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I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Burn Baby Burn Chapter 15 3684 words

Raw first draft.


(Note: In the previous scene of the chimp restaurant there is a chef with a huge cleaver who hacks up a lemur. This scene will be modified in the next draft to show the chef pulling out a white ceramic butcher knife after he’s killed the lemur and butchering it further.)

Had to punch a new hole in my belt today. Just used a nail I found stuck in a two by four. I was skinny when I got here, but I’m now four belt hole’s thinner.

Almost completely bald now. When I got here, I still had some dark hair in my beard, but now it’s all gone white. I found a little round mirror on a stand, the kind you use for shaving. I look like someone’s grandfather.

Spend most of my days sleeping.

Haven’t eaten in three days.

Funny, given that I’m surrounded by meat. Hundreds of severed human hands, some arms, a few feet, over a dozen heads. Still look as fresh as the day they got here.

I’ve collected them as I found them. One body, I pieced back together, like the world’s goriest jigsaw puzzle. If memory serves, he was a lawyer from Kansas City.

Some people say we taste like chicken.

I don’t guess I’ll find out.

I might be a man-eater, but I ain’t no cannibal.

Chapter Fifteen
Boom Boom Boom

Sunday’s kiss lasted barely a second. She pulled her lips from his mouth and pressed them too Pit’s ears. “Close your eyes and duck,” she whispered.
Pit ducked, covering his head, as Sunday pointed her hands over her head. Her fingers almost reached the low ceiling.
The green beam reached the tips of Pit’s knees as he squatted, his hands over his head. The fabric of his jeans vaporized as the advancing light reached him.
There was a whoosh and heat washed over him, singing his hair. There was a sound like every kernel of popcorn in the world firing off in the space of a second. Flakes and fragments of concreted rained down onto him. The green light fizzled out as it cut a raw hole in his right kneecap the size of a quarter.
He stood up. Sunday was on fire from the tits up.
He said, his voice cracking, “You’ll—”
“Hush,” she said. “It only hurts when I turn my powers off. That’s never going to happen.”
Dr. Troglodytes looked unflustered by Sunday’s destruction of his disintegration grid. He calmly reached into a pouch on his belt and pulled out a gun the size of the derringer that looked like a miniature version of the regeneration ray. A red targeting light cut through all the dust in the air to land on Sunday’s left breast. Pit shoved Sunday and jumped as Troglodytes pulled the trigger. The beam took off his right ear and a chunk of his shoulder before he opened his mouth and swallowed the chimps hand, gun and all, to the mid point of his forearm. With his remaining arm Dr. Troglodyte punched Pit in the cheek. Pit was knocked to the ground, stars in front of his eyes. He spat out a molar as he tried to rise. Then he fell once more, too dizzy to rise. The chimp punched like he had a horseshoe hidden in his glove, if he’d been wearing a glove.
Fortunately, the ape didn’t press his attack. Instead, he ran with inhuman speed, shouting, “Regeneration Mode!” as he veered suddenly to hide behind a concrete pillar. A ball of glowing plasma hit the ground where he’d just stood, sizzling away, leaving a black scorch mark.
Even though she’d missed, Sunday’s splattering plasma must have caught Dr. Troglodytes at least a little, since the chimp gasped in pain as the smell of burnt fur polluted the air.
“Foam Mode!” the chimp screeched from behind the pillar.
Then, Dr. Troglodytes whipped back around the column, the shaving cream like substance bubbling from his skin. He vomited a torrent of the goop at Sunday, forcefully enough that she was knocked from her feet like she’d been hit with a water hose.
The chimp leap upon her and thrust his long canine teeth toward her throat. She twisted at the last possible second and he sank his teeth into the meat of her shoulder rather than into her jugular vein.
Sunday screamed, blowing the foam that covered her lips into the air in a spray of white bubbles. Pit rose to his hands and knees, blood trickling from his mouth. He reached for the chimp in a motion that was half a lunge, half a fall. He grabbed the ape’s foamy right ankle.
An inhuman growl tore from Pit’s throat as he summoned every bit of strength he had left to yank the ape off of Sunday. Fortunately, the foam provided lubrication, helping slide the super-intelligent chimp off. Dr. Troglodytes rolled to his back and opened his foaming jaws, pink with Sunday’s blood, inhaling to shout another command. Pit shoved the monkey’s foot toward his jaws, and took the ape’s leg off all the way up to the hip. Blood spurted from the severed limb as the ape screamed. Then, once more the ape sucked in air. Before he could say anything, Pit punched him in the testicles.
The doctor arched his back and opened his jaws. He looked like he was screaming, but no sound came out. Pit dragged himself closer to the ape, sucked in, and the ape’s hairy belly vanished as a tornado of entrails and organs spiraled into Pit’s mouth. Blood and bile and things Pit didn’t want to think about flecked Pit’s cheeks.
He closed his mouth. The stupid ape was now gone from the rib cage down. Everything that should have been inside the hollow of his ribs had vanished. Pit sat up, wiping his face on his shirt.
His back grew hot as Sunday baked off the foam that had smothered her. He looked back, squinting, and found her staggering to her feet, her hand clamped over her injured shoulder.
“Just sit still,” he said. “You’re hurt. One of them monkey doctors upstairs can stitch you up.”
“Give me the disintegration pistol,” she said.
“You just ate it!” she screamed. “I don’t have time to argue! Give me the damn gun!”
Pit reached in and grabbed the gun, with the black leathery hand still attached.
Sunday’s whole body was now glowing, save for her right hand, which was a dark spot against her radiance. She reached for the gun. Her hand was thin and wrinkled. Blood oozed from around her nail beds.
“Your hand—” he whispered.
“Will you just the fuck up?” she screamed as she snatched the gun away. “I’ve got to stop an army of cyborg Sundancers from destroying the world!” She ran toward the door her duplicates had left through. “You start eating computers! Something down her must be guiding them!”
She jumped into the air and flew through the door, leaving behind only a tornado of sparks.

