Round Robin

Ultimate Houde

UC's Resident Genetic Recombinator
Apr 14, 2005
Houde's Chili Dog Shack

1: Authors will proceed in this order.

1. Ultimate Houde
2. Dr. Strangefate
3. TwilightEL
4. Iceshadow
5. Joe Kalicki
6. ProjectX2
7. Moonmaster
8. Zombipanda
9. Doublehex
10. Baxter
11. Frapalino
12. Victor Von Doom
13. Grocer Man
14. Bluebeast
15. Volunteer Fire Detective
16. J. Agamenon
17. McCheese

2: Each entry should be around a page to two pages in MS Word, standard font, standard size.

3: Authors have 10 days to post. If they do not post within the ten days, the next author takes over.

4. Above all, enjoy yourselves.
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Chapter One:

The young man walked through the snow filled streets. His breath fogged in the cold air as he hurried into the warm hotel lobby. Briskly taking off his gloves and rubbing his hands, the man looked around, glad to be in warmth.

"Buddy, why do you live in Juneau if you hate the cold?" said a male voice to his right. Buddy turned to see the night manager, Scott, a stocky older man of mixed American and Eskimo blood. He worked nights, and his wife worked days, and they way they said it, it was the perfect marriage. Something must have worked, they did have four kids.

"Scott, I told you before, the warm air doesn't agree with me, up here, I can breath, without the allergies." Buddy took off his coat, revealing the uniform of a bellhop underneath, with the hotel's logo on it. Buddy worked the night shift at the hotel as the general bellhop/go to guy/ whatever they needed help with at the moment man. He came to Juneau a few years back, a few months past his 18th birthday, full of curiosity and brimming with wonder. The winters in Alaska slowly dragged down Buddy, who eventually became as cynical as every other Alaskan.

Scott shook his head, "You and your allergies, by the way, according the Dylan, we are getting a new guest up here tonight, you may recognize the name, one Andrea Portecue." Scott looked to see if Buddy recognized the name.

"Oh that's nice," said Buddy, as he hanged up his coat. Then he froze, and the coat fell down on the ground, as he turned slowly to look at Scott.

"Wait, Andrea? The Andrea Portecue is stopping by tonight? For how long?"

"According to Dylan, for as long as it takes to shoot this new movie of hers."

"Oh man! I loved her in Radscorpion, and Radscorpions: The New Breed! She's such an awesome horror/action star it's unbelievable! Oh man! Do I look okay; is there a hair out of place? OH MAN! I need to go to the bathroom to make sure I'm ready."

Scott chuckled as Buddy ran into the bathroom, and he hung up the coat Buddy dropped. As he did this he saw Rachel enter the hotel lobby. Rachel was the night clerk, a college student to the University of Alaska majoring in Marine Biology, and a redheaded sweetheart. "Hi there Rachel!"

"Hey Scott." Replied Rachel, as she hung up her coat, "Another boring night?"

"Not tonight I'm afraid, apparently the great Andrea Portecue is coming."

"Like we need a dumb blond celebrity here. What scandal is she going to bring with her? Another fake pregnancy? Another marriage?"

"Nope, filming another movie Rachel," replied Scott, "Probably another stupid horror film. Buddy is in the bathroom right now, making sure his hairdo is up to snuff."

Just then the door to the hotel burst open and two big men who had 'Bodyguard' written all over them walked in, followed by a small, petite blond woman, who simply oozed sex all over the floor. Her white dress clinged to her obvious curves, and her blond hair bopped with every step. Her sunglasses reflected the lights of the lobby as she waltzed over to the desk. Lowering the glasses, she gave Rachel a stare with her icy blue eyes, "The name is Andrea Portecue, and I want your best room."


In the bathroom, Buddy eagerly fixed up his hairdo. Some other man walked up to the mirror, washed his hands, winked at Buddy, then left. Buddy shook his head, and went to go use the toilet. Walking into the stall, he noticed that ventilation shaft above the toilet was open. Sighing, he went to go fix it.


Back out in the lobby, the man from the bathroom walked in. He wore simply enough clothing, and was non descript in every way, shape, or form. As Rachel was getting Andrea's keys, she turned around, and caught a glimpse of the man.

She screamed the type of scream that every director wants to get on film. An earsplitting scream that blew eardrums if one was too close. The bodyguards turned, pistols drawn. The man smiled a creepy smile that would make one shiver.

And then, the lights went out.

Next Author: Dr. Strangefate
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Chapter Two:

Andrea Portecue was smarter than anyone would ever give her credit for. She ran her business efficiently, and controlled her image in the press. She controlled how the world perceived her, and because of this, she always had the upper hand.

She wore neon pink lipstick with just the slightest hint of sparkles, and her platinum blonde hair fell only slightly upon her perfectly tanned neck and shoulders. She had placed designer sunglasses on the tip of her nose, because she could not see properly out of them, and she absolutely loved to give everyone that critical look one tends to give people when looking over the rims of their glasses. Her clothes were tight around her body's slight curves. She had turned twenty-seven over a month ago and she could still pull off the look of a high school cheerleader.

Her bodyguards sat in the living room area of the President's Suite, smoking heavily with a cough every few minutes for good measure. Andrea was organizing her schedule for the next couple of weeks while they bounced from topic to topic. She promised herself she would get a few men in Los Angeles who knew how to keep their mouths shut, and tried to drone their voices out with her headphones

"It wouldn't work," said Isaac.

"Why wouldn't it work?" Replied Abraham. "It's the easiest way to earn a couple grand, even more if you play your cards right."

At a mere six foot seven, Isaac was shorter than Abraham. He wore a white blazer with a white tie over a black shirt. Abraham was roughly seven feet tall and wore a black suit with a black tie over a white shirt. Both men looked as though they could knock out a horse with a single punch. They wore black pants.

"Explain it to me again."

