Good God PR

This is a short little thing I wrote, didn’t edit much.. just enjoy it for what it is. – Hatton

Image result for nike bia kratos zelos

Good God PR
James Hatton

Victoria looked at her hand. She could see the marble floor beneath as her fingers oscillated between solid and translucent. She coughed once, which lead to a second, followed by a complete fit. The pain in her gut was unbearable. She was a Goddess, how was this happening?

Kratos, one of her three siblings that sat on each of the sides of her bed, took her knee in his tree knotted hand and gave it a supportive shake, “You can fight this, my sister.”

Victoria could do nothing but nod weakly.

Bia, sitting at the foot of the bed, watched with a look of grim disgust. “We must do something, siblings. How can we be so powerful and yet so weak!”

Zelus looked down to the floor and spit, “It is them.. the mortals.. they are jealous of us.”

Victoria rolled her eyes, she had heard these sentiments of her siblings for the entirety of their lives. She opened her dry flaking lips and the other three hushed. “..it is.. I think… a battle … I have lost.” She believed it too. Never before had she felt so close to defeat. Never before had belief in her been so low.

The silence that had been broken by Victoria’s coughing fit descended on them yet again. They each watched while they did what the gods and goddesses were best at.. planning and scheming.

While the others kept their own counsel, Bia’s face was a constant shifting painting of thought. On occasion she would begin to stir, muscles tightening, body almost hovering off the chair. The others would watch, awaiting some grand plan to spill out from her, only to see she found the flaw in her own plan as she slipped back into her seat, defeated.

This time though, she laughed. A loud laugh. A fierce laugh. A laugh that made the muses down the hall lose their train of thought. A laugh that dulled the blade Vulcan was forging below. If this wasn’t a sickness of belief, that laugh alone could have healed Victoria. “I’VE GOT IT!”

They all looked to her.

“WE FORCE THEIR HAND!”

And all at once, they sunk back into their seat, dejection on their faces. “What? What is it! I just said I had a plan! Did you not hear me?!” Bia looked from face to face, wide-eyed.

Kratos responded first, “Bia, I love you, but this is always your plan. Force this. Make this work. Do this now. We cannot force their hands. Their free will makes it all but impossible.”

Bia wasn’t dissuaded. Even as her brother tried to break her spirit, her smile only grew larger. “Yes, my brother, but Victoria has something that the rest of us don’t have.” She paused, hoping that others would see what she was saying… none did. “She has items of effigy.” Again, Bia paused. Again, blank looks from everyone including Victoria. “When the warriors go to battle, they would light effigies, would they not?”

Zelus nodded, “Yes. It would invigor the soldiers.”

Bia smiled, “Yes!” She clenched her fist as if nothing else need be said.

Zelus continued on, “You burned your enemy’s effigy though.”

Bia kept nodding, goading Zelus to continue on. “And what would it do to the other side, eh? If the enemies burn your symbols… what do you do?”

Zelus’ eyes widened, “You… You believe more fiercely! You defend your God! You fight harder!”

Bia and Zelus laughed together. Dust from the columns above sprinkled down on Victoria’s bed.

Kratos looked to Victoria and they shared a confused shrug before looking back to the other two. “So what? Victoria has no such enemy. Her other name is spoken in terms of sport and of triumph. How do we, in her last fleeting moments, get people to burn her symbols so that others believe all the more?”

Now that Bia felt they all were where she was a few moments prior, she told them the plan. The more people destroyed, the more the enemies would care. The more they cared, the more belief would be pushed back into Victoria’s heart, healing her. When she had laid out everything, Bia looked to her sister. “May we do this on your behalf Victori–”

Bia was cut off by Zelus, who excitedly interjected, “I do believe given the circumstances, we should use your other name… Nike.”

To answer their question, Victoria lifted her heavy head. Even that gesture made her breathing dusty and ragged. She knew the end was near, so perhaps this was her one last chance. She loved her siblings and their drive. Even if she didn’t think it would work, she had to let them try.

“..just do it.”

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SomethingHatton #1 – The Magic Trick

Great, so now I have to write two posts!

In the future, I’ll likely just simulpost the same stuff, but for now, you get something different over here.

If you weren’t aware, I do a podcast over at SomethingCast.com (and now you can bounce back and forth between both posts forever. Well, my partner is taking a sabbatical, so I’m doing my own thing for a little while. If it takes off in its own lil way, I’ll keep doing it, and this will be its home. For now, it is at both places.

In this episode, I discuss E3 and read a short story I wrote.

Hope you enjoy – ok, here we go!

Full Episode

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I finally bit the bullet…

After two years of on again off again agent hunting. After writing a book that was actually easier than trying to get it published… I’ve decided to go out of my way to make it happen no matter what.

So as of today, Trio: An Origin Story is alive and kicking and available for Kindle here:
https://amzn.to/2H7ujiQ

What can you expect when you buy it?

You can expect the story of three teenagers who gain superpowers and aren’t quite sure what to do with them. You can expect a love triangle that isn’t exactly what you think it is. You can expect a new adult novel that doesn’t so much turn the superhero genre on its head, as it sits it down and suggests other career options because it clearly isn’t very good at all that hero business.

