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Old 04-30-2003, 01:02 AM   #1 (permalink)
Winter is Coming
 
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Location: The North
Before

Just as a warning, the language is strong and the subject matter violent. It's based loosely on a cyberpunk world set about 60 years in the future from a game that I used to play. Comments are welcome.

Thereís a point before which I donít remember anything. A time back then. You know when Iím talking about. That strange hazy period when youíre alive, but nothing has solidified in your life or in your existence. That time when events seem to occur around you without any regard for who or what you are. A parentís scream-maybe at you, and then again, maybe not. Itís hard to remember. Hell, my betís on the fact that they donít even really know themselves. You remember pain, but you have no idea why. Itís just another bruise or cut or scrape. Something got to you and you didnít have the wits to avoid it back then. That soft touch of someone you care about more than life itself. Someone whose face is tucked so far into the reaches of your memory that only a blurry picture remains, as if you are looking into a dirty window or at a Polaroid picture that hasnít completely developed. Thatís really what most of my life seems to me. It all happened before. When things were normal, when I could walk around and not be afraid to show my face or my hand or, worse still, my eyes. Those horrible eyes that saw beyond, into a realm I neither cared about nor wanted to be able to see, while at the same time failed to see any detail of what was directly in front of them. You wake up one morning, only to realize that itís over. One of lifeís moments has come and gone, and left you lying prone and fucked in ways youíd never thought previously imaginable.

I donít blame anyone for all this. Hell, in some ways, Iím sure Iím to blame for it, although I canít really say I know how or why at this point. Things back then were going well. My lifeís never been easy. Ask anyone who grew up in Denver about that one. The townís a fucking shithole. Itís a warzone filled with deadbeats and cocksuckers whoíd like nothing more than to gut you like a fish and take whatever valuables you have left sitting on your bloody, stinking corpse. Itís a place where the lucky survive. Some places are where the strong survive. Denverís not one of them. In Denver you can be the baddest goddamn cyberzombie or initiate ever to walk the planet, and if you let your guard down for even the slightest second, youíre done. Just another unidentifiable body thatís been stripped, mutilated and dumped into one of those pits they keep around for the cred-less. I guess I had just enough luck to manage to grow up without too much trouble in that hellhole.

I say that only the lucky survive, and Iím gonna go and be a hypocrite and take that back. Luck has a lot to do with it, thatís for damn sure, but itís not all luck. For me it was a steady hand and a good eye. I suppose Iíve got to thank that poor fuck who was dumb enough to do whatever he did to piss off whoever he pissed off. Thatís really one of the only clear memories Iíve got. Iím sitting there in some shitty alleyway-tucked in between a dumpster that hasnít seen any service since around 2010 or so and the stack of cardboard boxes. I remember the sky that night, too, itís the sky that always seems to show up when the shit hits the fan for me. It was that milky color that everything gets right as the sunís just set. Itís not the brilliant colors of a picture perfect sunset, itís that dead and faded glaze that hangs there, teasing you, holding the true force and beauty of life just beyond your reach.

I sat there in my box with a half rotten piece of chicken Iíd found and a dirty plastic cup full of lukewarm runoff-a veritable feast, I wouldíve said in those days and this fucking guy comes tearing into the alley, completely oblivious of anything going on around him. Now, Iím not the smartest guy ever, hell, I never even went to a school, but I can put two and two together, and when you see some guy turn a corner with a gun in his hand and a look of sheer terror in his eyes, you donít bother to think or see what happens next. You just get small and pray that no one notices you. That night was the first time Iíd really seen a man get shot before. I mean, it was a forgone conclusion that he was dead-I knew that alley like the back of my hand, and maybe twenty meters in was a chain link fence with razor wire covering the top. I can remember hearing the scream of pain and the thud as the guy hit the ground after he no doubt tried to dash over it in the dwindling light. Then came that awful screech of tires and the report of automatic gunfire. I donít know what this guyís name was or what he did, and I donít care. Now that I think about it, the guys in that car probably looked at it in the same way I did, but for a different reason. He was some ass whoíd fucked with the wrong people. They didnít know or care who he was, they just knew that his life was better off splattered all over the ground than running around free. I couldnít stop watching, even though I remember thinking that I should wrench my eyes from that awful sight in front of me.

Last edited by Frosstbyte; 04-30-2003 at 01:13 AM..
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Old 04-30-2003, 01:09 AM   #2 (permalink)
Winter is Coming
 
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Location: The North
Before-Part 2

Seeing his body jerk and twitch as it was held up against a fence by what seemed to be hundreds of assault rifle rounds did something to me, and Iíd rather not think about what. Maybe it instilled in me a sense of justice, or boosted my survival instinct. All I knew is that some part of me died with that nameless man. After it was all over I remember numbly stumbling over to his body and throwing up on it as I burst into tears. That night was the first night Iíd ever held a gun. His gun. Now my gun. I took it out of his rapidly stiffening hand and swiped the clips from his belt. If you asked me why, I couldnít tell you. It just seemed like the right thing to do. He didnít need them anymore, and what if I was running down some alley some day, wouldnít I want to feel that false sense of power and protection that carrying a gun can afford a man?

