oh, whoah, atomic!

The Hiroshima was a slick piece of tech – this was the third iteration of the Pikadon, or Flashbang line, specially designed to fire custom shells whilst giving you an instantaneous photograph of the victim. Two headshots for the price of one. There was a girl like her advertising the weapon in the catalogue – that was the fantasy, this was the reality.
The heavy rain made it hard to sight properly: even with the toggle-goggles cutting out a lot of the visual interference she was having trouble pinning this slippery bastard down. It paid well, this job, and she didn’t want to fuck it up, especially after the last fiasco. One more badly executed mission and she might as well drop the whole operation into shutdown and become a ghost because they would have a contract out on her for gross incompetence.
This guy wasn’t anyone important – at least that was what the file on the drive said; but given the amount this kill was worth that didn’t really add up. You’d have to have some real hate on to fork out this much dough for some average no-neck douchebag who didn’t mean anything. Perhaps the guy had been shtupping someone’s wife, but looking at the dude she just didn’t see it … who the fuck would want this scumbucket’s mangy maggot writhing in them?
She had been following him for a while, trying to line up the perfect shot that would get the job done and would cause the least amount of commotion; a shot that would make it really hard to trace down the origin of the shooter. She did not like having to run from the scene of a killing because it meant that you were fucking up in your execution of standard practice and it meant that you drew too much unwanted attention.
She knew the guy so well by the end of the time that she could have done a passing good impression of him were it ever required.
In the final scene of this man’s life perhaps  his discomfort came from the fact that someone else was shadowing his every move; that someone had infiltrated his mind and knew exactly what he was going to do. When the flash blinded him and the bullet tore the top off his skull it almost felt natural, so close was the action to the rhythm of what he was doing. This was how it was supposed to go – this broke the back of that damned losing streak she had been downward spiralling on.

Else City 4: This Shit That Is Reality

Pursey was head of the Clean Up Crew and he was a famously bad tempered bastard; he did not like dealing with people from other departments: dealing with the inanimate and decimated had fractured his mind into compartments where quiet horror constituted the biggest drawer and social niceties had one of the smaller allotments.
He hawked up a healthy wad of phlegm and targetted the ground just in front of O’Halligan. Normally O’Halligan would have cracked him upside his head but he just thought to himself how this guy was going to fit right in with whatever it was residing in that place.
As Pursey and his men entered the property there was an atmospheric shift – it felt as if the space they were occupying was collapsing in on itself; everyone looked as oppressed as they obviously felt. The high pitched whine which pierced the air had been building so gradually a few of them had thought they were suffering tinnitus, but it became apparent that all of them were hearing it, and then it turned into a hybrid scream / drill noise that had them all clutching their heads. A few people started to leak blood from the ears – they were all paralysed by the pain, all looking towards the place where Pursey had gone.
O’Halligan was expecting the place to explode and all of them to come stumbling out aflame and shrieking in agony but it was much more mundane – Pursey looked totally unfazed, as if he dealt with this kind of shit everyday, and in some ways that was exactly what he did.
He exited with a large specimen jar, a huge grin spread across his face.
‘Know what we have here, ladies and gentleman?’
When he got no response, he continued: ‘We have a pocket universe – that thing which started to dissolve O’Halligan’s suit was not acid, but a supercondensed pocket of reality, one antithetical to our own universe. Whilst it is held in what, for the moment I am going to call an egg, it runs just like our universe would (an hermetically sealed continuum) but when the thing is burst or broken it becomes something less stable – a hybrid entity which can no longer subsist by itself and which attacks that around it.’
‘Ok, Pursey, so where does this little scientific miracle come from?’
‘Glad you asked, O’Halligan, where it comes from is the anus of the thing which consumed those people in there.’
‘Run that by me again.’
‘OK, so the thing which ate those human beings in there digested them and shit out brand new universes.’
‘And how is that possible?’
‘That part I haven’t quite worked out. One has to wonder, if reality is the waste product this thing craps out, then what exactly is it that it is digesting?’
‘Forbes, tell me this isn’t fucking with your head.’
‘Oh, I can’t tell you that, O’Halligan – it is a skullfuck and no mistake.’
‘So, what do we do about it?’
‘Well, while Pursey takes this boil back to the lab and looks at it, we go and have a drink in some dive bars and see of anything doesn’t float to the top.’
‘Sounds like a plan.’

