15 avril 2005

Story crossing

Lucretia started it on Life as a carrot, ForgottenMachine elaborated at Ten miles beyond the city and Suzanna finished the third leg at Princess of Irony. You want to have a go? Great, just pick it up, and make it up. In the Princess's words though, give credit where it's due.

Can't believe I asked for this. This will self-destruct if you think it's bad.

And many many mercis to Suzanna for acting editor extraordinaire.

It was hot and sticky inside the club, the air hung thick with smoke. Overhead lights threw a sickly, seedy pink hue over everything. Mike was stoned. Way too stoned. And now he was drunk. Very drunk. He leant heavily against the grimy bar counter, the stench of stale urine from the nearby public toilet hung in the air and clung to the walls, insidiously working its way into his nostrils. He grimaced and attempted to focus on anything in his immediate vicinity, anything that wasn’t moving. It was hard. People crushed and crowded against him, all trying to catch the barmaid’s attention. Faces became distorted and stupid looking. He sniggered to himself at the grotesque images around him, he hated it here, he loved it here. The noise and heat engulfed him and for a few moments he felt almost happy, blanketed in the common bond he shared with all the other restless, lonely, souls. Then he remembered where he was and almost immediately, the blackness came rushing back into his head.

He gave up trying to focus on the people and stared instead at the brown bottle in his hand. Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” throbbed suggestively from somewhere deeper in the club and a bunch of Goth chicks began gyrating in time to the beat, behind him. They were all drunk as skunks and teetering crazily all over the place. One of them lost her balance and crashed into the bulk of Mike’s slouching body, half rolling off his leather jacket. He wasn’t sure if it was deliberate on her part, he was past caring. He turned slowly and gave her an icy stare.

“Oops, sorry!” She blurted, giggling at herself. “My mistake.”
She stopped abruptly, taking in his violent gaze.
“Chill, dude.” She said casually.

She looked about eighteen, so Mike reckoned she was probably fourteen or younger. Her face was plastered with thick white makeup; her eyes, heavily black from the Kohl eyeliner, looked like piss holes in the snow. She was wearing a black mesh top and no bra, her nipples poked through the strands of black string. He sneered at her.

“Fuck off.” He said in a menacing tone. He was so sick of adolescent girls. They were all so full of shit. Cock teasers and sluts. The last thing he needed tonight was a potential statutory rape probability

“Fuck you too, shit head!” she spat at him and swaggered off unsteadily back to her mates. Her friends gasped in unison when she told them what he’d said to her. A chorus of “arsehole!” and “dickface!” assaulted his ears; they made gestures with their middle fingers.

He shrugged and went back to his beer, glowering at the faces around him. The place was starting to close in, he felt claustrophobic. ‘Fucking bitches,’ he seethed inside. ‘I fucking hate them all. Only good for one thing.’ He continued to drink heavily and ordered another beer from the frazzled bar lady.

“Geez, Mike,” she said, eyeing him warily. “You’re sure as hell putting them away tonight, hey? Slow down, dude.”
She was fond of Mike, he was a regular patron at the club but she hadn’t ever seen him this tanked up, or as surly before.

“Just give me a goddam beer, Claire and leave me the fuck alone with the lectures, okay?!” His voice was heavy with booze, yet even in his inebriated state, he managed to speak clearly.

“I’m not lecturing you, Mike.” Claire said, uncapping the beer and slamming it down hard on the counter next to his outstretched hand.
“Just take it easy, okay?”
She tossed his loose change close to the beer bottle.
“Give me any shit and I’ll get Bruce to throw you out.”
She glared at him threateningly and then spun around, before he could say anything abusive. A crowd of people on the opposite side of the bar were clamoring for refills. She didn’t have time for arguments.

Fatigue pulled at Mike, dragging him down. He tried to shake it off with a few gulps of the fresh, cold beer but it wasn’t helping. Bruce, the massive bouncer, had always been friendly but Mike knew that it wouldn’t be impossible to overstretch the boundaries and get turfed out into the street. Bruce didn’t take crap from anyone – friend or otherwise.

Mike was getting sick of the place, sick of the babies, the endless parade of schoolgirls.
‘Why the fuck do I come here?’ He mulled to himself. ‘It’s not like I even enjoy it anymore. Always the same bunch of losers and wannabees. They all think they are so cool but they’re just a load of posers, trendies.’
Vivid images erupted in his head – he was striding through the crowded club, gun in hand, taking pot shots at whoever put a face in front of him. Graphic pictures of bloodied bodies and screaming teenagers, flooded through his mind. He was enjoying this day dream; a deep secret smile in his eyes, when he saw her standing across from him. His heart almost stopped beating.

