Thursday, November 5, 2009

NaNoWriMo '09, Chapter Five: Iraq and a Hard Place

The below is a section of the novel that I wrote for National Novel Writing Month. It isn't a stand-alone story, and it's probably not worth your time to read. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month so wordcount is valued above quality. This is a good thing, as it encourages people to actually finish a project. Nobody expects that the result will be ready for public consumption without heavy editing. If you want to read it for some reason you can view the whole thing in one place HERE although that's still totally unedited and terrible. You have been warned.

Everyone around me vanishes and the air is filled with bullets, and that's the first clue I have that Franklin knows I'm banging his girlfriend. This whole mess is Franklin's fault of course, though I know he won't see it that way - I'm referring to the gunfire in this case rather than my intimate relations with his girl, although maybe he could have treated her a little better too.

Franklin had all the time in the world once he realized the kid was a Fed. If he had played it cool, maybe found an excuse to let some of us in on it, we could have had a little fun with the situation - or even turned the trap around. There's no way in hell they wanted to start a fight with all twelve of us - thirteen if you count the bartender whose only power seems to be going for a month at a time without sleeping. Anyway, even with half of us drunk it's closer to suicide than a firefight unless the Feds brought the entire Marine Corps with them - we aren't the kind of freaks that stay at home and play house.

Instead, Franklin goes and screws the whole thing up by ripping the implants the kid was using right out of his arms. I've done some stupid shit in my time, maybe cheated at poker against the wrong guy or mouthed off to a cop or something, but nothing that was going to get anyone but me in trouble. There aren't many situations where people would think of me as the responsible one, but even I could have told you what would happen: thirteen of us or not, they opened fire in the hopes of saving their man. Nice work, asshole.

First thing is to get some cover, so I make the pool table flip into the air and plant itself against the window. Unfortunately my telekinesis isn't good for deflecting bullets; if Franklin hadn't teleported everyone away I would still have Emily White's force field, not to mention a whole lot of offensive power. I take inventory and see that the bouncer is cowering next to the bar. He's big, but I don't think his power is going to get me out of here; he shakes things until they fly apart or something, I don't really even remember. If I had Jezebel or Crazy Ike it would be different.

The gunfire stops, which means they must know everyone has cleared out. Their guy is gone too; Franklin probably teleported him into the sewers or something, though if I know him he's going to claim that he tossed him all the way to the moon. Man, I hate that guy.
"Eddie Shorthand? Francis? What the hell is going on?"
That's Big Dave, and from the context I suppose the bouncer's name is Francis which I had somehow not known until now. If we survive this I'll have to make fun of him for that. Not that survival seems likely - Big Dave is just about the most useless guy I could have asked for. He's just some timid, chubby shit. His power lets him screw with other people's abilities which is good for breaking up bar fights - and I have to give him some credit for the time he tweaked me right as I was cheating at pool and made the cue ball fly out the window - but the Feds are using good old fashioned guns.

As if on cue, they whip out something different - gas grenades come flying in over the top of the pool table. I stop them in midair and send them right back, but that won't stall them much. If they come in, I might have to use Big Dave and "Francis" as projectiles. It won't be any more effective than pool balls or the Feds themselves, but it might make me feel better about them being no help at all. The door shakes, hinges twisting. Big Dave is sniffing around for some reason, walking a little funny.
"Franklin took everyone else, didn't he? I can feel it." Feel it? What, like it's not obvious just by looking? Christ, how many shots did he do? I remember he was hitting on White, and she has a habit of drinking guys twice her size under the table. The door shakes again.

"He's so sloppy he leaves rips and tears… and… residue. Everywhere. Almost enough for me to use, if I could come at it from both sides." I have no idea what Big Dave is even talking about. He rambles sometimes when he's drunk, talks about the Feds doing weird shit to him as a kid - though he denies that when he's sober. He's waving me over now, looking serious. Fine, I can humor the guy. I back towards him while pressing against the whole front of the building in the hopes of slowing the Feds down, which I know won't work. Suddenly I lose it as a meaty hand wraps around the back of my skull and I can feel Dave reaching my telekinesis around, feeling, poking. I feel pretty violated but honestly I don't have any better ideas and Dave has never done anything like this to me. Sometimes when someone gets in the zone they pull off shit with their powers you never thought they could do, so I figure I might as well enjoy the ride.

He's got the bouncer too, and he's saying something about fraying the fabric of space and exposing the wound. Definitely drunk. Meanwhile since I'm being used in this metaphysical bullshit I'm not reinforcing the door or the pool table and both fly away. I gave Big Dave a chance but the Feds are right there, so playtime is over. I try to grab every table in the bar at once so I can fling them but Dave is all tangled up in my powers so somehow I reach out with something else. It's like I'm stretching the bouncer's brain, and every surface in the Drowned Spider goes fuzzy as it vibrates and bursts into flames. Friction, I guess. I don't know what's going on, the bouncer always had to touch something to shake it, but I turn it on the Feds and the first wave of them start spraying blood from every exposed pore. Talk about a rush. Dave wrestles control back but that's okay because the other Feds are falling back for now.

That feeling gets worse, like he's going to pull my power right out of me, and I feel like I'm grabbing an elephant through the eye of a needle. "Got it!" Dave yells, and light pours into the room. There's a tear, a ragged hole, and on the other side there's harsh white light. The edges of the hole are hard to look at, they're shaking and flickering in a way that makes my brain hurt. This isn't how Franklin teleports. Not even close. We all step through and that's when I see the undercover kid on the ground, passed out. I take a closer look and wherever we are it's not nice - it's concrete walls with chains anchored in them - both covered in blood and filth. "Wrong hole," Big Dave says, "I could try again but..."
The 'but' is clear. The bar is in flames, and the Feds are likely to start throwing fragmentation grenades in to finish the job. Screw it. I pull away from Dave and the hole snaps shut.

Francis is looking around in a panic, like he's going to wet himself.
"Oh, shit. Oh shit. You guys, you know how Franklin always says he's going to send us to a prison in Iraq?"
Oh, dear lord.
"We're not in Iraq," I say. The light in the ceiling is so bright it's giving me a migraine, and I'm tempted to smash it.
"We are. Oh, god, we are. What the hell are we going to do?"
For the love of… "Will you listen to me? Iraq is, like, eight thousand miles away. There's no way Franklin sent the fed that far."
Big Dave looks up from examining the heavy steel door, and shrugs. "Oh, I don't know. He sent twelve of us to Phoenix once."
I swear, I'm surrounded by morons. "Are you seriously comparing Phoenix to Iraq?"
"Dry heat jokes aside... maybe. If it's based off of mass as well as distance... Phoenix is what, three hundred and fifty miles away? So maybe if he can send twelve people three hundred and fifty miles he can send one person twelve times that. That's... forty-two hundred miles."
I wish there was a window, some way to know if one of these is an external wall. "Still not far enough."
"Well nobody said Phoenix was the furthest he could have taken us. Also, if he can cut corners - like, go in a straight line instead of following the curvature of the Earth - then maybe forty-two hundred would make it. I don't know, I would need a globe or something." Francis is listening to this bullshit and nodding, still looking like he wants to cry. I can't believe we're having this discussion.
"How about this? We're in a fucking jail cell. Is that a precise enough location for everyone? Francis, shake the walls apart or something. Dave, grab the Fed. We're getting the hell out of here."

Big Dave slings the Fed over his shoulder while Francis tries to pick a wall, and I take another look at him. It seems like Dave is useful after all - that's good to know. Already I'm thinking of the possibilities, and about my next meeting with Franklin. That asshole needs to have the smug look wiped off of his face.