Children playing on a playground, jumping rope. The steely gaze of elderly men and women in robes. A horse sulking in the distance, whinnying. A pitbull puppy. Cracked cement.
Amelia startled awake, alone in her dark bedroom. At first she felt nauseous, her lips and throat feeling awful dry and parched. Reaching for the glass of water by her bed clumsily, she startled as she accidentally knocked it to the hardwood floor below and it shattered.
With that, she jumped out from under the covers and out of the bed. It seemed she was completely nude, to her surprise. Damn it, Amelia, you're such a ho, she mused to herself, shaking her head. Rubbing her temples, she also found -- rather quickly -- that she was nursing one hell of a headache. With that, she went to the bathroom to freshen up.
It was 1:15 AM, she noted from her watch as she went. Yesterday had been her 29th birthday and she had faded memories of the festivities therein that led to her making it a very early night. She remembered her girlfriends, Stephanie and Tanisha, as well as their boyfriends and the guy they all wanted her to meet, Kilroy. There was tequila, there was weed, there was dancing and there was truth or dare. It was entirely possible that all of them were passed out somewhere in her house, probably in the living room. She was certain she embarrassed herself but was thankful that those particular memories weren't readily accessible to her now.
Amelia splashed water in her face from the running faucet, looking at herself in the mirror. She didn't look much older. There weren't any extra white hairs in her long, now somewhat matted red hair. She tied it back into a ponytail, drank some water from the faucet by cupping her hands, and left the bathroom.
As she began dressing in some sweat pants and a too-small T-shirt, she could faintly hear a distant but consistent ringing. At first she thought it was her hangover but it couldn't be that, she decided. She wondered why she didn't notice it before. Putting her favorite boots on on top of Hello Kitty socks, she headed out of the room and into the hallway, idly looking at her watch again as she went.
Still 1:15 AM. It had been at least 6 minutes since she had checked last.
What the fuck? she wondered immediately. Well, I guess batteries don't last forever. Nothing much does, really.
Scratching and massaging her neck, Amelia made her way into the hallway. The ringing sound seemed to be getting louder the closer she came to the living room and there was a smell. A horrible smell, as if someone had left out week-old meat in the sun.
"G-guys?" she called, weakly. "Steph? Tanisha?"
Edging closer and closer to the living room, hesitantly now, she rounded the corner of the hallway and brought her hand to the lightswitch. She flipped it, bathing the living room and connected kitchen in flickering light.
"Oh my god!" Amelia exclaimed. "What the shit?! Oh god, oh god..."
There were four corpses strewn about on the couches in sitting positions. They were skeletons, completely desiccated and devoid of any tissue at all, even hair. The clothes they had been wearing were still on the skeletons, draping off of them like drapery. It was like they had been there for months, maybe even years. One thing was clear: those were the clothes of her friends and their boyfriends.
"No, no, no!!!"
She ran to what appeared to be the remains of her best friend, Stephanie. She brought her hand, shaking now, to the side of her skull's cheek which she stroked gingerly. This only freaked Amelia out more, shooting her off the couch and into a frenzied freakout session in the middle of the room. Peripherally, she noticed that there were only four corpses... where was Kilroy?
The lights in the living room died. The ringing was getting even louder now.
A) Grab your phone and call the police. Hide somewhere.
B) Grab your phone and grab your gun. Go out and investigate, see what the hell's going on.
C) Come to your wits and explore the house more, suspecting this is a prank.
D) Commit suicide.
I'm dubious as to wether or no this is just completely ripped off from some other site....
Especially with it being an otherwise blank profile on its first post on its first day....
I assure you I wrote it now, on the fly. I am Ezunmaker's friend.
@Ezunmaker care to verify?
Still dubious that you wrote it "now, on the fly"
That is indeed my good friend, Drew. We have been friends since elementary school and he is a very talented author and creator. I've been bugging him for a while now to make an account on here.
I have no doubt that if he says he wrote it on the fly, then he wrote it on the fly. That's just how we roll.
Glad to see you on board, brother.
My vote is for B.
I'll go with choice B.
Are write-ins accepted?
He's already seen some of the write-ins you lot have produced for my hijacked Cherry Falls game.