Most of all, you can tell me what you think.

Thanks everyone, and hope to see you in the skies.
James

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Submechanophobia

Submechanophobia – First Draft – James Hatton

Will’s fear wasn’t the object itself, although it was a definite part of it. He peered through the haze of the sea as the submarine, long since given up on, just lay unmoving on the floor. From his high vantage point at sea level, it appeared no larger than a car key. What was upsetting Will was the knowledge that this vessel was touching him right now.

Millions of molecules were decomposing within the metal goliath and billions more had already been picked up and taken away by the current and were most definitely all around him and had been since he took his first step into the water. This foreign particulate was clinging to him, dodging and weaving through his gooseflesh raised arm hair. Even the wetness he felt where the snorkel sealed against his mouth was laden with bits of rusted metal from dormant gauges or eroded seat cushions that now looked more like modern art than a place a soldier once sat.

A chill so much deeper and more deadly than the temperature of the seawater anchored in Will’s stomach and gave way to something he didn’t understand. Much like the bolts and screws that failed to hold the sub together rolled long treks on the bottom of the ocean, Will’s panic beckoned him deeper into the darkness of his own panic.

It lead him to see the jagged corners of the machine’s mortal wound. Sickly orange-red rust-folded metal, shaped in obscene origami, acting as an entrance to the place where men had most certainly taken their final breaths. His joints ached sympathetically as he felt the vacuum. Beginning with a long since silenced klaxon that warned the ghosts of the shift in pressure. The rush of the water trading places with spheres of oxygen that climbed back to the same surface that so many would not reach. Taunting them by rising up faster than they could ever swim, life leaving them behind.

There, at the entrance to someone else’s hell, Will would be surrounded by the saturated dust of both the organic and inorganic dead. It would be impossible to escape the molecules of first aid kits, torepedoes, uniforms, and turbines all intermingling in the stew of silt and plant and fish… and him.

When Will finally reached the shore, a couple that had been bobbing on the surface near him began excitedly talking to each other about the sub they saw. All Will could see when he looked at them was the particles of the dead, drying out on their salty skin.

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The Ancients – Story #1

The Ancients.
1.

The light went on in the center chamber to signal the Ancients to reconvine. Each of the eight transported from whatever it was they had previously been doing in a cloud of replication nanos to reappear at the table.

The table itself was a deep cherry red with a million imperfections caused by the beings that had been using it as their meeting place for the last millenia. Deep gouging scratches were in front of almost every seat from one of them getting heated over a decision. An entire area was blackened with its sheen dulled from an incident where one of the Ancients had been implanted with an explosive device by The Problem.

The center was a manipulatable holographic map that each one of the Ancients could control as they needed. The entirety of man’s knowledge was stored miles below in hidden concreted bunkers and with a thought, an Ancient could produce pictures, maps, and recorded moments to appear in front of them.

After the last Ancient appeared, the Speaker stood. Each knew why they were there. It was the only reason they were ever summoned anymore. The Problem.

“I state that it has been a week since we spoke last.” the Speaker said in the cold aloof manner that was its way. “Ideas?”

A few hundred years ago, this would have started a loud and raucous discussion about the hundreds of ways they felt they could fix the Problem. Each of the Ancients had their sphere of influence so each got their turn to try their hand at removing the Problem from their way. Now though, after hundreds of failed attempts, thousands of hours wasted, they were all a bit grumpy.

After a prolonged silence that had been growing more uncomfortable with each passing moment, the Thinker spoke up, “I propose that we have all given up, Speaker.”

The Fighter snorted, “I defy that idea, Thinker. If only we..”

The Builder cut them off, “You will make some suggestion that all we need are more swords or weapons. How many of yours have been lost, Fighter? Perhaps more than any of ours. Can’t you see that the Problem is not swayed by combat?”

The Fighter didn’t retort.

The Liar spoke next, “We could decieve him?”

The Burner added, “Scald him.”

The Runner chimed in, “Chase him.”

The Destroyer next, “We could cut the shit…”

Silence overtook the table swiftly. The Speaker, his place to call things to order, spoke carefully, “I speak carefully, Destroyer. You have…”

The Destroyer interrupted the Speaker, “Broken this bullshit tradition. This is stupid and you’re stupid. Our naming convention is stupid. Our annoying use of verbs is stupid. Do you know how sick I am of saying shit like ‘I break’ and ‘You have voided’ .. we’re the most powerful creatures in the universe and we’ve hobbled ourselves by an idiotic naming convention.”

The discomfort in the chamber was palpable. “I ponder if..” the Thinker tried.

“NOPE!” said the Destroyer.

“This idea does ignite…” the Burner tried.

“NUH UH… NO.” said the Destroyer.

There was a tone of frustration in the Speaker’s voice as he tried yet again, “Destroyer, I ask tha–”

“WRONG!” the Destroyer yelled over them. “The next one of you that uses a synonym of their name as the action verb of your first sentence is getting decked.”

