On These Streets In These Skies

Non essays; fiction.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Limbo

Imagine it is spring. 

In your town, in your city. 


Think of what you smell. Fresh cut grass. Automotive Exhaust. Pine trees. Rain. It is sunrise. You get up. Get ready to start your day. You turn on the radio, or the TV or nothing at all. But what you hear brings you comfort. Your favorite song. Your favorite cartoon. Or even blissful silence of the early morning. 


Life is good. Life is normal. It is familiar. That alone is comforting. 


Imagine it is summer. In your town, in your city. The smell is of fire. Something, somewhere is always burning. It is sunrise. You get up to start your day. The radio and the TV are all static now. And there is no silence. Explosions and gunfire are a regular occurrence. Life is strange. Life is alien. 


Life has become about living another day. You don't know what to do. 


The professional and semi-professional forces are at war. One of them, you don't know who, murdered the owner of a bakery near where you live. They held a gun to his head and murdered his wife and then his children in front of him. 


You heard his screaming suddenly stop in the distance when they shot him. 


You didn't see it. 


You heard it from your neighbors 5-year-old. 


You are not a professional soldier. You are a plumber. A doctor. A lawyer. A stone mason. A waiter. A hostess. A teacher. A dishwasher. You are the farthest profession from soldier you can think off. 


The bakery owner thought that with a rifle he could take a stand against one side or the other. He failed. And the side he gave his allegiance to did not save him. Didn't even show up. His body and the bodies of his family rot in the summer sun. 


The owner of an apartment building contacts you and asks if you have any money. He has a way out. It's only ten miles to the coast, but you will have walk four of it because all the roads are either destroyed or have mines hidden in the asphalt. And it'll cost you 1,000 dollars. 


The mines are not intended for you. They were planted by one of the factions. The factions don't give a shit if you live or die. 


They are not fighting for you. 


They are fighting for power and control. 


You start with ten pounds of belongings, but you haven't eaten in so long, it's too heavy. 


You cut it down to five, and the first three miles, you slowly throw away more and more. 


Eventually all you have is a photograph from your past that is too painful to look at. Everyone in the photo except you is dead. 


Against all odds and with many causalities, you make it to the coast. A child who had his legs blown off two days ago succumbs to gangrene and dies. His father, in his grief, take a pistol from someone brought along and kills himself. 


Everyone is too exhausted to be horrified. 


You make it to a country that is at peace. 


You are almost relieved. And then they turn you away. And you feel lost. Alone. Sad. Desperate. And you are now a refugee. A word you never though would describe you. Or anyone you knew. But here you are. In limbo.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

When I Am Gone

Bury me under sand and stone so my ghost can hear the sea

Burn my body away on a distant mountain
and my ashes can blow down to the the city

Bury me under loam and moss among tall, uncaring trees

Butcher me for dogs and cats, cut me up so they can eat
Cut me up so they can thrive, for generations three

Bury me under homes in cities under thick concrete

Let me rise again to defend these people
A revenant of rage that can take back these streets

Bury me somewhere kind, so you remember me.


Monday, April 9, 2018

Our House

I opened the door to my home and heard the hiss of frying meat.

Jane doesn't cook, usually. It's only a few dishes and NOTHING she likes to cook is fried, but it tells me something when she does.

"Hey, hon what's for dinner?"
[SITREP Please]

"Oh, the usual. It's Tuesday." she said.
[There are at least two, maybe more, I sent Loretta to stay with friends]

"Oh, Tacos?! I love Tacos!" I said.
[So the kids are okay, and we can fuck them up?]

"Yeah, I made some pico di gallo, what kind of cheese did you want?"
[I can access to the hand guns, but I can't get to the SMGs, can you get something to cover?]

"Oh, you know me, just some regular cheddar is fine."
[I can get to the M-4 in the dining room before they know what happens and I have an extra magazine]

"Great, that will make this so much easier, and we're out of garlic!"
[*filler* count down from 5 and  then move to take down]

"What, again? Alright, I'll go get some..."

So then I take my shoes off then open and close the front door.

