Friendship: Part Two

Jonathon sat in a bar on the third moon of Ethyl. He downed his third whiskey and looked around the bar. The walls were made of wood on the inside, but that was just panelling, the outside was made of some kind of secretion they make. The bar was Earth themed on the inside, the walls were bedecked with random traffic signs, records, and newspapers. 

As he was surveying the bar, someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around, and all he saw was a fist. 

Jonathon woke up in some kind of holding cell. He looked at the walls of the cell, and saw they were some kind of transparent light barrier. Jonathon spit at the barrier and it ran down the side. Solid then, doesn’t appear to disintegrate anything… He felt at his holsters to see if his captor was smart enough to take his guns, unfortunately his captor was. Jonathon felt the inside of his boots and saw his decoy knives had been taken. He felt along his inner thigh and felt that his hidden knife was still there.

Jonathon scanned the room for cameras, and saw one at every corner of the room, offering a 360 view of him. Jonathon was about to try to stealthily maneuver his knife when he heard a voice.

“You’re awake.” The voice was raspy and deep, definitely Klax-On.

“Indeed I am.” Jonathon looked around the room, but it was too dark to see where the speaker was standing.

“Good.” The speaker walked around in the shadows, Jonathon could hear his boots, but couldn’t quite pinpoint it.

“So, what do you want? The bounty? I assume I still have a bounty.” Jonathon stood to his feet and kept looking for the source of the voice.

“I want you to hurt…” The Klax-On lingered on that last word, savoring it like the last bite of a fine steak. 

“Well, then- AGH!” Jonathon howled in pain and collapsed to the floor as a massive current surged through his body. Jonathon writhed on the floor for a moment and the current stopped.

“I want to hurt you, like you hurt me…” The Klax-On’s voice was dripping with malice.

Jonathon gasped for breath and slowly sat up. “I’m sure, we could work something- AGH!” He fell to the ground again as he was electrocuted. The current continued for about a minute, then ceased. Jonathon gasped for breath and stayed on the ground.

There was a beep and the walls of the cell came down. Jonathon looked up, and a four armed humanoid in black and gold armor stepped into the light, with a large knife in one of his hands. He had an obscene scar on his face, and Jonathon couldn’t shake the feeling that he’d seen him before.

“Kill me then.” Jonathon glared up at the Klax-On.

“Get up.” The figure stood over Jonathon as he slowly stumbled to his feet. The Klax-On punched Jonathon in the face, sending him falling back down to the ground. “Up.”

Jonathon made no response.

The Klax-On delivered a sharp kick to his ribs. “Up.”

Jonathon rolled over, and looked up. “Just do it.” Jonathon coughed up some blood, and got back to his feet. He swung a fist, but the Klax-On easily stepped out of the way, sending Jonathon tumbling to the ground again. Jonathon reached into his pants and pulled out his knife. Jonathon shouted as he rushed the Klax-On, but he just grabbed Jonathon’s arm, twisting it behind his back. There was a crack and a clang as Jonathon’s arm broke and he dropped his knife. 

Jonathon shouted and fell to the ground in pain. The Klax-On kicked him in the ribs.

“Get off my ship.” The Klax-On pointed to a door. He walked over to a panel on the wall and the door slid open.

Jonathon stumbled towards the door, making no witty remarks, and coughing up blood on the way.

“Wherever you go, I will be following, and each time I catch up will be worse than the last.” The Klax-On slowly walked behind Jonathon, once he was by the door, he kicked Jonathon to the ground outside of the ship and slammed the door shut. The ship took off to the skies.

“Jonny!” Jonathon looked up and saw Laura running towards him from the bar he was at earlier. Jonathon opened his mouth, and collapsed to the ground.

 


 

[Previous Part]

 

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Friendship: Part One

This is a previously established character, the past entry doesn’t really matter for understanding this one, but here’s the link: That’s A Myth

 

Jonathon waited quietly behind a pile of boxes in a large warehouse. He peaked over the boxes and saw the guard was almost right where he wanted him. He looked over at Laura who was behind a different stack of boxes and nodded. Laura nodded back. Jonathon leapt out and took his shot, blasting the guard to the ground. 

“Halt!” 2 Klax-On guards shouted, as they leveled their weapons at him.

“Alright, surely we can work something out.” Jonathon slowly raised his hands in the air, while secretly flipping a switch on each of his guns.

“No. You are under arrest.” The two guards advanced on him.

“Well, I was hoping that we didn’t have to do this, but…” Jonathon pulled the triggers of both of his guns and blasts fired out of the bottom of each of the handles. The two guards fell to the ground.

Jonathon sighed with relief and lowered his guns. Through the main door to the warehouse, entered a hundred Klax-On soldiers.

“Shit…” Jonathon muttered. Jonathon pressed a button on his wrist, but nothing happened. “Shit!” 

“Jonathon I need more time.” Laura’s voice came in his ears. “They’re headed my way.”

“Shit…” Jonathon looked around the room and saw a pile of crates leading up to a large shelf, that ran across the entire room. Jonathon sprinted to the pile of boxes and began the climb. 

Jonathon pulled himself up boxes and clambered onto the top of the shelf. He paused a moment to catch his breath, then fired both of his guns a few times.

“Alright boys!” Jonathon shouted to the hoard of Klax-On soldiers. “Let’s play king of the hill.”

Jonathon began to pick off Klax-Ons, as the hoard advanced onto the shelf. The soldiers began to make their way to the same stack of boxes Jonathon had climbed, and Jonathon stood near the edge, picking them off as they climbed. Slowly the hoard advanced up the makeshift staircase, climbing on the bodies of their fallen comrades. Suddenly, Jonathon’s guns began to hiss and the triggers locked up. 