child killer

and what would expect if you heard the phrase child killer?
well, you might reasonably expect that what was being referred to was a killer of children. what you would not want to even think about was the possibility that what was being talked about was a small human being capable of the kind of devastation patrick killarney was reputed to have caused.
very rarely does the term ‘power tools’ inspire such gut wrenching fear, but when that twelve year old with the manic look in his eyes imitates the high-pitched whine of a drill and then cackles like some ancient crone from a fairytale, you can’t help but wonder if you have adequate means of defence against the hell spawn sat across from you.
one of the kindergarten supervisors was considered missing until the chunks of flesh in patrick’s sesame street lunchbox were matched for blood types. quite how the recoil from the ak47 had not hurt patrick or knocked him to the ground was a mystery no one could quite explain, the marks his trainers had made in the smeared blood in the playroom did suggest a struggle though – as did the bullets which were recovered from the various walls.
the school psychologist, whose head was erected on a pike, with a copy of patrick’s psych evaluation rolled up and stuffed into her emptied left eye socket provided a chilling commentary on the state of the young boy’s mind.
quite how he had managed to carry out the massacre, which conservative estimates put at lasting several hours, without being disturbed is another serious question authorities are trying to answer. security is being stepped up in all of the nation’s schools, and despite the contributing role his psych evaluation and drug regime may have played in his actions, it is being recommended that all schools introduce mandatory psychological profiling to avoid similar events from occuring in the future.
patrick killarney will remain in a maximum security facility on suicide watch for the forseeable future. his mother and siblings were unavailable for comment but it is believed they are all receiving counselling to help them cope with the fallout of the week’s tragic events.

PTSD

people take some digesting. perhaps this shocking diorama puts the shit down purposely though some days perusing this saddens deeply. putting the shotgun down peter tutted, sighed, despaired. promise them something different please; take suggestions down.
putting the sugary donut partway towards sarah, dusting powdery traces, something died. peter told sarah ‘don’t’. perplexed to see despair pulsing through, she dithered. ‘peter?’. telling she didn’t pick the sugary donut; perhaps this signalled destruction.
peter took some delight pushing the sacred dialectic. picking the same day peter’s thoroughly sadistic dad picked to shoot down people – that seemed destined. peter took shots, dove. people tried shooting, dodged. peter took sarah down. people that should die. people that shunned deity. point the shotgun, decide. peter took some diet pepsi, tremored, shook, decided. peter’s trigger suddenly depressed.

Grit- Hangover

Fairweather friends were not something he was interested in any more – they left him with a sense that he had been fucked over and that there was a debt unsettled; it was something he was uneasy with. He knew people and that was as far as it went – as far as he was interested in allowing it to go.

Drinking got boring after a while – what was it they said? If the hangover seemed to last longer than the night of drinking then it was time to knock it on the head. Dopeheads were not people he wanted to hang out with either – who the hell wanted to talk about weed until the sun came up? He’d smoked some and sure it was pleasant but he couldn’t get into the attendant obsession with talking about it that all the users he knew had.

People told him that he was anti-social; that he needed to get a life – but if the bullshit he saw on display on a regular basis constituted getting a life then he was sure as hell not interested. He’d once thought of himself as a misanthrope but that took too much effort – he’d much rather avoid everyone; only interact when it was necessary. So, what was he doing here? He wasn’t sure that he could rightly say – sometimes you feel the need to dip your toe in the water again – this was that.