Nothing like a foolish fantasy to stoke a boyís dreams. But that was the beginning. That night I took that first step towards who-and what-I am today. When your dayís activities are limited to playing with a gun and looking for food, I suppose you eventually get pretty good at both of them, but damn, I was a crack shot with that pistol. I couldnít tell you any specific stories, but I acquired quite a reputation around my neighborhood for being able to make shots that people swore Iíd never be able to make, crazy, ridiculous trick shots that seemed to defy the laws of physics. I got good, and good things start to happen when youíre good. First it was little shit, like getting paid a couple cred by some drunk ass to shoot beer cans he threw up into the air and watching them explode. Then people started to, how shall we say, take notice, of my skills. I got hired for that odd job that they wanted to remain anonymous, clean and distant. The disconnected killer instinct began to sink in.

I finally got hired full time and full on by someone or another. As I told ya earlier, everything from back then has gotten to be kind of fuzzy these days, but some corp or organized crime family or someone decided I could be valuable to them. They cleaned me up, gave me a place to stay and a tutor once a week to fill me in on the real world. Once or twice a month, theyíd throw an assassination my way. I was good, I didnít get caught, and if anyone tried to stop me, theyíd eat hot lead before they could get the gun out of its holster. But somewhere in my heart I knew it was all plain fucking wrong. It kept food on the table, but it wasnít what I wanted to do. I felt a higher sense of right and wrong back in those days. Something about doing things because it was right to do them and not because you had to do them. In my studies Iíd stumbled upon some books about the 19th century American West. You know what Iím talkiní about, cowboys and bandits and sheriffs and all that shit. Now that was what I wanted, to walk around and lay down the law with my gun. Put the guilty in their place and then ride off into the sunset. And one day, thatís exactly what I did. One day I did a bit of research about a hit I was supposed to do, and, well, I didnít like what I found. A nice guy, maybe 40 years old, was running a convenience store and wouldnít pay 300 cred a month to my employers for protection, so I was supposed to put a bullet between his eyes as an example to others who might disobey. Well, I changed my mind. Instead of putting a bullet in that man, I walked into my employerís HQ and killed each and every one of them. I laid waste, and when it was all done, I burned it all down. I was done being someone elseís killer, especially when their killiní was bullshit to begin with.

After that, I left town and just wandered. I guess not too surprisingly, that 19th century atmosphere had returned to parts of the less populated West. I wandered for ten years, but I felt right at home when I walked into a town and twenty minutes later I got to put on that bright, shiny sheriffís badge. I mean, we didnít have a whole lot of shit happen, but I like to think that I took out my share of baddies while keeping the peace in that nice town. Hell, I even had a steady girlfriend and a good friend who was a gunsmith. I wish I could remember their names. I knew them both for nearly 5 years, and I canít for the life of me come up with even the first letter. An occasional face or distant voice is all I can conjure up these days. I guess that could have something to do with who I am now and why this story suddenly takes a turn for the worst.
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Old 04-30-2003, 01:10 AM   #3 (permalink)
Winter is Coming
 
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Location: The North
Before-Part 3

See, weíd had a couple murders in town-nasty, brutal stuff that none of us were prepared for. The bodies were mutilated and pieces were plain missing. There was no clear evidence pointing in any direction, until finally something slipped. It was another one of those dead evenings right after the sun had gone down and someone came tearing into town like a bat out of hell, with bite marks on her arm and scratches in her back. All she could do was scream something about the church. Now Iíd been to one of the churches in town a couple times, it made my girlfriend happy, if I remember correctly, but she was talking about the other church-the dilapidated, dreary building on the outskirts of town that managed to send chills down your spine whenever you walked by. Now, Iíd pretty much forgotten about that church until that day, but Iíll never forget what I saw when I walked in. Bodies lay everywhere. Some where whole, some where in pieces, others seemed to be shambling around in a half alive, half dead trance, and in the back sat ten gruesome things. They were hairless, with white, grotesque eyes and pale, flaky skin that seemed to barely hang on their bones. Once they saw me they moved faster than Iíd ever seen anything move before in my life. I cut down four before they were out of their seats and another three on the way towards me. I took the eighthís head off with two well placed shots to the neck and the ninth with a shot through one of its milky, blind eyes. Number ten leapt at me from a nearby pew and was caught in the chest by the rest of my clip as it flew first towards, and then away from me and crumpled in a heap in the corner. If only Iíd known what I was dealing with, I wouldíve burned that fucking church to the ground, but I didnít, so I didnít.