"So you send out, lets say 600 letters, although you could go for a lot more or a lot less. The more you send the more you'd get back. Alright?"


"You choose one game, any sport really. To half of these people you say one team is going to win, and you tell the other half you say its gonna go the other way. Depending on who wins, you still got 300 people who think you know what's up. So you choose another game, do the same thing, and send it to those 300."

"What about the other 300?"

"**** 'em. They don't matter anymore. So now you got 150 people. You do it again, and now you have 75 people who think you're some kind of ****ing wizard or something. You send each of them a letter saying they need to send you $100 dollars for the next card. Then you send them the new cards, and you've got half of them ready to send you more money. So you ask for $500. Then you keep going until you've got nobody left."

Isaac's face contorted as he struggled to comprehend the process. After a few moments silence he spoke up.

"What's half of 75?"

"What do I look like, Alvin Einstein or some ****?"

"Will you two please shut the **** up? I'm trying to think over here!" Andrea shouted, throwing her iPod at Abraham, which he caught.

There was a knock at the door. A voice shouted something that sounded an awful lot like room service. Isaac stood up, brushing the ash off his sleeve, and answered the door.


"Don't cry, Rachel. I promise that you won't be here much longer."

Her hair was damp and sticky with her own blood. She could hardly breathe. The first blow had been to the chest, and the man was unnaturally strong. She thought she might have broken a rib or two. Chained as she was, all she could do was cry. Which she did.

The man smiled, wolfishly, and began to work.


Andrea's phone rang at a quarter past three. She had been drifting in and out of sleep as the goons watched some ancient western she couldn't even begin to make herself care about. She tried to shake the exhaustion out of her head and picked up the receiver.


"Miss Portecue. How lovely to hear your voice."

"I'm sorry I missed our meeting. There was a delay."

"Do not even begin to worry about it. I've found some amusements of my own."

"You started without me? How dare--"

"Now, now, Miss Portecue. Let's not forget who we are speaking to."

"I'm sorry. It's just--"

"She was inconsequential. Merely whetting my appetite for this kind of business. It's been quite a while, I wanted to make sure I was still up to snuff."


"Have a little faith in me, Miss Portecue."

The man laughed. Wolfishly. She felt shivers of ecstasy trace her spine.

"We'll meet tomorrow. Same time as when we were going to meet tonight. How does that sound?"


She paused a moment.

"Tell me about her."

As he did her breath quickened and she found her feet writhing beneath the sheets. She could picture the scenario perfectly. A few moments later she put the phone down and climbed out of bed. Her eyes were wide, and hungry as she approached the men on the couch. Her lips curled in a dark, meaningful smile.

"Which of you two idiots wants to **** me?" She whispered as she leaned over them like some horrible vulture.

For all parties concerned, this was going to be an interesting weekend.

Next Chapter: TwilightEL
Chapter Three:

Buddy reached up to the broken ventilation shaft, muttering under his breath. How the hell had it busted itself, anyway? It seemed like something was always going wrong in the hotel.

He stepped onto the seat of the toilet to get a better grip, trying to push the cover back into place. With a brief, unpleasant screech, another screw gave out and the edge of the vent caught him in the head. Buddy jerked reflexively and stepped into the toilet with one foot.


He looked down and something hit him in the back of the head and fell onto the floor. Buddy looked at it, frowning in curiosity. He slowly stepped down, ignoring the slap of his wet foot on the tile.

A CD in a paper sleeve had fallen onto the floor. Buddy looked back up at the ventilation shaft. Only two of the four screws were out, so the gap it had fallen out of was still relatively small. Was he imagining things, or was there something else in there that was too big to fall out?

He stood up just as the lights went out and a scream reverberated from the lobby. Buddy hastily picked up the sleeve, noticing that the CD had cracked in two, and dashed out of the bathroom, earning himself a few more bumps on the way out.


"Hands off your guns, boys. Don't put that luggage down." Andrea's bodyguards looked at her skeptically. She neither stopped walking nor turned around to look at them. "Someone will come to unlock the room soon and I want my belongings there when they do."

"But the lights-"

"Everything is under control."


By the time he burst into the lobby, the lights were back on and there was nobody behind the desk.

"Rachel? Where are you?" he called, looking around frantically. She'd left her bag behind the desk and the keys to Portecue's room were on the ground. "Rachel?!"

"Buddy! What the hell's going on?" Scott had entered through the same doorway Buddy had. Buddy frowned and looked at the door to the manager's office, wondering where Scott had been, but his worry about Rachel eclipsed that minor concern.

"I was in the bathroom and the lights went out and I heard a scream—where's Rachel?"

"Are you sure you heard a scream?"

"Yes! And look, her stuff's still here and the keys are on the ground!"

Scott frowned thoughtfully. "It doesn't necessarily mean something bad. Rachel's kind of flighty, you know…"

"So what, she dropped everything and ran to hide in a corner because the lights went out for two minutes?"

"Calm down, Buddy. I know every inch of this hotel. I'll go give Portecue her keys and look around for her. You stay here and man the desk."

Buddy sighed as Scott picked up the keys and left. With a jolt, he realized he still had the broken CD in its folder in his hand. He tossed it underhand onto the check in desk and sat down heavily.

Outside, the snow began to fall faster.


He'd read half the newspaper when Scott returned looking guilty and admitted that he couldn't find Rachel. They dialed the police just as the snowdrifts outside reached the three-foot mark. It would be a while before help came.

He'd finished it before he had to bring two steaks and a beer up to Portecue's room. Despite his preoccupation, Buddy was glad at the chance to get a glimpse of Andrea Portecue, but all he saw was six foot seven of well-dressed goon.

Now, Buddy sat with his feet up, one shoe on and one shoe drying on the ground, flicking through the financial page for the second time. The headline article was about a shipping company, Leviathan Shipping, that had a new up-and-coming CEO. He remembered the name because of a scandal with the old CEO several years ago that nearly drove the business into bankruptcy.