RED ELK (cont'd)
"WHAT IN THE FUCK?!" Amelia exclaimed as the lights went out. No sooner did she do so than a loud explosion could be heard coming from the garage, most likely it being the circuit breakers. "Okay, okay, hooo-kay..." She took a moment, gathered herself, took several deep, frantic and labored breaths. "Ugh, get your fucking head right, Amelia. C'mon. You're stronger than this." The loud, droning ringing in her ears wasn't helping.
Without missing a beat, Amelia made a mad dash back toward the bedroom... except she went and tripped over the skeletal, outstretched leg of Tanisha in her path. She unceremoniously smashed downward onto the hardwood floors with a thud on her chin and shoulders, jarring her for a moment. Then a few more. She got back up, assessed herself. Nothing broken. Nothing bruised, even... strangely? She put a finger in her mouth between her teeth and cheek, then brought it before her eyes. No blood. All good, then, even though she thought she tasted the faintest copper-esque taste of blood in her mouth.
For a moment, her eyes drifted to the wall clock in the hallway. 1:14 AM, it said. She winced, but otherwise shrugged it off. No time to stand in wonder at minutia when there is the desiccated bodies of your closest friends in your living room.
In her bedroom, Amelia was methodical. She grabbed her rifle from under the bed, her Timber Classic Marlin 336C, the same rifle that her father had killed the biggest elk she'd ever seen that had fed her family for two weeks once upon a time.
For a moment she had a flash of that particular night, her father bringing home that elk. Him and two of his best buddies thrusting it off their flatbed truck after the bungee cords came off. The blood. The lingering smell of stale blood and spent gunpowder. The shock of a 9 year-old girl seeing the carcass hauled into the garage to be bled out. Her mother shouting to take it to the backyard instead falling on deaf ears. She remembered screaming at her father, telling him he'd murdered that poor elk for no reason. Screaming. Greeted only with humoring smiles.
No, fuck that. Fuck that! Snap out of it, bitch. Priorities. The rifle. The fucking rifle! It was already locked and loaded, made so in case any neighborhood riff-raff would come a knocking (or a window breaking) at a moment's notice as it was wont to do in Amelia's particular patch in her particular Chicago neighborhood. She checked the rifle, though, just in case. She also grabbed her phone from the nightstand. For a moment her world opened up. 911? Facebook? I need to livestream the ever-living fuck out of this right now! she thought to herself. But let's start with 911.
Sadly, even as she pressed her thumb to the biometric sensor on her phone, nothing was to be had. The phone was dead. No charge whatsoever. Not even a glimmer.
"FUCK! Okay, okay, okay... whoo..." She made two gestures with each hand, slapping each one of her cheeks as if to wake herself up more. "What the FUCK is going on?"
Amelia rushed back to the living room with her readied weapon. She spared a look at the living room full of the four corpses, affording one more pained wince before darting to the front door, rifle brandished. She opened the door, rushing out.
It was pitch black. There was starlight, and some dim light from the moon, but that was it. Sprinting across the grass of her front lawn she made quick glances at the neighbor's houses... no lights, no activity, no noise, no nothing.
"FUCK!!!" she shouted into her cul de sac, hearing the echo of it as well.
Before she dwelled on it too long, however, she made a quick dash to the neighbor's house. The door was ajar, she found. Hesitating as she reached it, she knocked on it three times, paused, and then entered. Proceeding into the living room with caution, she took her steps carefully. One and two... and then...
Amelia pulled the trigger on her rifle without missing a beat, shooting into the near-darkness inside the living room. Producing a lighter from her pocket then, she shone some light on the aftermath of the subject... she saw an errant (now very dead) rat, guts splayed out posthumously. Or was it? On a closer look, as she leaned in... it seemed less conclusive. The remains of the victim seemed strange, like a furred and distorted, enlarged gummie bear, gelatinous substances splayed this way and that from the point of impact.
Gross! Jesus fuck!
As she looked a bit further, she gave pause at a skeleton in a smoking jacket and trousers in a recliner. She edged closer to it before --
"Is that you, Amelia?"
The deep and familiar masculine voice jarred her from her reverie fast and quick. Amelia whirled around, the nozzle of her rifle whipping around shortly behind to face... a man about her age, brown hair, hazel eyes. She recognized him. She knew him well. A dozen scattered birthday memories from the night before flooded her all at once.