“Shit.” Jonathon holstered his guns and sprinted the other way. Jonathon heard and felt the shelf shaking as the hoard stormed towards him. “Laura! You’re out of time!”

“Alright, meet me where we came in.”

“Copy.” Jonathon was almost at the edge of the shelf. He saw the drop, it was about 3 stories down. Normally the Klax-Ons would use a lev-cart, but Jonathon didn’t have one of those, so he was left with few options. He examined the back wall of the warehouse above the hole, and saw there was a bar about halfway down. “That might just do it…” 

Jonathon didn’t pause as he leapt off of the shelf, legs still kicking. He reached his hands above his head, ready to grab the bar and possibly dislocate his shoulders. Jonathon managed to wrap his hands around the bar and catch himself. “Shit!” He yelled as his shoulder popped out of its socket. He let go of the bar and dropped the remaining way to the floor. The impact certainly didn’t feel good, but he was fine.

Jonathon saw Laura sprint past him through the hole they had made in the wall, and Jonathon followed. They ran through the hole and into an alley. The alley was empty, but for a few doors, and a ladder. Laura jumped up onto the ladder and was onto the roof in seconds. Jonathon jumped up and caught the ladder, and made his way up. 

A hand grabbed Jonathon’s leg, almost yanking him off of the ladder, but he caught himself. He looked down and saw a Klax-on wearing what looked like a motorcycle helmet. The Klax-on gripped tightly, and Jonathon yelled in pain. 

Laura approached the edge and slid Jonathon a gun. Jonathon took his shot and the Klax-on dropped to the ground. Jonathon looked down for a moment and saw a smoking hole in the helmet’s visor. 

“Alright let’s go!” Laura pulled Jonathon the rest of the way onto the roof, and the pair hopped into their ship.

 


 

[Next Part]

 

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Nemeses

Content warning: Hospitals, blood, cancer, and death.

 

Cosmus reclined in a sterile white bed, swaddled in sterile sheets. Tubes and wires ran from around his body into various beeping instruments. Everything in here was cold and unfeeling, it all felt like death. If he got a chance, he would certainly take some notes from these designers on how to make a sinister room. He laughed at the thought, but a stabbing pain throughout his chest put an abrupt stop to that.

The clocks ticking ran in stark contrast to the beeping metronome that had been driving his lifelong performance. The clock ran steadily, unaffected by the comings and goings of mortals. More importantly, the clock read 12:58.

He turned his attention to the television. Two reporters were interviewing a rookie super, about the potential whereabouts of the cities most infamous villain. They speculated all sorts of wild things. Perhaps he was making his most elaborate scheme yet, or wreaking havoc unbeknownst to the public. Perhaps he had simply given up evil, one of the reporters posited. The rookie laughed, some people are just rotten to the core, he said. He’s more right than he knows.

There was a faint knock at the door. Cosmus looked up to the clock, 1:01. A tall man walked into the room.

“So you came.” Cosmus grinned.

“Cosmus?” The man stepped back, and deployed a shield. “What’s your play here?” He glanced around the room rapidly.

“My whole life, I’ve had a plan, something up my sleeve. Today? No. No plan, no scheme.” Cosmus let out a wheezing laugh, but was once again interrupted by the pain.

The man lowered his guard a little. “Then why am I here? Why are you here for that matter?”

Cosmus looked downwards, and his grin faded. “Micah… I’m dying.”

Micah stepped forwards a little bit, and began to look Cosmus over. “You’re… What?”

“Its cancer.” Cosmus shook his head. “Stage four.”

Micah dropped his guard completely. He had likely taken in the full sight of the frail man in front of him. “How long?”

“How long have I got? The doctor said a few days at most.”

Micah was silent for a moment. “How long have you been in here?”

“I blacked out and woke up in a pool of blood a couple of weeks ago. I called an ambulance, and woke up again in this bed.” Cosmus sighed. “The doctor said this has been brewing for at least a year. I knew something was up, I just thought it wasn’t anything this major. Evil never rests, ya know?” He started to laugh again, but broke into a coughing fit. Blood spatters flew onto the sheets.

Micah paced around the bed, and the pair was silent for a moment. The competing metronomes filled the room once more, until Micah spoke. “Why did you call me here?”

Cosmus looked down again. A solitary tear rolled down his cheek. “Micah, I’ve never been much of a family man. I prioritized my studies and my career over that kind of thing. Any family I did have, I used and manipulated, until they couldn’t stand me anymore. I haven’t seen any of them in decades. I don’t have a lot of friends, since I can’t exactly get out much, being the face of evil in this city. Just to get a hospital room I had to call in several favors and bribe several people.” He went quiet again, another tear rolled down his face, merging with the last. “Micah, you’re the closest thing I’ve had to a friend in decades. You’ve always been there with me. Sure on opposing sides, but there was a kind of pageantry and sportsmanship to it.”

Micah sat down on the edge of the bed and rubbed Cosmus’s shoulder wordlessly.

“I’ve sat in this bed alone for two weeks, and I’m dying.” Two new tears came streaming down. He weakly gripped Micah’s hand with his less intubated arm. “I’m scared of dying, Micah… I’ve been a bad guy. I’m not sure about any kind of afterlife, but if there is one, I’m pretty sure I’m going to hell.”