Nobody spoke. Each felt that if they did, they would be cut off by the Destroyer. None of the Ancients liked that at all. For the last thousand years they had all worked in concert to try and stop the Problem, yet here they were fighting amongst themselves… the Thinker raised a hand.

Destroyer rolled his eyes, “Thinker… don’t make me ruin you.”

The Thinker, not wanting to be punched, tilted his head to implore the Destroyer let him talk.

The Destroyer rolled his eyes, “Fine, but end it quick.”

The Thinker smiled, “I believe, Destroyer, that you are mistaken.”

The Destroyer snorted, ‘WHAT?!’ I WILL CRUSH YO–”

It was the Thinker that interrupted this time. “I know, and it is because you are the Destroyer. You will Crush. Ruin. End. Break. You may have the gift of some colorful choices of words, but you are beholden to the same limits that we all are..”

The only thing the Ancients could hear was the frustrated Destroyer thinking and rolling over the conversation in his head. “But I can dismantle that id…. no, dismantle fits… Quell? No…. Waste?! NO…. WRECK CRUSH TRASH EXTIRPATE KIBOSH… DAMMIT!” By the end of that, the Destroyer was breathing hard like the whole thing took extreme amounts of energy out of him.

The Speaker cleared their throat, signaling a change of topic, “I say thank you to Thinker for that… now. Any ideas concerning the Problem?”

The rest of the afternoon was taken up by an idea from the Builder to construct a cave so complex that the Problem would get lost in it for aeons. The Destroyer didn’t speak up throughout.


(image source: modified Gregorians)

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Chapter 3 Commentary

So this is the first part of Chapter 3. It isn’t done yet, but I spent the last few hours writing and I figured I should get to posting.

I’m so far back on Nano… I have a nice few days off this week so my hope is to spend at least one or two nights just burning midnight oil.

Anyway – they just got to where they need to go, and shortly after this moment there is some big action coming. There is an aspect of this story that I realize is kind of unbelievable (moreso than the premise anyway) in that he is telling this whole thing to a phone, but then again, Interview With A Vampire is like 3,000 pages and Christian Slater is just recording that whole thing on micro cassette, so I feel this little bit of detail can just be accepted.

There are some details that I’ve already gone and edited in the previous chapters, just minor things to fix direction, and my goal is to really do the major edits to fit things better at the end, like a good writey writer, but certain things I go check on to see what I wrote and go ‘oh wait, that’s not what I want’ and adjust it to fit the direction.

Writing is weird. You aren’t just lying for 50000+ words, you sometimes go back and realize you initially were lying to yourself too, so you have to adjust your previous lie to fit the more total one.

Anyway – enjoy.

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[Nano17] Project: Indigo – Post 3

Table of Contents:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2

 

Chapter 3

The Quick & Go was like every convenient store in the world. Tight packed aisles loaded with snacks you have to assume have been there since god knows when. The back room though was a fucking mess. Bob’s desk had a computer that was yellowed with age and one of those time stampy machines that I’d been he kept at five early late so he could always have something hanging over your head when he docked your pay an hour.

Underneath the desk was a safe that was wide open and a bunch of papers had fallen around that looked kinda like the same ones Bob had been hauling ass with. Lucille picked one up and her face twisted in that confused way. “Why the hell would Binary Chemicals be sending Bob a check?”

When I peered over her shoulder, she was right. It was a receipt off the top of a check, like you get with your paystub, and the bottom perf had been torn off, so the check had obviously been cashed. It had been from this Binary Chemicals company that Lucille seemed so keen on and it had been for not a small amount of money, like a couple grand. It didn’t say what it was for though, but the date said it was from a couple months back. “Put it in your pocket. Might come in handy if we ever wanna blackmail Bob for smokes.”

I walked over to the swinging door between the front of the house and the back of the house, end the minute it swung open the air that hit me in the face had me dry heaving. “Holy shit… he wasn’t kidding..” the smell was beyond rancid, like someone had pickled a bunch of garbage from a slaughterhouse and left it in the sun for a month. I didn’t throw up, but I also wasn’t sure how I was going to get up the stomach to get out there.

Lucille had been behind me tearing through boxes of stock that hadn’t been put out and when I got back from my hunched over position, she pushed a jar of menthol rub, like the kind you put on your chest when you have a cold, into my hands and I looked at her only to see her entire nose was slathered in the stuff, making her look like she had been trying to snort a gluestick. I obliged and rubbed the stuff on my upper lip and immediately a big part of the smell was lost in a field of mint. “Good job.” I said, trying to not make a big deal of it and pushed through the door.

The lights were off, but the sun still shone through the windows, casting the place in this weird mix of brightness and shadows around every corner. And let me tell you, even with the menthol all over our faces, there was still that scent of something bad in the air. “When did you say he died?” I asked, trying to not put too much air into my nose at any point in time.

“I didn’t, but Rickles worked third shift.. So sometime last night, right?”

“Yeah, but this smell ain’t 12 hours dead…” I said as we ducked through the aisles.

