Crusade II: Crusodomy
I don’t know how much the pig fucker heard. I don’t care. I have the strap of his stash-belt gripped tightly in one terrified hand with all the demonic strength of the possessed. Must hold on to it at all costs.
He’s done some horrible shit to me. Years and years of heinous abuse. Years of weekly, daily, hourly acts of deranged turpitude. The kind of torture no sane man would tolerate. Yet, he’s my photographer.
But not anymore! This is the absolute final act of perfidy I would suffer at the hands of that ungrateful, psycho halfwit.
But first, I had to live through this, or all my anger would fade into the spray of my dissipated molecules. And make no mistake, my molecules would scatter. The splatter pattern would be one for the record books. A true ‘paint the town red’ moment.
There is important stuff I’m supposed to be doing. The nice rush I should be enjoying, is gone. Replaced by ‘the fear’. I have to do something.
YES! Pull the string on the side. That’s right. I should have paid closer attention to those lectures. No, amend that statement, I should have avoided the place at all costs. I should have seen this coming.
Recreation my ass.
When a man, a man you’ve known for years, a two-bit liebag scumsucking leech on the ass-end of a rabid gila monster hands you a double vial of insanely potent mushroom oil. Thoughtfully provides ice-cold bottles of spiced rum from a cooler. Swears the whole thing is just a photo shoot. Explains in detail how the photo will be edited to add the stuntman. Well, any rational human being would believe, know in his very core, that everything was legitimate. Innocent. Completely safe.
Only the most disturbed individual would get a man this twisted on drugs and liquor, then push him out of a damn airplane. He’s always been jealous. The writer gets all the credit. The photographer is just a scraggly bum who never shaves. It’s redundant, but I feel it important to reiterate: I should have seen this coming.
I’m going to have him killed. I have money. Lots of money. More money than I have any idea what to do with. Now I have an idea. I’ll hire Chuck Norris and some damn ninjas. I’ll scour the planet for angry, unemployed masters of mayhem. If there are any unemployed ones; the world being in such a state of widespread pre-rapture disharmony. But I’ll pay top dollar. Sic a horde of mean bastards on him. More than even his mutant capacity for carnage can withstand.
I looked around. The rest of the idiots who had jumped on their own volition were nowhere in sight. Shit! I am supposed to grab these handles and guide myself. But that would mean letting go of the waist pouch. Maybe I can steer this fucking wad of hi-tech pantyhose one-handed.
But steer it where? I have no idea where the hell I am. Where the hell I’m supposed to be! I can see trees, a road, canals, fields of something, rutabagas? Rhubarb? Who the hell knows.
I looked upward; thinking the oaf might be hurtling down to catch up with me. He enjoys this kind of harebrained shit. Does it all the time. I enjoy my life—on the ground. Which is where I’m heading. Fast.
Shit! Power lines! I remember some gibbering in that class about NOT hitting power lines. But, what if you are going to hit them? What did he say about that? Baste yourself with cooking oil. Visualize yourself ‘grounded’? Think positive, accentuate the negative? Scream?
I pulled hard at the ropes on my right side, and was rewarded with nothing but a miserable twist. The damn strap was broke on the waist pouch. Not my fault, it was just one of the important things I grabbed while windmilling extremities in sheer terror when pushed from the plane. I had to have it. My very survival hinged on that waist pouch. I jammed the strap under one of the 8000 straps currently pulling my crotch up into my lower intestine. I grabbed the bottom of it, pulled it further and stuck it under a second time.
Stash secured firmly, I grabbed the other rope handle and risked another look beneath me. This was just another outback, isolated, cornpone rural zone. But there was a house. I pulled the handles and headed, more or less, in that direction. Maybe they had a cold beer!
How the hell do people operate these things? It now appears I’m going to crash through the window. Land on and kill the family dog. The house cat will jump straight into the air, six-feet high, all four legs stiff as welding rods. Then the poor little bastard will have a massive heart attack, right at the apogee of it’s last leap. Die in mid air. Land like a flimsy, water-filled baggie with a goldfish in it from some cheapjack carnival. The children will cry, the angels will weep, the husband will beat me senseless with a vacuum cleaner attachment and the wife will finish me off with a hi-quality German butcher knife from the Home Shopping Club’s Executive Cutlery Line.
