Chapter 22: Back for the Attack

Episode 22: Back for the Attack

It was all empty…. Kodek was somewhere, somewhere familiar, wherever it was it looked like the interior of some low-brow insurance office. Maybe a bail bondsman? He didn’t know, and there was no one to ask. No one at all. All over the counter, the seats in the lobby, even the cheap IKEA coat rack, there was a ethereal layer of which might have been dust but what really looked like a fog, a fog was lingering around all the inanimate objects. It didn’t feel like much, and in fact, broke up into wisps of (smoke?) when Kodek touched the doorknob. Only when he went to turn the knob, to pull open the door and to get the fuck out of this creepy place that was starting to seem more like the House on Haunted Hill than some mundane insurance adjuster’s office, the doorknob did not turn in his grip. The doorknob cracked and crumbled (impossibly as it was clearly made of brass, or some brass-like metal) in Kodek’s hand, leaving brass-coloured chips and splinters that felt lick broken glass. The door opened anyway, and Kodek was glad, because now in his peripheral vision he was seeing things, dark things, things covered in black greasy fur and jet-black reptilian scales, but only in his peripheral vision – no matter if her turned his head to the left, right, or spun completely around, they were always there – peripherally – and never directly in his line of vision. Which of course, made him wonder if these things were there at all.

Time to get the fuck out of here.

He ran through the open office door and as his feet hit the pavement outside, he heard the door slam back behind him and this time something BIG shattered but he couldn’t turn to loo because he was down on his knees, trying to suck in the outside fog/air and grabbing at his cramping gut, and even if he could turns around it wouldn’t matter because the black (things?) were now starting to creep from his peripheral vision, like black smoke, taking over everything he could see. They were clouding his vision completely. They were everywhere.

His arms wrapped around his cramped stomach, he heaved over, leaning forward on his knees, and he had no choice but to let go of his stomach and hit his hand flat-out on the pavement to support himself while he dry-heaved. His eyes teared up now and through the distorting effect of the tears he could see the black (things) scuttling out from the sleeves of his coat, over his hands, scattering across the pavement and disappearing into (melting into) the fog ahead.

He heaved. Something came up., He spat. Black. It moved like a slug on the pavement where it fell beneath Kodek’s hanging face, but before he could become completely horrified with the site something else came up. Bigger. Longer. Like a slug, only bigger, like a snake, long, black, and he could feel the oil of the fucking thing coating his throat as it forced its way up and out ouf his moth, and then he was choking, tearing up more than ever, impossible to breath, and if he wanted not to choke to death there on the pavement in front of the smashed door of the insurance office (or whatever familiar place that was) he knew he’d have no choice but to-

He grabbed the oily thing with his bare hand and yanked at it, at first his hands slipped right over the slick scaly skin of the thing, but panic seized him and tightened his grip and he crushed the thing an PULLED and when it came free it screamed and Kodek though he may have yanked some of his own guts or throat out with the thing, his insides burned and the thing in his hands, being strangled now, twisted around and looked him right in the eye

Kodek woke up in a cold sweat. His bed sheets were soaked,. He touched his forehead. Totally wet. He felt his legs, his chest – soaked. Distressingly, his throat burned.

Fucking nightmare.

He thought about the panic, it lingered. He remembered reading somewhere that the word panic actually had its origin in the mythological Greek god Pan, who aided his foster-brother in the battle with the Titans by letting out a horrible screech and scattering them in terror. Hence, Pan-ic.

He grabbed his watch off of the nightstand and tried to focus his eyes, the fog in his vision dissipating as he squinted, then rubbed his eyes, to check the time. Aside from the lingering feeling of the night terror, the worst of it was that he knew he’d have to get up to now to go and see

Brain opened the door to his apartment and let Kodek in. Kodek glanced down for a moment then back at Brain and asked, “New rug?”

I’m having some work done here,” Brain told him. “You know, renovations”.

Sprucing up the old homestead,” Kodek weakly tried to be amiable.

Something like that,” the tone in Brain’s voice telling Kodek it didn’t work.

You smell like egg salad,” Kodek muttered.

Yeah, had that for lunch.”

Smells rotten,” he said under his breath, giving up the amiable angle once and for all. He’d just have to come to terms with the fact that he and Brain would likely never get along. In fact, he didn’t even really respect Brain all that much. Something in that hitman mind of his told him, distantly, that it might be a mistake to underestimate-

Take this,” Brain interrupted Kodek’s train of thought. “When you’re on the plane.”