“How would you know?” She said like she was accusing me of making shit up. Pot and kettle and all that. Fact is, I do know, and I’m not explaining the crap from my past to some idiot who believes that her house is protected by fairy circles. I brushed her off and we kept going, and as we got closer to the front of the store, the smell was just getting worse.

When we got up to the front counter, we could see the cop car still sitting out at the entrance of the place, leaning against his car and watching the world go by. Looking at the clock above the wall of cigarettes was a clock that read 3:35 and my heart damn near stopped. I pulled out my phone and saw it was still only 10:30am. When I looked back at the clock I saw that the hands had all stopped moving and recognized it wasn’t saying it was 3:35pm, but possibly whatever had stopped Rickles had stopped the clock too. “Hey,” a thought had hit me. “The freezers are out. Like there’s none of that hum or anything. This place is like dead silent.”

Lucille gasped, “You’re right. This place is usually loud as hell with those broken-ass compressors.”

I had thought the lights were out just as a matter of the place being closed, but even the emergency exit lights were off. Curiouser and curiouser.. Am I right?

That’s right Alice and the Chocolate Factory or some shit.

Anyways, I finally got the nerve to step up and look behind the counter and god damn, everything Bob had said was right. Rickles face, not the prettiest before all of this mind you, looked like his skin was all stretched out and was ready to split. You could see blue and purple veins across his cheeks and his neck, and his eyes pushed out like a little more pressure might have them pop out like corks. It was, by far, the most horrible thing I had ever seen in my life up to that point. I was about to tell Lucille to stay back because of just how gross it was, but she had stepped up a hair too early and let out a surprised shriek. “He… he..” I could hear the tears somewhere in the back of her head getting ready to push out.

“Turn around.” I barked at her, not trying to be mean, just all of a sudden feeling cold in the pit of my stomach and just reacting. I walked around the edge of the counter and saw that his whole body was like that. His flannel shirt was straining against the buttons, and bubbles of flesh were visible where the shirt was pulled apart.

“..why the fuck did we do this?” I asked myself more than Lucille, and I heard her vomit in response.

“Sounds accurate to me.”

Pete stopped and took the shot he had ordered and a look of deep thought came over his face. “Still there?” The voice on the other end asked.

“Yeah.” Pete seemed like he was fighting over some detail, and then finally started again, “So let me stop this for a second to tell you that what I did next, I’m not proud of. Hell, if it wasn’t an important part of the story, I’d leave it out entirely… but.”

Maxine, who had been riveted between serving customers laughed. “You asshole.”

“What?” The phone voice asked.

“Pete stole his fucking wallet.”

Pete sighed, validating that without needing to say another word.

“Would it make you feel better if it was so I could see who his family was so I could tell them what happened?”

Maxine raised her eyebrow, “Is that the main reason you did it?”

Pete shook his head, “Third or fourth, tops.”

While Pete had been telling the story, Maxine had come up with an idea. She wasn’t going to be able to stop people from hearing him. Even if it was only the guy sitting next to Pete, there was a good chance he would eventually eavesdrop enough to recognize that this was a story worth listening to, true or not.

Out of fear that maybe there was an invisible red dot on the back of Pete’s

Thankfully, only a couple of people had caught on that there was something of interest at the bar. Maxine wasn’t entirely sure what to do about that, because she didn’t want people crowding Pete because it might blow whatever cover he was trying to protect by just sitting there, but on the other hand, telling people to not create a scene usually had the exact opposite effect. If this hadn’t been a karaoke night, more people probably would have caught on that there was a guy sitting at the bar, telling his life story. Those that had figured out, Maxine pulled to the side, and made up some story about how Pete was trying to pitch some movie to an executive cousin of hers. Some people might not have bought it, but she didn’t care. They weren’t freaking out.

The best part of it was, she would give them a free drink if they went and sat exactly where she told them too. At first, she thought she should keep them far away from Pete, but then Miles came up, and Maxine loathed Miles. He was the type of guy who regularly complained about how women were all cheaters and liars, but had, on more than one occasion, bumped into his girlfriend while he was getting a drink with his other girlfriend. It was to the point where she thought he did it so he could keep complaining.. It was the only answer.

He got put at a table right in front of the window with his date which probably blocked about half of the view of whomever was lurking out there.

Maxie didn’t know if it would help Pete, but if it put Miles in danger, it helped womankind which was just as good. Hearing that he had gone and stolen Rickles’ wallet though… she couldn’t be certain if he was worth the trouble.

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Chapter 2 Commentary

Living a busy life makes trying to make time to write a real pain in the ass.

I say this, having done webcomics for 10+ years, which legitimately takes less concentrated time than the Nano does, but that’s mostly because my method of doing IHL was a lot of pre-created characters.

Anyway, the second chapter is up, and I made the call that the main narrative will remain in first person. I’m not entirely sure whether the entirety of the whole story will be – mostly because I know the big chunks of what is going to happen and why – I am kind of not sure what is going to happen to Pete specifically – and assuming most of the story is the tale he’s telling, there will definitely need to be a resolution of the bar specifically… but that is legit what my brain is pouring over while I write this stuff I kind of had in my head to start.