Micah was silent for a moment, some tears of his own ran down his cheeks. “I’m so sorry…”

The heart rate monitor started beeping more rapidly. The sound began to drown out that of time’s metronome, and all others.

“Micah, I’ve got a will.” Cosmus was speaking faster now, and panic was rising in his voice. Tears now readily fell down his face. “I want you to use all of my things for good, to help atone for some of my misdeeds. I have a base out in the plains. A message telling you how to access it will follow after my death.”

Micah bowed his head, tears streamed across his scarred cheeks in cascading rivers. “I will…”

The beeping grew even louder and more rapid. Cosmus was now sobbing speaking only between heaves. “I don’t want to die… God I’m so sorry!” His wailing grew louder, but garnered no attention from hospital staff. Suddenly his wailing stopped. His eyes bulged, and he moved his hands around his neck.

“Nurse!” Micah bellowed, but to no avail. The beeping accelerated and crescendoed for a moment, but then suddenly stopped, replaced by a steady tone. Time’s metronome ticked onwards in a terrible duet. A man poked his head into the room, and upon seeing the monitor, shouted out of the room for help, before charging in.

Though the man fought on, he could not help. Cosmus and time played their duet, until the monitor was unplugged.

 


 

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Hammerston Heroes: Part Six

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As promised, Casey woke us up bright and early, and piled us into her truck to go to the sheriff. Now we were in the back of her truck, making our way through town. Dale, Tim, and I had sorted out our story last night, so I feel pretty good about this.

I look out the window, and watch the people go by. I’m surprised by just how many people I don’t know. I guess I’ve been making fewer outings into town these days, but I wasn’t expecting it to get so big overnight.

After a few minutes, we pull up outside of the sheriff’s office, and step out of the truck. I take a deep breath and nod to Dale.

“Don’t worry Tim, the sheriff knows me.” I smile as reassuringly as I can, and lead the way into the sheriff’s office.

There’s a man standing behind the reception desk, messing with a pile of paper. Bobby Brown. He’s been a deputy here for a while. He turns to us as we walk in. “What can I do for ya?”

“Howdy, Bobby, I’m Jimmy Miller, and I gotta talk to the sheriff.” I nod my head.

“Oh, hey Jimmy.” He nodded back. “He’s busy right now, but I’ll…” He looked to the door and his eyes opened wide.

I turn around and see that Tim just walked in behind me. I can’t quite decide whichone of these poor boys looks more terrified.

“That’s… Uh.” Bobby stammers. “Yeah, I’ll get him for you.” He runs off into the back.

I wait until he’s gone, and turn to Tim. “Don’t worry, fella. We go way back, so there won’t be no trouble here.”

Tim nods nervously, and clearly doesn’t believe me. Oh well, I tried.

After a few moments, an older man stepped out from the back, and made his way over to us. He nodded as he saw the tentacle man for himself.

“Jimmy, what exactly is going on here?” He looked behind them and saw Casey. “And what’s the metal girl doing with you?”

“Well, it’s a long story, so do you mind if we sit down somewhere and I can explain the situation?” I gesture towards where he came from.

“Alright, come with me. Let me grab a pen.” He made a stop by the desk and went back.

It took a couple of hours, and a lot of coffee, but I eventually ran the man through everything that had happened. Casey, Tim, and Dale all backed me up on the parts of the story they’d seen.

“Alright.” He nods slowly and looks down at his notepad. “So, tell me if this sounds about right… Dale saw some suits doing something shady, you went to check it out, and got ran off the road. You only lived because you can control plants. You then stole some of O’Reilly’s dirt bikes, and almost ran him over. You heard a cry for help, and made your way over to the tent, and you shot a couple of guys along the way. That’s where you found Tim. He said he was being tortured by the suits, specifically ‘Vertech’, and you took him into town to get a hotel. That’s where Casey found ya, while doing vigilante justice, and offered you a place to sleep, and now you’re here?”

I think about it for a moment. He hit all of the highlights, and I don’t think he missed anything important. “Yeah, Will, that sounds about right, yes.”

He clicks his pen and puts it and the pad on the table. “Good lord, Jimmy.” He shakes his head, and puts his face in his hands. “Alright. I’m gonna make a couple of phone calls. I don’t really know what the hell to do here, so just wait for me. Bobby is doing a lunch run now, and I told him to get us something. I think I just need to call the governor.” He shakes his head and heads towards his office.

I wait until he shuts the door to say anything. “Certainly could’ve gone worse.”

“Yeah, I guess I never thought about who you’d need to call here.” Dale nods. “I think it’ll turn out fine.”

After a while, Will walks out of his office. He looks exasperated. “Alright, so I called the governor, and got bounced around a lot. They’re working on a solution for problems like this, but for now they just want the both of you to stay in town and check in with me.” He gestures to me and Tim. “So I guess you’re good… Oh wait, yeah, the dirt bikes. Give O’Reilly fifty bucks for using ‘em, and give ‘em back to him.”

“That sounds fair enough.” Dale nods. “Jimmy and I will take ‘em back.”

“Alright, as for you Tim, stay with one of these folks, and whoever you stay with, let me know. I don’t care which. Give me a couple of days to get the word out about you, so you don’t get run off the streets for having tentacles.”

“Thank you.” Tim nods.

“Alright, now get out of here. I got papers to fill out.” Will groans.

We all make our way out, and pile into Casey’s truck. We sit in silence for a moment, before Dale and I high-five.

“Alright! I told you that’d work out.” I nod. “So, Tim. Who do you wanna stay with. Might be best to pick me or Dale so you can stay out of town.”