Give them a moment to relax. I don't know which one of us they are here for. And I don't care. I'm at that level of angry where I'm very calm. Jane has been there. I wait a few seconds and move on the balls of my feet. I taped an M-4 under the TV table - what Myra calls our coffee table - I put my hand on it and I wait.

"Oh shit!" comes from the kitchen and there is a plate break making enough noise so that they don't hear the tape rip off and the magazine load up.

I hear them say "keep it together bitch!" and.... I'm mad... I don't know why... Jane has seen far worse things than I have.

Jane was shot twice in the chest with no armor once. It made her mad, she grabbed the guy by the collar, spit her lung blood in his face and emptied a magazine into him while cursing his family if four different languages. She was a medic at that time.

"I'm sorry, I'm really sorry, okay! I don't cook a lot!" She's pretending like she doesn't know how to kill them.

God, she is good.

"You're a stupid bitch!" a voice says.

That. Is. It.

I throw my silver dollar against the wall. It's a very specific sound. Jane knows it. I know it. And they don't.

I come around the corner, M-4 up and there are two dead bodies in the kitchen.

I look at my wife. "All of them?" I gesture.

"Not sure" she responds with her non shooting hand.

"Wanna check?" I ask with my shoulder and chin.

"I want to sweep the whole house!" She says, with angry motion of both her shoulders and chin.

We clear the floor we're on first. They didn't pick the lock to the basement, thank God, so we go upstairs.

I take point because I have the rifle. "Wait one" I gesture and tape the extra magazine to one already in the rifle. Quick reverse. I have "quiet tape" aka plummer's tape. It's gooey and I have to clean the magazines after, but it's worth it. With my non-shooting hand, I slide my hand down to my hip and then back up to my weapon let Jane know I'm ready.

I love this house, but it's more nooks and crannies than an English Muffin.

Jane has her shoes off, too.

I try to imitate the voice of the man who called my wife a bitch.

"I think we're good, bro!" I say.

"Did you double tap!?" comes this voice.

"What, am I an amateur?" I say.

"Nah, you're good bro..." and he steps out, handgun dangling from his hand like it's some sort of trinket.

Jane and I both bring up our weapons and destroy his body with bullets.

We're both really sorry.

I kick his weapon away. I feel sorry for him.

I gesture to Jane. "You hear that?"

"I do" she gestures back, tapping her ear and giving me a thumbs up.

"Does it sound like..." I gesture "someone fucking?" I make the index finger and insert into an imaginary vagina that draw in the air.

Jane listens harder, "Sounds like masturbation" she gestures, tapping her ear and making the "jerk off" motion.

My hands are full, and I look at Jane, communicate with my body "You... yeah. Get the door. I'll kill this mother fucker..."

Jane looks back at me "He's in our daughters room!"

Fuck.

Fucking. Men.

Goddammit.

I gesture "Okay, you open the door, I'll look at it," and Jane nods.

The stairs creek, and I'm cool with that. We still hear him. And then we both hear him achieve orgasm... in our daughters room.

I look my wife dead in the eye and gesture "So...match you for it?"

She slaps me, hard, across the face and goes in.

She was right. I make jokes when I'm uncomfortable.

She drags him out. The little panda toy I brought back from Japan is stuck on his fading erection.

Jane looks at me and she has this guy in a Nelson hold. She gestures in this subtle way that tells me to take her other side arm and put it against his head. He is gasping for air and says "You don't know what you are doing, you're a faggot!"

With one hand a take the safety off right in front of him.

"It's cool man..." He starts pissing himself.

Jane deals with it. It's all over the floor.

"You wanna ask him?" I say, the first honest words I've said to my wife since I walked in the door to my house.

"I do..." Jane says.

"Have at it, hon." I said.

"Who sent you!?" Jane roared, in a way that would have made me piss myself.

"You're daughter is too smart, she knows too much..." he gurgles.

"You want to?" I ask my wife.

I watch his body shudder as she empties the magazine into his back, and I watch the slugs destroy his life, bouncing around in his body and killing him. The blood gets all over her and she hurls his body to the ground.

"Anything else?" I ask.

"If you would have let us have her... we would have stopped." He spits out his words.

Jane kicks him in the face and he dies.

I look down at him. He is ruined, blood is spilling from his mouth.

