Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NaNoWriMo '09, Chapter Three: The Last Night at the Drowned Spider

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.

Naw, that's not even close to how it happened. I was there, so just relax and I'll tell you.

... Generally, this is the part where you get me a beer.

Thanks. Okay...

It was Saturday night at the Drowned Spider, and we had a full house. Most nights there were maybe four of us, but there were thirteen counting me when the shit hit the fan because Crazy Ike was celebrating a new baby. I'm pretty sure half the kids in Los Angeles are Ike's bastards, but he still has a party every time.

The usual crowd was there, getting drunk and making trouble. Not real trouble, you understand - not anything I would have to send them under the cornfield for. Just the usual rowdy shit, arguments over whether or not Eddie Shorthand was cheating at pool again and some noisy discussion about the merits of various football teams. Me, I'm a hockey kind of guy. The point is it's loud and rough as always, but the second the bouncer rings that tiny bell next to him the whole place goes silent. I could see everyone trying to do a head count, and they were all coming up with the same answer - everyone was already there.

L.A. is the freak capitol of the world, of course, but we weren't really in the habit of advertising so the list of regulars was short - and got shorter every time someone tripped a checkpoint and got snatched. We all knew anyone at the door had to be an out of town visitor, someone who was profoundly lost, or a fed. I 'ported outside the Spider and across the street, where I could watch from the shadows.

It was a kid, probably just barely drinking age. He was looking around, nervous, which told me he wasn't lost. The little window slid open and I could see the bouncer's eyes.
"This is a private club, an' I don't know you." he says. The bouncer's voice was like gravel, which was appropriate considering his knack for reducing anything to pea-sized chunks by vibrating his hands. Handy on bank jobs, assuming you can't convince me to do you a favor. Anyway, the kid says - and let me try to get the scared little kid voice going, here: "Someone told me this was a club where people... like... where I could..." stammering like that, wringing his hands, staring at his shoes.

"Ah. Right, no problem," the bouncer said, "Just give me your password then."
I'll tell you, the kid didn't just look confused - he looked like he was flat-out going to cry. "They didn't tell me a password," he says, and I could tell the bouncer feels sorry for him. That rough voice goes a little softer and kinda fatherly; still sounds like a tractor idling of course.
"Well, they couldn't have, not exactly," He says, "The password is different for everyone, innit?"
And the kid brightens up some when he hears this, looks around to see if anyone is watching. He held out his hand in front of him, and a big ball of flame appeared just hovering over it.

No, as a matter of fact it wasn't him that burned the Spider down. Stop trying to get ahead of me.

So the bouncer lets him back in and I 'port inside too, and everyone does the introductions. We were always a friendly bunch of assholes. Right away Eddie Shorthand challenges him to a game of pool, and I let him because I know Eddie will have the kid win a few times before using his telekenesis to cheat. I figured at that point I would either pull him away from the table and let Eddie lose a few bucks, or I would let the kid learn a valuable lesson - that being to never trust guys like Eddie Shorthand. Everyone else is watching me, to see what I decide to do with the kid. See, if the Drowned Spider were Mount Olympus, I would be Odin. No, Zeus. Whatever, I'll take them both on in a fight so long as they don't have a sniper rifle.

I'm not trying to make any claims here - I know you Arizona freaks have your own system - but in L.A. we take a lesson from the mob. I guess most dons don't have big grey beards and full sleeves like me, but don't think for a second I'm not the godfather of Los Angeles. Someone wants to do a job, they talk to me. Someone makes trouble with the Feds, stirs up the hornet's nest for all of us? I send them on an involuntary vacation. Not everyone likes me, I'm sure, but they respect me. They know I keep them safe and maintain order. If I say this kid is okay they'll give him somewhere to sleep and throw some work his way, but if I give the thumbs-down he won't know what hit him.

So not twenty minutes into things he's figured out Eddie's game and I can see the wheels in his brain turning, trying to figure out if he should let it go or challenge Eddie, call him a cheat. I wave him over, and I give him the big tip: don't start a bar fight in a room full of freaks if you don't know who has what powers. Fire is fine, sure, but some of these guys can trump that without blinking, take every joule of heat you throw at them and then stab you with tentacles of black energy.

I'm referring, obviously, to Crazy Ike - but there were a couple guys there that could have crushed a pyro without breaking a sweat. Hey, check me out, making a joke without even trying. Anyway, you never know what someone can do. Plus, even the best power is worthless if you spend your days so scared of the feds that you never practice. When I was just some schmuck on a Harley, part of the first wave of freaks, I could barely move a pencil across the room. Now I can get change for a twenty right out of the register without even trying. So anyway, this is my first conversation with the kid and I'm just thinking he's alright when I realize his wrists are funny. Something off about them.

I grab him by both arms and a split second later I'm holding some fancy implants, flamethrower mods to make the kid seem like a natural. It's bullshit, the government lockdowns on everything make it so the new computers they're selling aren't any better than they were ten years ago, but the Feds have pyrokenesis implants? Makes you wonder what else we would have if Disney hadn't been torched. So the kid is in shock, panting on the floor, and everyone in the Spider is just staring at me. Me and the bouncer, who they're ready to lynch. Man, those were some displeased customers. The feds must have had him bugged somehow too, because instantly they're firing through the windows and ramming at both doors. The bullets are bouncing off of White's energy shield at first, but I knew for a fact that she had been doing shots with Big Dave and was one sip of beer from passing out and pissing herself. Well I'll tell you, some people complained about how cramped and tiny the Spider was but I liked it. I liked it because if I went to the middle of the room I could reach pretty much the whole place with my power.

The kid stood up, starts to say something about if we cooperate... I sent him to a cell in a certain middle-eastern prison I lived in once - most of him, anyway. His testicles dropped to the floor in a little bloody pile like giblets from a turkey. A minute later we were all standing in Vegas, everyone but the bouncer who let the kid in, Big Dave who was in the restroom, and Eddie Shorthand who I was pretty sure had been sleeping with my girl. The fire was maybe just an accident during the shooting or maybe Eddie tried to make some Molotov Cocktails, I don't know. But I do know two things.

One is that you had better find a damn talented bouncer now that they're giving the undercovers fake powers, and the other is that I need another beer.