unable to support its frame. I guided the blade beneath the armpit and carved a circle motion and out through the rotator cuff. Create as much damage as possible. Rendering the victim immobile. Then the final act. The blade sunk into the thick of his jugular like stabbing into wood.
         His remaining eye widened, uncomprehending of the fate befallen him. He let out a wet gust of gargled air. Not exactly sure what he planned to say seeing he was drowning among his own blood. I kneeled close and watched the fungus of the spheres attached and digest the freshly slain meal.
         To the contrary, I didn’t relish taking life. I was just extremely gifted at the act. I tore the blade out through the trunk of his neck and the saucer rolled white.
         The shift was almost violent. The spheres were always a little ravenous at the freshness of spilt blood. I disentangled from the tendrils of the realm reentering our plane. I left behind the corpses of my newly acquainted friends. A peace offering consumed by the scavengers that roamed the dreamlands.
         My eyes snapped open greeting the onslaught of the waking world. A cold, drizzling rain kissed my face. The droplets a sharp contrast back to merciless embrace. Concrete vibrated beneath me, pulsating with the heartbeat of the living city.
         Human and Elohim mingled with the distant aroma of street food, car smog, and contamination. The world buzzed; sensation layered upon sensations. The weight of the air, the damp grit of the concrete, a keenly attuned to the heartbeat of urban life.
         Colors bloomed fervently painting hues. Brightened jungle ridding itself of the obsidian veil the spheres cast. The sepia diminished, receding to corners of existence. Reality adorned in layered complexities. Woven strands dissipated until the obscure recoiled, slinking into the crevices it spilt.
         The world spun on, as it always does. Life sprung forward, unfreezing from stillness. People flowed like a river, murmurs and footsteps thrummed with urgency. Cell phones trilled, distant voices within tiny confines. While irradiated car horns pierced the air, echoing a restless failed to comprehend.
         This was the heartbeat of the city.
         I stood there. Taking it all in. A sentinel within chaos. Feeling both alien and connected. My blood-stained clothes, what little humanity left in me silenced for her. Sierra…
         My watch alarm went off, telling me my heart rate was slightly elevated. I laughed through the pain screaming from my chest.
I was getting too old for this shit. One hundred and twenty-three seconds later I emerged from the alley. Amateur day. Sierra’s jest filled my head as I raised a cloak of inhibitions. Veiled from sight, I blended invisible among the day.
         It was 11AM on Wednesday.
         Like I said, I didn’t relish taking life.
         But if you’re good at something, you should get paid to do it.

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