"Kilroy?" she ventured, on reflexive memory. "I-is that you?"
The Irish-seeming man shouldered his shotgun, sighing. He smiled a bit, tersely. "It is. Wow. I mean, shit. I really never thought I'd see you again, ever." He cleared his throat then. "Well, that's not entirely true, I guess. I just wasn't entirely prepared for this. I have so much to tell you."
Amelia smiled, weakly. "Do you hear this ringing, too? Please tell me you do."
A) Have sex with him, immediately. Why not? Ask questions later/shortly thereafter.
B) Shoot his ass dead. No questions asked. Probably trouble.
C) Pin him down/hold him up and ask him questions, interrogation-style.
How big is Kilroy? If he is big then B.
OK, we got 3 votes. 2 votes for C. We'll go with C.
"Oh yes, I hear it," Kilroy replied. "Loud and clear. I kind of forget it unless I think about it... but then it's been so long."
Amelia hesitated, then brandished her rifle with greater vigor at Kilroy. Prodded it at him. She had to fight with her inner self in this, as she still remembered even faintly she had once felt a strong connection to him. Her attraction to him was present, even now.
"Stay the FUCK back, Kilroy!" she shouted, wincing, bringing the rifle to bear on him hard. "I said back!"
Kilroy seemed confused, then relented when he seemed sure she was serious. On her best appraisal, he seemed a short guy, maybe her height or an inch taller. Wiry, like a guy that does a lot of cardio and skimps on the weight-lifting. "Okay, okay... shesus... I get it, I get it." Still, his hand drifted to his backside.
"Don't you fucking shoot that elk!"
Amelia paused, caught beside herself mentally. She ran her free hand through her hair nervously. "N-nothing, Kilroy. It's nothing."
He seemed confused, but the wheels seemed to be turning nonetheless. "It sure the fuck doesn't sound like nothing. Are you really, truly having daddy issues on me, in the middle of some major league shit? Like, really?" Kilroy harrumphed. "And by shit I mean... shit!" He ended that sentence with an almost musical tone... and he took a step forward.
It was a one night stand, or something, she pondered to herself. I woke up in a house full of skeletons and this motherfucker is walking around fancy free... prime suspect seems pretty obvious!
"You said you have a lot to tell me," Amelia spoke. "Let's start with that."
"Okay." Kilroy sighed. Nodded. Took a step back. "The last thing you remember... your birthday bash. Yeah, remember that? I bet it's still fresh in your mind. You wake up and oops, everybody's dead and rotted away, whatnot. Something like that, yes?"
Amelia relented a little on her stance. "Almost exactly like that. Yeah."
"Well, here's what the reality is," he began, then dug feverishly into his pocket. He produced both a lighter and pack of cigarettes. This made Amelia uneasy and then anxious. And then really anxious.
Amelia's eyes immediately perked up. "Toss me one."
Kilroy laughed. Then he tossed her one, casually. "Oh, you're going to need it. Trust me."
Amelia took her cigarette and -- with measured hesitation -- allowed Kilroy light it as she leaned forward. "Thanks." She paused. "So... you were saying?"
"I was saying that you are looking at all this wrong." He smiled a little, then gave her a quizzical gaze as he tended to his own cigarette. "You think you just woke up after some birthday bash? You didn't. That's not even close."
"What the fuck are you saying?"
Kilroy took a big drag. "I'm saying you're a whole new person. Amelia 2.0."
"Amelia 2.0?" she exclaimed. "You better start making sense, like, real quick!"
"There was an attack," Kilroy offered. He took one more drag, knelt, then snuffed his cigarette out into the nice carpet. Twisted it. Amelia's nostrils almost immediately filled with the faintest scent of burning plastic. "On everything. Like, the one to end... all of those. And now... well, shit. I don't know how best to tell you. But now, you're our best hope. Like, really. Maybe the only one."
Amelia was brimming with frustration then. "WHAT HAPPENED?" she demanded, spitting her cigarette to the floor with vitriol. "Tell me!"
Kilroy held her gaze then as he took two more puffs off his cigarette. "What year is it to you?"
Amelia furrowed her brow. Looked down. Looked back at Kilroy with fervor. "2018."