As far as Lucille goes – I hope it is coming across that Pete and Lucille are not frenemies so much as Pete hates some of the things in her he doesn’t like in himself. I’m not going to get too deep into how I’m trying to put their relationship together, but for every trait in her that I don’t love in people as a whole, I want there to be the sort of understanding that Pete isn’t the best of people either.

Hope you are enjoying, and I hope I have more to offer you before I’m 10k words behind.

TOTAL NEEDED – 50k

TOTAL WE GOT SO FAR – 4400

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[Nano17] Project: Indigo – Post 2

Table of Contents: Chapter 1

Chapter 2

“So maybe I should start a couple days ago…” Pete said, his head still on his hand, Maxine doing her best to not appear obvious that she was listening in.

The voice on the phone responded, “We have enough time for you to do that?”

Pete shrugged, “No clue, but you aren’t going to believe me if I tell you the short version.”

There was a sigh on the other end of the line, that Pete took to be grudging agreement, “Go ahead…”

 

I was born in 1983. It was a Tues–

 

“I thought you said you were starting a few days ago?” the voice interrupted.

Pete laughed, “Yeah, I’m just fucking with ya, I’ve always wanted to start a story like that.”

The silence on the other end made it clear the voice was not amused.

 

On Monday, I got up like I always do. Checked my schedule, and I wasn’t due in to the machine shop I work at until around noon, so I went and got myself some breakfast over at the diner. Now, this place is pretty ok, and Opal, the old woman who runs it, will occasionally throw me an extra egg. Good lady.

Anyway, I sat at my usual booth, got my usual egg and cheese on a hard roll, and was just about to bite into it when Lucille slid in at my booth. Lucille is a problem. She’s the type of girl who thinks everyone is her friend because nobody is and that’s all she’s known. I’d feel bad for her if it wasn’t for the fact that she was a wretched human being. I mean, to start, she’s not easy on the eyes. That usually isn’t a deterrent for me, I try to be nice to all god’s creatures, but she had a personality to match.

The problem is, unlike many of my contemporaries, I’d gone out of my way to talk to her once or twice to see if there was something in her nobody else saw. In her head, that meant that we were best friends. Hell, I wouldn’t even have much of a problem with that if it wasn’t for the fact that she couldn’t help but lie about everything at the same time as believe every single ething she read from the local rag newspapers they keep at the end of the checkout line.

I’m sure you don’t write for one of those Weekly World Enquirer type places, but I have to assume you know which ones I mean. The ones that on Tuesday tells you that the President is a vampire, and the following Tuesday tells you he’s been replaced with an alien. Which one is it?! Pick one!

The fact that this girl had the uncanny ability to somehow believe in both stories simultaneously and fill in the gaps with random bullshit she probably just came up with, meant that she was a super special kind of stupid that I had the displeasure of dealing with on a regular basis because I was just too damn nice to tell her to go away.

“Heya Pete. You hear the news?” She asked, sitting down at my booth without so much as an invitation.

“Can’t say that I have. And hello.”

“Rickles is dead.” And at that I choked on the first bite of my sandwich. Rick Lester aka Rickles was one of my good friends. We hadn’t seen each other a lot in recent months because of a falling out due to money he owed me, but I still would count him amongst the people in my life. To hear that he had died made my stomach just drop.

“From what? Please don’t tell me it was drugs.” I asked, because Rickles had been a year clean from some pretty serious shit, and I’d hate to think he lost his footing on the wagon.

Lucille shook her head, “Nope. Nobody knows. They found him behind the counter of Big Bob’s all bloated and gross.”

“Like an allergic reaction to something?” I asked, my bullshit detector already starting to rise..

“No, like tons worse. Bob said he looked like a sausage about ready to burst.”I pushed my sandwich a few inches from me, which made Lucille think that I was offering it and took it and a bite. “Fhanks” she said. Now, forever more, when I think about the day I found out Rickles passed on, it will be a memory linked up to Lucille’s ogre face with egg spittle all over her mouth. Great, right?

I paid for my breakfast, well, really Lucille’s breakfast at that point and the diner was only a few blocks away from the gas station so I headed off in that direction. I’m not one to get all nuts about a spectacle, but Rickles had been a friend. Lucille tagged along. I tried to stop her too. Told her I needed some time alone. Told her that I just wanted to see it with my own eyes. She didn’t get the hint, which is another of those typical Lucille traits.

“You hear about the experiment?” She bummed a smoke off of me and waited for me to ask.

“I obviously have no idea what you are talking about.” I said.

“Binary Chemicals.” She said, as if that answered the whole of the question. Like just knowing who she was talking about, I had gleaned what she was talking about too.

After I realized she had nothing more to add to that little nugget, I sighed and fished for more. “No Lucille, I don’t know about the experiment from Binary Chemicals, would you please oh heaven above, please tell me about it.”

Missing every ounce of sarcasm in my voice she started in, “They’re working on my condition! I’m super excited.”