"Where's our daughter?" I ask with my voice.

"The Jackson's, they are on Cresmont avenue." she said.

"That's a tight area." I said.

"Yeah... you wanna get the band back together?" She asked. With this smile... that I can't so no to. That I could never say no to.

"How many are in Baltimore?" I asked.

"Just the right amount..." she said.

"Let's go get our daughter, then." I said.

She looked at me in this way, he eyes wide, wet and sexual. She pushes my rifle back and presses her mouth to mine. We haven't sex in a very long time. But her mouth on mine feels like sex. She inhales my breath...and I exhale with joy...then she disengages and inhales the air full of blood and cordite and then she puts herself to my mouth and exhales.

She forced her life into my lungs, like God in the Torah.

I have her anger and pain in my lungs. I fell to my knees. She sucked all the air out of my lungs.

"You feel better, baby?" She asked.

Saliva dripped from the side of my mouth.

"I feel better." I said. My speech was slurred. She had me feeling like she was rum.

"Get it together... if they know where we are... they know where our daughter is..." my wife said.

"Yes, Ma'am.."










Saturday, March 24, 2018

Unexpected Good From Lobbying for Big Soda

"Wait. So, Erik Lehnsherr... the terrorist is a donor?"

Kate got very direct.

"Keep your voice down. Yes, he is. But so is that Xavier guy."

We were in this DC bar called "Fillabusters" because... DC.

"Who?" I asked.

"He's this philanthropist dude. He teaches kids with powers to not be terrorists. Runs a prep school? Bald? Wheelchair?"

I shrugged.

"Alright, these dudes don't agree on anything except this." Kate said. I'd just started with the firm as a lobbyist. We focused on soda, sugary drinks, that kind of thing. Bloomberg was trying to get things banned, other states were trying to the same because of the "obesity epidemic."

"And like what, are any other donors mutants?" I asked.

"At least 90% and human allies."

"Whoa. So... why is that?"

"Have you seen some of these people?" she asked.

Every so often on the news, I'd seen some dude shoot lasers out of his eyes or this file footage that CNN will not stop showing of Lehnsherr lifting cars off the ground.

"Mostly that car thing."

"Right. Now, how much energy do you think that takes?"

"A lot I guess." I said.

"Yeah, everything you eat is turned into energy, now if you can like, lift a car just like, normally, or fly or have steel skin? How many calories is that?"

"So we are supporting mutant dietary needs?"

"Well, yeah. I mean, no one can live on our products alone, but honestly, they supplement the mutant diet a great deal. We don't have any studies yet; we're trying to work with Xavier to make sure we do that ethically. Our biologist says they process calories at an astonishing rate; and if they can like generate energy on their own? It's incredibly high, like 20 to 30 times the processing ability of a normal human."

"Okay, I do feel better about this whole thing...."

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Closing Time: Inspired by Toto's Africa Empty Shopping Center Edit



Yolanda was just closing up; after being at work an extra hour because Chad had fucked his drawer all up. Again.

Fucking white college kids
, Yolanda thought as she pulled the gate down. She shook her head. She was being mean. Chad did smoke way too much weed, but he never messed up a frame and well, working at a retail frame store? He was pretty indispensable when the turn around was so high.

It bothered her sometimes, too. The turn around. She was a junior manager after only six months from being a holiday hire in December.

She needed this job. Scholarships and all got her college paid for, and really, she could just stay on Towson University campus her entire four years, take summer classes, etc. But her grandparents were struggling. Still. After they struggled to raise her, after they struggled through her mother dying and her father slowly working himself to death.

And it's not fair! And it's bullshit! She thought.

sssssss POP!

The hell was that?!

Sounded like a gun or a firecracker. But the hiss was loud, right next to her and the pop was distant, at least as far away as the bottom floor.

Yolanda kept a collapsible baton on her at all times because Granddad always said "it just ain't safe, baby girl,"  and she snapped it out. There was no way to rob any of the stores...except hers if they found her.

She sprinted to the escalators at Nordstrom. She took out her little Nokia and... no signal. What the fuck? Battery charged, and no signal. Useless.

Then there were voices. The were coming from in front of her store. Then she saw their shadows splashed up against the closed entrance of Nordstrom.