She'd been dead all of three years, but it was still a breathless fall to sobriety every time he saw her. Well, not dead three years, but died three years ago........shit, he couldn't even wrap his head around it in the cold, clear light of day, let alone with the fog that was currently loitering in his mind.

He watched her walk toward the bar, a clinical stride that didn't seem to belong to her; or maybe it did, maybe the warmth he had always associated with that movement was the real illusion. As always, she was dressed plainly in a black garment that shifted unnaturally, almost as if the touch of her skin would leave some dread taint.

"Michael."

How could he bear to hear that voice speak his name, that as it had been stripped of any notion of intimacy, so was he stripped of the last vestiges of sanity every time he heard it.

"You're looking well." She could have at least made an effort at candidness, but Mike reckoned once you'd been to the other side, sincerity was an expendable commodity.

Who would have guessed that science would beat Christ to the resurrection? When they successfully brought that boy back 10 years ago, Mike had not an inkling of the impact it would have on his life.
Why had she just not told him? He could understand the right of every individual to request the procedure, if it were possible, yet it angered him that she'd concealed her decision. She should've been mangled by a train, not that fucking pussy of an aneurysm that left her in such 'pristine' condition.

R.E.S.C.O.R. He couldn't even think the word without feeling the bile rising in the back of his throat. You thinking of donating your organs when you kick it? Fuck that! Resurrection is the way to go, provided you have enough cash and have managed to keep yourself from splattering all over the pavement. Why no-one seemed to be bothered about the secrecy surrounding the procedure was beyond him. Could the joy of being re-united with a loved one truly blind you for so long? Surely they could see that what came back was like an image in a mirror, that something was lost in the transition?
Perhaps that was why he hung out at the club so often; it was as close as he could get to the sheer desolation, the intoxicating loneliness of death. Here, he could worship at the feet of his beloved Mistress. He was sure that She would whisper to him Her design for vengeance against those who would dare defy Her will and encroach on Her domain.
For a moment he again saw himself, gun in hand, blowing away these pathetic freaks. Rescor would have a bloody field day.

He tried to straighten up, to stare the true freak in the eyes.

"Kira, my darling wife." The sarcasm peeled from his voice like burnt skin. "What do you need this time?"

Kira slid onto the barstool next to him like it was a well worn saddle. She was totally comfortable in her surroundings whatever they may be, a characteristic that was completely foreign to Mike, in his own life and in the life of the woman he once knew as his own. Once she was brought back, it seemed she was made into some sort of chameleon as well.

As she edged closer to him he noticed the pleasant effects of his alcohol induced haze retreating into a mild numbness of his senses. However, his eyesight was on alert and he noticed the standard Rescor barcode tattooed on the inside of her right wrist when she reached for his bottle of beer.

“I’m just a bit parched my love, mind if I have a sip?” She said as she took his beer and downed what was left in one fluid motion. Kira motioned for Claire to bring Mike another bottle. Claire stepped over to the pair, aware of their history and of the potential for disaster whenever the two were together after Kira’s transformation. They were both as volatile as gun powder next to a grease fire and Claire wanted no part of the fireworks.

Claire set Mike’s new bottle of beer down in front of him and retreated quickly as Kira swiped it and took a long pull, placing it back in front of Mike with a teeth-jarring thud.

To think of putting his mouth to the same place this thing beside him had just touched her lips to, made the acid in Mike’s gut rise. He eyed Kira warily and said with great disdain, “Keep it sweetie.”

He couldn’t stand this back and forth banter she insisted on every time they were in the same zip code. It was almost like she had some sort of tracking device on him and she knew when he was vulnerable and when his soul was raw from life.

She found him. She taunted him. She made his life hell showing him that he could never have it the way it used to be.

It tore Mike’s heart out to think of the love he once knew with Kira and that it all was boiled away when the mad scientist bastards at R.E.S.C.O.R. woke her from what should have been death.

Kira swung towards him on her barstool, seeming to almost float in her supernatural way of moving, and Mike; lost in his thoughts; inadvertently flinched. She laughed low and throaty and sprung from her perch, rabbit punching Mike in the back of the head and leapt away to taunt, tease and harass a group of burly bikers in a darkened corner.