Now, I’m not going to continue on relaying to you how I had to ask a dozen questions to get every piece of information out of her. The only reason I’m even telling you is because it is highly relevant to my story. Apparently, Lucille seems to believe she has a couple of problems, none of which, by her report, were hypochondria, although I’ve added that to the list. Over the years, she’s told me that she is dyslexic, ambidexterous, autistic, has Paris Syndrome, Disassociated Fugue states, Stendhal, hand and foot dysmorphia, and synesthesia. Now, I know what those all mean, because I’ve looked them up. I promise you, the ones you have to look up, won’t make much sense when all put together. So when she said it was about her condition, it could have been about anything.

Then she told me it was about her being an Indigo.

It was a new one for me, too.

Apparently, Indigos are kids born with this supernatural amount of empathy and they learn in different ways than your average schmuck. They also sometimes have psychic abilities and feel like lost souls, entitled to a better life. The name came from something about their aura being a weird color… look, it sounded like a bunch of horseshit to me too, but, like I said.. Lucille. She just continued babbling on about it as we walked, and it was only when we got to the police tape around Big Bob’s did I start to think she might have been telling the truth. At least about Rickles, the rest was just noise.

There was only one cop hanging around the police tape, but I saw Bob walking out the backdoor of the building. We ran up to him and when he saw us he rolled his eyes. Me and Bob don’t have a bad relationship, I used to get scratchers and smokes from him before the Quick&Go opened a block from my apartment, so I just had to assume his look of disdain was about my unrequested companion. “I can’t talk about it.” He said bluntly, looked over at the cop who wasn’t paying attention to anything but a magazine he likely lifted off the rack in the store, and walked in the exact opposite direction with a cardboard box under his arm.

The way he said it though, was super quick, like he was trying to get out of their quick. Lucille started to talk, but I put my hand up in front of her to shush her quickly. “Bob. I can’t imagine you’re supposed to be going in and out of a crime scene.”

His eyes darted back to the cup and then back at us. “I was told I could.” He was walking and talking quicker now, and as we got to the side of the building where we definitely couldn’t be seen by the police officer, he slowed his pace.

“Don’t fuck with me Bob. What’s in the box?”

Lucille yelled out, ‘What’s in the boooxx’ you know, like from Seven? If anyone else had said it, I might have laughed, but it just sounded stupid from her.

The loud noise startled Bob enough that he damn near almost dropped the box which was one of those lidded types you see in offices. A couple of small scraps of paper went flitting away on the wind, and for a moment it looked like Bob was going to go chase after them, but there were already three pieces fluttering away in different directions. “Fine, fine, fine. I had to get some .. things.. that.. well, to be dead honest I may not have wanted the police to find. All business stuff. All on the up and up.” He added on, “You know how it is..” as if that would somehow make him seem less guilty.

I laughed, “Okay there Bob. You do realize that admitting you are stealing a box out of your store to make sure a bunch of cops don’t see it is like the last thing I’d ever put on a list called ‘Things That Are On The Up And Up’. So quit the bullshit. I don’t care if you’ve been cooking your books or whatever. I just want to know what happened to Rickles. He and I were buds. Lucille said he looked like it was some sort of allergic thing and he looked like a grape ready to burst?”

“A peeled grape,” Added Lucille, uselessly.

Bob looked over our shoulders, likely paranoid that the policeman might decide to do his rounds any minute. “I’m not cooking th–” he stopped himself, and then started again, this time even more frustrated. “She isn’t far off. Bugged out and puffy and almost like he was baked from the inside. God, that’s kind of what he smelled like too.. Like he was shoved into a microwave and stopped before he exploded. It’s disgusting.”

I paused, “Is? He’s still in there?”

Bob nodded, and looked towards the building, “Yeah,” he looked sad or disgusted, maybe guilty, “he’s got to remain until some.. I don’t know.. scientists or something come pick him up. I don’t think the police knew what to do, so they called in the big guns.”

I don’t know why, but I needed to see him. Maybe it’s because the sound of what happened was so weird, or maybe it was because he and I were thick as thieves for a while there. I just don’t know, but it was just so weird that it felt like I gotta get in there to see what’s what. Our town doesn’t have a whole helluva lot of news coming out of it and to be really honest with you, I needed to see if Lucille was just pulling another one before I started talking to the boys down at the shop about it.

“Let us see him.” I asked, “You owe us.”

Bob gave this shriek of a laugh that surprised even himself, “Owe you? What the hell do I owe you anything for?”

“For not making sure the cops don’t get an anonymous tip about the missing paperwork they might be looking for on the case of one Rick Lester.” Lucille caught on pretty quick and gave a nod like she had been in on the scheme the whole time.

Bob’s face went an amazing shade of purple, and he probably wanted to hit me. Hell, I kinda wanted to hit me. It wasn’t a nice thing to do by a long stretch, but now that curiosity was killing me.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have thanked him kindly and got myself to work instead of watching as he unlocked the door and opened it for us, propping it open with a half of a cinderblock. “You go in. You look. You get out and shut the door. I’m not kidding, there are some dangerous people on their way, and I am not going to be here when they show up and recommend you do the same.” He turned away from us, and added as an afterthought over his shoulder, “I’ll be checking the cameras, don’t steal anything neither.”