He stares down for a moment. “No offense Dale, but I think I’ll stay with Jimmy. He’s got weird powers too, so we might be able to figure this out together.”

“Works for me.” Casey nods. “Alright, I’ll take you back to pick up the dirt bikes, and then you can go give ‘em back to O’Reilly. First, though…” She reaches into her pocket, and pulls out three business cards. “Give me a call some time. Who knows, we might need to work together at some point.”

“Alright…?” I look down at the card. It reads ‘Casey Sullivan, Mechatronics Engineer’ I chuckle. It looks like my life is about to stay interesting for a little while longer. I hope my wife will be okay with me having a stranger live with us.

My heart sinks. Shit. I didn’t call my wife, she’s gonna kill me.

 


 

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Hey everyone! If you like this, then please come back next Friday at noon for the first entry to season 2 of my blog! You can also check out any of my other writing in the table of contents! Thanks for reading!

Hammerston Heroes: Part Five

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Click here for the first part.

 

It turns out I have a good sense for time, because we make it in nearly exactly an hour. We stop at a gas station, since the bikes are running low again. I hook up the pump and lean up against the pillar. I look over at Tim, and I start to wonder how it feels to have tentacles. Has to be a weird feeling. It’s hard to tell really if they’re slimy or not. It’s kinda hard to get a good look at them. The more you stare, the hazier they get.

These thoughts are interrupted by a clanking noise. The noise repeats and grows closer. I put my hand on my gun, just in case. From around the corner, steps a woman covered in all manner of junky looking scrap metal. Almost none of it is painted, and if it is it’s different colors.

“I don’t believe those bikes are yours. Aren’t you a little old for a joy ride?” She brushes off something on her wrist that looks like it shoots. She’s at least making it look like it does.

“Look, lady, we don’t want any trouble. We’re actually here to see the sheriff. Now, I don’t know who you are, but…” I pull the gun from the back of my pants and click off the safety. “You ain’t the only one with a gun.”

“Oh, wow, is that a threat?” She edges closer towards me. “I don’t need guns to kick your ass.”

“I’m not gonna fight you, and you’re gonna walk away.” I would really rather not fight the psychopath wearing scrap metal right now.

“Why don’t you explain where you got these bikes?” She leans up against a pillar about ten feet from me.

“Why don’t you explain your outfit?” I’m not about to go divulging my problems to some psychopath with a toolshed. Is this what Hammerston has turned into? Crazies wandering the streets?

 

“Well, you’re clearly not from too close to town, so I’ll forgive your ignorance. I’m The Harvester. I fight crime on the streets. Crimes like the ones you’re committing.” She points to the bikes.

“Look here, I committed those ‘crimes’ to rescue an innocent man from torture? You quit playing dressup, and just go home.” I replace the gas nozzle and the cap, and ready the bike to leave again.

Tin Lady steps in front of the bike and levels her arm gun at me. I quickly have my gun pointed right back at her. We lock eyes and neither of us move.

“Jeez! Settle down! Quit trying to kill eachother! We’re both the good guys.” Dale runs over to us. Maybe he’ll have better luck getting this crazy to leave.

“You’re the good guys?” She laughs, “Alright, you can stay with me, and bright and early in the morning we’ll go over to the sheriff and explain what good guys you are.” She doesn’t lower her arm.

“I’m the person they rescued.” Tim steps out from where he was hiding, his tentacles waved behind him. “People were experimenting on me…” He gestured to some large wounds near to where his tentacles came from his back. “If it weren’t for them, I’d still be there.”

“Well…” The woman lowers her arm, and I slowly lower my own gun. “Are you alright? Do you need a doctor?”

“The last thing I want is another doctor. That’s what got me into this mess.” Tim shudders. Whatever they did to him really messed him up. “We just need a place to stay.”

“My guest room is all yours. You’re gonna give back the bikes though.” She points to the two stolen bikes, and sets off walking. She looks back to us, “You coming?”

 

We all exchange a look, and elect to go with her. Dale and I half walk our bikes behind her, and Tim trails behind. I don’t imagine she lives too far off, since she walked here with all that metal.

We follow her down the street a stretch, and she takes us around a corner. There she opens the back of a trailer. Inside is a sturdy metal frame with various bars and straps coming off of it. She slowly unhooks all of the metal and straps it onto the corresponding spots of the mannequin. So I guess she might live a ways away.

Once she took the armor off, she was just some twenty something girl. Granted, she has more than enough muscle to carry all that metal.

“Well, load the bikes on.” She says, making way.

I look over to Dale, and he is already loading his bike. I sigh and load mine on behind his. After the bikes are all strapped in, we all pile into her pickup.

It’s actually only a short drive until we stop in front of a big metal shed. She hops out of her truck and motions for us to follow her. We wait for her to wheel off her armor, and then wheel our stolen dirt bikes into her shed.

I look around the shed, and can’t help but gaze in awe. There’s a couple of tables with designs random armor parts on them. There’s shelves of every power tool I’ve ever seen, and then some.

Once she’d wheeled in her armor, she motioned us out. “Alright. I am still gonna make you explain yourselves to the sheriff in the morning, but for now you have a room. Follow me.”

She leads us out of the shed, and locks it up behind us. She then took us into a decent looking house. Inside is a little messy, but no worse than my first place when I lived on my own. She takes us down a hall, and into a bedroom.

 

“Alright, there’s a bed, and a couple of cots. Spare sheets are in the closet. Don’t try to pull anything. I’m a light sleeper. My name’s Casey, by the way.” She walked out of the room, and shut the door behind her.