I hit the roof, hard. But, I had time for no more theatrics beyond a few well-said profanities. It was one of those roofs with the severe pitch. Severe enough that before having an opportunity to perform a self-injury assessment, I started to slide down. This was a totally unnecessary development. The chute, still billowing, floated downward, collapsed around the chimney, settled. I snagged a handful of those two-hundred strings attaching the chute to my tightly clenched ass, and pulled my way up to the pointy part of the roof. What the hell is it called? Dormer? Soffit? Shit! I’ll call it, the safe part. The friggin’ part I can straddle and avoid tumbling downward to break my leg on some forgotten lawn implement. A tractor, hay thresher, or weed whacker. RIDGE! That’s what it’s called, ridge. And that’s where I’d stay, on the ridge.
An old man tottered forward into the yard, spun and carefully stepped backwards, one hand shielding his cataract-ridden eyes from the sun. He stared up at me. At first glance, he appeared grizzled, friendly, but the bibbed overalls injected a hint of menace to the scene. He wore no shirt; one long, ancient, leathery arm waved animatedly at some unseen presence beneath my line of sight. Somehow, I knew he was freeballing beneath those overalls. Naked as the day he was born, and I derived no succor from this image.
“Hello, sir,” I cried out, attempting to sound humbled. “It seems I’ve strayed a bit off course. Could I trouble you for a ladder?”
“Mazey!” The duffer called out. “Get over here and take a look at this fella. I swear, he looks like that devil worshipper on the TV.”
Those words confirmed what I already suspected; I’d floundered from one bad scene to another.
This was backwardass Bible belt country. A harsh swampy enclave of pinched eyes and generations of non-selective inbreeding. This part of northeast Florida is an impenetrable warren of thick, dangerous swamp. From the air, it looked like an ant farm of canals, salt marshes, estuaries and winding waterways. All muddy, brackish water rolling in and out with the tides. You had to be vigilant to live here. To carve out a small plot for a dilapidated mobile home, then fight a daily battle against the mutant vegetation which never ceased its efforts to engulf everything. It took a lot praying... and a machete.
“Thass him!” A stout, tough looking lady cried almost as soon as she got an unobstructed look at me. “Thass the anticreest.”
“I’ll get the shotgun,” her elderly mate, and possibly cousin, said.
“No, I’m not him,” I said, making use of my most authoritative tone. “That’s my evil twin brother. I’m on an important mission. I have uh, the mighty iron Spear of Destiny. The Pope himself gave it to me. I’m on my way to smite that rogue bastard twin brother before he starts the cataclysm.”
“Hurry up, Ethan,” the lady screamed, never taking her sinister eyes off me. “He’s using his forked tongue to spread more lies.”
The old man, apparently suffused with the energy of the righteously anointed, quick-stepped out in front and brought an old rusty shotgun to bear on the easiest target of all. A large organism stranded on a dark roof, wearing a bright red skydiving suit. All I lacked was a huge target on my head, and a couple of devil horns.
History has illustrated mankind’s deficient sense of humor. Their inability to chill out and have a laugh at their own expense. No, an alarming segment of the vox populi would rather knuckle than chuckle. And none, no group, no club, no gang, has shown more antipathy to a good laugh, and less restraint in the face of good natured razzing, than the religious fervent. I knew that show, American Idolatry, would end up killing me. Though, I could never have anticipated I would die at the hands of Ma and Pa Kettle.
To illustrate the depth of my sentiment, I tried to twist myself into a pretzel and get the shot, but I was a little unsteady. It took several drinks before a girl at the bar agreed to pull the trigger on the camera for me. Took several more before she drew the HeAR!t with a magic marker.
(OK, I'm lying about her drawing the heart. She drew the line at that, no matter how many I drinks I bought. Heh!)
OK, I've had numerous emails asking what the little number was I emailed. That is yer number for the banner drawing. Starting Monday, I'll use the Florida Lottery Pick three daily numbers to pick a winner. You must hit the number exact. You don't have to do anything. I'll check the numbers but here's a link if ya want to Flalottery We use the night drawing, not the midday drawing. Night only.