He sat there with the bottle of cheap red wine between his feet, the corkscrew in his hand, and he wondered what had been going through his own head to bring him to this particular train of thought. Was it the wine making him melancholy like it usually did? Or was it the slow dawning of a realisation?

This guy that was sitting next to him was annoying and he wondered exactly how long had he been yapping in his ear about nothing? A long time it seemed – too long. He was fed up. He turned to this verbose individual and stared at him – the kind of stare you would give to a lump of shit stuck to the bottom of your shoe. Most people understood that look and removed themselves from his vicinity – this one was obviously not quite that bright: he tried to stare Grit down.

Whether or not he was anti-social, it was most definitely true of Grit that he was a violent man. He was not without patience though – he characterised himself as having a slow-burning fuse; meaning in his own mind that he didn’t act rashly. He could think on his feet as well as the next man, but very rarely would he act off an impulse – that was the kind of thing that got you into trouble.

He hefted the corkscrew in his hand – tiny little thing capable of so much damage. He could stab this bastard and be out of there before anyone noticed. Would people know that it was him? No, why would they? There were enough violent people here for him to get away with hurting someone.

‘Please be quiet; I am trying to think,’ he said, barely turning his head to acknowledge the guy.

‘What? What the fuck’s your problem? Fuck you – I’ll speak where and when I want.’

Grit smiled to himself – oh well, he kind of knew that it was going to play out like that, just having listened to the guy for long enough. Some people you didn’t have to be a psychologist to understand – they wore their attitudes on their sleeve. This one was simply a prick and whatever was said to him would provoke a prickish response. Grit could have left it alone – could have – but didn’t want to. He wanted to needle the guy, push him, see what he would do. Ah, okay, so that wasn’t exactly true – Grit intended to get a reaction out of him so he could have an excuse to take him apart. He swallowed the smile.

‘I’m asking you nicely, but if you insist on being a prick about it we can do this some other way.’

‘Fuck you.’

‘One more polite request and then we’re done with the good manners.’

‘Fuck your polite request in the arse.’

Grit for a second thought how his violence was like a vampire – you had to invite it in. He didn’t like doing things like this that would not bring him some revenue, but sometimes he’d make exceptions; sometimes he went looking for it like every other predator. Although he had been thinking about the corkscrew he hadn’t actually intended to use it and when he pulled it back from punching the guy in the head and had pulled an eyeball with it he had been just as surprised as his victim. The guy started screaming as soon as the brief moment that shock gifted him with had worn off, but Grit was already at the door. Shit – what a stupid fucking thing to do. He looked down at his feet, looked at his hands – the left one covered up to the wrist in blood, and noticed that he still had the corkscrew with the eyeball on the end of it. He lobbed it over his shoulder back towards the house.

Damn – he was going to have to lay low for a while because of this. He was hoping the fact that he was at a party and everyone seemed either stoned or drunk would severely cut down on the number of reliable witnesses. He hoped that he looked as anonymous as he thought he did – that he blended into the background; not many people had talked to him, so that would of course limit the number of people likely to step forward and mention him.

Man, if he hadn’t got too far away – walking quicker than he realised – he would want to go back and do it all again – this was going to cost him. Laying low meant no money which meant hard times which meant when he resurfaced he was going to have take some shit job that he wouldn’t normally touch with a bargepole. Fucking stupid bastard. He was banking on the shock of losing an eye debilitating his main witness and if not he didn’t think it would be too hard to track him down and finish what he’d started.

He stopped off at the local off-licence and picked himself up some more booze – two bottles of Glenfiddich, some dark rum, and a six pack of cheap beer. Time to get wasted. If he was going to have a hangover in the morning he might as well make it a memorable one. Couldn’t be any worse than the one from that bloody party.