There was a high pitched whine, like a camera flash recharging but... hefty. Like it was a really big flash. And then some sort of click. No, a lot of clicks. All at once.

And then? The mall music came on.

"Idioot! Jy het die musiekstelsel begin!" said a rough, lacerated sounding voice. And old voice, too. Gravelly like a smoker and drinker.

Was that German? She thought.

"Sy is nog hier, meneer!" said another voice; almost boyish but with that same harsh anger.

That's not German, Yolanda thought. Granddad was in Germany for years, stayed for two years after the war was over. He still had a good ear for "fake ass Hollywood German," and he would point it out at any opportunity.

There was an ozone smell in the air, too.

What did granddad tell her? When he got separated from what was it? The 452nd. After they landed at Normandy, his truck got turned around and then they got sprayed with machine gun fire. Only he survived. Getting back the lines... the "fucking krauts, the hunted my black ass all the way," was how he would start that story.

These people sounded close to German. You wanna hunt my black ass? Yolanda thought. She took a box cutter from her work apron and flung it high in their direction. It was a heavy piece of metal, yellow like a banana with hand grips.

It hit the ground away from her.

POP! POP!

Oh shit... they had guns.

"Hou op om te skiet! Julle twee, vind daardie koeëls! Sy is 'n blote kind." said the angry older voice.

How could she not hear their footsteps?! Their shadows got smaller, she hunched down and reversed her grip on the baton.

They walked right past her.

They have guns,
she thought, her heart racing. They will kill me. This is self defense. They will kill me. This is self defense. 

One of them turned to his left and the other to his right. They were both wearing grey clothing; not exactly uniforms, but uniform. Her sneakers squeaked on the the tiles and before the one who turned left knew, she smashed the side of his head with the baton. He fell over making a gurgling gasping noise and Yolanda moved to the next one, who brought up a knife.

Reverse grip was a good choice, she swatted it away with a straight arm and smashed him in the throat. His teeth clicked as he tried to inhale, but his trachea was completely caved in. He would suffocate.

A bright light shined on her.

"Had to stay out of that light! I'll tell you baby girl, that light woulda got me shot." Granddad would say.

She moved again. How many more?

"Selfs as kinders, is hulle dodelik! Ek het jou gesê!" said the younger voice, Yolanda's sneakers squeaked again and she was on him, reversing the baton again she brought it down hard on his collar bone and a wet crunch bled into his screaming.

She twisted his back toward her and used the baton to choke him, he screaming stopped.

"What do you want?!" She demanded.

"I'm afraid it's not a want, my child." The old voice came from a bald silhouette. His accent was strange. With demonic speed, it raised a pistol and fired three shots into her hostage. She didn't feel the bullets; they must not have gone through.

She dropped the body and doubled back to the other men still on the floor. She grabbed the knife the second one had dropped. The other one was coming to. If he worked for a man who would kill him to get to her? He was better off.

She closed the distance and brought her heal down hard into the bleeding spot she made earlier. He fell down hard.

"Jy ook! As sy leef, sterf ons toekoms!" the old voice growled. "Oop Vuur!"

POPOPOPOPOPOPOPOPOP!

"Cover is what bullets can't get through," Granddad used to say.

Hold still. Wait. Wait behind cover. They'll come to check. They'll come to check like the Germans did. The large potted plant she hid behind was in pieces, but the bullets didn't get through it. The air was thick with cordite smell and smoke. Yolanda was shaking.

A foot came next to her and she jammed the knife into it; the foot's owner screamed and someone on the other side of the decimated plant shot them until his weapon clicked.

"When it clicks, you damn sure move" Granddad would say. The Germans really wanted to kill him after he took three of them out with a grenade that he had snuck, it wasn't issued to him. He was starving and had been running for almost a day. They wanted him dead.

These men wanted her dead.

Yolanda sprung to her feet and smashed his hand down with the baton, the weapon clattered to the floor, and she put the knife into his face, shoving into his eye socket, hot blood and vitreous humor ran down her hand, to her forearm and dripped off the bend of her elbow.

She picked up the pistol of the foot she stabbed, not knowing anything about what kind of gun it was, she kept her finger off the trigger.