 


 

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Hammerston Heroes: Part Four

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We advance into the tent, and the people scatter. I manage to catch one of them in the same way I caught the guards, in case I have any questions. For the time being though, I turn my attention to the man on the table.

Dale and I head towards him slowly. I know he’s strapped down and they’re hurting him, but maybe he’s penned up for a reason. I step up just out of reach of his tentacles. He’s still looking around wildly, and struggling against his bindings, but he’s stopped screaming.

“Hey, man, are you alright?” I try to keep my voice calm and my movements slow. The last thing I want to do is provoke some tentacle monster.

He looked at me, terrified. “You’ve gotta help me out of here, man! Please!”

 

Tears ran down his face. He was wearing sweat pants, but no shirt. He couldn’t have been older that 30, and he looked closer to 25.

I look to Dale. I’m not sure about this. On one hand, it’s obvious they’re mistreating him. On the other, I don’t fancy getting mauled by tentacle man.

“Yeah… We’ve gotta let him out.”

I look at his bindings, unsure where to start. Each of his tentacles appear to be nailed to the ground, but his wrists and ankles are also bound to a table. I figure it’s probably best to work from the outside in, but also to start slow. I command the trampled corn around one of his tentacles to pull the spike from the ground. The man doesn’t immediately attack me, so I remove the rest in a similar fashion. I move forward to unbind his wrists and ankles, but the tentacles beat me to it.

He gets to his feet and looks to Dale and I. “We need to move, before they get you too.” Dale and I nod in agreement, and we all head out the flap of the tent.

“We’ve got dirtbikes off this way.” Dale points in the direction we came from. “Can you run?”

“Yeah, I thin-” He starts to answer, but he’s cut off by shouting and gunshots from behind us. It looks like more suits with guns to me.

We start to leg it towards the corn. I put a wall up behind us, and we break into the field. I part the corn as we run through in the same way I did last time, and we get to the dirtbikes in no time, but I can still hear them behind us.

Dale and I start up our bikes, and realize we don’t have a third with us. “Alright, tentacles, hop on.” He hops on the bike behind me, and grips my waist. Thankfully with his arms. Dale moves with no problem, but between me being rusty and having cargo, I’m not keeping up as well.

 

We’re well off in the distance of the cornfield, when I see a black SUV break into the grass field we’re on. I look around, but I don’t see anything we could use for cover. It’s flat fields for miles, maybe some rolling hills, but not much. Dale is trying his best to stay back with me, but the SUV is gaining on us.

I’m all out of ideas, and the SUV is about to run me down. There’s a crash of crunching metal, followed by several more crashes. I look back and I see the SUV rolling across the field.

“What the hell was that?” I shout back to tentacles. I don’t stop going. I don’t care if the SUV rolled or not, I’m not about to take chances.

“Just drive!” He shouts back.

We put a little more distance between us and the suits, until we can’t see them anymore and then some. We bring the bikes to a halt, and hop off.

We sit down around the bikes. It’s night, but it’s summer so it’s not cold at least. “So… What do we do now?” Dale asks.

“Well, we can’t go back home. We just committed a lot of felonies.” I shake my head. This is gonna be a pain in the ass.

“Well, what if we went to the sheriff’s and explained everything? I mean, we have him.” He gestured towards our tagalong. “Who are you by the way?”

“My name’s Tim. I’m from Riverbrook.” His tentacles waved slowly behind him.

“Riverbrook? That’s a good couple hundred miles from here.” Dale seems surprised about the place he’s from, but I’m more interested in something else.

“Yeah, and what’s with the tentacles?” I’m not sure if it’s rude to ask someone about their tentacles, but I just saved his life, so I figure I get a freebie.

 

“Well, I woke up a couple of mornings ago with these.” He gestured towards his tentacles. “I went to the hospital, and they sent me off with some ‘specialists’ from the Vertech institute. They cut me open and tortured me…”

“Well… That sucks.” I’m not really sure what else I could contribute to that. Torture isn’t exactly a common occurrence out here, at least as far as I know. I also haven’t heard of this Vertech institute.

“Hey man, it’s alright. Like hell are we gonna let them get you again. You’re safe now.”

I chuckle. Dale always had a weird knack for this kind of thing.

“Yeah, thanks…” Tim shook his head. “So, to the sheriff?”

“Yeah, I guess so.” I’m not sure if it’s the best idea, but I don’t see any better ideas. After all, the sheriff is reasonable.

“We gonna camp here tonight?”

“Well, if we keep going, we could probably actually make it to town in another hour. We could get a hotel. See the sheriff in the morning.” I get up and head towards my bike.

“Well, I guess I’d rather be in a hotel than a field.” Dale groans as he gets off the ground.

“You’re carrying him this time, though.” I get on my bike, and start it up.

“Fine.” Dale sighs. He gets on and starts his own bike, with Tim behind him, and we ride off into the night.

 


 

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Hammerston Heroes: Part Three

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We shoot off into the distance, when I realize that Dale left his truck and we will most likely now have felony charges. I wonder if this is covered by duress. We burst through the tree-line, and we’re now off of O’Reilly’s property. Dale slows his pace a bit, and I pull up alongside of him.

“So, how far off are we?”

“Well, I reckon on these things, and with staying off the road, probably about a quarter of an hour.”

We make the rest of the ride in silence, or at least as much silence as dirt bikes offer. We reach the edge of a cornfield and Dale stops his bike. I pull up next to him. “Is this it?”

 

“Just about, we’ll need to walk the rest though, it’s not far.” He pointed through the cornfield. “You think you could use your magic to cut through that cornfield quietly?”