Grit: Allowance

He pressed the muzzle into the back of her neck – he was watching her face in the mirror and he saw her bite her lip because it was hot. He’d just shot it into the air to put the shits up her and he knew it had worked. Her eyes were liquid but he knew that she wouldn’t cry in front of him – he’d dealt with her before. They’d both been around the block and they had both worked for different people whose line of work had meant that their paths had crossed on more than one occassion. She’d generally been on the wrong end of a shafting and he had been the mouthpiece of whatever bastard it was that had her over a barrel. Part of him wondered if she ever learned from her mistakes; part of him didn’t care.
Sure, she moved around and got into bed with different business partners, but these people she gravitated towards were all the same at the end of the day — everyone else could see that they weren’t to be trusted, so why couldn’t she?
‘We’ve been here before, Sheila, haven’t we?’
‘Yes, Grit, you know we have.’
‘And every single time you have managed to worm your way out of being shot.’
‘Yep. Never did make much sense to me – I know you don’t like me like that, and I know you very rarely have any sympathy for anyone, so what is it? See something of yourself in me, maybe?’
‘Maybe.’
‘Recognise something of your mother in me, perhaps?’
‘Shit, Sheila, you knew that old bitch – if you reminded me of her I’d shoot you dead on the spot; might even get some kind of substitute sense of vengeance from it.’
‘So, can we work it out? We always do, don’t we?’
‘Not this time – I know you don’t have the money; I have a healthy balance in my bank account because I agreed to take you out, and Tommy Genoa is not Mick Spiner. Mick Spiner was a pussy and Tommy isn’t.’
‘Got you scared, huh? Never thought I’d see the day.’
‘Ah, well, then you don’t know much, Sheila. In this line of work I’m scared all the time – makes me sensible; gives me an edge too. Only fools aren’t scared or idiots that don’t have anything to lose – I like myself so I try to keep a hold.’
‘I have someone waiting to shoot you through the head, Grit. Soon as your finger tightens on the trigger.’
‘Didn’t we do this before as well? So this is what they call deja vu, eh? I hope it’s not the same muppet as last time. That dozy fucker couldn’t hit a blue whale from point blank range.’
‘No – he is no longer in my employ. This guy’s French – you may have heard of him – Difficile.’
‘No kidding? I am slightly impressed. But I bet he didn’t tell you about his drink problem, did he?’
‘What?’
‘Oh yeah, shakes like an epileptic under a strobe light when he’s dry and how long’s he been dry?’
‘Fuck.’
‘Fuck indeed, Sheila. Fuck indeed. You know that I don’t usually spend this long nattering? That I generally just blow someone’s brains out and leave?’
‘I enjoy the special treatment.’
‘Not this time.’
‘Come on, Grit, if you were going to do it it would have been done already. You know you don’t want to kill me – for whatever reason, and I think it may be that you actually see someone like you sat in front of you, you can’t do it. Give them the money back and walk away from it.’
He lifted the muzzle from the back of her neck. For a second she looked down and not directly at the mirror – he stepped back into the shadows and he was gone.