Sunday burst from the tunnel she’d followed for half a mile to find herself in bright sunshine. She’d completely overestimated how much time had passed; she thought by now the sun would have set.
Spinning around, she found it had set. The false day was being created from the hundred duplicates of herself who stood at attention on a low hilltop off to her right. The headless women looked like some cryptic modern sculpture as they stood aligned in ten perfect rows of ten, each precise one arm’s length away from each other. They were pumping out enough heat that the hilltop beneath them had fused into black glass.
Sunday didn’t know what they were waiting for. She didn’t care. She suspected that no amount of heat and radiation she could throw at them would have any effect. Her own powers had never even made her sweat, though she was sweating now. Her heart was beating like she’d run up the tunnel rather than flew. Her fight or flight instinct had kicked in at full power.
So, she did both, flashing toward the grid of bodies firing the disintegration pistol almost blindly. Bodies began to topple as she swept the beam across the cyborg army. In seconds, she’d killed or seriously maimed over half. Could things really be this easy?
Then, the remaining bodies lifted their arms to her, and suddenly there was nothing in the world but fire. Sunday felt as if she was suffocating as the combined blasts of the assembled drones tore the molecules of air surrounding her into a slurry of elemental particles. She raced upwards, out of the blast zone, gasping as she reached intact air. She looked down at the army and point the raygun. But when she squeezed the trigger, it was like squeezing clay that oozed between her fingers. The barrel of the gun drooped like a spent penis. Whatever its melting point had been, the drone attacked had gone over that line.
She looked down at the remaining drones. They had stopped targeting her, and now stretched their arms out stiffly to their sides. The dust and dirt flew up in a ring around them as fire shot out from their palms and feet, thrusting them heavenward like rockets. They lifted slowly at first, but accelerated so swiftly that they reached Sunday, hovering a quarter mile above them, in only a second. She shook her hand to clear it of the molten gun, then clenched her fists, braced for their attack.
Only, they weren’t attacking her. They flashed past without even seeming aware of her. One passed less than a yard away and on pure instinct Sunday kicked it in the gut. Her stomach tightened from the impact; she’d somehow expected the thing to have a hard gut, filled with robotics. Instead, it was warm and yielding, disturbingly… human. But, human or machine, the fortunate effect of the kick was that it knocked the drone off it’s trajectory, causing it to crash into a sister drone that rose only an arms length away. That drone spun out, and in a game of aerial dominoes, three more drones were knocked off balance by the veering bodies. As the naked women bounced off one another, lights on the camera atop their head turned red. The affected drones went into tailspins as their robotic navigation systems lost control. The raced down to messy endings on the ground below, but Sunday had no time to waste watching them. She pushed her self higher, in pursuit of the surviving drones. She didn’t pause to count, but there were still close to thirty.
Then, BOOM BOOM BOOM! Sunday was hit in the chest by a shockwave as the drones above her accelerated past the speed of sound. Now it was her tail in a spin. The ground raced toward her with sickening speed. But, she clenched her teeth and took control of her fall, leveling off a few feet above the ground, leaving a trail of burning earth behind her as she raced toward the chimp city nearby. She blazed down the main street, setting convertibles ablaze, then whipped down the side street where the lemur sushi bar had been situated. She was doing 200 miles an hour when she neared the restaurant, crowded with two dozen chimps having dinner. The chef in his leather apron had his arm raised over his head, the cleaver gleaming with her reflected light. She grabbed his apron and his arm as she sped past him. Unleashing a blast, she ripped the monkey’s torso apart, leaving her holding a hand holding a cleaver, which she pried free. She had the apron draped across her arm. She turned toward the sky as she fished the white ceramic carving knife free.
Years of practice had taught her how well certain materials held up to heat. The cleaver would warp and turn to putty at a paltry 2500 degree Fahrenheit, but the ceramic knife was good to twice that heat, maybe even three times depending on its specific elemental components.
The drones were spread out in the sky in a straight line, just little dots of light. How could she ever catch them? She’d never been able to go past the speed of sound.
Or had she just never had the courage to go past the speed of sound? Those were copies of her up there. Anything they could do, she could do.
With the knife in her hottest hand and the cleaver in the hand she’d cooled to carry the gun, she inhaled deeply, and felt tightness build in the pit of her stomach. If she flew that fast, the wind would peel the skin from her face. If she flew that fast, she couldn’t breathe. She was still clinging to the tiniest fingernail ledge of hope that she’d survive this. Exhaling, she let go, and shot off like a white hot bullet.