Just like that, we were in, and Bob was literally running in the other direction. We didn’t ask ourselves how he knew the people coming were dangerous. We were way too excited about seeing our friend plumped up like a sausage. Lucille may be the dumbest person I know, but sometimes I come in a close fucking second.

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[Nano17] Project: Indigo – Post 1

The following is a work of fiction created by James Hatton for NanoWriMo 2017. Copyrighted and owned and all that jazz.

[This place reserved for Table of Contents link]

Prologue

The Circle Bar was a real shit hole, but for some reason, every Thursday night, Pete Diggs found himself sitting on a bar stool waiting for his turn to sing. He took regular gulps of his beer, checked his Twitter feed, made small talk with some of the barflies, tried to figure out if Maxine the bartender was really hitting on him or just working the counter for tips, and waited until his name came up.

When the DJ, a balding man on the cusp of middle age with the hilarious stage name of Larry O’key finally called him up, he would get the same polite claps he gave everyone else, and for four to six minutes, Pete was a god. Whether he had chosen Open Arms by Journey, Limelight by Rush, Every Rose Has Its Thorn by Poison, or any of another dozen or so songs, Pete felt like had the entire room wrapped around his finger. He would hold the microphone tight between two hands, the same way he had seen Steven Tyler do in the video for Sweet Emotion, and he would lose himself in the white words that slowly turned red on the small television screen in front of him.

After he had finished and got the same polite reaction from the crowd he gave everyone else, he would sit back with his bottle and phone, and wait patiently for his next turn up an hour and a half later.

Tonight though, he hadn’t gone up a single time. Larry O’Key had even walked up to him mid-way through the night and asked if he was going to put himself on the list, and all Pete could tell him was, ‘eh.. maybe.’ It might have been out of some sort of friendly concern, or that weird feeling you get when a pattern doesn’t line up, or it might have been because Pete always dropped a couple dollars into Larry’s tip bucket and it was a quieter than average evening.

The fact was, Pete knew something that the rest of the bar didn’t know. Shit was about to go down and the directions on his phone made it abundantly clear that there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it.

The clock above the bar said 8:45. In an hour and fifteen minutes, the world was going to be woken up to a brand new world, controlled by the collective conscience of whateverthefuck. Pete couldn’t see the red dot pointed at the back of his head, but he knew that right now some blonde haired, blue eyed, swedish swimsuit model with a sniper rifle was watching his every move.

A phone went off under the bar, and Pete watched as Maxine picked up, plugged a finger in her ear while she listened to whomever was on the other side. Gooseflesh rose on his arm as he nonchalantly turned to watch the singer up on stage. Pete had never considered that the cliche of the bartender answering the phone and calling out to one of the customers still occurred, but a second later, Maxine yelled out ‘Mike T? Anyone? Phone call for Mike T.’

“I’m Mike,” a man in red flannel pushed back against his table, blocking the sound of the singer with the screech of metal on tile. The big man walked up and shoved Pete just a bit to the side, not out of rudeness, it was just that Mike T was a very big guy.

On another night, Pete might have been upset enough at how hard he had been jostled to stand up and have a few words with Mike in the hopes to get a free drink out of the guy. Tonight though, he wondered if it was just enough to block the view of the sniper. He couldn’t look to find out though, as he had another plan that was beginning to formulate in his head. While Mike barked at his wife that he would be home when he damn well decided he should be, Pete signaled Maxine.

“Want another one Petey?” She smiled, winking one of her purple painted eyelids at him. For a heartbeat of a moment, Pete tried to figure out if her calling him Petey was just a cute nickname or if she really liked him, but he put it out of his head. One day he would have the balls to ask her out. Not today.

“Don’t need another one yet, but..” he reached into his side pocket, taking out his wallet, and pulled out a $100 bill. Maxine raised a perfectly drawn eyebrow as she saw Ben Franklin being pushed to her side of the bar. “I need you to do me a favor, and if you do it right, you can have this whole thing..” Maxine started to interject, but Pete cut her off as he hoped her sudden movement wasn’t telling the tale of what he was about to do. “But! You have to act like nothing is going on, and do exactly what I tell you. This is like some life or death shit, Maxie, so just look natural, ok?”

Maxine’s raised eyebrow of interest turned into the rolled eyes of doubt. “Ugh, whatever Petey. You’ve had one beer. You are nowhere near drunk enough to be trying to get some weird sex shit from me… and a hundred bucks?”

‘Shit’ Pete thought. ‘She’s blowing it.. We’re both dead..’ But wait. If Maxine was rolling her eyes and laughing at him, that would look a whole lot more natural than if she was conspiratorially hunched in front of him.

“I promise. Nothing weird at all. Like for real, all I need you to do is keep talking to me, and when Mike T. is off the phone, let me use it… but you have to do it exactly the way I say it. No strings at all. Just the phone and you get that hundred minus one more beer.”