The plane was soaring through the air across the continental United States to where, Kodek presumed, a car would be waiting for him. Aside from the crew, there were only two other employees of the Morimoto Corporation on board, neither of whom Kodek recognized. There was a fleeting thought where Kodek considered getting up out of his seat and making friendly conversation with the two suits, but then a stewardess brought over his glass of scotch and the thought dissipated like smoke from his hand.

Shattered doorknob

And thinking of his hand, he pulled it out of his jacket pocket and opened it. In the palm of his hand, the oily black thing could look like a slug if Kodek put him imagination into it – which he wasn’t sure he wanted to.

In bed, covered in sweat, Kodek thought about the slug in his hand and the snake being vomited from his mouth, and nearly gagged. He set the watch back down on the night stand and sat up quickly, closed his eyes tightly, and breathed in and out, even and slowly, trying to settle the spinning in both his stomach and his head. In the darkness of his mind, he had to wonder to himself: I didn’t really do that, did I?

He had to get up out of the airplane seat in order to get to the toilet at the back of the plane, he sure as hell wasn’t going to do what Brain had told him he had to do as part of the job

(the hit)

Pulling open the toilet door a lot harder than he’d intended – the back of the door slammed against the wall, though neither the two suits nor any of the crew bothered to look over at the noise it had made – he quickly shoved himself inside and slammed the door shut behind him, pulling it with the same hand that held the (slug) thing he was supposed to take as part of

The hit was to happen the same day… Land the plane (not him, the pilot), get escorted to a waiting car and the drive off to buttfuck nowhere in the middle of the country to find another – another what? Another fucking airport, that’s what what.

But why? Kodek wondered. Why all this trouble? Not for the hit, the hit obviously had to be done, no question of that. But why’d it have to be Kodek? Why all the expense of getting him out there–?

Kodek opened his eyes, sitting up in bed, and wondered which part had been real and which part had been the dream. The plane…?

Kodek looked at his reflection in the mirror in the toilet in the plane that was soaking through the air. He lifted the slug up to his face, considered hesitating, then thought better of it and shoved the thing into his mouth and chewed, it felt like an oily, crunchy gummy-candy that squirted something foul across his tongue and a scene that seemed to permeate his brain from the inside

Did you do it yet?!” Larry the Brain called from the other side of the door. Seeing his face in the mirror, Kodek quickly looked around Brain’s apartment bathroom and rested his eyes on the door handle – it was shut, but not locked.

With black ooze burning a trail down his chin from his mouth, Kodek practically leaped for the door and latched the lock-handle before Brain would try to enter. He took another chew of the thing in his mouth (not so bad on the second bite) but then reconsidered and turned to the toilet. What came out of his mouth was

Definitely part of his guts, Kodek could see now, in the fog outside of the insurance office (or whatever the hell office that had been). He could see the strangled black thing on the pavement now, and the tail-end of it had been a cluster of claws that looked like a Lovecraftian cat-o-nine-tales, and tangled in those razor talons was definitely flesh. Red flesh. Human flesh. Kodek found he was filled with trepidation at the thought of touching the liquid he could feel running down his chin from over his lips, even though his mouth was closed now.

It’s blood, he knew.

But when he pulled his hand from his face, sitting there in bed, his eyes showed him that it was only sweat. Sweat from the night-terror. That nearly waking nightmare of being on that plane.

Because there was no plane, Kodek knew, and suddenly, his mind finally clearing, he knew this as much as he knew for a hard fact that he had been there at that insurance office…

No, not the insurance office…

A skydiving training center.

Because when Kodek woke up, actually, truly woke up, he knew that the last place he’d physically been to was Brain’s apartment, and the bathroom inside that apartment.

And now he was in a car… He looked around, slightly groggily, at his surroundings outside the car windows. Eerily, he began to get his bearings, though he wasn’t entire sure he could recollect ever being here (where?) before. It was like his mind was being attacked by some in-reverse deja-vu.

But after a few moments, even the reverse-deja-vu feeling that had so thoroughly enveloped him easily dissipated, like —–

He started the engine, his car roared to life, and he saw his target leaving the rundown brick structure in his own white Oldsmobile. Kodek had a firm idea of where Skyboy (his target) was heading, and he duly followed, hanging back enough to be inconspicuous but not far back enough to lose Skyboy and his while Oldsmobile should he get stuck between a bad-luck string of traffic lights. Not that it mattered, Kodek reminded himself, it was unlikely this Saturday morning was going to be any different than any other Saturday morning in the last two months.

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