‘Those guys have no idea what they are getting into.’ Mike thought to himself as he rubbed the back of his head. Claire stepped over to him to ask if he was ok. “I’m fine Claire, thanks for asking.”

Claire thrust out her chin determinedly and said, “Mike, I don’t know why you let her do that to you. It is like she hurts you on purpose every time she sees you. Either she hurts your feelings or hurts you physically or both. She is just a cruel woman, no… scratch that… She’s a Monster! I don’t know why you don’t turn her into that group of Blade Runners that have popped up over in Dallas. I mean, man… I know she used to be your wife and all… but dude… that thing ain’t nobody’s wife!”

Mike thought for a second and then replied, “I guess I just feel a little responsible for her Claire.” He shook his head sadly and walked out of the bar.

If only he had read the fine print on the medical release form at the hospital.

But he had always thought he was better than the rest of them, hadn't he? That no one could ever screw him over because he had all bases covered. Well, screwed him over she had, good and proper.

The day she... died, it had all started with a headache. He'd thought nothing of it at first, she was tired from working all hours at the office, and her father's heart scare had kept them on edge for a few days. The worry had only come later. Much later. Too late. By then, Kira was weeping from the pain, and her skin looked taut, stretched across the cheekbones, and glistening with sweat. Very unhealthy. Very worrying. That's when he'd realised that she needed the ER.

Every time he'd thought about that drive to the hospital, inevitably the words ‘movie clichés’ came to his mind although, it had definitely not felt that way at the time.
He had driven like he'd never driven before, clutching the wheel with both hands, aware that if he took Kira's hand, he might crush it with the sheer strength of his worry.
He lifted her gently from the passenger seat after a screeching halt right in front of the entrance, and run to the first nurse he’d seen. He was nearly incoherent. They'd thankfully taken over from there.

"You OK, Mike?" Claire inquired, snapping Mike out of his memories. It took him a second to actually remember where he was – in the bar’s parking lot, absently standing in front of his car, dangling car keys in hand – and it came crashing down. Kira was back. Again. Yet, somehow, this time, he had a nagging suspicion that she very much wanted to outstay her welcome.
"Yeah, just, y'know, had a few too many, I guess".
Claire didn't insist. She'd told him that Kira was bad news. There was nothing else she could do. And she couldn't afford to get tangled up in the lives of her patrons, however nice the patron. Not that Mike would listen anyway. She threw the stub of her cigarette, and went back in.

"Sir, hi, I’m Dr. Edwardes. I'm going to have to skip the niceties, here, time's running fast. You are aware that your wife signed up for Rescor procedure?"
"Er, n... no...?"
He'd hated the sound of his voice at that moment. Whiny, scared, choking. He wasn't like that.
"We found the acceptance card in her purse. Unfortunately, she was in a coma on arrival, so we couldn't get her formal confirmation."
Dr. Edwardes proceeded to brief him on what exactly the resurrection entailed. Mike hadn't even paused to consider the consequences: Kira was dead, Kira could live again, the answer shot out of his mouth like a hot breath.
"Yes, go on, do it."
Just like that, he’d allowed his wife to live again.
She’d stayed at the hospital for a couple of days, and he took her back home with the same kind of feeling he’d had on their wedding day.
The trouble became apparent fairly rapidly. He’d first noticed the mood swings. And it escalated fairly rapidly; she needed more and more time on her own, locked up in the bathroom, or out, just out, he’d never known where. Up until the point when she’d simply vanished. She’d even kissed him goodbye that day.

“Hey, Michael.”
Kira caught up with him sitting in his car.
Not surprising considering that the old piece of shit he used for transport usually required a few minutes warming. Fuck.
“Kira. I’ve asked you before. What do you want?”
She was bending low to his level, showing more cleavage than he cared to see. It made his skin crawl that at some point he’d loved making love to her. She was so alien to him now.
“Michael, darling, don’t do this. What do I want? I want my husband back.” She started toying with the buttons on his shirt. The way her nails would grate the fabric against his skin used to drive him insane with desire for her. With love. That’s what it was then.
“I want children. A home. A fa-mi-ly.”, she sing-songed.
“Oh Kira, give me a break. You don’t want a family, you want new toys. What?
That bunch of apes in there didn’t perform? I have to go.”
He gunned the car. He felt sober. He felt scared.