“I guess so, I’ve not tried.” I concentrate for a moment, and the corn parts, leaving soft soil behind, without making too much racket. “I’d say so.”

We begin to walk through a narrow aisle. As we head forward, the corn behind us closes, and the corn ahead opens. We crouch down some, to avoid being seen from the distance.

After a while of walking in silence, I turn around to Dale. “How far off do you think we are?”

“I can’t say for sure, can you see over the corn?” He whispers.

I stand to my full height and peak over the corn. About a hundred feet away, there is a large complex of tents in a clearing of trampled corn. A few flood lights illuminate everything. A few men in suits are patrolling the edges of the site, and I see a few men in sanitary gowns popping in and out of view. I duck back down.

“Yeah, we’re about a hundred feet off. They’ve got a bunch of armed guards. What’s the plan?” I reach my hand around my back and rest it on my pistol.

Dale stands there, silent for a moment. “I didn’t honestly think we’d get this far… I’ve mostly been pissed about my truck for the past-”

From the tent, a man begins to scream out in agony. “Help me! Somebody!” More men in gowns rush towards a larger tent, but the guards on the perimeter remain still.

“Dale, they’ve got somebody in there!” I can’t believe Dale was actually right. There is an actual ‘middle of a cornfield’ conspiracy.

 

“Well, what do you think? Go in guns blazing?”

“We can’t just go killing…” I need an idea, now. It’s not like I could just jump them. Wait, I have magic now. “I’ll use the corn to take them down.”

“You’re gonna take out armed guards with corn?” He laughs, but then sees my face. “Well, do you think we should talk to them first? I mean, I’m not really looking to add murder to my list of felonies.”

“Talking won’t do anything, you and I both know that.” I sigh and shake my head. I’m surprised Dale was the one to suggest talking it out. “Whatever they’re doing in there, it ain’t legal or right. If it is, then why are they doing it out here past dark, and why’d they try to kill us?”

“Alright, work your magic.” He takes his rifle off his back, and gets ready to go.

We get a little bit closer, until we’re about 15 feet short of the clearing. I take a deep breath and concentrate. I separate the corn in front of me, just enough to give me line of sight. The corn on the ground wraps itself around the guard and pins him to the ground, gagged. He struggles, but can’t get free. I take down the other two surrounding guards in the same fashion.

Dale and I step out into the clearing to take a closer look. I pause and admire my handywork. “See, Dale, no need for shooting.”

As I say that, a guard that I must have missed opens fire on us. I hit the ground, and put up a barrier of corn. He only has a pistol, so as long as I keep moving, he can’t exactly pepper the entire thing.

Dale peaks over, and with one shot, takes down the guard. “No shooting my ass.” He pauses as the realization hits him. “Ah shit, I think I just killed a man.”

“It’s alright Dale… Well at least as long as we’re right about this.” I peak over

 

the barrier, and see no other guards in the area, but I can hear a commotion from inside of the bigger tent. Most of the tents are open air, but the bigger tent has walls too. The screaming keeps going from the inside. I’m not sure what they’re doing, but it’s far worse than anything I’ve done to them.

The guard’s radios start to go off. “Security, please check in, we heard gunfire… Security?”

Dale and I make eye contact for a moment. “Well I guess we’d better hurry.” He says, taking off for the tent. I follow close behind.

We pause outside the flap of the tent, before bursting in. Inside the tent, a team of panicked men in surgical gowns stand around a table. Strapped to the table is a screaming man, but there are black tendrils coming from his back. The tendrils are pulled taut and secured to the ground around him.

 


 

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Hammerston Heroes: Part Two

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Dale and I sit panting for a moment. I seem to be mostly fine, and Dale doesn’t look any worse than usual. We both get out of the car without speaking. The side of the car that got rammed is dented and scratched, but beyond that the car was fine.

 

“Jim…”

“Yeah, Dale?”

“Did those trees move?” He points to the trees that were now back like they were before we ran through them.

“Yeah, Dale.” I nod.

“Why did those trees move?”

“Well, that was part of what I wanted to show you.” I turn away from him and walk out towards the field. I realize I’m not entirely sure how to replicate what I did earlier.

“Well, you’ve got my attention.” Dale says from behind me.

I take a deep breath. “Grow!” I’m not sure if it’s the words or the feeling behind it, so I decide to go with both. This had better not let me down.

The grass in front of me remains still for a moment, and then shoots up to hip height. I look back at Dale. “Yeah, that was it.”

“Well, how long have you been doing that?” He looks to be so confused that he doesn’t know what other way to process that.

“Since that green light.” I lean up against his truck, and find a dent decently shaped for my back.

“Wow, that’s weird. Do you think that’s why the suits are here?”

“Maybe. I don’t think those guys are soil testing, though.” We both chuckle. “So, are we still going to see what they’re doing?”

 

“I sure as hell am. They scratched up my truck. You don’t have to, but I sure as hell am.” He reached into the bed of his truck and pulled out a rifle.

“Well, like hell am I gonna let you go alone.” I open the door to his truck and sit back inside.

“Well, we can’t go driving up now, they know our truck, and they’ll be looking for us.” Dale slings the gun over his shoulder. “Open up the glovebox, there ought to be a pistol in there.”

“Well, what are we gonna do? Walk? We’ll be out here all night.” I grope around in the glove box and find a silver pistol with a couple of clips. “This had better not be a 22.”

“Jimmy… I have an idea.” He points over the hill to a ramshackle shed.

