Cover: C.T. McMillan
Model: Megan Crawford (ING: @mleighmoon)
Copyright 2018 by C.T. McMillan
All Rights Reserved
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Also By CT McMillan
Back to Valhalla: A Military Fantasy
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.
The couch was pushed closer to the TV, making space for the carpet underneath. The corner was pulled over and held down by a portion of the floorboards nailed together. In the shadow of the crawl space sat a narrow strong box caked in layer of dust. Beside it was a square of dust where something had laid previously. Along the edge of the opening sat a plastic bag of money held in wads and a snub-nose revolver.
Kiddo stared at the ticker of the money counter at the workbench. As the machine counted a stack of 100s in the slot, her hand hovered over a pad of paper, pen ready. The paper was scrolled in numbers from top to bottom, the upper most sum increasing with irregular additions. Kiddo’s pen hung under the latest sum before the counter stopped. She scrolled the new total, added the values, and was nearly in tears.
The little tools and bits of circuitry hit the floor when Kiddo brushed them off the bench. In their place she lay on her back and pulled Enzo to her lips. It wasn’t much of a kiss because she couldn’t stop giggling. The other gear-heads around the body shop cheered.
“Get some, Enzo!”
“How much to lose the jacket, girl?”
They had to whisper close to hear each other over the noise.
“We did it,” she said.
Enzo got his answer when she grabbed his crotch.
“’Ey,” called Junior from the lobby door. “This ain’t a friggin’ cathouse! We got customers!”
“Why not give ‘em a show, Boss?” asked a gear-head.
Kiddo laughed aloud and stared at Enzo, nothing but joy between them.
“We’re having a baby,” she said.
“We’re having a baby,” he chuckled.
They kissed slowly, savoring every second.
Two duffle bags sat by the bed with Kiddo’s arms in their case. Enzo had on boxers as he dug through one of the bags, phone to his ear.
“San Francisco,” he said. “…I told you, just a week. That’s a fraction of the vacation time I have saved up. I deserve a little…” Enzo stood with a can of shaving cream. “Then put ‘Resa on it. She’s good. If not, then tell them I’ll be back in a week…” He walked to Kiddo soaking in soapy water and kneeled behind. “Junior, my clients know I’m going out of town, okay? This is pointless. You’re getting in the way of me packing… Okay, Junior. Good night.”
Enzo sighed before tossing his phone onto the bed.
“Every time we go on vacation, he gets like that,” said Kiddo.
“Thinks he’s going to lose me,” he said spreading a lump of cream on her temples. “Did Sally get back to you?”
“I gave her the key after I got home. She’ll check in after school.”
“Great,” he said putting a straight razor to her temples. “Let’s hope she doesn’t throw any parties while we’re gone.”
“So what if she has some fun, babe? It’s just an apartment.”
Enzo paused, pulling the razor away from his lover’s skin.
“…We should get a real house.”
“Yeah. Why not? Human kids need room and fresh air when they’re growing up. If they’re nose to nose in tight quarters for most of their lives, they’ll come out all wrong, like people born in zero gravity.”
Kiddo knew he didn’t mean anything by it, but the last few words hit a place that came through in her voice.
“How do you mean wrong?”
“Well, if you…” He realized what he’d done. “I’m sorry, I meant, uh–“
“–No. I get it… If we want to raise our son right, he needs the right environment. Out here its all concrete and glass under gloomy skies, packed in like cheap caviar. Pyongyang was worse. There was nowhere you could go buried in a city under a city. You had to fight for space or climb your way out. Seattle’s not bad,” she turned to him, “but it’s not good enough for our boy. We’re moving out and going somewhere he can grow as soon as possible. After Cici, there’s no point sticking around. All I care about is us.”
He touched her face.
“Where did you have in mind?”
She managed a shrug and smiled.
“Montana? You could be a tractor mechanic.”
“And you a sheriff’s deputy.”
“I could start my own gang. That’d be fun.”
Enzo just smiled before she turned back.
“We have time to decide,” he said. “Maybe we go farther than–“
He just finished the back of her head when the phone cut in.
“Leave me alone.”
“Maybe he wants to bribe you.”
“Wouldn’t surprise me.”
They let it ring to the end, but it didn’t last long.
“What’s this guy’s malfunction?” asked Kiddo.
“I’ll threaten to quit.” He stood. “One sec.”
“No, babe. Just let it ring. I’ll break his collar bone before we leave in morning.”
Enzo put the phone to his ear.
“Junior, I told you–“
The sudden silence didn’t catch her attention; it was Enzo’s stutter that followed.
“You okay? Enzo?”
He faced her, the phone falling away. His movement was sluggish and eyes peeled wide, mouth half open. It was like he was learning to walk for the first time, each foot reaching random distances toward the tub.
Kiddo couldn’t move, watching him walk faster.