The letters began to blur and swim before his eyes. Buddy groaned and tossed the paper aside. His eyes fell on the CD again and he tilted the sleeve, dropping the two halves on the desk. To his surprise, a folded paper fell out with them. Buddy opened it curiously. It was a handwritten note.

I went to a lot of trouble just getting the package into the hotel and I'm not sneaking it out and in again because you were clumsy enough to miss our meeting. You might as well have the CD tonight, too.

Buddy sat up with a jolt. The package? Just as he was about to stand up and walk to the bathroom, the thug who'd answered Andrea's door entered the lobby with a sulky look on his face. He stumped towards Buddy.

"Where's the bathroom?" he grunted. Buddy pointed hesitantly. The man in the white blazer scowled and stormed off, grumbling something about always getting the boring jobs. Buddy decided to wait until the goon was finished before he finished checking out the air vent. What was he doing going to the bathroom at 3:17, anyway?

Buddy sighed. He'd finally run out of reading material. Unless... well, Rachel always brought schoolwork to work on through the long, boring night shifts... His mind made up, Buddy reached into her bag. All it had was a snack, some extra winter clothes, and a folder which he removed and opened. It was full of printouts and papers filled with statistics and pictures about mutilated whales washed up on beaches.

"Ugh," Buddy muttered. He replaced the folder in Rachel's bag and put his head down on his folded arms. He'd just close his eyes for a little while. The goon would come stomping through the lobby in a bit and wake him up. It wouldn't do any harm to just rest until then...
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Chapter 4

"God I really hate this town sometimes." Deputy James Stoker sighed while hanging up the phone. James was a lanky twenty-five year old man with close cropped blond hair and a five-o-clock shadow who had joined the force right out of high school.

"What's the trouble this time son?"

James turned around to regard the older man with a pot belly reclining at his desk.

"Well Sheriff, seems that the hotel owner Scott has a missing employee on his hands. How she got lost in his own hotel he can't explain!"

"You know, you should really take emergency calls more seriously Jimmy."

James rolled his eyes and turned to look at the third occupant of the small precinct.

"Hey Shell-Shell! When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you."

"Hey now! Stop fightin'! I didn't raise you two to act that way towards each other." Sheriff Everette Stoker was now standing up. A man of sixty-two, he was too old to deal with this on top of his arthritis.

"Sorry dad." Deputy Shelly Stoker apologized. Shelly was a short, but not quite stocky, twenty-one year old with shoulder length brown hair pulled up in a pony tail. Her brother, James, mumbled an apology then looked out the window.

"Well, I'd better get going. Even with the plow it's going to take me at least two hours to get to the hotel."

"I'm coming with you, I'm going to go crazy if I don't get a change of scenery."

James looked at his sister who had already grabbed the keys to the station's snow plow.

"Fine, let's go. Dad, we'll be back whenever."

Sheriff Stoker nodded as his two children made their way into the snowstorm.


Scott walked in out of the snow storm and into the hotel's barroom, it had taken him an hour to change the blown fuse. Now he couldn't feel his face or hands.

Scott made his way over to the bar and grabbed the half empty bottle of Jack and started pouring a glass. If Buddy sees me he'll have a fit. Screw it. I need this right now. Scott had searched most of the hotel and had found nothing. He was starting to get a little worried. Before he could contemplate on the matter further, the door to the bar opened and in walked a clean cut man wearing a tie and blazer.

"Hey! It's no fun to drink alone! Mind if I join you?"

Scott turned around.

"Mr....Croft, right? You came in with that tourist group a few days ago."

The man grinned as he took a seat next to Scott.

"You have a good memory old man! Now quit hogging the whiskey!" Mr. Croft took the glass offered and took a gulp, "By the way old man, you can call me Vincent or Vince."

"Likewise, you can call me Scott...whippersnapper."

Vince laughed, finished his drink and poured another.

"Well lets toast to names or, in some cases, the lack thereof!"

Scott clinked his glass to Vince's, and took a drink. He knew that he shouldn't be getting into a drinking contest with a customer, but he was the police wouldn't be here for awhile and this was a good way to pass the time.

Vince poured two more drinks, as Scott started on number four (or was it five?) he noticed staring at him. Scott asked what was wrong but Vince just smiled and said,


Scott was pretty sure it was just the alcohol, but for a brief moment he could have sworn that Vince looked like something...wrong?

What the hell am I thinking about? Maybe I should slow it down with the Jack... Scott's thoughts were interrupted by Vince setting down yet another drink in front of him.

"Come on old man! You're falling behind!"

Scott quickly went to work on his fifth (or was it sixth?) glass.

Next Author: Joe Kalicki
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Chapter 5​

Buddy walked into the hotel room the moans were emanating from. He flicked on the lights and saw Rachel tied upon the far wall. He walked toward her, the floor creaking with every step. The floor creaking with every step. . .

The floor creaking. . .

Buddy woke up to the sound of the floor creaking. He shook his head to clear the dream out of his mind. It's not the first time Rachel had appeared in one of his dreams, of course, but the whole bondage scenario was new to him. He wasn't sure he liked it. It made him uneasy. He looked up and saw Dylan trying to sneak past without waking him, toward the bathroom, creaking the floor with every step.

"What are you doing here?" Buddy asked. "Didn't your shift end hours ago?"

"Uh, yeah, it did," Dylan replied. Dylan worked at the hotel at the front desk. There was something about him that Buddy just didn't like. "I just had to get something."

"From the bathroom?"

"Yeah, I just forgot a CD in there earlier."

Buddy remembered the CD he had found in the ventilation shaft. He handed it to Dylan. "Well, I guess this is probably what you wanted."

"You found this?" Dylan asked, taking the broken CD from Buddy.