“Well what’s gonna be in there? Do you even know whose property we crashed on?” I make sure the safety is on, and tuck the pistol into my pants.

“We’re on O’Reilly’s land… I think.” He scratched his beard for a moment, then shook his head. “Either way, he keeps dirtbikes, and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if we borrowed them.”

“So we’re gonna go stealing somebody who I’ve not even met’s dirtbikes?” Upon hearing it out loud, that does sound like a very Dale thing to do.

“Pretty much. We’ve got strangers trying to kill us in our town, I think special rules apply.” He grabs a bag and starts to stuff it with beers, before strapping it to his back. “Look, I’m gonna do it anyways, you may as well be with me.”

I sigh and slam the truck door shut. “Well, I guess I’ve not done anything this stupid in a good long while. Let’s get going.” So we head off to the shed.

 

When we finally get to the shed, we find a rusty lock barring our entry. Dale slams it off with the butt of his rifle, and I don’t even bother to object. Inside are three cobweb covered dirtbikes, leaning up against a wall. Along with them, are shelves and shelves of junk.

Dale sets off getting the bikes uncovered, while I search for any gas he may have. Through a pile of sheet metal, plywood, and tools, I see a faded red fuel can. I begin to shove metal and wood to the side, not particularly worried about noise. Sure enough, there’s a two thirds full can. I just hope it hasn’t gone bad.

“Dale, I got the gas.” I look up at a bulletin board, and underneath a pile of pinned papers, I spot a glimmer of keys.

“Good stuff, you see any keys? They’re not in the ignition.”

I look over my shoulder, and Dale had secured two of the better looking bikes. “Yeah I think I’ve got ‘em here.” I grab the keys and the can, and I start filling the tanks.

I’m just about done when Dale bumps me, making me spill some gas on my pants. “Psst… Jimmy? Do you hear that?”

I stop filling and try to listen, I hear shouting off in the distance. I think for a moment about who it could be, but then again there’s not really a good answer to that question, so I call it a day on fueling the bikes and toss Dale a key.

The yelling is getting much closer, and I can just about make it out. “Get out of my shed, you thieves!”

Of course he found us. I make a note not to listen to Dale ever again. I put the key in the ignition, but it doesn’t fit.

“Jimmy, my key isn’t working!” Dale is yelling now, and reaches out a hand for

 

a different key, handing me his.

I give a turn to the second key, and I hear the roar of Dale’s bike next to me. I throw the other key to the ground, and try the last one. I crank the bike, and it roars to life. I then remember that it has been more than a decade since I rode one of these. That realization is dwarfed by the sight of an angry old man in the doorway.

Oftentimes I doubt Dale’s intelligence, but in a pinch, he can usually figure out a working solution. In this particular pinch, his solution was to mow the old man down. Dale revs his bike and shoots off, the old man barely has time to fall out of the way before Dale is out the door. I shake my head and take off after him.

I guess there are some things you never forget, like riding a dirtbike. I wager that I won’t soon forget that old man’s face when Dale revved that bike. That alone almost makes this worth it… Almost.

 


 

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Hammerston Heroes: Part One

The primary thing that you should know about Iowa, is that it is mostly corn and soy. Besides that, there’s Des Moines, and whatever collection of shops the locals happen to call town. For me, town is Hammerston. It’s a small little town with all of the usual fare: a grocer, a few diners, an elementary and a secondary school, the works.

I’m Jimmy Miller, and I’ve lived in Hammerston for my whole life. I run a farm about 15 miles out from town, so it’s not too far. I’ve lived on this farm for my whole life. I inherited it from my dad, who inherited it from his, so on and so forth. Of course it has grown since then, but still it’s in the family.

I was laying in bed one night, I was having trouble sleeping or else I wouldn’t have been up so late, when out of nowhere this green light came through. Now, I’m no stranger to weird stuff happening out in the middle of nowhere, but this is a little bit too weird.

Anywho, that probably explains why I just yelled at a stalk of corn and it grew. The corn and the other stalks around it shoot up into the air, higher than any corn has any business being. They grow until they are at least double the height of ready to harvest corn. I look down at my watch, and it says it’s 6:25. Dale said he was coming at 6:30, so I head back towards home.

I arrive back home just in time to hear the rumbling of Dale’s sky blue truck coming to a halt in front of my house. I’m barely around the corner before he starts hollering. “Jimmy! Jimmy! You’ve gotta see this! You’ve gotta see what these suits are doing!”

“Dale! Slow down!” I laugh. Dale’s always talking a mile a minute about some wild new thing that usually adds up to soil testing. “You’ve gotta see this first.” He won’t believe this corn trick.

 

“Well can it wait? These suits are in a hurry, and they might be gone by the time it gets there.” Dale always got like this and there was no point in arguing, until you’ve already seen that it’s just soil testing.

“Alright fine, you’re driving though. I’m not wasting my gas on another one of your ‘discoveries’, Dale.”

I press down the button on his door with all of my might, and it finally clicks open. Once I’m in, Dale slams on the gas, and tears out of my driveway. I look at the row of trees along my driveway as we rush past them.

After a good few minutes on the road, a thought crosses my mind, I’m not entirely sure how far out Dale is planning on taking me. “Say, Dale, just how far out is this thing?”

“Well, hmm.” He pauses for a moment, and I’m sure I won’t like his answer. “Probably something like an hour.”

“Is that with your driving?” I laugh to try to hide how irritating that is. I can’t believe after all these years, I still haven’t learned my lesson. Dale’s young still, but I can’t keep doing all of these out till dawn trips.