"What do you want?!" she shouted.

"Merely your death, I'm afraid, as I said before." He seemed.... so resolute.

"Why?" Yolanda shouted. If he answered she would move.

"It's far too complicated, but I can tell you that your death will save millions of lives..."

Yolanda sprung up, both hands on the pistol she fired the remaining rounds into the shadow.

POPOPOPOPOP click

"Amazing" the shadow said. Tried to level his pistol, fired wildly as his strength left him. The pistol became too heavy as the rest of his body did.

"Who are you?" Yolanda asked as she came to stand over him.

"We have this song... in my time." he said.

It was a song Yolanda didn't know; some sort of harp and someone singing, the first song that had started playing had ended and it was something new.

"What?"

"Who taught you to fight?" he asked. He was bald, with tanned but white skin with a scar that went up the right side of his face.

"My grand father. He fought Nazis. Men like you."

"Heh," he coughed up blood. "We aren't called Nazis anymore. Wrong timeline. Your grandfather was killed by Nazis, and your father taught you. You aren't even the right one...."

"What?" Yolanda asked.

"I told you...complicated..." he died then.

Yolanda's phone buzzed.

"Granpa?!" she said.

"Baby girl, where are you? It's well past closing time..."

"Granpa...I think some Nazis just tried to kill me..." Yolanda started to cry. All the fear that she had tamped down to survive was spilling out like inside of  a cracked egg.

"Stay right there, baby girl. I know someone who can help..."

"What?"

"It's a long story, baby girl, tell you the whole thing soon, just stay right there, catch your breath. A good friend of mine is going to meet you."

"Who?"

"He's a good man, but... he probably looks like someone you just killed. But he's a good man, trust me."

He hung up. What? Looks like... him?

His body was right next to here. He could be anyone, really. Without the scar, he could any old white guy. Maybe some more hair? He was just... ordinary. He looked so ordinary. He could be anyone.

Yolanda breathed in. Let her heart slow down. She heard the music playing over the speakers, still.

"everybody wants to rule the woorrllld."











Monday, March 12, 2018

Heretic

Confess you sins...

"We landed on the moon..."

They hit me.

"We landed on the moon in the 1960's"

They hit me again.

"Neil Armstrong landed on the moon." I spat.

They hit me again.

"We never landed on the moon." they said.

"No, we did land on the moon."

"There" punch. "Is." punch "No." punch "Moon."

What happened to this country?

"Say it." They said.

My mouth is full of blood. My teeth are loosened in my skull; these people mean to undo me.

There is a knock at the door.

"Who is it?" They ask.

"Section Chief..." from behind the door.

They move quickly to the door and fling it open. "You're not..." and they get shot in the head. Their body crumples to the ground; a heavy sound hitting the floor. The two others die in place as well. Whoever shot them had a lot of skill.

"Rafiki! Are you okay?"

"No, I'm not..." I sigh... "They hurt me..."

Achmed wraps his arms around me; "It's okay... you'll be okay... we're going to get you out of here,"

Achmed...hated guns. Did he use a gun just now? I felt.. horrible. A man of peace did violence to save me? No. Please no.

I don't know how long they were torturing me. It all blends together. I feel safe in Achmed's arms.

"I'm in pain," I say.

"I know, brother, I know... can you walk?" His eyes are glossy with tears. I wish he didn't have to see me this way. I used to be the strong one.

"I can't.... they took a power drill to my knees." I rasp. I'm so thirsty.

Achmed starts crying..."These bastards....

I realize I must smell terrible. I'm so tired.

"We'll fix you...you'll be okay, you'll be okay..." Achmed lifts me up; I weigh almost nothing.

I can't stay awake anymore. The last thing I hear is Achmed telling someone I'm alive.

.....

I hear the ocean.

"How are you feeling?" a voice asks.

"Better..." I said.

"How do you like your new knees" ...she? Asks.

"They feel good." I say.

"You have to let them heal some more, but you'll be able to walk again soon. Achmed was very worried." She. Definitely she.

"I feel better. How is Achmed?"

"He's fine. They... did a lot damage to you, we had you in a medically induced coma for a long time."