"Yeah, you left the vent open. Who was it for anyway?" Then Buddy remembered a certain piece of hotel gossip and added, "Rachel?"

"Yes, it was for Rachel," Dylan admitted with surprising ease. "Was there a package with it?"

"No, just the CD."

"No package at all? Dammit, I knew I made sure that vent was closed!" Dylan ran into the bathroom, and as soon as the door closed behind him he screamed.


"This is just screaming and noise!" James Stoker changed the station on the radio in the snow plow to an AM news station.

"I was listening to that!" Shelley Stoker protested.

"Your music is terrible. Besides, I wanted to try to catch a weather report."

"It's ****ing snowing! There's your weather report! Can we at least listen to music?"

James Stoker relented and turned on a classic rock station. He started singing along with the music, "Here I am! Rock you like a hurricane!"

"God, you're so uncool," his sister said. "No wonder you don't have a girlfriend."

"You're telling me," James Stoker replied. "I'm still trying to figure out what a Hollaback Girl is."


Buddy apprehensively entered the bathroom after Dylan. He pushed the door open slowly and was immediately greeted by the sight of Andrea Portecue's bodyguard on the floor, face down in a pool of his own blood.


Rachel blinked her eyes open. Her head was spinning and her stomach hurt like she had recently thrown up. She tried moving but wasn't able. After the spinning stopped a little she was able to take stock of her situation.

The last thing she remembered was a man, and being terrified, and then everything went dark. Now she found herself waking up in what was one of the more expensive rooms in the hotel. She could tell because of the hardwood floors Scott had installed last summer. It made the room appear a little classier.

She was chained up against one of the walls and her mouth was taped shut. She tried screaming but little sound escaped. She looked over and saw Scott in the same situation next to her, still unconscious.

There was a knock at the door and the man she had seen before blacking out stepped out of the bathroom and let his guest in.

"Ah, Andrea dear, I wasn't expecting you until tomorrow," the man said.

"Yes, Vincent, but I had some concerns I thought you might be interested in hearing about," Andrea responded, walking into the room.

"And what concerns you, dear?"

"Well, for one, I went into the bathroom in my room and found one of my bodyguards had cut his own throat."

"Just the one?" Vincent asked, raising his eyebrow.

"I thought that would interested you. Yes, just the one."

"The other must have been smarter than he looked," Vincent said, picking a knife up from his bedside table and wiping it on his shirt. "He probably made it pretty far before taking my suggestion."

"Your suggestion?" Andrea asked.

"Yes," Vincent said, walking over to where Scott was chained to the wall. "When I took the girl they happened to be there and got a little. . . aggressive with me. I simply suggested that maybe they were the problem, and you know how persuasive I can be," Vincent smiled and winked at Andrea.

"I see. There were idiots anyway. So this is your 'amusement' then," Andrea said, waving her hand to acknowledge the two hotel employees hanging in the room.

"Yes," Vincent replied, stabbing the knife into Scott's belly. "Just a little something to pass the time until it begins." He drew the knife clockwise through Scott's stomach to symbolize the passing of time.

Rachel's muffled screams were entirely drowned out by the wet slap of Scott's guts hitting the classy new hardwood floor.

Next author: ProjectX2
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Chapter 6

Jimmy Casiano, an 18-year-old slacker is currently experiencing a high buzz. He is Puerto Rican, and moved here 7 years ago with his family. His father died of a heart attack and his mother died in a car crash. His sister disappeared a long time ago. He has nothing left to live for.

He closes his eyes and his mind exploded. There was a white flash. A hotel. Fire in the snow. The number 13 pops in and out. A man with glasses. The gun. Another white flash.

Jimmy opens his eyes. "Woah."

His head is suddenly clear. He destroys his joint and stands up. During the next five minutes, he changes his clothes, cleans himself and searches for his phone. He dials the phone and calls his friend, Richard.

"Richard,man,it'sme." He speaks quickly, excitement swimming in his voice.

"Jimmy? Slow down, dude."

"I was smoking that stuff you gave me, and man… I had a vision."

"Of course you did. You always do. What's different this time?"

"I saw everything happening. I know what to do. We can be heroes, man."


Five years ago, the mysterious man entered a café with a briefcase. Three minutes later he left without a briefcase. A further two minutes later the café exploded. One minute later he was calling his employer.

"It's done. I expect the other half of the money in my account no later than sixty minutes."

"Of course. Thank you, you were everything and more."

"Please," Mr. Black smiled. "When it's something personal, I always perform."

"So it's true then? The military experiments? Who exactly are you, Mr. Black?"

"The less said about that the better, comrade." Mr. Black watched the café continue to burn. Sirens were heard in the distance.

"Nevertheless, I must thank you once again, Mr. Black."

"We're friends now: call me Vincent."


Immediately after Vincent had gone all Jack the Ripper on Scott, he had left with Andrea, leaving Rachel with her former employer's oozing body. After a while, she couldn't look at him without gagging, so she turned her head. It was at this moment she noticed something peculiar.

There was a trapdoor. Strange, she couldn't remember there being any cellars or hidden passages under the top range hotel rooms. Was she where she thought she was?

Suddenly, she heard movement. But it wasn't coming from outside, where Vincent and Andrea were… it was coming from beneath the trapdoor. It was opening. Her eyes opened in amazement as she came face-to-face with the person she least expected.


The Stoker siblings were still driving along, arguing over pointless things such as radio stations and their aunt's birthday, when a giant black object darted across the road.

"What the **** was that?" James blurted out as Shelly swerved out of the way.

"I don't know," Shelly replied, and then grinned. "This is bat country."

"What?" James was confused.

"Nevermind," Shelly sighed at her idiotic brother, "we're almost there."


"Jesus Christ!" Buddy backed against the wall, as far away from the dead body as he could get. Dylan, who had been standing over the body, turned around in alarm. Obviously he didn't think Buddy would follow him in. Oh well, Dylan thought, curiosity killed the cat.

