Tagged: Black Arm

Blood Soaked: Black Arm #3

Day 8, post bomb

Remark #1: Charlotte Cooper, still bat-shit insane. Mobile and vicious, too.

Remark #2: Major Kenney, Matt Wilson, and Nate Banks want me to teach a class for newbies. FTW?

“Why me?” I asked, and followed it up with, “Strike that. Why in the name of the Virgin Mary’s pretty blue kerchief?”

Matt “Flower” Wilson, friend, and mostly-CO, rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Simple. You have more combat experience with the basic undead, and the evolved versions, than anyone still alive.”

“But I’m not a good teacher! I’m too cranky, snarky, and superior, to be a good educator!”

Major Kenney sat straight up in his chair, eyes wide, and expressed himself thusly. “Shit, Stewart! That’s the most accurate and adult self-assessment I’ve ever heard. I’m fucking impressed.”

That left me blinking my eyes.

“You just stuffed that one up my ass, didn’t you Major?”

“I did, Stewart. I most certainly did.”

I glared at him. “Asshole.”

“Boy,” he replied, “I grew up with my mother calling me that. I’m not impressed.”

Sometimes, all you have left to do is give up. Major Kenney and I have an adversarial relationship, except when when we agree on something. For instance, he feels I should kill Buttons at my earliest opportunity. I totally agree, and we have bonded, to a degree, over this consensus. Still, there are times when I’d cheerfully try to kick his smug balls into his abdominal cavity.

This was one of them.

“The recruits need to know,” Nate interrupted my train of thought, “what they’re going to face, and how to deal with them. Face facts Frank, you know it inside and out.”

I gave up a second time, lifted my hands into the air and shrugged. “What are we going to call it?”

Matt looked thoughtful for a moment, and offered his opinion, “Zombie Morphology.”

“I second that,” came from Nate.

“Done.” Major Kenney looked satisfied. Oh, how I wanted to nut him!

“When do I start?” I didn’t really want to know, but I suppose I needed the information in order to prepare.

“The newbies arrive tomorrow. Baj is scheduled to upgrade them right away.” Nate ticked off on his fingers. “Give them a day to get acclimated. Friday at one pm.”

The trio nodded. They’d already decided my fate, but wanted to put on a nice show of deciding on something arbitrary.”

“Fine.” I tried to grin, but I don’t think it came across as anything but baring my upper front teeth.

They dismissed me, and I came right back here—to you, my friendly notebook—to figure out how to teach people how to kill people used to be people.

Oh. Joy.

 

Day 9, post bomb

I’m not totally inexperienced with teaching other people. Back when I was taking martial arts classes as a kid, it was incumbent on the black belts to teach the less advanced students. I think some of them learned, because they ended up with higher level belts, but I never could be sure it was due to me.

I think my class outline should look a little like this:

  • What kinds of zombies will you encounter
    • Vicious, dysfunctional, damaged zombies
    • Standard, recent conversion zombies
    • Especially cranky regenerating zombies
  • Kill it
    • Take the head, squash the brain
  • Close quarters combat
    • Don’t let them get that close
      • They can still kill you in groups
      • Disable them like you would a normal person
        • Head, brains, go
  • Generally useful weapons and techniques

I think those make sense. Part of that last element needs to be sparring. I won’t be able to judge their baseline combat skills otherwise. Once I’ve identified “fighters,” I can use them to teach the less able.

Division of labor!

Delegation!

Maybe I can do this after all. Confidence is nice.

Later in the afternoon…

The new recruits arrived, and honest to God, they look totally green. These people are going to get their nanomachine asses pasted all over creation, regardless of my classes. Shit.

I’m going to admit that I’m depressed by this…so much so that I can’t visit Charlie later. I don’t know if she’ll beat the lymphatic fluid out of me, or start babbling like a little kid.

Ping.

“Hi Frank. What’s going on over there?”

“Hi Chu. Nothing much, other than I just saw thirty-five people who’ll probably die within the first fifteen minutes of combat.”

“Oh, the new arrivals. They are a little on the sad side.” She doesn’t sound pleased either. “I haven’t seen much of you lately. How’s Charlie?”

“Honey, her condition changes so fast my internal timer can’t keep track…Wait, haven’t you been to see her?”

Sigh. “No, I feel terrible that I couldn’t do more for her than keep her from bleeding out after Buttons attacked her. And I’m enraged over the whole thing.”

