Chapter 27: Not Now John

Episode 27: Not Now John

Kodek sat in his car with the engine revving. He wasn’t sure what (who?) he was waiting for, but he was pretty fucking sure it was no-one (nothing). Vrooooom. The building behind him was already exploding. Fuck that, it was done. Hit the ground. Fucking dust. It used to be a building, now it was only shit. Sand. Rubble. Dust. Nothing (no-one). Used to be something, used to be a newspaper building, but nah, fuck all of that, the Editor-in-chief (Kodek’s Editor-in-chief) was involved with some kind of German plot to drive Kodek insane, he was sure of it. Okay, so maybe there wasn’t any evidence, but that didn’t really matter, because Kodek still had that box of dynamite from that Wages of Fear job he’d done for the Morimoto Corp back in ’89 and so… So what? What was he thinking again? Not much. Only… that Jack of Hearts killer from the west coast. Yeah, he’d been pretty quiet lately. Of course, Kodek had the thought that the Bear of Berlin was somehow trying to pin all those bloody serial killings on him… Good luck with that, now. Hooray for dynamite, right? Besides, the Metro News(paper) had too much evidence… far too much… all stored down in the… Kodek lifted the CB radio receiver’s microphone from the dash of his car and clicked the button. “Did you know that the major fire accelerant from the 9/11 disaster was office paper? No shit. The fuel started the fire and all the paper just-” Kodek was cut off by yelling that seemed to stab him in the brain, so he flicked the radio off and sat back in his seat and wished he was in a movie theater. Watching what? What’s out now? Christ, he’d just looked in the local newspaper listings not half an hour before destroying the entire fucking building and then – sirens…

This might be the signal of some sort of major shift in trajectory in Kodek’s life, he (hoped) and blinked his eyes open as was nearly 66.7% shocked to see that he wasn’t at the end of the block where he’d just blown down the entire Metro News building of-course-not-that-was-last-fucking-week-! but at the corner and there was a bank (no not a bank wake the fuck up) just some second-rate pawn shop and-

The back door of the car SLAMMED shut “DRIVE, MOTHERFUCKER, DRIVE!!” and Kodek’s foot hit the gas and they were off and suddenly the world was shifting into what Kodek hoped to Christ was not any sort of focus, because he definitely did NOT like this kind of clarity, but then-

It was too late, really, wasn’t it? Kodek’s mind tracked back, let’s review:

Girlfriend pregnant – check.

Building of former employment, burnt to the ground – check.

Involved in some sort of high-speed getaway, driving, with the cops and sirens right on the tail – check.

I’m a hitman for the Morimoto Corporation. Check.

I’m the west coast Jack of Hearts serial killer – Not Sure.

Okay, so leave that one for later, but Kodek had this feeling in the cockles of his heart that that last thing was nowhere near the truth. Well, the first part of the last thing, not the Not Sure part.

Where are we going, anyway? The wheel was gripped under the white knuckles of Kodek’s hands, and his foot was pressed to the floor. Vrooooooom.

Where are we going, anyway?” Kodek ventured to the lone gunman in the back of his car, but when Kodek glanced up to the mirror, he saw two guys (not including himself). What the hell?

Did you fucking forget already?!” Anger from the back seat.

Sorry,” Kodek offered, “I’m not myself lately”.

Who is?” – from the other guy. True enough.

They were already speeding through the streets and Kodek’s hands were working like they were on auto-pilot and he figured he must’ve been the getaway driver. Quickly, his mind went through the alphabet of car chase films. B is for Bullit, C is for Cannonball Run, D is for Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, E is for some film he couldn’t think of but F is for French Connec-

CRASH.

His fault or mine? Kodek’s eyes fluttered open and he saw the fluorescent lights of the hospital room. How long…?

When Kodek was released he went down to his car. Someone had parked it, or had had it parked, in the hospital parking lot. He made a mental note to find out how such a thing would happen, but a few minutes later the mental note faded away and never resurfaced. He was alone. He wasn’t sure what had happened to the other two guys who had been in the back seat, but when Kodek looked through the back window, he saw that the bag was still there.