Kilroy did a curtsey in full mock-fashion. "Let me lead with... don't freak the fuck out. Because I did. I sure did for a long fucking time. Until I realized we actually have a chance." He took a deep breath. "But... fuck, I have a way of getting ahead of myself. Welcome to 2042, my dear. And you look great."
Amelia dropped her rifle, mouth agape.
Kilroy shot her a broad, knowing smile. "You never even reloaded that rifle, did you?"
A) Sex! Then let's eat.
B) OK, let's all get drunk! Then let's fortify the house, maybe.
C) SHOOT HIM! Or try to.
D) ____________ (write-in)
Lol, Neo is really triyng for that sex scene.
I was considering pointing that out.
Yeah it seems a little obvious at this point that Neo is going for that with it being option A and all.
Time for a drink. B.
C) That will teach him to melt the carpet.
As long as only bacteria and small insects can get to the bones, they can actually last for upwards of 300 years (other factors can increase the decomposition rate - such as humidity, how many freeze/thaw cycles that they are exposed to, air movement, etc).
I'll go with Mayana's write-in for D.
RED ELK (cont'd)
OK, we got 3 votes for D. We'll go with D.
Amelia peered down, then back up at Kilroy.
"Yeah, that's kind of what I thought." He gave a chuckle. "No, please. Go ahead and do so now. I won't stop you." He made a face, raising both hands in front of him and wiggling his fingers in a mock-carefree manner.
She warily padded her sweat pants' pockets with her free hand, realizing before she even did that that she... never at any point actually bothered to take any ammo for her Timber Classic rifle when she was in the rush to grab it and go.
Amelia just glared at him. This smug son of a bitch... he's got another thing coming, she thought to herself. He's not so big that my krav maga classes won't pay dividends all over his fucking pretty boy Irish face. I don't care how good the sex was. This motherfucker probably didn't even put a condom on, as fucked up as I was.
"Hey. Look, babe." Kilroy shuffled a bit, slowly reaching a hand behind him. Slowly, so she could see. "Why don't you take mine?" He produced a Glock 39 from tucked under his belt behind his back. Gestured it at her. When it seemed she was used to seeing it, he tossed it to her.
She made a move to grab it from the air with her freed hand... but missed. It hit the floor with a klank near her left booted foot.
Awkward pause. Both looked at each other intently. Was this the move?
It can't be, she pondered mentally. He's going to just toss me his gun, knowing I'd not catch it... only to pull another gun while he knows the gun I have in my hands has no ammo? No. Stupid.
Amelia kneeled down, depositing her rifle on the floor while picking up the glock, never leaving eye contact with Kilroy. She brought it to bear on him as she came back up, intently.
"It's okay," Kilroy ventured, with a wry smile. "I trust you. I want you to trust me, more than anything right now."
"Okay," she said. "Okay." Pausing a moment, she pulled out the clip of the glock, verified that the ammo was full, then redeposited it. "Now talk."
"Cool. Ask me anything, Amelia. I know you've got questions."
Amelia cleared her throat. Regained her composure. "So it's 2042? For real? No fucking joke?"
His gaze didn't waver. "Oh, it is."
She gestured around her. "You're telling me this nice-ass house has been rotting for over 20 years?" She pointed her glock at different things around the living room, all ill-lit by the moonlight peaking in from the ceiling-high windows on the nearby deck.
"Yes," he answered, matter of factly. "This is pretty much where the fuck we're at. Do you really want to peek in the fridge here, to see if I'm wrong? Shit, you can. Or go and carbon date this poor bastard." He nodded his head at the skeletal individual in the smoking jacket in the recliner. "I don't think he'll mind. Did you bring your carbon dater with you?"
"Shut the fuck up." Amelia did a roundabout, keeping her glock trained on Kilroy while going to the kitchen. With her free hand she opened the fridge slowly, peering in it sparing only quick glances. Right away the smell was repugnant. Like rotten eggs mixed with feces on top of spoiled cheese and milk and hamburger... which wasn't entirely unlike the actual contents of the fridge. If she were to look closer she might have found new colonies of microscopic life as has never been witnessed by humans. She closed it just as quick.
"No," she said, rounding back into the living room. "More fucking questions."
"What attack? Who attacked us?"
He scratched his chin a little. "We're... eh, I'm not really sure, exactly. Alien, it seems certain. But not unlike us."