She got to one knee before Enzo put a hand around her neck. He pushed down, but Kiddo braced her self enough to force him to slide her to the other end of the tub. The faucet and nobs dug into her back while Kiddo jerked her neck slightly loose to scream.
“Stop! You’re hurting me!”
“Uh-uh-uh-suh-“ he said bringing the razor in a shaking hand toward her throat.
Fighting the cold metal pressing to her spine Kiddo pushed her foot into his bicep. The more she applied pressure, the harder he squeezed, and the closer the blade came.
“Please!” she gagged. “Why!”
One of Enzo’s eyes twitched and his grip gave way, not enough to let go.
“Suh-suh-top! Muh-me-ee!” Enzo’s face scrunched as his head twisted to the sides. “Stop me!”
His hand with the razor shook harder as he brought the edge to his other wrist. His blue-black skin broke with a gush of white blood, turning the tub water white.
“Don’t! You’ll bleed out!”
Enzo jerked himself backward, dropping Kiddo’s head on the faucet. She landed on her side, the little cut below her pink hair spilling crimson. Enzo was staggering away, sawing his wrist with a growl interrupted by the stutter. His legs didn’t let him go far, forcing him to kneel before dropping the razor.
Kiddo watched Enzo punch himself. After a couple licks his arms convulsed and swung away.
“Geh-geh-get the gun! Get the gun, babe!”
The word escaped her lips before she thought of saying it.
“You have to stuh-uh-”
He craned his head to the bags by the bed. Enzo staggered over, tiring to ground himself.
Kiddo ignored the hot blood crawling down her back when she leapt into him. Enzo hit the floor, but was already shambling upright.
“Sorry,” she said before bolting to her arms.
With her foot she flipped the case over and spilled them out. Only the left arm was positioned with the clamps facing up. Kiddo went to the floor and put her anchor into the connector. The clamps twitched as she attempted alignment. The way she was laying she could see Enzo getting closer.
Kiddo bit her lip when the clamps came down and squeezed her eyes shut, giving out a loud groan. When the pain stopped she shot up to a knee and grabbed the snub-nose just as Enzo brought it to her face. It was pointed past her right eye, fractions of an inch away from brain matter. His other hand, the one he’d sliced to ribbons, was pushing her in front of the muzzle by the shoulder. Tears streamed from his bugged eyes.
“–Let go of the gun, babe. Fight it.”
Enzo pulled Kiddo harder while her arm trembled with a whine.
“If I can get my other arm–“
“–You let go, yuh-uh-uh-die–“
“–Shut-up and fight!”
She was bright red, teeth clenched, eyes on the verge of leaking. Somehow, through the crazy mask over his face, Enzo looked content. He knew there wasn’t any other way except one; the one he didn’t want to take. She could see it and it scared her to death. And then Kiddo realized the gun was turning on himself.
“No. No! Let go! Let go right now!”
Her arm was too worn out to put up much effort, whining louder. Kiddo sobbed.
“Don’t do this to us! I need you! Wait!”
His hand on her shoulder kept her from pushing the sub-nose out of the way with her head.
“Stay with me! Enzo!”
The pistol was close enough that the gunshot came out as a piercing ring. Kiddo’s equilibrium was thrown out of whack, but didn’t move a muscle as Enzo fell with a hole above his left eye. Her whining arm still held the sub-nose by the barrel before she dropped it. Kiddo looked at him slummed on the floor, the guts of his brain splatter behind.
It didn’t seem real. This was a nightmare. This was a horror movie and Kiddo was seated center-row with the full picture before her eyes. It didn’t seem real until she felt the white blood go cold on her face.
The ringing persisted as Kiddo struggled to cry, choking on her own breath. She reached for Enzo and fell on top of him, his open eyes staring up. Kiddo stroked his hair and pulled his cheek to hers. She heaved on the floor, chin quivering, but nothing came out. Behind her Sally stood in the doorway with a phone to her ear and hand on her mouth.
Kiddo Volk will return…
Blade Runner, Directed by Ridley Scott
Deus Ex: Human Revolution/Mankind Divided, Created by Eidos Montreal
Blade Runner 2049, Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Altered Carbon, Created by Laeta Kalogridis
Ghost in the Shell, Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Neuromancer, By William Gibson
Metropolis, Directed by Rintaro
R.U.R., By Karel Capek
Yojimbo, Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Westworld, Created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy
A Touch of Evil, Directed by Orson Welles
Battle Angel Alita, By Yukito Kishiro
On the Waterfront, Directed by Elia Kazan
About the Author
C.T. is a Florida native and proud gun owner. He is a fan of all things military, comic books, and a self-proclaimed movie buff. In his off-time C.T. reviews movies on a blog no one reads and writes screenplays that will never get made, but enjoys it nonetheless. He hopes this book thing will actually pay off so he can do it forever.