“Ditto, my friend. Ditto. I even saw the shrink about it.”

“Frank, he didn’t tell you to journal your feelings, did he?”

“Yeah, why?”

“That’s what he’d told everyone.” She’s laughing now. “Even Shawn is doing it.”

Being blessed with a visual imagination; the picture of him chewing on a pencil with a screwed up face, over a blank sheet of paper, made me smile.

“What about you?”

She laughs again, but it is definitely rueful. “Yes, but in Chinese. I don’t want everyone knowing what I think and feel.”

“Ancient Chinese secret, eh?”

“Remind me to punch you for that, Mr. Frank the Comedian.”

“Oh, I’ll let you, but go see Charlie first. She needs all of us, even if it is heartbreaking to see what she’s going through.”

“I’ll go now. Shawn’s writing. Love.”

“Love.”

Ping.

See? The rage just came back. I’d hate it if I had the energy, but every joule is being sucked into the grid. Looks like another sleepless night of aimless wandering.

Blood Soaked: Black Arm #2

Day 7, post bomb

I couldn’t write yesterday. My visit with Charlie went…badly. To make a long story short, she attacked me. A normal human being wouldn’t have survived a beating like that.

I didn’t dare defend myself, since it was placing my hand atop her’s that set the whole mess in motion.

“Don’t touch me.”

I turned to look at her, because I was spacing out while looking at the drapes in the bedroom. Her face was set in hard lines, surrounding a feral grimace. It only took a split second to pull up her vital signs, and emotional state in my head. She, on the other hand, took that split second to punch four of my teeth out.

Bajali and Jayashri’s guestroom floor was covered in lovely, thick carpet. I landed on it, spitting blood, right before Charlie straddled my chest and applied radically enhanced strength to pummel me.

“Frank!” Jayashri’s voice sprang to life inside my head. “Don’t touch her or try to hold her back. It will make everything worse!”

“I’m supposed to lay here and take it?! Ow!”

“Yes. If you hold still, it will be over shortly.”

I would have been more stunned by her answer if my facial bones weren’t being broken in alphabetical order. “How do you know?”

“She beat me up last night, and Bajali the other morning. Her moods shift so fast no one can keep up.”

About that time, Charlie started a disjointed monologue about how wonderful our future would be after we got married, how she’s going to kill me for touching her, and raw grief over the loss of our child. It was ugly, frightening, and broke my heart into a million pieces. I was weeping underneath her unrelenting fists.

Jayashri was right, I guess. The punitive thrashing lasted just under four minutes and ended as unexpectedly as it began. The love of my life got up, got back in bed, pulled the sheets up to her neck, and started rocking back and forth. I was still crying.

Worse than my face reassembling, and watching my dearest’s mental state flop around, was my sense of impotence. I really, truly, couldn’t do anything for her.

I left the house and knew I needed to do something, anything, to pull myself back together. Walk. I could walk. It made sense. It used to help.

No one stopped me when I walked straight through our front gate, and out into the evening street. Nobody even bothered to ping my to see what was up. They might not have needed to, come to think of it. In-brain sensors and all.

You could say that I was unarmed at the time, but I wasn’t, I have a right arm with a bad attitude.

Ten miles of aimless wandering in the night, and I deliberately didn’t use my nanotech to figure out where I was. I wanted to not know, just to be lost.

That’s how they got the drop on me, a gang of eight standard undead and  four luxury models. They laughed at their good fortune in having a night’s entertainment wander into their little camp in the woods. I barely raised my eyes, they weren’t anything I hadn’t seen before.

The first one came at me, intending to hit me on the head with a log. I caught the makeshift club, and gave him a little kick that broke his knee. When he hit the ground screaming, I blew his head apart with a single swing of the captured log.

“I’m really not in the mood for this,” I told them. “I’ve had a rough week. In the spirit of goodwill, if you all fuck off now, I won’t turn you into liverwurst.”

Do I have to tell you, Mister Diary, they didn’t take me up on the offer?

Someone yelled, “Go get him!” Five of them detached themselves from the loose gang and ran towards me.

Ho hum.

I dropped into an old Aikido stance and got ready to “greet” my attackers. My right arm had different things in mind. It didn’t fire my fist like a rocket, thank goodness, but my hand extended into a long, thin pike. The point caught the leading zombie in the eye, and popped out the back of his head as he kept running towards me.