Winning numbers: 2/7/11 - 327 No winner: 2/8/11 - 619 No winner 2/9/11 - 449 No winner 2/10/11 - 058 WINNER
WALTER NEFF? FROM MISSOURI, OR MONTANA, OR MASSACHUSETTS, OR MAINE HAS WON THE BANNER! HE PROMISES TO SEND A PICTURE OF IT HANGING BEFORE HIS SIGNIFICANT OTHER REMOVES IT AND THREATENS HIM WITH SOME INHUMANITY. HAR!
Now, since I randomly assigned ya numbers, and ya know what yer number is, and the fraggin' lottery is kinda tough to hack—ya know I ain't cheatin', practicing favoritism, giving it to pole dancer, etc.
Books are all here. Truck delivered final batch Friday. I am busy signing them and readying for shipment. Everything ships this week. Some of the older orders will get a surprise bonus. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, if possible beneath a foot of snow, or ice, or innuendo. HAR!
And no, you will NOT receive any further emails. I never bother ya. I get a book ready, announce it, and forget it. Plus, this was a pain-in-the-hindquarters to set up. Never again!
Here r' the books. DVD's in a clear sleeve inside back.
Recording a lugwrench episode.
What is this thing?
Here is part 1 of the Lugwrench
DIRECT DOWNLOAD HERE:
Here is part 2 of the Lugwrench 417. It contains only the Fangbang story, so if you already read the text version posted earlier, ya can safely forget this.
DIRECT DOWNLOAD HERE:
Yeah, this episode is mainly about e-books. I have a sweet deal for those who prefer audiobooks, so I had to arrange something for the folks who prefer reading stuff on little screens. The HAR! flashdrive is for them. Hey, there's like ten million different little e-readers out there. Could be some rum-fundage in it. Capitalism, Baby! It's not just for Breakfast. (archaic reference to old fraggin' TV commercial) Plus there's a cool lanyard that comes with it. Looks like crime scene tape and says "Cauttion: Litrachur Crime Scene"
Oh, and don't take my word for it, I'm a raving succcess in comparison.
7 out of 10 books don't earn out their advances
New York Times
Sunday Book Review
The vast majority of books never even earn out their advance. 98
percent sell 5000 copies or fewer (and fully 90 percent sell under
ADDENDUM: Ya don't have to read this. I just recorded a lugwrench episode and it's on there.
I'm writing furiously! No kidding! Recording Devlin 4. Drinking. But, I like to reward the teeming horde of listeners/readers with a bonus on occasion. In that vein, here is a short story.It's dark. Not humorous. But, even I get an urge to mix it up.
by Greg crites
Copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved
No time for rest now.
I’ve been in a hospital bed on and off for...what, eighteen months? I’ve had plenty of rest. I’ll get plenty more.
The twin Mercury engines screamed as I kept the throttle two-thirds open and held on as the speedboat charged nose-up, toward the island. A cigarette boat it’s called. I just call it fast. The first time I’ve piloted any type of water vessel. Thirty-six years old and another first.
Pay attention. Throttle down. Slowly ease the boat toward the docks. I’ve got this far, don’t want to ram into something. That wouldn’t do at all.
The boat eases forward to an open spot at the very end of the wooden pier. I pull back and use a minimum amount of reverse thrust to slowly drift into the pylons. The huge motors churn water and whine, as if protesting this waste of all that raw power. Several large, heavily armed, decidedly unfriendly-looking guards fan out into an optimum killing formation and watch my every movement.
I don’t know whether their edgy scrutiny was standard procedure or just good instincts. Maybe it was all the blood I am drenched in. It’s mostly dry now, but there is no mistaking the stain of blood; I am covered in it.
No time to change. Clean up. Have a last meal, or even a cold glass of milk. I was on a schedule. Every minute counts. When you’re going to do some thing, the success of that thing is all in the planning. And a plan cannot rightly be called a plan if it has no timetable.
A weird genetic misfire started me on this path. A twisted, secret government agency equipped and guided me along it.