Grit: Love Interest 1

Do not get attached, that’s what they always told you. There was a reason why a lot of low level thugs only ever hung out with hookers – if they got killed you could go and buy yourself another piece of arse: Grit had always agreed with this line of thinking. Well, not always, but he was a quick learner – it had only taken one lesson to teach him that love was not an expense that he could afford. You had to be part of a big operation and have the security of that to be able think about settling down and having a family. Being a freelancer in the criminal world was not the best thing to be.
She’d existed on the periphery of his world for the longest time before he had ever considered her in terms other than someone he kind of knew. At first he just thought of her as something nice to look at – a bright spot in a day full of shit. He’d go out and do his job and then go to the pub to wind down, and there she’d be, something that really had no right to exist in a world such as his.
Brubeck caught him looking at her and shook his head, sucked on his cigarette and kept quiet, though he did shake his head. Parker noticed too and did a similar thing, except with him it was his pint he focused his attention on. It was Baker who finally opened his mouth and cut through the awkward silence.
‘Not a good idea, man – not a good idea at all. Whatever you’ve been thinking just forget about it.’
‘Not that I’ve been thinking about anything, but what’s the big deal? Why is she so taboo?’
‘Hancock’s daughter,’ said Parker.
‘Bad news,’ chimed in Brubeck.
‘Who’s bad news? Her or her father, be a bit more specific will you, you bunch of worry-warts?’
‘Nah,’ started Brubeck ‘She’s a good girl: never done anyone any harm as far as I’ve heard; hasn’t really been with anyone either, I don’t think. Nah, it’s her old man – he’s one of the meanest bastards who ever breathed.’
‘Is that so?’
‘Listen to him, Grit – we’re not just blowing smoke up your arse. What, do you think we’re trying to put you off so one of us can move in?’
‘I wouldn’t put it past you, Parker. It’s not like you haven’t done shit like that before.’
‘That’s true, but I swear, I just don’t want you to get hurt.’
‘Pull the other one – it’s got bells on it. Fuck me, Parker, what the hell is this? Since when did you get so sensitive, and since when did you give a flying fuck what happens to me? –‘
‘We’re mates aren’t we?’
‘We go for a drink once in a while, but fuck, you know if someone paid me enough I’d put a bullet in the back of your head. Same goes for all of you.’
‘Well, shit,’ said Baker ‘Same goes for all of us – we’re all fucking scorpions, ain’t we?’
‘Yeah, so cut the fucking three wise monkeys act, you lot. If I get with her – I get with her; not a damned sight her old man can do about it. If he wants to kill me after then that’s that – doesn’t mean he’ll get what he wants, does it?’
‘S’pose not,’ offered Parker.
‘Anyway, what’s her first name?’
‘Brenda.’
‘Good, you know what, wait here — I’m going to go and get myself her number.’

Grit – Family Matter 3

He read the obituary over breakfast – it was the same kind of bullshit they wrote about everyone: it bore no relation to John. Perhaps if people didn’t lie about what you had been when you were alive and people were allowed to admit that they were glad you were dead because of what you had done and what you meant to the world, then the world might have benefited. If that was how the world worked then he knew there would have been people queued up around the block to condemn John; he smiled when he thought of how many people would be there to put the boot in when he passed on.

The coffee tasted like shit. The breakfast was too greasy and too salty. He squinted his right eye, looked down the length of his arm and along his finger – bang – the cook would have fallen backwards into the fryer. Grit needed some work to take his mind of the bullshit with Terry. Terry was unavoidable – he was not the kind of problem that you could ignore; he was a loud-mouthed prick that was going to drag as many people into this as he could to make as big a stink as was possible. Grit had never like Terry.

Pinstripe sat down opposite him and smiled. Pinstripe was a grass – he tried hard to convince you that he was some kind of esteemed member of the Intelligence Community but scarpe through the thin veneer of badly applied bullshit and you saw him for exactly what he was – someone not to be trusted.

‘So, Pinstripe, what can I do for you, you fucking tapeworm?’

‘That ain’t very friendly, Mister Grit – I never did nothin’ to you, so why are you sore at me? Especially when I know somethin’ that might be able to help you.’

‘If I have to pay for it Pinstripe then you aren’t helping me you’re doing business with me. I have limited patience for shitheads so get to the point before I take out the considerable amount of frustration I have at the moment on you.’

‘Ooh, touchy.’

Grit had warned him once so he reached across the table, grabbed Pinstripe by his tie, pulled him a little closer, and punched him in the nose: it spread in a bloody mess.

‘Now, you stupid cocksucker, you are going to tell me for free. Next time you’ll know that when I warn you I mean it. What do you know? Even think about lying to me and I am going to stick a knife in your eye.’

A darkening patch of dampness spread across the front of Pinstripe’s pinstripe. Pinstripe was stupid but he wasn;t stupid enough not to believe the threat.

‘Terry has put a bounty on your head. Two people are already here to claim it – Jeffers and Hunt as I heard it.’