A moment of relief came over Pete, even before she said anything. From here, there were only two options. Either he was going to get his story out and possibly save the world, or he just fucked up and the last thing he would see is his forehead blowing out all over Maxine’s low cut tank top.

At first, she just stared at him for a long moment. Long enough that he was getting ready to say something, but she got called away to the other side of the bar. Pete’s new friend Mike was now breathing heavily into the phone and saying something about what he was going to do to the person on the other side of the line when he got home. ‘I bet she’s a dream… or he, I shouldn’t assume.’ Pete took a long pull on his beer, near finishing it off, more to hide his laugh than anything. He turned and watched the singer on stage butchering Piano Man, and life-or-death situation, he was really pissed off he couldn’t get up on that stage right now.

By the time Maxine had circled back to him, Mike T. was putting the phone down and walking.. more swaying really, back to his table. The phone was now on the bar, a foot to Pete’s left. “Ok Maxie, take the phone and go pretend to hang it up, but then hide it under the bar and when you are standing right in front of me, bring it up and slide it face up on the bar so the mic is pointed to me.’

Another one of those extra beat’s of her staring at him, “I’m serious.” was all he could muster. Either she was in or she wasn’t.

It might have been the way he said it, or perhaps the look in his eye, but something signaled the bartender that there was something going on than a barfly playing some game. Maxine didn’t consider herself one of those bartenders you hear about that has a sixth sense about customers. She had seen Pete dozens of times, and he never sat at the same stool and didn’t talk, but more importantly, he never didn’t sing. Tonight though, he sat there, quiet and tense. So either something was really wrong, or he really thought there was, and it was definitely worth making a hundred dollars to see how it played out.

“Anyone I should call?” She asked, taking the phone.

Pete almost leapt up and knocked it out of her hand out of fear that she was going to not follow his instructions. “I mean, do you have the number of a reporter or a news anchor or something?”

Instead of answering, Maxine turned around and went to hang up the phone. “My cousin works for the town Gazette?” She bent down to hang up the phone, but instead kept it in her hand just underneath the bar. “And so whatever’s going on, we clearly can say whatever we want, but someone’s watching us or something?”

Pete sighed and nodded, “Yup.” He looked to either side of him to make sure nobody was paying any attention to what they were saying, but everyone was focussed on Larry, who, like almost every other karaoke DJ that Pete had ever met, could belt out a tune. They say that those who can’t, teach. Well, those who gave up on their band twenty years ago, run local karaoke. So while he tore his heart out singing Blaze of Glory, Pete felt a little more comfortable talking openly to Maxine. “Window behind me, but don’t even think about looking back there. You probably won’t see anything.”

A bit of the color faded from her pink cheeks, “Am I in danger?”

Pete laughed and nodded, “Yup, but if it makes you feel better, pretty much everyone is. It’s just a matter of from which source, you know?”

She had no clue, but she did have an idea. “You can’t get up or nothing, right?”

Pete shook his head, “Nope. Not for another hour or so, which sucks. I didn’t take a piss before I sat down.”

Maxine took a step towards the taps and poured a pint out, putting it in front of Pete at the same time she slid the hundred dollar bill into her apron. “I’m going to go to the bathroom, and when I get back, you’ll know what to do.” And she walked away, phone in hand. Pete sighed, not sure what she was thinking, but feeling at least like he wasn’t entirely alone. He had felt that way since the day before, when the problems began. He took a mouthful of beer and shifted in his seat, annoyed that he had even mentioned the bathroom as his bladder gave a subtle flag that it was nearing the time where he’d have to consider breaking the seal.

The line of thought was cut off by the flimsy door behind the bar opening and Maxine stepping through. His eyes skimmed her body, mostly for the phone. If she had it, it was well hidden. Her jeans weren’t entirely painted on, but there wasn’t a lot of room for a cordless phone. Instead of walking back to him, she did a quick circle of the bar, even filling up a couple shots and taking the money.

And then in one sweet move, she had done it.

Right before she got up to Pete, she pulled a bar rag from beneath the counter and began wiping a spot that seemed completely fine from where he sat. Just as she stepped in front of Pete, her cell phone slipped out and she kept walking. It was lit up, showing a number. ‘I got your call. Just talk.’

Pete blinked.

He had done it… or more realistically, Maxine had, and now it was his turn.

“Who is it?” He asked.

“You wanted a reporter right?” Maxine said, continuing to wipe the bar. Pete wasn’t sure what he had done to get her to buy into this all so quickly and, more to the point, efficiently, but if this worked out, he felt he owed her a whole lot more than a hundred bucks.

Pete put his head on his shoulder, bringing his mouth closer to the phone while still looking like he was just hanging out. “So hey, I’m Pete Diggs. I’m sitting in the Circle Bar, and at 9pm, there’s going to be a gas leak down at Big Bob’s Gas-It-Up which will irrevocably change the human race.”
The phone was about a foot and a half away from Pete’s ear. He was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to hear who was going to be on the other side or that they wouldn’t be able to hear him over the rest of the bar’s goings on. That concern evaporated as he heard a man’s voice as clear as a bell.

“Wait, what the fuck did you just say?”

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