Before turning the ignition key, Kodek twisted his body and reached behind him for the bag. Bringing it up to the front seats, he unzipped it, and he liked the sound of the zipper teeth un-catching.

Inside the bag, not what he’d expected.

It was a creature. Some sort of alien space creature. He figured it might be important, but he couldn’t figure why and thinking about it was starting to make his brain itch from inside his skull.

The phone rang. Kodek noticed that someone had been kind enough to charge it for him. He wondered…

Hello?”

Kodek, it’s Brain.”

Figured.

They want you for a wheelman now.”

I’m a hitma-” Kodek cut his words off when he saw the nurse passing his room stop and hoist an eyebrow. He gave her the finger and she went on her way.

Not anymore,” Brain said. “Or you can do both, whatever, I don’t really care. But you’ve gotta come see me, we have orders.”

We?”

Well, I have orders to give to you – which are your orders. Look, you coming or not?”

No.”

See you in half an hour,” Brain said.

I can’t I’m in the hospital.”

It’s a fucking scratch, Kodek, slap a Band-Aid on it and man up, will you?”

What the fuck do they want to hire me again for, anyway? I crashed the first car, didn’t I?”

Not your fault. The car was rigged. There was a bomb under the engine. In fact, the Morimoto Corp is more impressed with how you managed to come out of this with just a couple of scratches. Now come one, get your pants on and take a can over to my place. I’ll have everything you need waiting for you, along with those orders I was talking about.”

Subtle, Kodek thought, how Brain kept mentioning the fact that he was being ordered to do this. At least he didn’t have that extra-curricular job to worry about now, though the spending money had been nice.

And get out of there soon,” Brain said, and just then the nurse who had just walked by re-appeared with another nurse in tow (as if for backup, perhaps?)

Ahem,” the first, unimpressed nurse cocked her eyebrow at him again. “No cellular phones, please.”

Kodek nodded and signaled that he’d be done in a second. Brain’s voice through the phone again: “I hear the police are on their way to talk to you about the Metro News building downtown.”

Oh yeah, Christ…” he mumbled off, thumbed of the cellular phone – which at least got rid of the two snarky nurses for the time being – and went about looking for his pants, which seemed to have disappeared.

Twenty-three hours after an uneventful escape from the hospital and following the cab ride to Brain’s apartment, and then having to withstand his misguided idea of a cup of tea and witty conversation (as well as the pretension) Kodek was back in a car, a 1977 metallic blue GTO with the engine running low while parked at the edge of the curb. He was alone in the car and he kept thinking back to the film The Terminator where Kyle Reese was parked on the side of the road in a stolen vehicle when he awakens from a futuristic nightmare where robots have taken over the planet – and were trying to kill him. Heavy stuff. Kodek looked around through the car windows and could see nothing but industrial buildings and one construction site surrounding him and his parked (but calmly revving) GTO. What the fuck are we doing way out here? he wondered. What kind of heist was this supposed to be-

And just then, he saw them hurrying towards the car. He leaned over and calmly opened the passenger door for them – the Bear of Berlin and his American doppelganger, Kodek’s former Editor-in-Chief at the Metro Newspaper. They were both dressed in black from neckline-to-toe, and Bear was hefting a heavy-looking jet-black hockey bag. The door slammed shut, and Kodek revved the engine and pulled away from the curb, calmly, there was no chase. No cops. Everything was just fine. He took a glance in the rearview mirror as they pulled up to the fist intersection and saw that both Bear and Chief were smiling. Well, maybe not smiling, exactly, but they seemed fairly pleased with themselves.

And then something punched from inside the black hockey bag. A hard punch, no mistaking. Kodek kept driving, but his eyes desperately wanted to rove back to the rearview.

And then it punched again. This time, his eyes went to the mirror reflexively and he saw that neither Bear nor Chief looked particularly pleased any longer. In fact, they appeared downright concerned.