"Did you do that?" Buddy pointed at the body. Dylan's eyes followed, amused.

"Of course not. He was like that when I came in here."

"Jesus. Today is so ****ed up. What is happening?!"

"I'm sure it will be very clear shortly." Dylan smiled, and then escorted Buddy back out of the bathroom. It was almost time.

Next writer: moonmaster

The solid black frame of Samuel Carrington ascended from the floor like a shadow. Upon noticing Rachel bound in the corner, he flashed a pleasant, polite smile.

"Hi Rachel," he said casually.

"Oh god."

"You know exactly who I am don't you? They told me you would. You're a very curious young woman."

"I-I know exactly what you've been doing...what your company has been doing."

"We haven't done much, not yet. We've simply been investigating an opportunity that has suddenly appeared to us. And that opportunity is about to pay off. Watch."

Buddy stood across from Dylan in the center of the lobby, examining his eyes.

"I'm telling you," Dylan said. "Either someone killed him or he killed himself. I had nothing to do with it."

"I just want to know what the **** is going on around here."

"You want to know what's happening? Because there's stuff going on here that you're going to wish you never had the misfortune of being a part of. It's unfortunate that they haven't decided to kill you yet and spare you of all this."


Dylan sighed exhaustedly. "Okay . . . Do you really want to know what I'm about to tell you?"

"That's an idiotic question."

"Okay, whatever, I'll just tell you . . . Rachel and I were both pretty involved in some local environmental groups, which you know. What you don't know is that in the past year we've been investigating the deaths of large numbers of marine life on the coast. We thought it had something to do with Leviathan, that company that went bankrupt a few years back, pollution or something. Well as it turned out, it wasn't the company that was killing all those animals, but we knew they were connected. As we've investigated some of us have . . . gone missing."

"Oh my god. Why did you keep going with it?"

"Because we knew something terrible was going on and we weren't going to let some corporation intimidate us. In the past few weeks I've started to figure out what's really going on but I was going to wait until tonight to relay the information to Rachel. I just didn't know that they would be doing it now. If we'd only had more time."

"Doing what? Who?"

"There were old legends that the natives used to tell. About a great terror from the sea. The end of the world. There were those who worshipped it and wanted the end to come."

"And what, this is the part where you tell me that 'all the old legends were true!' You want me to believe this?"

"Oh, you can choose not to believe it if you want." Dylan began to walk away. "Just don't expect me to peel your corpse off of the ground. Now follow me like I know you're going to."

Covered in snow, the field of snow was cast in a purple glow beneath the night sky. James and Shelley trudged through it awkwardly.

"******* Jim, if we weren't already so far into this I'd just turn around and go back to the cruiser."

"C'mon, we're almost to the treeline. I swear, that's where it went."

"What if it's a bear or some other thing that we don't want to find?"

"God, you used to be the fun one." Shelley shook her head resentfully.

When the finally reached the treeline, James stopped.

"What's the matter?," Shelley asked.

"I um, I think I saw something," James said dryly.

"Oh-ho, who's the big man now? You we-"

"Shelley, start running."


"Start ****ing running!"


The candle lit the cellar beneath the elementary school so feebly that Buddy could barely see his hand in front of his face. In his boredom, he became so enamored with the wax running down it's side that he almost reached for his gun when Rachel spoke.

"They should have been back by now."

"Don't worry, they've been doing this since Tuesday, just like us. They know how to keep out of sight."

"But who knows what could happen."

On cue, a knock came at the cellar door. Buddy and Rachel unholstered their guns and crept to the door, slowly opening it.

Shelley, Jimmy, and Dylan pushed their way in.

"****!," Jimmy said. "I thought we were ****ing dead!"

"What happened?" Rachel asked excitedly.

"It almost got us." Shelley replied. She and Dylan dumped a bundle of grocery bags full of random foodstuffs onto the table in the middle of the cellar. "And no, it didn't follow us."

"Good," Buddy said.

"Listen," Shelly began. "I'm getting tired of this. We can't just sit here. I want to kill this thing. It got my brother and god knows where my dad is. There's no one coming to help us and we can't just wait here and die."

"How do you expect us to stand against something like this?" Dylan said. "We at least have to wait it out. We don't know what will happen if it finishes it's job."

"Well, the end of the world, maybe," Rachel said.

"How many does it have left?" Jimmy asked.

"What we know," Dylan said. "is that it's gotten Scott, his wife, James, the bodyguards and Rich. That's six. It has at most seven more. Seven more it needs to feed on before it's done.."

8: Dharmacakra

Jimmy Casianos had looked into the eyes of Divinity, and She smiled back a starlet. The snow had bit his skin far worse than the fire at his front ever could, greedy satanic flames lashing the Juneau Lodge to splinters. But these even were Nothing before Her - the inferno merely a cast for the flesh pink nimbus of Her brilliance, the nihilism of the Alaskan winter only a willed counterpoint to Her radiance.

"You want to know what a hero is Jimmy?" Her thumbs were hooked through the belt loop of her designer jeans, her eyes roamed the stars with a cocaine edge, and him, crawling knees thick in tundra sludge. "They're God's bastards, Jim." As she crouched in the heavy snow. Her mouth twisted in a curious moue, a riddlemaster, eyes met. "From how I understand it, the Boys upstairs spent most of their time getting ****-faced on nectar and ambrosia and finding holes to sodomize and the time they weren't, well, they were slumming downtown. And the Greeks, for all their democratic spirit, Jimmy, didn't pay child support. I won't get into the psychological implications of that sort of upbringing because I figure that babble's mostly bull**** anyway. Gods are for the birds, Jimmy. What the world really needs is people who can listen. Can you listen, Jimmy?" He chattered. That was good enough. "And let me just say, Jimmy. I'm very sorry about that bullet Vinnie put in you. very sorry." She stroked a cigarette to life, lifted to her feet. "But you should survive that. Some people will come through and..." words trailed with the smoke. "There's something mean coming, Jimmy. All I'm asking you to do is survive it. Can you do that?" But now her back was turned, her body retreating towards the blindness of the fire. "Good. You'll know the bad guys. It's just like a horror flick."