"Not unlike us, or us?"
"No one has seen any of Them and lived. The one Changed Survivor I've met described Them, but it didn't really make sense."
"Who is 'Them'?"
"The aliens," he chimed. "Let's just call them fucking aliens. Is that okay with you?"
Amelia rubbed a hand over her face. "Talk."
Kilroy took a deep, measured breath. Then, in coolly modulated words, he began, "They came a long time ago. Around the time of your actual birthday party."
"So last night?"
"No," he chided. "That's not what I said. You haven't been keeping up well, have you?"
Amelia winced. "Apparently not."
"Well, anyway... they came then. Full-on EMP bursts, across the whole globe. All electronics shut down. Some parts of the grid escaped it, fleetingly, but far and wide we all went dark." Kilroy took a seat on a wooden chair by an oak dining room table. Pulled it out a bit as he did. "The Dyson Sphere came right after that. Oh, they had it ready. Ready to blanket our little globe in preservatives."
Amelia made a cough. "Just what the holy fucking hell is a 'Dyson Sphere'?"
"By definition, I've learned... a shell-like station encasing a star... harvesting its power," he ventured, keeping his tone as benevolent and even as possible. "Entirely hypothetical until, well... here it is. But in this particular fucked up case... it is harvesting us. Our world. Our people. But it's actually doing a whole hell of a lot more than that." He stopped, gauging Amelia's reactions. "It's like we're in the center of the goddamn Death Star. Get it?"
"You don't say?"
"I do," he went on, narrowing his eyes. "And all life on our little globe as we knew it was forfeit. Like, right away. Whoosh!" He raised both arms to his sides, as if catching flight. Then he snapped a finger. "Kaput! Like that! Even us. Well, not exactly like us. Meaning, you and I. And a handful of others, though not by them directly. Other life, they just changed."
"What are we?"
Kilroy harrumphed. "We're who we've always been. More or less." He wagged a finger at her. "Except now you're pointing my own gun at me, the dude who fucked you six ways from Sunday in that birthday party so long ago. Which -- I know -- is all kinds of weird and upsetting."
She leaned forward, then. "Why shouldn't I point a gun at you, motherfucker?"
"Oh, you probably should. I probably would, in your shoes... or those cute boots, in your case. But this is why I gave you my gun to begin with. I did do that just now, remember?"
"Look, so much of this is easier to show you than tell you," he said, after a sigh. "Can I take you to church?"
"Hah! I knew you'd say that," he spoke with a chuckle. "Steph said you were super anti-church and all that. Your parents were religious nutjobs or something. Right?"
Oh, Stephanie, that bitch... I'd curse your ass except you're dead as all fuck. Amelia gasped a bit. Fuck, what am I thinking?!
"But really. Let's go to the church down the street. I can show you exactly what's going on. Or at least give you some... perspective."
Amelia gulped. Slowly lowered her glock.
"Shall we?" Kilroy asked, gently. "No more questions?"
A) Do what he says, carefully. Go to the church.
B) Shoot him dead. He's probably lying. Examine the corpse.
C) March him back to your house with your rifle, get that ammo you didn't get to start with. Then reevaluate options.
D) ____________ (write-in)
E) ____________ (write-in)
I'll be going with C.
Two loaded firearms is better than one.
OK, we got 4 votes for C. Going with C. Sorry for the delay.
Amelia and Kilroy kept a slow, deliberate pace on the way back to her house. Kilroy reminded her about the absence of her rifle's ammo and it seemed a prudent enough matter to take a detour from going to the church to address.
As she breathed out she could see her breath in front of her, noticing it was a bit colder now. Somehow. She wasn't too worried about Kilroy anymore, trusting him to linger more out at her side than in front of her with her glock trained on his back. That was her first inclination, anyway.
"Sooo hey, 'Amelia 2.0,'" she chimed, a little musically. "Can we talk about that a little bit, oh old fuck buddy of mine before the apocalypse? What exactly does that mean? We're, like, robots or some shit?"
Kilroy gave a sigh. "It's not that simple. It's more like... well, have you ever seen the movie -- "
The neighbor's house they'd just come from abruptly exploded behind them. The sheer concussive force of it propelled both of them four yards forward, Amelia crashing into and through part of an old wooden yard fence. Kilroy, meanwhile, face-skidded across part of the driveway and part of the adjacent grass in the front yard. Wood and concrete and metal shrapnel rained by them, over them and onto them.