You want me to pull over?” Kodek asked, and for a full thirty-two seconds received no reply.

Maybe you should go faster,” Bear suggested. But Kodek didn’t like the sound of that. Go faster, draw more attention. Bad attention. Cop attention. Right now, they were cruising nicely and Kodek aimed to keep it that way.

And then the back …or the thing inside the bag… punched again, one, two, three times in rapid succession and then abruptly stopped. Kodek could hear the sound of the zipped sliding open.

Hey Kodek….?”

Yeah, Chief?”

You still got one of those uzi 9-millimeters up there in the front with you?”

No. Under the seat.”

Bear reached down under the driver’s seat from the back there–

No,” Kodek corrected, “The other seat.”

Chief reached down and pulled out the machine gun.

You think that’s necessary?” Kodek asked, but he was afraid he already knew the answer to that one.

Damn it.

Hey, Chief,” Kodek glance sporadically to the rearview mirror.

Yeah?”

Ask you something?”

Chief shrugged. “Yeah, sure.”

How’d you get involved with all this?”

The Chief grinned. “I’m in the media business, son,” he said, as if that explained it all. And then at his feet, the bag tore open.

And then all hell really broke loose.

What was inside the bag, punching, was not one thing/animal, but rather fucking shitloads of them. Black snake-like fuckers with impossible wings shaped like cobra-lizards, only jet black, and they swarmed the interior of the car, both slithering and flying across the interior, turning the inside of the GTO back as a tomb and leaving trails of black slime behind them wherever they touched or slithered across. Some of them hit the windows and then broke into several hundreds smaller flying beetle-shaped things. The car was suddenly filled with screaming, and the last thing Kodek saw before the world literally flipped around (through the windshield, at least) was the half-eaten face of his former Editor-in-Chief half-obscured out of the rearview mirror. Wetness hit him in the back of the head, and he wasn’t sure of it was the Chief’s blood and flesh or if it was some of those slimy flying beetle-snake pieces. Whatever is was, Kodek had already gone far beyond freaking out and the GTO had hit the curved cement barrier which is what had sent the getaway vehicle up into the air, flipping over-

After the GTO hit the pavement roof-side down, the windows shattering out, Kodek and Bear made a break for the side of the road. Blood was mixed with jet-black slime and the wetness was everywhere, driving Kodek to the edge of madness. He was slightly surprised to see that he had the uzi in his hand, and when he looked over to Bear he saw that Bear had a 9-millimeter pistol. When they got to the forest-lined edge of the road, like idiot, they turns and opened fire on the black things. That worked for a few seconds, some of the bigger snake-shaped things exploding into some foreign liquid, but the beetle-ones kept coming, and they were much harder to hit. When Bear and Kodek ran out of bullets, they were impossible to hit. And even worse, those beetle-things bit.

It’s got my neck!” Bear screamed, flailing around, still holding his spent pistol, trying to whack at the beetle-things and missing, blood spurting from his neck. Kodek couldn’t deal with the things and Bear’s screaming, so he butted the side of the uzi against Bear’s forehead and dropped the German hitman on the forest floor with a THUMP. As soon as Bear was knocked out, the damn beetle-things took off, left him alone. Of course, his neck would was still bleeding out, but…

Kodek was trying to figure out a way to knock himself out, but he was too busy taking up all the screaming efforts now, as the black things, both the cobra-ones and the beetle-ones (and now there were so many more, spider-ones, tentacled-ones, malformed-melty-looking-blue-black-bird-ones), and they were all biting, pecking, injecting, stinging, attacking, and Kodek forgot his mouth was open and screaming and when he thought to close it it was too late – and he bit the head right off of one of the long thin ones and he felt the head-half snake down his throat, and he was choking on the thing’s black-oil blood, choking, and panicking, and still flailing even as he dropped to his knees and tried to clutch his throat-

He hit the forest floor, face-down.

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