So now he sits, lotus on a cot narrower than him, in the dingy basement of the school. A joint dangles from one hand, in the other a copy of Leviathan (2001) starring the cherubic starlet Andrea Portecue and directed by art film maniac genius Vincent Croft. It wasn't a bad flick really. It had a minute and a half topless scene. Buddy'd probably call it "a terrifying masterpiece of grotesquery that reinvents the genre of horror films entirely." Truth is, Buddy's kind of a tool. But the blurb on the back of the DVD's a little screwy.

And shall rise upon the Naught Land the great God-Beast
To raze our cities and culture despoil.
To raise a new land from progress and toil
For Its Skins shall be our lodging Its Flesh our feast.



Dylan's thick fingertips strum Rachel's side under the thick wool of her coat. They're coiled like lovers but dressed like winos, grasping in a world so withdrawn from Jimmy, the hazy aroma is the only bridge in the dark. He whispers against her ear, she against his neck.

"I just.... Buddy's so sweet and and--" Wet lips quiver on flesh.
He shifts beneath her, hands retreating back into the dark, tapping the shadows encircling their cot. "Jesus, Rach... You'd rather he know the truth? You know these **** suckers want us dead, Rachel. They killed Scott and... For God's sake, that guy Croft brutalized you like something out of a Polanski film! If 'rogue billionaire' Carrington hadn't showed, they'd have roasted you like a turkey by now and be eating cranberry sauce out of your cu--"
She reels up like a viper, eyes fire. Her palm leaves his cheek ruddy. "You're a real piece of ****, Dylan!" From her periphery, the cherry still glows on Jimmy's roach. Her eyes snap after, her voice dropping to a hiss. "I'm sick of telling lies. I'm sick of people dying for me." On her feet, she snatches the pack of Camels he'd been fumbling for. She lights her own, stuffs the rest in her pocket, snarls back. "I'm serious. **** yourself." And the shadows swallow her.

Dylan's fingers reach under the mattress, closing tight over steel. Lightless, he trains the pistol on the sound of her footsteps, stalking her body in his blind sights until the pale door to the outside opens, then closes behind her. You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.


"---just feels like we walked right into David Cronenberg's first reality show."
Shelly and Buddy cross the school's campus, leaning together against the wind and the snow. They are saddled with cafeteria goods.
"Anyway, I'd say it's more like Shamblers from Shoggoth."
Her nose scrunches, brow an arc. "That's more Lovecroft?"
"Whatever. All scary interstellar monsters aside---and I mean it, all scary intersteller monsters aside for real, I don't want to be talking about that---it's still weird. I mean, we have Ms. Scream Queen who's apparently decided she wants to trade places with the movie monster. And then, surprise! Here's Samuel Carrington for sweeps! And we all know he's evil, because he's an old white media tycoon --- except --- no way! He's friends with Dylan Che Guevara. Didn't Carrington make that really pandering green power cartoon?"
"You mean Admiral Ecoman and the Gaia Guardians."
"You are just a wealth of nerd knowledge, aren't you, Bud?"
"I know comic books too."
"Yeah, well. We're just damn lucky to have you on our side. Imagine the possibilities for evil--"
"I paint little inch high figurines of wizards and ogres too."
She gives a chapped smile. "It's endearing, really. Nothing's more charming than a guy who's dining room table sports the Battle of Middle-Earth. But there's too much of a charmingly inoffensive thing."
"So what you're saying is..."
"I'm saying I don't want to hear about Doctor Who or Battlestar Galactica or.... I want to talk about something normal."
So they walk in silence.
"Dylan scares the **** out of me." Finally.
"Look, I've worked with the guy for a little while, and he's intense, but that's just how he is. Passionate ecological poet and everything that entails..." Buddy's gloved hand rubs at the back of his neck, his eyes sidelonging to catch hers briefly, and the diplomacy cracks, the grin goes sheepish. "Yeah. He scares me too."
"He tells us all these horror stories about these monsters and Doomsday and all that ****, and how we're the only ones left to take care of it, but he doesn't really have us doing anything. 'Fortify our position' or whatever, but we don't take any sort of action to take care of this thing or even escape from this place. It's like he's waiting for something, but what the hell could he be waiting for?"
"The end of the world?"

Her bundle hits the snow, and before Buddy even registers, she's flinging into her brother's arms. His skull shifts like a rotten melon, the frayed slashes along his arms making gloves of his forearms - stripped to a vest, no worries of the cold anymore, every weekend's a Weekend at Bernie's - but for this moment it doesn't matter. That grin is his. Dopey like a sheep dog and, all due respects to the dead, socially imbecilic. L7.