My “hand” went limp, slid out of the hole, only to become rigid again, and chop off the head of another attacker. It got stranger when I pulled my arm back, hoping that my appendage would start to behave. The attenuated snake on the end of my wrist flew back behind me and cracked like a bullwhip.

Yeah. A bullwhip.

If God gives you a new toy, you play with it.

I “cracked” it forward and two of my oncoming attackers lost the tops of their heads. Holy fucking shit! I nearly giggled and did a happy dance in the middle of the clearing; at the same time I tried not to gag. My evident success didn’t improve their moods.

“You asshole! What sort of shit is that, bringing a toy like that? Are you a fucking coward?” one of them hollered at me from behind everyone else. I was willing to bet he was the leader.

“How stupid are you? Were you a moron before you died? Jesus.” I put my left hand on my hip and coiled my other “arm” around my right leg like a goth boa constrictor. “Of course I’m going to go for a walk at night when there are revived jerk-offs piddling around in the bushes.”

He did it. He actually did it, the most cliched thing known to combat and yelled “Get him!”

Honest, Diary, I laughed my ass off. What happened next was a concert. The notes were written in blood, and the musicians were disarmed by the tempo. They were also decapitated or mortally wounded in other ways.

Your cheerful conductor, me, sported a few contusions, cuts, and scrapes. They healed very quickly. I laughed some more, until one of the three remaining zombies (the regenerating kind) pulled out a .45 and shot me in the head.

There was a noise that sounded like “prack” when the bullet hit me, microseconds before I was flying backwards through the air. I landed hard on my back, but I was thinking, not dead, and rapidly beginning to feel rage slither up my ass.

A quick glance at my internal status report told me the bullet cracked against my enhanced skull and shot off into the bushes. I was fine, and the skin of my forehead was due to be finished regenerating in twenty-five seconds.

I decided to stay still. They didn’t know that I wasn’t dead, and wandered over to check out their handiwork. When they were about twenty-feet from my resting place, I began to play with them.

Not only did my rage require that I kill them all in messy ways, it demanded that I screw with them first. I wasn’t inclined to argue. My sense of humor certainly can stretch in that direction.

I wailed and thrashed in the grass. It was my impression of Priss’ insane death scene from “Bladerunner.” I give myself a score of 11 for building on Darryl Hannah’s tour de force.

They leapt backward, totally surprised. One of them screamed a list of expletives that impressed me. He even started to use things in foreign languages that don’t translate easily. This guy was a brain when he keeled over! I decided to do him last.

“Baw!” I screamed over and over again while dry humping the air. “Baw! Baw!”

“Holy shit! You shot him in the head, right?” zombie three asked.

“Yeah, I drilled him in the forehead! He’s dead. C’mon, let’s fuck the hole!” I named this one “zombie two.”

“Those are the most fucked up death throes I’ve ever seen,” smart zombie declared. “Shoot him again. For all we know, he’s going to get back up and attack us. You saw what his hand can do.”

“Right.” Zombie two shot me a few more times for good measure, and these penetrated my flesh.

I hate large calibre bullets. They did give me a reason to thrash and bellow more while I healed.

“Ah! Ah! Ah! Mommy!” I shrieked it over and over again while waving my wounded limbs in the air. “No, Mommy! No!”

“What the fuck is he?” zombie three screamed. “That’s not normal! That’s not normal!”

It was all I could do not to laugh my ass off. My imagination went to very strange places as I was feeling jocular. I had this little spark inside that had me wishing I could detach my arm and let it slither through the grass.

My next scream was all surprise, because my quirky limb did just that. Even worse, I could see through it, a full 360 degree field of view. Even the bugs on the ground were fleeing the strange thing that was passing over their heads.

I got to see zombie three’s internal organs from the inside, when my detached body part pierced him behind his nuts and slipped right up through his body. You know, exploding brains are horrible from the inside, too. I gagged into the grass.

The other two zombies screamed like little girls and tried to run away. It didn’t do them any good in the least. My handy snake-arm was faster than them.

Zombie two fell to the grass when his legs parted way with his feet. Moments later, I got to see his head sheared from hairline to hairline. He didn’t even have time to scream.

I swear, I nearly heard a “zoosh” noise when my arm took off in pursuit of smart zombie. He ducked, dodged, and actually paid attention to the scooting thing that was hunting him through the leaves and grass. It was pretty impressive, even with the vertigo from processing all the sensory data.