As Sunday raced up the tunnel, Pit ran to the computer terminal Dr. Troglodytes had used to activate the drones. He stared at the screen, then stared at all the cables around him. His orders were to destroy everything.
But he couldn’t. These computers held everything there was to know about Sunday’s body. She seemed ready to die, but couldn’t they just build her a new body, then swap her brain into it? It seemed like an idea from B-movie science fiction, but he was on a floating island of talking chimps with robot servants, and the woman he loved was out doing battle with an army of headless clones. No idea sounded dumb at this point.
He tried tapping the computer keyboard. Dr. Trog had left the screen up, so he didn’t need a password. The only thing he needed was a genius IQ and about a decade of advanced training in robotics and genetics and making sense of what he was looking at would be a snap.
Then, either he hit something or Dr. Trog had planned to watch his army launch, because the screen switched to a camera shot from the top of the hospital to a nearby hilltop where the army was gathered, glowing brightly. He watched as Sunday charged, and cheered as she mowed down the army with her disintegration ray. Then his voice caught in his throat as the drones fought back. He watched as, a few seconds later, the remaining drones launched like rockets, rising above the frame of the shot. Then, for reasons he couldn’t guess, a half dozen of them rained back down from the sky and smashed into the burnt ground.
Without him pressing a button, the screen switched to black and a scroll of white words rolled up the screen.
Tokyo: Aborted
Seoul: Aborted
Mexico City: Aborted
New York City: Active
Mumbai: Active
Jakarta: Aborted
Sao Paula: Active
Delhi: Aborted.
The list continued. Pit didn’t even recognize half these cities. A handful of American cities stood out to him: Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, Washington, Dallas, Detroit. All were active except for Houston and Washington
Pit left the terminal and ran up the tunnel. He emerged beneath a darkening sky with a row of glowing stars spread out above him. An even brighter light raced up from the center of Goodall, blazing like a comet. He squinted but couldn’t tell if there was a human figure at the center of the light, let alone whether or not it had a head.
All around him were severed body parts. A woman. Lot’s of women, actually. Bloodied breasts everywhere he looked.
No heads.
Sunday wasn’t part of this field of death.
He ran back toward the hospital, taking the above ground path. “Space donut!” he cried out, panting. “Space donut! Eleven!” That was right. “Eleven!” But, there was no answer. Hope that the alien thing that was turning him into a space ship might help him lift off and chase after Sunday began to fade.
He made it into town. Robotic firetrucks were rolling down the main drag. A dozen convertibles were on fire. Burnt chimps were laying on the sidewalks. Pit leaned against the wall of the parking deck catching his breath.
There was a kind of a whistling sound from somewhere, followed by a thump. He lurched forward but didn’t fall. He couldn’t feel his legs. He looked down and found he was now pinned to the concrete wall behind him by a four foot long shaft of steel a quarter inch around. He looked like a bug on a board.
Without warning, a shadowy form that almost looked like a man grabbed his right arm and pressed it up against the concrete wall. Ffffip! Thump! A second steel rod now emerged from his wrist, trapping his arm.
The shadow man punched his hand under Pit’s chin and slammed his head back into the wall. Fffffip! Thump!
“Ow,” said Pit, going cross-eyed as he tried to see what had happened. He couldn’t move his head at all. His thoughts felt scrambled. Was there really a long steel rod jutting out of the top of his forehead?
His eyes focused on a woman floating in the air a hundred feet away. Skyrider? She was holding an enormous rifle. She squeezed the trigger and suddenly he couldn’t move his other hand.
“God!” the woman shouted. “This job is so much easier when you have the right tools!”
“End Shadow Mode,” said a voice he’d heard before. He could just see the top of Ap’s head.