"How are you---?"
"---please shut up and listen to me for once---"
"Freeze!" as in one fluid motion, Buddy flicks the gun from free the rear of his belt - real cool. straight gangster. He is Guy Ritchie's wet dream - and promptly sends it fumbling through the air. It hits snow.
"Shel. We were raised to be spectators. For Its rise."
"We?" Buddy, reconsidering his blind grasp for the weapon. He should just grab the girl and---
"---Eighth Spoke, they call themselves. New New Left funded on the wealth of their forebearers. Say we're just the hub on a greater wheel. Turning, turning, and when that last spoke turns the finish line, marked with a playing card maybe... eco-terrorist cultists. The symbolism, it's everywhere. Televised. What do you think Carr--"
"---DEAD BLACK ZOMBIE!" screams Shelly. Abraham grins white over James' shoulder.
"Holy ****, Shel. I'd be more worried about the corpse you're--" Mid-sentence Buddy knows, it's worthless. He lunges
"--cool. He's my bodyguard."
Flesh hits flesh, bone hits bone, frame hits frame. A crack shatters the sky, and they tumble. James stumbles and is gone from Buddy's Vertigo Vision. Twice more the sky crackles and Shelly's frame wracks the packed snow. Buddy atop Shelly, blue from bruise and cold, snow-water soaking already through her thick layers, and that gun of Buddy's a useless hunk of flesh feet away. It's over. The first shot was Rachel's, hit James somewhere inconsequential, because he's gone. And the second two, the revolver crack. This was Carrington, a Sam Eliot swagger as he steps to examine his mark - two entrance wounds where Abraham's eyes were.
The pistol trembles in Rachel's hand, cigarette bouncing obliviously where it's clung to her dry lip. "The **** do we do with that?"
"That, we dissect." Dylan's eyes gleam hyena yellow from the doorway.


Have fun, buddy.
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Chapter 9

A Zombie's Eye View

Everette Stoker was having a bad week. It started with one hell of a snowstorm moving into town. Then his kids went and got caught out in it. So of course the emergency calls started pouring in after they left. First it was the usual snowstorm calls. They'd range from "My Cat got out, what do I do?" to "Are the roads open yet?" "Can you see them?" "um... No?" Then they're not open. After a few hours it had seemed to settle down. Then the disturbing calls started. There was someone outside the Jefferson house. There was someone in the attic of the Samford place. Then the last one. Mr. Chico screaming "ITS HERE! ITS IN MY HOUSE!" until the line went dead.

Everette knew he had a job to do. He'd have done it too if it hadn't been for the man (Was it a man?) in the door frame. Everette had never seen him in town before. The man smiled, pulling his lips back and showing all his bright, white sharp teeth.

"Listen pal, I've got a crisis. Get out of my way or come help."

The man looked at Everette then said "Kill Yourself."

And Everette did. He pulled his service revolver and put one round into his temple.

Then his week got worse.

Everette lay dead on the ground, yet somehow he felt the spike slide into the base of his neck. He felt something cold start digging into him and make its way up and down his spine, into his brain and down to the bottoms of his feet. Then he felt his heart beat again.

At first he was overjoyed. He was sure that the shot had been a dream, a hallucination. He'd heard of people able to do things like that. Make you think all sorts of things had happened to you when all you've done is sit in a chair. Then the man in the door frame told him to follow and Everette 's body did just that. No matter what he did he couldn't get his body to respond. Trapped inside himself Everette was forced to watch.

He was forced to watch the people he'd sworn to protect be culled. Most of them were forced to commit suicide, then resurrected by what looked like a giant bee stinger stabbed into their neck.

He was forced to watch the strange blond woman use the resurrectees for her own gratification whenever the man from the door frame was gone.

He was forced to watch those that weren't immediately killed be fed to something horrific. A mass of tentacles seemed to make up its body. In the center was a cavernous mouth lined with razor like teeth that shredded the victims. The creature seemed to ignore th resurrected. Every so often the man would send one over to it to break off one of the spines at the end of its tentacles.

He was forced to watch his only son be sent out with another of the walking dead. He screamed in his head to stop but remained trapped.

And he was forced to listen.

"We're running out of time Vincent! You know that the unwilling ones aren't worth a tenth of a willing sacrifice!"

"Relax. We'll have the last of them soon. The girls brother and your old toy will get the last of who we need. Willing or not some are worth more. And if those two fail I've got one last play."

"And that is?"

"An inside man of course. Did you ever wonder who owned Leviathan Shipping?"

NEXT UP: Frapalino!
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Part 10: Flashpoint


"What we need is people who can listen. Can you listen, Jimmy?"


Dylan and Rachel, a few months younger, braced themselves as wave after wave of seawater hit the boat, the storm raging around them.


Rachel was in a darkened classroom, typing away at an old computer. Dylan was in the back of the room, inspecting the metal spike that once gave unlife to James.

"How's the decryption coming, Rach?" asked Dylan as he scraped at the spike with a knife. He had tried wrenching it open earlier, but that hadn't proved successful, so the wrench lay discarded on the desk-turned-worktable.

"Almost done," she said. "If you're right—and I pray to God you're right—there should be something on the disk that can tell us how to end this madness."

There was a pause, and then Dylan put the knife down on the desk. "Damn," He said, looking at the spike, his hands trembling slightly. "It gets louder the closer I am to its toys."

"Pardon?" Rachel turned around, only for Dylan to strike her with the wrench. Thrown out of her chair, and the metal taste of blood in her mouth she looked up to see Dylan taking out his gun. "Wha…what are you doing?"

"Doing what it says. Ever since we went on that boat ride, It's been speaking to me, in my head. It keeps talking and talking and talking and talking and it won't shut up until I do as it says." Dylan aimed the gun at Rachel, a pained expression on his face. "I'm sorry, Rach. I don't think I can stop listening anymore."

There was a gunshot. And ten minutes later, everyone was dead.


Jimmy's eyes snapped open to find himself lying on the same old cot. The door opened as Buddy walked in, bags of Doritos in his arms. "Brought you something. BTW, Carrington said he called some of his friends before coming out here. He thinks they'll be here around—"

"Where're Rachel and Dylan?" Jimmy said before Buddy could finish.

"…they're in Room 204, working on the CD and the…"

But by then, Jimmy had run out into the hall.

There was a pause, and then Dylan put the knife down on the desk. "Damn," He said, looking at the spike, his hands trembling slightly. "It gets louder the closer I am to its toys."

And then Jimmy ran into the room and punched Dylan in the face. Dylan fell to the floor, his jaw broken as he went into unconciousness.

"Pardo—what the hell are you doing?!!" screamed Rachel as she saw Jimmy assault her comrade.