Smarty hid behind a tree at the instant my stealthy part shot into the air, as though it was aiming to spear him through the heart. Instead, the leading end buried six inches into the trunk of the innocent plant. The trailing end, on the other hand, whipped around the trunk and speared my opponent through the temple.

He dropped to his knees when my ultra-long finger reduced his brain to lumpy sausage filling.

Hunt finished, my personal python meandered back across the woods, rolling around, and circling stones. It took its time.

It paused when it came even with my hip, rose up from the ground, and regarded me. I could see me through it, and I saw how stunned and horrified I looked. The damned thing bobbed up and down like a bird asking to be pet or praised.

“Can I stop seeing myself like I’m on television?” I asked it. The extended selfie turned off. “Thanks arm.”

It bobbed up and down again, and reattached itself.

I got up and started walking home. I spent all of those ten miles trying to figure out precisely what I had hanging off my right shoulder.

I didn’t sleep at all last night.

Blood Soaked: Black Arm #1

Blood Soaked: Black Arm

© James Crawford, 2014

Preface

 

This story takes place between Blood Soaked and Invaded and Blood Soaked and Gone.

A few days before this story begins, Buttons set off an EMP that virtually destroyed the nanotech in the impromptu Arlington base of operations. Just before that, he gutted Charlie Cooper, and took her womb with him when the Progeny spirited him away.

Several people died in the explosion, Shoei Omura among them. Frank lost his right eye and right arm, which were subsequently replaced by alien nanomachines.

Charlie Cooper, while recovering physically, is drifting in and out of insanity.

No one is the same…

 

Day 5, post bomb

They sent us a shrink, mostly because of Charlie, but he interviewed many of us just the same. His advice to me, “Frank, I think you’ll come to grips with all these emotions if you externalize them.”

“How do I go about doing that?” I asked him. “I’m becoming a rage monster.”

“Write it all down.”

That’s what I’m going to try to do, because I figured it couldn’t hurt worse than everything else does. It did take me a while to find a notebook and a pen in the goodies I’d hoarded in my room, but I tracked them down.

I don’t know who is going to read this, except for me, but if it helps the rage… That can’t be bad, right?

As I write this, it is seven pm. I went over to Bajali and Jayashri’s place earlier, to sit with Charlie and make sure she ate something. It was…Fuck. It was awful. You always hear about someone going off their rocker, but I’ve never seen it this up close and personal.

My God, this is personal. Writing is supposed to settle my spirit, or diffuse my rage? Forgive me if I don’t believe it.

I’d hoped cleaning up Bravo Euro’s mess would settle me, at least a little bit. It didn’t. My head and heart kept returning to Charlie nearly dying, the loss of our unborn child, friends of mine dying, and the evil fucker who caused it all getting away.

Blind anger hits me like random seizures, it doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing at the time. It’s both horrible and incredibly strange. My new arm, black as night, changes shape based on my mood. Worse than that, it vandalizes things.

Last night, I was eating dinner outside the rubble of our cafeteria, and my feelings erupted like a volcano. The new right arm reached out, grabbed the nearest lightpost, and crushed the pole. It wasn’t my idea. It just did it.

Shawn, who was sitting with me at the time, sprouted little feet on his ass and scooted ten-feet away without standing up. You could say he was shaken up, but that would be a drastic understatement.

“Jesus, man,” he said to me, “are you gonna put a leash on that thing, or what?”

“Shawn, God as my witness, I don’t think it would like that very much.” That is what I said by way of a reply.

“You sure that thing is you? It doesn’t act like y’all are on the same team.” I noticed he didn’t ass-walk back to me. My non-violent feelings were bruised.

“I guess I’m going to have to figure that out. It has a certain amount of,” I fumbled for a word, “personality.”

He tossed me one of his trademark “you’re shitting me,” facial expressions. “If it keeps up bein’ so personable, it’ll drop off and start visiting the neighbors.”

I gave him a look back, and spoke my piece about that mental image. “Dude, don’t give it any ideas. If it decides to go out for coffee and donuts, I’ll make sure it visits you first.”

My friend did not look the least bit happy about that idea, but the image of donuts sat in my frontal lobes for a couple of hours after that. That’s pretty astounding when you think about it, since I was looking at the wreckage of Shoei Omura’s house across the street.

Were fried inner tubes of dough the answer to my problems? Probably not.

Finding and killing Bernard “Buttons” Grachevsky, according to my black arm, was the answer.

Peace in murder and mayhem, the story of my life.