I’m a killer. A hit man if you prefer the pop culture jargon. And, if a certain minor branch of a certain government agency is to be believed, I’m the best hit man. Unequaled at that most human art. Though, I now know it is not an art, or even a skill. Humans are fragile. They break, and they cease to function with very little external force. Making them cease and arranging it to look like an accident—maybe that’s a skill. I guess. Making their demise resemble that unplanned chaos of life that swoops down and picks off random organisms with inevitable regularity— that takes planning, knowledge, but not artistry, or feeling. Never feeling. At least not for me.
One of the guards stares intently at a small hand-held device, and where his features had been merely unfriendly before, they now morphed into a pure harbinger of impending violence. I know that look. It’s the look formed just before you stop someone’s heart for good and forever.
“Private party,” the guard says, his tone dripping with menace and absolute authority. “Get yourself and that boat out of here.”
“I’m here to see Pushtin,” I tell him.
“I told you to get yourself and that boat out of here,” the man replies, swiveling the barrel of his pistol so that it more or less points expectantly at my forehead. “I won’t tell you again.”
“I work for a small, but powerful organization and they know what’s on this island,” I say, quickly, before his finger did what his nature desired. “They know all about it. They have film. In fact, they have film of Pushtin killing that talk show host. He threw him off the roof and used his special skills to escape, unnoticed. Except, he made a mistake. This time the camera noticed. Pushtin and the others will want to see me. You can go ahead and shoot, but I have information; information Pushtin’s going to want. I’m alone, I’m unarmed.”
I hold my arms aloft, displaying wrinkled khakis, a plain white t-shirt and a white dress shirt, open and unbuttoned. I mention the whiteness of the shirts only to provide contrast. I and the clothes are caked with the dried, dull, crusted red ochre of human blood. My hair, though damp now from the spray, will soon clump and stiffen with the mixture of brine and blood—maybe. This posture of upraised arms is calculated to illustrate that I am unarmed, concealing nothing, non-threatening; as if the occupants of this island could be threatened by the presence of a single, nondescript, ordinary individual.
The guard continues to glare while speaking low into a concealed microphone.
The hard part is nearly over. I’d expected to be blown out of the water before I got this far. Being different always requires some level of paranoia.
There, a blur. Not even forty seconds—fast. Too fast? I did some mental calculations as a figure came to rest next to the guard who appeared to be still listening for a response.
It was Pushtin, though he is hard to recognize. Apparently, during their annual festival they dispense with whatever cosmetic trickery they use to interact with the food. His features were flaccid, cheeks and skin loose and droopy. The eyes dark slits, aimed downward, skin pale, exposing blue and reddish veins, and then there was the mouth. A rubbery slash with two gleaming white fangs, like goalposts. Goalposts to redemption.
He stared at me, and smiled. Forcing his features more-or-less into what one is used to seeing on a fellow human. But even I, miserable, foul, abominable creature that I am, wish he had not smiled. Had I any doubts as to the existence of monsters, that smile erased them.
“Come up here and join us,” he said, gesturing with his open hand. His voice deep and smooth, and commanding.
I move carefully, stiffly. I’d practiced this, but it still took everything I had to climb onto that wooden pier. My muscles and tendons fought the exertion, protested the myriad of synchronized motion required to lift and pull myself up from the boat.
I stood, expending internal effort to keep from swaying. Not from fear, from my body’s rebellion at the previous movement.
Pushtin moved in and sniffed me, making a clucking noise. He moves behind, placing his face right at my neck. I could feel the air blowing from his nostrils as he continued to smell me.
“Hmm,” he mumbled. “Yes, I see now. You have something for us, and we have something for you. Samal! Call and have the visitor cart brought here. Our new guest and I will ride back to the resort.”
And that is it. The culmination of a life gone horribly wrong.
“Now, my new friend, what proof do you have to convince me of our mutual goals.” Pushtin asked.
“Have your man check the news,” I said.
“And what will he find? What is he looking for?”
“I would imagine the only thing he’ll find is what he’s looking for,” I answered. Still not moving, not frightened, breathing regular.
“Master,” the guard said, looking at me differently now. Respectfully.
“What?” asked Pushtin.
“This guy killed 43 people in some NSA building. His face is all over the net. The whole thing is on film. He didn’t even try to hide. He just slaughtered everybody. It’s a bloodbath. Every channel, all over the web.”