Jimmy silently took Dylan's wrench and tossed his gun over to Rachel. "Get that thing finished with. We've got ten minutes before this place goes to hell."

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Part Eleven: "Must not all things in the last be swallowed by death?"

"It's almost time," said Vincent. "Are you ready?"
Andrea Portecue looked up at the Beast, which was hungrily devouring its unwilling victims, and smiled.
"I've always been ready," she said.
He handed her a gun. "Then you now what you must do."
She took the gun, and looked at it. She hesitated for a moment. "For Him," she whispered.
"For Him," replied Vincent reassuringly.
She brought the gun up to her head and fired. Andrea Portecue fell to the ground, dead.
"At last," whispered Vincent, bending down and stroking her hair as the Beast roared in ecstacy, "we can begin."

"What do you mean we have ten minutes?" said Rachel, swaying unsteadily as she looked down at Dylan.
"I mean," replied Jimmy through gritted teeth, "you have to finish decrypting that CD, because in ten minutes - nine, now - something is going to happen and we are all going to die."
Rachel sat down, and turned to the CD. "I hate to break it to you, Jimmy, but I can't do this in ten minutes. I'm close, yeah – but not ten minutes close. I mean, this disc - it's just weird. It's not like anything I've ever seen before. It's like it's not a program on it, but a living thing. If I had an hour, maybe two, I could figure out what it is, never mind how to use it –"
"We don't have an hour," said Buddy, running into the room. "We don't even have ten minutes. We have to leave – now."
"We can't leave yet," said Carrington. "Some friends of mine are coming over. They might be able to –"
"You're not listening!" screamed Buddy. Everyone looked at him. This wasn't like him.
"They're almost here."
"Oh, God," whimpered Jimmy.
"Who's almost here?" said Rachel.
"The undead. And they're being lead by Vincent."
Everyone looked at him, fear in their eyes. In that brief moment, Dylan suddenly woke, and leapt for Rachel.
"Aagh!" screamed Rachel as Dylan grabbed her gun. He pointed it at her, and attempted to mouth something through his broken jaw. All anyone caught was a series of gurgles and moans, and then Dylan brought the gun to his own head and fired.
"Oh, my God," said Rachel, falling back against the wall.
"Come on!" said Jimmy, grabbing Rachel up and pulling her towards the door as he motioned for everyone else to follow. "He's not important now. We have to go!" As he pulled her away, she grabbed the CD and put it into her pocket. She wasn't going to give up yet.
Everyone followed Jimmy through the house, and they found themselves outside in a snow-covered wonderland. They ran. Rachel turned to look behind her, and saw dozens, maybe hundreds of dead men walking towards them. And at their head, a smile on his face and a knife in his hand, was Vincent Croft.
There was an icy lake in front of them. No one was saying it, but they all knew: they couldn't circumvent the lake in time. They were running towards certain death.
They stopped at the edge of the lake. The undead were less than three minutes away.
"Who are your friends, Carrington?" said Rachel breathlessly, looking up at his dark figure.
"I'm afraid that they are just some ex-military folks. They contacted me about a week ago, and I told them to come find us."
"Ex-military? What do you have to do with the military?" said Rachel.
Carrington laughed. "This is not the place to discuss my sordid past, Rachel."
"We are all going to die in less than a minute," said Shelley. "Is there anything you can say or do that can help?"
"No," whispered Carrington. "There's nothing any of us can do."
"We all tried to change the world," said Buddy quietly. "We all tried to fix everything. To stop this. But what chance did we ever have? How could we have ever hoped to beat this thing?"
Everyone stared at him. The moaning sounds of the undead were almost upon them.
"I say we don't let them take us. We're here, now. And as much as we might want things to be different, they aren't. We may not be able to save the world, but at least we can deny them this last victory."
Everyone looked at each other, and Carrington sighed. "Alright. Let's do it."
And so it was that everyone turned their backs on the undead, and slowly dipped themselves into the freezing water.
"It's cold," whispered Jimmy.
They let themselves fall. Fall to the bottom of the ice-cold water. They didn't bother holding their breaths.

Rachel came sputtering to the surface moments later, gasping for breath. She grasped on to the edge of the ice, and climbed out of the water. She coughed up water, and hugged herself for warmth.
"Couldn't go through with it, eh?" said Vincent, standing over her. She looked up, fear in her eyes. And suddenly, there was a great shuddering sound, as if the Earth itself were dying.
"They're all dead," she whispered.
"Of course they are," Vincent snarled. "It couldn't have ended any other way Did you know, by the way, that Scott was dead before I eviscerated him?."
"What?" she asked, confused. It was a simple question.
"A better question is: why? I'll tell you. There's a certain - sacrifice drives the Beast, Rachel. You know that. Some of them are just more important. They ... remember. They know the past. They hold a piece of it in them. They are therefore more than our universe. Thirteen souls, do you remember? Well, we have them. Scott, his wife, the two bodyguards, James, Richard, Dylan, Buddy, Jimmy, Carrington, Andrea; we even got to one of Scott's four kids. Thirteen pieces of an old world that are made born anew. An ever-feeding beast."
"That's not thirteen. That's twelve," said Rachel. She feared where this was going. There was a roaring in the distance; it was steadily growing louder.
Vincent laughed. "Things fall apart. The center cannot hold! God, do you have any idea what that means?" He laughed again.
"What the **** are you talking about?" Rachel demanded, suddenly snapping out of her depression of cold and death. "My friends are dead, and the world is dying, and you quote some old poem!"
Suddenly, Vincent grew serious, and raised up the gun. "Thirteen willing sacrifices. All of this has happened before, and all of it shall happen again."
"I don't –"
And, suddenly, Vincent brought the gun to his head, and fired once.
The world fell. Darkness descended. There were teeth and tentacles, and Rachel grasped the glowing CD as she fell into the void.

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