The ringing was ever present now, overpowering her. She couldn't distinguish what part of the ringing was the ringing from before and what part was her eardrums being racked by the explosion. At the moment, it didn't really matter. "Wh-what in the fucking fuck!" she exclaimed, though she couldn't actually hear herself say that.
She saw Kilroy's mouth moving, as if yelling. The right side of his face was gnarled, bleeding profusely at that point and he was cupping a hand gingerly over his eye. Human blood, she made a mental note. He got up and staggered toward her, favoring his left leg.
Amelia stood, rubbing her ears. She noticed that as Kilroy was moving toward her, his eye went wide and he frantically pointed over her shoulder behind her, gesturing wildly.
Amelia whipped around and her eyes darted wide.
It was a giant creature, maybe as tall as her, thick and bulbous, stretching what appeared to be fifteen feet in length. It was slug-like, with two eye-like organs on stalks protruding forward from its head. It had four appendages that were elongated arms with two separate joints, webbed hands with long, spidery fingers. Brown skin as best as she could tell, shining wetly in whatever the equivalent of the moonlight there was. In the light it appeared as though there were pieces of metal plating along its sides, though her eyes may have been playing tricks on her. It recoiled back and forth as it slinked, propelling itself forward at a disturbingly rapid pace.
Directly at her.
"MOTHERFUCKER! OH, MOTHERFUCKER!"
Her hands frantically patted at her sides. No glock.
She startled as Kilroy grabbed her arm. She felt his breath in her face, spittle hitting her in it as he apparently was yelling at her. She wrestled free, diving down to the ground where she'd been hurled from the explosion. She patted around the grass by the fence, sparing quick glances behind her at the rapidly advancing creature.
No glock? No more. Her hand found it resting under a shattered piece of wood fence.
The creature could have been no further out than fifteen yards and closing. Fast. Gathering what was left of her wits at this point she trained her gun squarely between the "eyes" of the creature and clenched her jaw.
A) Shoot it dead. Try to, anyway.
B) Try to reason with the creature, try to tell it to stop and attempt communication.
C) Fire a warning shot and run like hell.
D) Shoot Kilroy in the leg and run like hell.
E) ____________ (write-in)
I'll go with choice A.
A - Bang bang! Die alien scum!
Unanimous. 4 votes for A.
BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
The shots rang out as she squeezed the trigger three times, shots she could only dimly hear over the everpresent ringing in her ears and probably not helping the underlying situation of her hopefully short term hearing loss. The shell casings hit the ground at her feet.
The giant slug-like creature took all three squarely in what seemed to be its version of a head. It stopped dead in its tracks, making unnerving guttural noises. It then started vibrating, viscous fluids erupting out of the points of bullet impacts.
"Wow! That's good, Amelia!" Kilroy chimed in, intentionally loudly so as she could hear. "That's perfect!"
"I-I... I don't understand this..."
The creature continued its strange vibrating, gyrating on its base, head swinging to and fro as the cascade of bodily juices continued their erupting.
"You want to see something pretty freaking cool? Relatively speaking."
He cleared his throat a little, then shouted, "YOU WANT TO SEE SOMETHING COOL?" Then in a lower tone of voice, "I can only do this shit once, by the way."
With that, Kilroy pulled a small knife from his back pocket, looked up, down, back up again with a deep, sharp breath of air... and then went to town sawing off his left hand. A viscous, purple liquid squirted from the cut.
"Eurgh... fucking hell..."
"Oh, god!" Amelia exclaimed, in disgust as the hand dropped to the ground. "What in the --"
"Shit? Yeah, this pretty much sucks. But watch now."
He ran up then, jumping a bit awkwardly onto the spasmodically flailing creature's tailed back.
"Kilroy! What are you doing?!"
As if he was riding the mechanical bull at the local shit-kicker dive bar, Kilroy rode out the motions while guiding his stump of a left hand over the underside of the creature's "jaw." Little fiberoptic-like cables extended from the "meat" in his stump, little by little. When he seemed satisfied by their extension, he reared his arm back, then rammed it forward into the underside of the creature's jaw.