"How long?"

"Two months" she said. "You have seven broken ribs; all your fingers and toes were broken, too." Her tone is deeply sad.

"So... what's next?"

"Soon we'll be taking back the moon."

So. It does exist. You mother fuckers! It DOES EXIST.

"Did... Achmed kill those men?" I asked.

"He had to." she said.

"Tell him I'm sorry. Sorry he had to do that.." I said.

"God will forgive him," she said.

"I hope. I already forgive him..."






Friday, March 9, 2018

Former Commander of the Elite Unit Making Headlines Speaks Part 4

Part 3 is here

INT: So killing monsters. Are there other kinds?

CAIN: Yeah, but the "big three" as we started saying, was Zombies, vampires, were-people.

INT: There were other things?

CAIN: They were different. We discovered some things as well. Do you have the declassified report?

INT: I have it with me...here.

CAIN: Damn, they did redact the shit out of this. Oh, here's one! Operation: Cash Flow. Gary Tran. Sad story.

INT: You can talk about that.

CAIN: Yeah. Tran was a Vietnamese immigrant, got here through a Snake head out of Hong Kong.

INT: A snake head?!

CAIN: That's slang. A people smuggler.

INT: Oh. Sorry.

CAIN: Now that I say it out loud, yeah, sounds a little intense in context. Tran's wife came to America on an H1-B visa, he visited her, got her pregnant and then went home. Lyn Tran. Now, he didn't know he did that initially you know, people love.

The colonel pauses, and sort of sighs, her hands are working some sort of boxy and weird assault rifle thing; it has circular handles and the trigger is recessed into it. 


(that's a P90 SMG - ed)

CAIN: She was a sweet lady, real homemaker type, but also a great computer scientist. No shit, she was like, amazing. So her husband? He was bad with electronics. He was a carpenter, and pretty god damned great at that, too. Finally gets to America and get snatched by the Russian mob, why? Ask me why.

INT: Why?

CAIN: He had an entropy field. Electronics couldn't survive around him. The fucking irony. But if he was happy? The field changed, and some electronics would "die happy," like ATM machines.

INT: So they...

CAIN: They would drug him with MDMA and go to a drive up ATM machine with a duffel bag. His wife initially got us involved, and we ended up working the Secret Service and FBI. Technically, he was our jurisdiction, but the crimes he was used to commit were theirs. Now they're elsewhere; safe and sound. Especially with the kid; might have what dad has.

INT: How does SQRF...

CAIN: That's what's it's called now?! The 'Squrf?!' Damn. It was just Q-R-F when I was in charge.

INT: I guess they had acknowledge the 'special' nature of it. There are people with super powers?

CAIN: They are pretty rare. A case like that is pretty rare. There hasn't been anyone like Tran since then.

INT: Have you encountered non-human... threats?

CAIN: We used to call them concerns,  those first two words and NHC's.

INT: Can you tell me more about some of them?

CAIN: Well, let's see what's not blacked out... [flips pages] Oh, this, yeah, I can tell you about this...one of those vampire cultists. Lemme tell you about this bullshit.

INT: How was it bullshit?

CAIN: Well, you gonna listen?

INT: Sorry.

CAIN: We actually first really found out about them when we called in on an incident; lone survivor, woman, Yvette Price. She was kidnapped by cultists and escaped. We met her at the hospital, Sgt. 1st Class Braken and I.

INT: Who?

CAIN: He was in charge of the unit when I joined.

INT: There is no mention of him...anywhere in those documents.

CAIN: Well, they probably pre-date his death...

INT: Who was he?

CAIN: That's a question for someone else, mostly. He was a good leader and mentor to me.

INT: And too...Yvette Price?

CAIN: Dig this scene; she's in a hospital bed in the University of Iowa. Two police detectives are interrogating her.

INT: What? Like, while she's recovering?

CAIN: Yeah, and they're trying to get her to say she made the whole thing up. Now, this was the third incident like this in Iowa, so Barken is all making his "what the fuck" face out in the hall. And I'm like "Yeah, what the fuck?" And Braken is listening to this "Are you sure?" crap from these assholes.

INT: Then what happened?

Part 5 coming soon.


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