Pushtin left me and took the device from the guard. It appeared to be some miniature notebook computer the world has not got its hands on yet. No identifying logo. Of course, they would have access to nearly anything. Terror, and power, and superior strength, and absolute focus is the formula for a successful bully.
“When did you do this?” He asked me, still scanning and poking the device.
“I’ve been killing people under their direction over the past twenty-plus years. It just seemed poetic to do to them what I’ve been doing for them.”
“That’s what you are, a killer?” He asked.
“Yes, and a good one,” I tell him. “I’ve lost count. Did my first at the age of fourteen. Never came close to being caught. This time, I needed to send you a message. An introduction of sorts. I believe this speaks louder than a business card, wouldn‘t you agree?”
He said no more as an elongated golf cart rolled to a stop on a narrow paved path at the foot of the pier. The cart was painted in bright, festive colors; red was dominant.
My thoughts ran to the past as the battery-operated cart whined and whirred us through a canopy of lush, fragrant plant life. My parents, whoever they were, could not properly take care of a tough case like me. Could not keep me from killing myself. So, at the age of two a nice government man came and took me away to a nice laboratory. They kept me restrained, in a leather harness until I was six or seven or eight, it’s hard to remember. They taught me many useful things, enough physiology and biology to qualify as a medical doctor, how things worked, locks, security systems, motors. I took things apart, put them back together. I had to earn my food. At fourteen they sent me out on a trial run. Kill this man, they told me. No problem. As a bonus I took out my keeper, and the driver, and a couple more men sent to pick me up.
Things changed a little then. I became an asset who deserved respect, and handsome renumeration, and distance. Distance was safer for everybody. I realize now I acted exactly as they planned. Left the nest, but needed my connection to it—the only home, the only community I’d ever known.
We roll into an open area containing a large assembly of white tiled bungalows surrounding a large central building and a sprawling recreation area with swimming pool. This is, even to my dead eyes, a beautiful resort. The pure white tiles contrasted starkly with the lush, well-tended greenery in evidence all around.
Pushtin remained silent, staring at me; now he ushers me to follow him with a less friendly, “come along, killer.”
I follow, not timorously, not enthusiastically either. It was getting more difficult to move smoothly. Things are shifting.
I follow Pushtin into a large, open room in the main central building. It is full of them. I do a quick mental count, moving my head as little as possible. At least forty-nine of the sixty right here. The rest are around somewhere. Need to quit obsessing. It’s a good plan.
All of them approach me, most slack featured, fanged, hostile; a few retained their public faces. They move in, sniffing me, making hideous noises. One, an extremely attractive woman, paws between my legs, feeling me through the thin khakis; she sniffs, licks my neck. I ignore her. Instead looking back on my life again.
No sex, ever. Not possible with my affliction. No feelings. No emotions. Just one day after another. Eat, shit, kill, sleep, repeat. Zero interest in television, movies, music, politics, news. Humor escapes me. I do enjoy taking things apart, anything, circuit board, car, airplane—then putting them back together. This routine punctuated with a kill order every week, or every month, the frequency varied. I’ve lost track, or maybe I never kept track. I don’t know who my victims were, what they did, or anything about them except what I needed to know in order to get at them. And then do what I’d been trained to.
That was my life.
Until I noticed the blood and made an unscheduled visit to a non-approved doctor. Now I understand that’s when my life started. The devil approached me with a deal. Sounds stupid, I realize that. I was recovering from the surgery. Ready to leave in a day or two. They gave me bad news, but I didn’t care. Then the beautiful woman came to visit, with the handsome stranger. The two of them radiated power. Said they could make me better; in return for my soul. I assumed they already had it.
Pushtin interrupts my inward musings.
“So, you seek the gift. Tell us now, why such a public slaughter. You can never go out among people again. Everyone, everywhere will recognize you. What could you possibly offer us in exchange for the gift of life? For us to take a chance on a wild, untamed killer?”
“Those people I slaughtered, they were readying an assault on you. They were NSA, and not the NSA you know about. This department was completely off the books. No oversight, by anyone. Completely separated, deniable. If I hadn’t done it, you would have had to.”
Actually, killing them was never in doubt. That was non-negotiable. That was for me.