"Gah, fuck! Yeouch!" he cried, wincing in extreme pain.
"Kilroy! What the fuck are you doing?"
The creature settled then, head slung low with slime dripping onto the singed grass. A smell resembling that of acrid sulfur and burned popcorn filled Amelia's nostrils. The head then shot up, alert. Kilroy still catching his breath, beads of sweat trickling off his head hitting the ground, rose his own to meet her gaze.
"We keep talking about this trip to church. You ready to go in style, chica? Like, cyber-slug express™ style? Like... now?"
Amelia swallowed, mouth open a bit as she did her best to take current events all in. By all accounts it appeared to be a true shit sandwich, no matter how she cut it.
A) Get on the cyber-slug with Kilroy. What's the worst that can happen?
B) Refuse. Put another bullet in the slug and one into Kilroy.
C) Run away and try and see what's going on in the greater city.
D) ____________ (write-in)
OK, here we go.
Unanimous. And by unanimous I mean a whopping 1 vote for A.
"God, what's that smell?" Amelia asked. "It's like... burned hair and cheese."
"Eh, it's probably Henrietta."
"Oh, is that what we're calling it?"
"It's clearly a 'she,' babe."
"Why would you assume its gender?"
Amelia cracked a smile. "I'm just fucking with you."
Somewhat like a slinky, the cyber-slug slinked them closer and closer to their destination in the darkness with every forward writhe. They already stopped by Amelia's house to grab the rifle ammo they meant to before the slug had ever so rudely interrupted them. Amelia found the ride surprisingly comfortable, though she imagined it had to be anything but that for Kilroy, who was kind of draped over the front half of the slug with his exposed stump/wrist stuffed under the "jaw" of the slug. It was clear he was able to interface with the slug on some level.
"Y'know," Amelia said, as the slug slowly rounded the corner of 15th and Ocidental, "this isn't even terribly faster than walking. Was this really worth chopping your hand off over? This slug was going way faster on its own when I first saw it."
Kilroy smiled back, broadly. "Oh, it's worth it. I can always grow or build another hand -- well, sort of... but we may never come across another cyber-slug like Henrietta here."
"If you say so."
With that, they arrived at the "Church of the Nazarene." Amelia and Kilroy exchanged a look, then shrugged. Amelia slid off first, wrinkling her nose and wiping at the layer of goo on her butt and thighs as she hit the sidewalk and slung her rifle over her back.
"We're both covered in blood and soot and nasties... some slug slime isn't going to kill us."
Kilroy gave a grunt as he removed his arm from the underside of the slug's head, then slid off as well.
Amelia waiting not-so-patiently by the front double-doors to the church, staring at a particular statue of a holy man looking to the sky with arms outstretched. She had never been religious save for her earliest childhood, but nonetheless she found a certain beauty in the piece.
"Shall we?" Kilroy piped, right in her ear.
"AHHH!!!" she exclaimed, startled by him.
Amelia tossed Kilroy his glock, then brandished her rifle. Together they entered the church, Kilroy virtually kicking open the doors and throwing his arm (with the stump, she noted) over Amelia's shoulder.
A trio of elderly, bald Caucasian men in black priests' attire and robes stood in front of the altar, facing the door as if somehow expecting them. All three of them nodded in unison. As they looked, they noticed there were a number of elderly women, too, remaining against the wall by the pulpit and gazing icily at them.
The lead priest spoke, "Welcome, children. Come. Approach us."
"Yes, we have been waiting for you."
Kilroy smirked at Amelia. "Don't buy into it, babe... they do this shit all the time. They're like the second, third, and fourth creepy dads you never had and never wanted."
Another priest said, "This time is different, Brother Kilroy."
"Yes," spoke the third, "this time we have a plan to remove Them from our world and take it back. Forever."
"But time runs short. Let's fix that hand of yours and act."
Amelia looked to Kilroy, who nodded approvingly with vigor. "It's time already?" he said, then met her gaze. "Wow. I guess your timing is turning out to be fucking impeccable."
She lowered her rifle a bit, considering the three priests with a wary glance before looking back to Kilroy. "Wait, wait, wait..."
A) Hear out the priests.
B) Question the crap out of the priests before anything.
C) It's a trap. Get out of there, with or without Kilroy.
D) ____________ (write-in)