“Pit Geek, the vessel known as Pangea has just entered American waters. We have been authorized by the proper authorities to seize the ship.”
“Ship?” Pit was confused. “This is an island!”
“It floats. It has anchors. I believe that any court of law will accept the argument that Pangea is little more than an oversized garbage barge. Everyone on board will be taken into custody until the finer legal matters have been resolved. You will be treated a little differently, however. Because, for the crimes you’ve committed against humanity, you’re under arrest. You have a right to remain silent.”
“I’ll talk,” Pit said, firmly. “You listen. A couple of dozen copies of Sunday just rocketed out of here like bats outa hell and are going to explode over the most populated cities on earth. A couple of hundred million people are gonna die if you don’t stop them.”
“Sundancer is next on our agenda,” said Skyrider, floating closer.
“No, dammit!” Pit shouted. “Sunday ain’t the problem. Dr. Troglodytes has sent a whole army of copies out to wipe out humankind. Stop them first! I can show you where to find a list of their targets!”
Skyrider looked at the stars. The Sundancer Legion was now very far off. “I wondered what all those lights were,” she mumbled. Then she turned to Pit. “I’m going to give chase.”
“They’re pretty far away,” said Ap.
Skyrider nodded and said, “Simpson, can you cut and paste me about twenty miles due west and about a mile straight up? I need to catch up to some fleeing suspects.”
Suddenly, she was gone.
“Double-density mode,” said Ap. He yanked the steel rod holding Pit’s head to the wall free.
“Christ almighty, that smarts,” said Pit, squeezing his eyes shut.
“You’re going to show me the list of targets,” said Ap. “These rods are coated in nanite tracers. Simpson can now fix on their signal and grab you with the space machine any time he wants. Fuck with me, and he’ll drop you inside a volcano. We clear?”
“Clear,” said Pit, rubbing his wrists as Ap freed his arms. “I won’t be no trouble. I need… I need your help. Sunday’s dying. Dr. Trog said he’d used your belt technology to make the copies of Sunday. You’re supposed to be a hero. Save her! Make her a new body!”
“Hold on,” said Ap. “I’m not following you at all. Who’s Dr. Trog? What does my belt have to do with anything?”
Pit explained it as best he could as they ran back to the tunnel. Ap nearly tripped and fell when Pit said the name Code4U.
“She was a chimp?” he screamed, recovering his footing to keep up. He shook his head. “Man, you can’t trust anyone in a chat room.”
Back in the basement, Ap whistled as he looked around the room. “You know, it’s been something of a mystery why used game systems cost so much these days. I think I just figured out where all the old boxes are going to.”
“These are just old game boxes?” Pit asked.
“I’m sure they’ve been modified,” said Ap. “But they’re nothing to sneeze at. The graphics on one of these has more computing power than was available to NASA when they put men on the moon. String together a couple of thousand like this, and you can crunch some serious numbers.”
Ap plopped down in front of the system. Enough time had elapse for the screen to go blank. As he tapped the keys, it asked for a password.
“Try ‘banana,’” said Pit.
“That’s racist,” said Ap. But he gave it a shot anyway.
“Ha,” said Pit as the screen returned to the list of cities.
“Simpson!” said Ap. “I just activated my retinal camera. You’ve got a list of a dozen cities in front of you that are being targeted for destruction by individuals who have the same powers as Sundancer. Like her, they are small enough and fly low enough that most traditional defenses won’t spot them. We need jets in the air defending every target ASAP!”
Pit couldn’t hear Simpson answer, but Ap gave a nod that looked as if he’d just gotten confirmation of his orders.
Pit said, “There were more than a dozen.”
Ap said, “Well, now there’s only eleven. Skyrider doesn’t mess around on this saving the world stuff. She’s been doing it a long time.”
“So’ve me and Sunday,” said Pit. “Except. You know. On the opposite side.”
3684 words

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