“We never heard of this,” Pushtin says. I know he was one of the sixty vampires scattered on this planet. Each one in a different country, each one left completely alone, off-limits after convincing whoever needed convincing that there was no way to win. It’s how they could remain unknown, free to do whatever. They never sought to run anything, or interfere with human affairs. They only sought to be left alone, to feed, kill, and remain a myth. So they kept spread apart, across the planet, and they put ‘The Fear’ in any overly-curious leader. No investigations. No confrontations. No plans against them. Swift retribution was guaranteed and illustrated with brutal, blood spattered acts.
“You wouldn’t,” I say. “Not even the President knows of that branch.”
“You said you had information of an organization. One with pictures of me killing that blowhard. Is this the same organization you’ve already destroyed?”
“No,” I answer, “Why then, would you need me? No, there’s another one, and they have more files, more hard evidence of your existence than the NSA. They are coming after you, all of you, at once. So your being spread out will do no good.”
“He’s lying,” one of the creatures says. “What are those strange smells drifting from him?”
“Quiet!” Pushtin ordered.
“Chemo,” I answer, unbidden. “Free radical radiation, and all manner of other treatments. I smell like a chemistry cocktail because that’s what’s been pumped into me for a year.”
“So we give you the gift, we make you one of us, we cure you, and then you give us this information.” Pushtin says, approaching me. Searching my eyes for any subterfuge.
“Not exactly, I’m going to give you the organization’s name and details right now. But I’ll hold out their actual plan until the very end.”
“The end of what?”
“The end of my cure,” I answer, unblinking, our faces nearly touching.
Pushtin laughs, a horrid contrived affectation of real human laughter. “Come, Killer. Move to the center and address all of us. Tell us of this organization and we promise the gift.”
A few angry hisses drift from the crowd, but Pushtin silences these with a look. I note, relieved, several others moving in to join the circle of monsters that surrounded me.
I tell them of the organization. The one that approached after I told the Devil to go to hell. It was probably a delusion. A dream. A nightmare. There was no devil. If there is, my soul was his at the age of 14. But there was an organization. A secret one. One that had nothing to do with any government, and they knew all about these creatures, and they knew how to get rid of them. And they offered redemption. A well-funded, concerned, secretive group that’s been around a long time. Waiting.
“Why did they approach you?” Pushtin asks after I finish explaining the who and why of the organization plotting to destroy them. I know I have little time left. These things would not cure me. They would torture me, keep me alive with small amounts of their viral blood—until I broke, gave them what they wanted. It was time.
“Because I can kill you,” I say, calmly removing my shirt. Then my pants. The assemblage of monsters stare at my body, for once speechless, even sickened by the sight. “Have you heard of CIPA? No, of course not. It’s an extremely rare disorder. Last count, there were less than 300 of us on the earth, and we die rapidly. I am the oldest known specimen. Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis. The congenital means you’re born with it. The anhidrosis means I can’t sweat. I can’t feel pain, heat, or cold. It’s a genetic mutation which prevents the formation of nerve cells which are responsible for transmitting signals of pain, heat, and cold to the brain. Incurable. It has to do with the ends of the nerve clusters, but I don’t want to bore you.”
I turn slowly, so they can see the freshly healed stitching. I’d spent the last eighteen months under the knife. When I got the diagnosis of the cancer, this organization approached me. They described these monsters. And I don’t know, something clicked. I realized I was a monster. I looked around and for the first time understood the majority of people were doing the best they could with the time they had. Billions of them. Struggling. Loving. It had been abstract to me, a freak who had to take all his meals in liquid form. Wear a mouthpiece at night to keep from biting his own tongue off and not knowing until the blood filled his mouth. But I was dying, soon, and I had a chance. A chance to feel something. It was all I could hope for. I took it.
Thirty-six pounds of a new, powerful, massively destructive explosive. That’s how much was needed to take out this entire island. Level it. Burn it. Scorch it brown. I was the equivalent of a tactical nuke. Without too much nasty radiation.
They had to slice me everywhere. Back and front, every inch. Wires, circuits, ignition boosters, failsafes, and thirty-six pounds of monster cleansing redemption. Several thousand stitches.
I bit down where my back teeth used to be. I could almost feel the current flowing down my neck, to my arms, along my torso, down my legs. Almost feel it. But right at that moment, for once I felt something. I felt human.
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