‘Thank you,’ Pinstripe,’ he said, stabbing the aforementioned knife through the end of the man’s tie, pinning him to the table.

Terry was a stupid bastard – a bounty? Where the fuck did he think he was? The wild fucking west? And who in the hell did he think he was dealing with? It looked like Grit’s family tree was going to be losing a few branches very soon.

Grit – Family Matter 2

He’d been kidding himself if he thought this was going to go smoothly — there were no buried hatchets; or at least not permanently buried ones. Sometimes when people went through a person’s effects they would find something that troubled them and they might see that it was fitting for them to resurrect old ghosts; old vendettas. Guilt made you imagine debts that needed to be paid to the deceased were now owed to you as you had inherited everything else that was theirs.

As soon as Grit laid eyes on Terry he knew that he had been nosing around and that he had found something he shouldn’t have; something he didn’t like. He stared daggers across the church at Grit. He did that most childish of things: gestured with his finger across his throat in a slashing motion. Grit got the message.

When they prayed he closed his eyes. It was out of respect and not out of belief and was one of the few times that Grit would ever close his eyes in a room full of people. The service was short: two hymns and a speech from Terry and that was pretty much it. Grit would not go to the cemetary after all — all it would do was cause trouble and he wasn’t here for that.

‘So, what exactly did your sorry arse turn up here for, eh, you cunt?’

‘Just come to pay my respects, Terry. John was my brother.’

‘And? Didn’t mean much to you while he was dying in that fucking hospital, did it?’

‘I was busy Couldn’t get there.’

‘I know why you couldn’t get there. I know what you did to my father. I know what you owed him and I know what you owe us.’

‘You don’t know anything, son. Don’t go making any stupid mistakes — you don’t know enough about me or about what happened to go getting yourself in trouble over either one.’

‘Don’t call me son. Damn, you come here and you threaten me at my own father’s funeral? You’re a dead man; that’s the only way we can settle this.’

‘Didn’t threaten you. Don’t want any trouble with you — I have no grudge with you. Don’t you think if your father wanted me dead he would have sorted it out a long while back?’

‘I have a burial to go to. Don’t come. I’ll be seeing you soon, uncle.’

Grit – Family Matter 1

Weddings and funerals and all the other clichéd bullshit were not something that Grit bothered with, but this was a special occasion … this was someone he wanted to see them lower into the ground. No one would recognise him he hoped, and if they did, what of it? Who was likely to approach him and tackle him on anything?

He got to the church early so that he could choose where he got to sit. Pick the perfect entry and exit point. You would think it was a military exercise the way he treated it and in some ways he found it as dangerous to his personal integrity as any job he ever went on; in fact the jobs were easier because all you had to do was go in and kill someone and he knew how to do that. He didn’t know how to do social situations so well – it was why he was perfect for what he did. The lone wolf with few attachments. Thank god he didn’t know too many people so these events were few and far between anyway – that narrowed the field, then the fact that he cherry-picked from them meant it was barely a problem. Still, he surprised himself that he was even bothering with this.

John was a criminal too. Not a good one but good enough to have put food on his family’s table for this many years – you had to respect that. John had done time and not bitched about it once – it went with the territory as far as he was concerned. It was a while since Grit had spoken to him – their father’s funeral he thought. Grit had put a bullet in the back of the skull of one of John’s friends. He knew it before he took the job: it paid to do your research, and he had known it wouldn’t sit well with his brother but he was a business man and it made good business sense. John sent him a message to the effect of honour among thieves. Grit left him a one word message: business. And that was that.

And now this. Cancer – what a fucked up way for a warrior to get taken out. They always talked about themselves like that. That old samurai saying: truth is a feather, honour is a mountain. Grit had come to consider it a childish inconvenience – he hooked himself into the capitalist ideal – filthy lucre all the way. Morality wasn’t such a point of concern given that he was almost exclusively killing criminals. John was too fucking precious about the whole thing.