“I could probably make it in less.” Dale steps on the gas and his engine roars in response. The car starts to go way faster than any car from that far back has any business going.

I laugh and look in the mirror. There’s a black SUV behind us, and it looks a lot newer than anything we usually see in these parts. Maybe it’s just a lost tourist or something. “Hey, Dale, look at that,” I point back to the SUV, “The suits are out to get you!” We both laugh and laugh.

After another twenty or so minutes, we reach Turner’s fork and Dale goes left. I’m a little surprised that he was out this way, considering his place is on the right, and

 

there’s nothing worth seeing on the left for hours. Besides old Turner’s field, that is. He’s been dead for years, though, so Dale has no business snooping about there. Then again, that hasn’t stopped him before.

Another thing that I notice, is that the black SUV is still behind us. I figure that may just be the soil testers. After we take the fork, the SUV begins to gain on us, and it looks like they want to pass us. They get closer, and soon are right up behind us. Dale seems to notice this too, he rolls down the window and motions for them to pass.

They begin to flash their brights behind us, and Dale waves them on more aggressively. “What are they doing?” He mutters.

The SUV finally gets into the other lane and starts to overtake us, but they don’t pass us when they meet us. They begin to bump into the side of our car.

Dale and I look over to see what they’re doing, but their windows are tinted. “What the hell are you doing!?” Dale shouts and begins to honk his horn.

The SUV full on rams us, and we spin off towards the field next to us. Which would be great, but Iowa is only mostly corn and soy. This happens to be a field of grass surrounded by trees.

We hurtle towards the trees going eighty. In a moment of pure instinct, I command the trees to move. I watch as two giant oaks quickly part to allow this hunk of steel through, before closing behind us.

 


 

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Zoey: Part 2

Zoey rounded the corner of the staircase. Her dad was sitting on the couch, perusing Netflix, and eating a piece of pizza. “Hey, Zoey! What do you think of this one?” The cover was some guy holding two guns posing in front of some explosions.

“Looks good, Dad.” Zoey smiled as she grabbed a piece of pizza. She sat down and leaned up against him. It had been a while since they’d had the chance to make fun of an awful action movie together.

Two hours of explosions later, the credits began to roll. She looked up at her dad for a second. He looked away quickly, but Zoey couldn’t help but notice the remnants of the worried frown that he hadn’t had a chance to wipe from his face. She sighed. She couldn’t bother him with any of this. He had so much to worry about as is. It’s not like she was worth being worried about anyway. She looked up at her dad; “That was really fun, thank you!” A wobbly smile was all she could produce to follow this up.

Her dad rose from his seat “Alright, I’ve gotta go to work now. I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon?”

“Sure thing, dad.” She hugged him, and he kissed her forehead. For a moment, she felt belonging. As he went out the door, that moment passed.

Once he had left Zoey went upstairs to finish a bit of homework before crashing. She found that she felt better if she was just either busy or sleeping. Once she had finished her homework, she got ready for bed. After she got in bed, she realized that her strategy has failed her, as she wasn’t tired.

She thought about everything that happened today. She wished and wished for something to change. She didn’t know if she could take another day. She pressed her face into her pillow, and a few tears soaked into it before she nodded off. Eventually, she managed to fall asleep.

Zoey woke up, rubbed the crust out of her eyes, and got out of bed. She scratched her arm, but it felt crusty. She rubbed the rest of her arm, and it felt much the same. Now that she noticed it, most of her body felt like that.

She turned on the lights, and looked down at her arms. Zoey had been expecting some kind of rash, but her arms were covered in some kind of crystal. She ran over to the mirror, and found the rest of her body was coated in the crystal.

Zoey tried to pick some of it off, but it took some skin off with it. After a moment, the wound began to burn. Looking at her skin, she began to panic. What if she couldn’t get it off before school? Did she need to go to a doctor? It’s not like her family could even afford a doctor.

Zoey ran over to the sink, and began to try to wash it off. At first, it didn’t seem to be working, but once the hot water kicked in, the crystals started to melt away. Her wound stung, but anything was worth it to get rid of whatever this was. She got in the shower, and after a few minutes, the crystals were gone.

Once she was clean, her panic subsided, but she still felt uneasy not knowing. She tried to look it up on her phone while she got ready. All she could find was salt crystals forming from sweat after running. In the end, she decided to hope she wouldn’t die and ignore the issue. It’s not like she had the time to be worrying about it anyways. She was already almost late for another day in hell as is.

Zoey got her stuff together, and ran out to meet the bus just as it pulled up. As usual, nobody talked to her, and she didn’t talk to anybody. She did, however, manage to get a little bit of homework done. Unfortunately, the bus did eventually arrive at school, so she had to get off with everyone else.

She tried her best to just stay with the crowd, so hopefully she wouldn’t get singled out. After a few minutes, she felt something wrap around her foot, and she crashed to the ground.

She looked up and saw Jessica standing over her. “Hey, we didn’t get to finish our fun yesterday. So-” In a blur, Jessica raised her foot, and Zoey raised her hand out of reflex. Something flew out of her hand and into Jessica’s face, and she began to scream. “Ow! My eyes!”

Zoey wasn’t quite sure what had happened, but she didn’t intend to stick around and ask questions. She looked around to see if anyone had noticed, and of course everyone had. They seemed to be gravitating towards Jessica though, but for some reason Mr. Henderson was staring at Zoey. She had a feeling that her day was about to get worse.


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Well, sorry for the delay, it was inevitable for me to mess up the scheduling at some point. Hope you enjoy