People naturally went in to see what had happened. Touching the bodies and trying to decide just what had happened in their quiet little town. And thatís when everything started to go bad. About two weeks later, cases of a strange illness popped up all over town. Those that had gone inside the church got it first, and the religious folk called it godís curse for those who had defiled a place of worship, but soon damn near everyone in the town had caught it. It apparently spread rapidly and before any real signs could be noticed. At the time I remember thinking that the strangest part was that at about the three week mark people who were sick suddenly died or disappeared in the night. By this point, both my girlfriend and my friend the gunsmith had caught the illness. I guess my luck had carried through to this point and I still didnít have any signs of it. Something, however, told me that this all was wrong and unnatural. But nothing new was happening, so how could I respond.

At the end of the fourth week, only fifteen people were still unaffected. My girlfriend had disappeared late in the week and my friend only the day before. So the fifteen of us decided to gather up some guns and prepare for whatever could be coming. And come they did. The whole town seemed to rise back out of the mists that night. Every person who had seemed to die or disappear suddenly returned and came looking for something, looking for us. My guns had never before and have never since flashed so many times as they did that night. One by one my companions fell, until only I was left, and I was running low on ammo. Finally the waves of ďpeople,Ē if you could still call them that, ended. And I sat down at the top of the hill to catch my breath. As I rested some footsteps ran up behind me, I whipped around to see my friend running at me with a maniacal look on his face and a 2x4 full of rusty nails gripped in his rotten hand. He fell after taking a shot to the heart and another to the head, but not before planting his board in my leg. When I pulled it out, blood flowed from the wound and I clenched my teeth in pain. I had barely dressed the wound when I faintly heard someone calling my voice down in town. It was my girlfriend. I was overjoyed and ran down as best I could. She was walking alone down the street. She was silhouetted by the mountains and the fading light in the west. I couldnít see her face and she wore a shawl which covered her head. . But she called to me, and I came. I remember seeing a flash of a smile as she saw me come towards her and even though some part of my mind was screaming that I should run away, I just couldnít. I walked up to give her a hug and a kiss and as her lips met mine, I felt her nails dig through my coat and into my back and her teeth begin to tear into my lip. I responded in the way I had trained myself to respond, and she, or what was left of her, flew away from me in a bloody mess.
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Old 04-30-2003, 01:12 AM   #4 (permalink)
Winter is Coming
 
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Location: The North
Before-Part 4

As I stepped over to look at her, I realized I had received what those in the 20th century would have called Judasís kiss. It was all over. Everyone in this town was dead. Either by my hands or by those of the monsters that had come to inhabit it they were dead, and on some level I knew I was destined for the same path. I didnít stay long in that town, only perhaps another month, but it was long enough for the sickness to take me and change me. Long enough for my hair to fall out, for my eyes to go blind one way and see again in a new way, for my skin to decay while my body seemed to grow stronger. I couldnít have told you what I was. I donít think I wanted to know, but I did know I couldnít stay where I was, so I gathered my gear.

I went where I thought I could find some answers. But answers are hard to come by when you looked like I did, but eventually I found people who knew. People who understood why I couldnít walk by a cemetery without my mouth watering. People who understood why the sun hurt my eyes. People who could help me find my way through life. Then I left them, and they all died too, killed by the fuckers who couldnít figure out any better way to take out some fucking bugs without wiping out everyone else around the bugs. By that time Iíd gathered myself again, and had learned more about how I fit into the big picture. It wasnít really a pretty place, but, when you think about it, there really arenít any pretty places anymore. Everyoneís got someone breathing down their neck.

I wonít talk about most of this anymore. If you asked me about it, Iíd either kill you or make something up. My world has moved on, and Iíve learned to live with that. But when itís time for me to move on, itís gonna be on my own terms. ĎCause sitting in my basement is a box. In that box is the gun I found that night so long ago. I clean it once a week to make sure itís in good condition. Next to the gun is a clip with one bullet in it-one silver bullet. And on that bullet is engraved the word ďEternity.Ē My world was turned upside down. I wanted to be a force for right and good. I left a world behind for right and good, and now Iím no longer right or good. Iím some perversion of life. My survival instinct is too strong still, so Iíll do what I need to do to stay alive and functioning in this world. But one day my strength will wither and fold, and on that day, eternity will come, and this dream will end.

Thank you for reading. As I said, comments are welcome.
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Old 04-30-2003, 09:38 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Location: Lexington, KY
Is this story somewhat autobiographical?

And why Denver?
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Old 04-30-2003, 09:47 AM   #6 (permalink)
Winter is Coming
 
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Location: The North
Denver mostly because that's where I grew up and not autobiographical in the slightest. This one's all from the imagination.
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Old 05-02-2003, 07:21 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Location: Lexington, KY
Coolies
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