Here’s the scene. You are in a freezing, dirty back alley that smells like human excrement and decay. There’s an overflowing dumpster and a homeless dressed like a clown. He’s not moving. Oh yeah, and there’s some Viking-looking thug trying to take your head off with a tire iron. Better duck.
CrACk! Too slow. That was your skull.
Things go blurred and spinny. You touch your hair and it’s wet with blood.
“That was a warning shot fuckwad,” the Viking says as he shakes the blood-your blood-off the tire iron like dew from a branch.
Your head feels like Satan opened it with a blowtorch and invited 100 of his demons pals for a lawn party. You go down in a football stance and pick up what happens to be closest, which is a frozen dead cat.
Wait for it. Viking comes in for another tango. You come up with kitty.
“Ah shit!” Viking is so disgusted and surprised by being hit with a dead cat that he drops his weapon. You strike again. The cat’s head busts open on his tattooed forearm covering it with brain matter.
He screams in a much higher voice than you’d expect, like a choirboy who just got beaten by a perv priest.
Again! You’ve got the advantage. You aim at his golden-tressed head and score a nice one off his temple. A little bit of fur sticks this time.
“Stop hitting me with a fuckin’ dead cat man!” He cries out.
“I’ll do it again! Swear to God!” Actually you don’t know if you can do it again. You’re losing a lot of blood and the smell of the alley is starting to make you feel nauseated.
Viking puts his hands up in protest and then skips out. You win. You drop puss, stumble a few yards to a doorway, and pass out.
You’re having a beautiful dream. One where everything is brighter and softer and warmer than it would be in the real world. You half expect a unicorn to go galloping by. But there’s only a furry rodent that seems to be pleasuring itself. That and a bronze woman in a kiddie pool. She doesn’t appear to wearing any clothes. Wow. This is a pretty great dream. Too bad you’re going to wake up…right…oh, the woman’s turning towards you, her pert nipples saying hello…now.
“Ah!” You exclaim as you jerk out of your lovely reverie. You’re in a dimly lit abandoned basement somewhere. Remember? You got hit in the head with a tire iron. And you chased the guy away with a cat corpse.
“Glad to see you up.” It’s a woman’s voice-hushed, smoke inflected. You can’t see quite right. Everything’s still a little off, like a picture that hasn’t fully developed. You touch your head. It’s bandaged. Did she do this? Who is she? Are you still dreaming? If so, why does she have her clothes on?
She steps out of the shadows like some goth superhero-black boots, black dress, black leather coat, black everything. Only her eyes-one blue and one green-stand out.
“Have some water.” She hands you a bottle. You take a sip. By the way, what’s your name? Not sure are you?
“Um.” You hesitate. Nobody wants to admit they don’t know who you are. “I don’t suppose you know my name.”
She doesn’t blink. She calmly takes the water bottle back from you. “I was wondering if you’d remember. Too bad. I thought the hit on the head might bring it back.”
“Yeah, too bad.” You look at their hands. Your fingers strike you as unusually long. Like you’d be a good pianist. Or you have that disease. Marfans.
The woman in black is looking out the window as if she’s expecting somebody. It’s dark outside and there seems to be a lot of smoke. You see a small bird suddenly drop from the sky. That can’t be good.
There’s a gleam of metal when she walks back to you. A gun? Knife? Given the way she dresses it could simply be an accessory.
She kneels down and looks at you intently. You can’t decide where to look.
“Your name is John Quelle. I’m Nin. You may not believe this but you’re wanted for murder.” You blink. “And I’m expecting your child.” You blink twice. Why couldn’t you be one of those amnesiacs who wakes up to find he’s the king of somewhere? Or, at least, a mental patient who thinks he’s king.
“We really should get out of here. Can you stand?” You slowly rise. A bit wobbly, but OK. Your head still feels like someone exploded a battleship in there.
Nin grabs your arm and brusquely takes you through a door into utter darkness. She switches on a flashlight.
“Where are we?” You hear something crunching under your feet.
“These are Shanghai tunnels. They were used to kidnap men and force them onto ships. They’d take their boots and the glass is so they wouldn’t run away. Or if they did, they’d get their feet torn up.”
She takes you up some stairs. You emerge through a trap door into a room full of people. They’re all women. They give you strange looks.
“I got him,” Nin says. “One of Shepard’s goons almost did first though.” Shepard. Hadn’t heard that name before. You really should be writing these things down.
There are about 12 people in the room, all scurrying around. They ignore you, so you sit on the floor. You see a paper next to you. The guy on the front cover looks familiar. You see the caption: “Anarchist madman John Quelle is at large and considered extremely dangerous.”
Hey, it’s you. Looks like you shot the mayor’s son and dog. The mayor’s son? You sigh. This day wasn’t going very well. It’s bad enough that you shot somebody, but at least it could be somebody a little bigger, like a senator or some celebrity. And you felt bad about the dog.
“Why’d I shoot the mayor’s son and dog?” You ask. The room’s suddenly quiet.
Nin comes over. “Well, you were supposed to shoot the mayor and his wife. You missed.”
“Oh.” You pause, mulling this new development over. “Why’d I try to shoot the mayor?”
“Because he’s the fascist ruler of a gentrified wasteland. He imposed martial after the meth epidemic and the gas explosions ravaged the city. We’re an anti-fascist feminist anarchist collective. We’re gynarchists. You were supposed to spark the uprising. We found you passed out under a bridge. Mona hypnotized you.”
A woman with a shaved head and about 3 pounds of metal in her face nods.
“But you blew it.” She sighs like a disappointed mother. “The mayor’s wife was actually a double agent for us. So was the dog. That guy who was after you is a bounty hunter. There are lots of them after you.”
There’s another silence. You have an idea.
“Hey, could you drop me back under the bridge?”
Nina laughs mirthlessly.
“Not bloody likely Tex. You’re still useful to us. Well, parts of you are useful to us.”
Parts? You don’t like the sound of that.
Two hulking women wearing surgical masks and butcher smocks appear at Nin’s sides. One has an ice chest. This can’t be good.
“But aren’t I the father of your child?”
“Yes. She will grow up to lead this city out of the abyss of darkness and soul-crushing totalitarianism.” She stops for a minute. “Though a lesbian, I rather enjoyed our coital relationship. You were sensitive to my needs. That’s why it hurts me so much that we have to carve you up and sell your organs on the black market. But anarchists gots to get paid too. Girls?” She steps away and you hear the swish of leather across the wood floors.
You don’t think you’ll fight this. One puts a cloth drenched in chloroform over your mouth. Embrace this. Maybe this is really the dream.
You hear, “I think we’ll start with the eyes. They’re best when fresh.” And then you drift off into oblivion.
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Portland Fiction Project
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