Free Extreme Fiction

Dawn-1

    "Jimmy!"
    "Fuck!" It was like Trick tried to drag me, with his voice alone, out of someone's warm, deep pocket. Every molecule of me wanted to return to unconsciousness. "Where the fuck are we?"
    "Please stop swearing."
    "Christ. Everyone I've met tonight wants me to stop swearing. Swearing and smoking. Those two things. You may not have noticed this, Trick, but I am a grown adult and..."
    "Nobody sounds like an adult when they're swearing."
    "Swearing gives me pleasure. It amuses me. It allows me a release. Give me one good reason why..."
    "Swearing leaves scuff marks on the soul."
    "Okay, give me two good reasons."
    "Swearing makes you sound like an uneducated idiot."
    "Fine." No way was I going to win this argument.
    "I wanted you to hear...forget it. It's over."
    "What's over?"
    "A news item. A news item on the radio. A local news item. Some guy in the central district just got the living daylights beat out of him."
    "Too bad for him. What's it got to do with me?"
    "They creamed the guy, and by what little description I heard he sounded an awful lot like you."
    "But I'm here."
    "I know that. I just thought...anyway, I was just about to wake you up regardless. We're here."
    "Oh yeah? And where's here this time?" I popped up off the floor of the back seat to get a look around. I recognized the part of town we were in immediately. New Oslo. I looked to my left, and I saw the FISH NET, one of the best, if not the best, fish and chips place in the city. I rolled down the window and to hell with the cold. I wanted to smell that delicious, fresh fish, and, of course, I smelled nothing. I was really losing it by that time, no doubt about it. I was losing my fucking mind. No way was I going to smell fish that early in the morning. The FISH NET had been closed for hours.
    And then I looked where Trick pointed.
    Oh.
    Oh Christ.
    I thought Trick was going to take me to this Seaclear Cathedral that everyone was talking about. Big as an industrial warehouse? Made entirely of plastic? Glowed blue? I was all prepared to be dazzled, to be overwhelmed at the sight of this monumental structure, but instead...
    "That's no cathedral," I said. "That's a house."
    But it was a hell of a house. It looked like it'd been there a long, long time, like maybe it'd been built when Seatrailia itself was first built. But someone had added to the initial structure, and then someone else had added on to that. It was like four houses had been scrunched together to create one gargantuan, bloated, disorganized structure. The front of this house had this beautiful porch that was so big you could hold a bar-be-que on it if you wanted to. Smack dab at the center of this porch was the front door, and to the right of the porch was a flight of stairs that led to, like, a second front door. This place had three front doors, and it wasn't like it was a house that had been sliced into a series of apartments. It was more like all these windows and doors and porches and everything else all kind of connected with each other in some weird way.
    "Okay, I give up," I said. "What in the hell are you bringing me here for?"
    "I thought you wanted to see Susan," Trick said.
    "She's in there?" The yard was landscaped and on, like, three different levels. Driveways led to either side of the estate, then around behind the house. "This is the Seaclear Cathedral?"
    "You didn't ask to go to the cathedral. You asked to see Susan."
    "I asked to go to church."
    "Yes, but what you meant to say was that you wanted to see Susan."
    "And Susan's not in the cathedral?"
    Trick pointed to the odd, misshapen house. With this place, it was hard to tell where one story left off and the other began. The first floor just kind of rose until it became the second floor. I saw a turret up there. That was cool.
    "You want to continue this journey?" Trick asked.
    "I think I want to go to the cathedral. I'm sorry now I didn't specify that more clearly."
    "No." Trick shook his head. "The next part of your journey starts right there. It starts with you going into that house."
    "And how long's it been raining?" I asked. God'd turned the faucet on. It was coming down real hard. It was like we were going through a drive-in carwash or something. The snow melted quickly with the onslaught. There were patches of it left here and there, but very soon those patches too would be gone.
    "It started about the time you fell asleep," Trick said.
    "Okay, so...why should I go into this house again rather than go right to the cathedral?"
    "Because you won't learn anything at the cathedral. Susan told me to bring you here."
    "God told you to bring me here? Is that what you're saying?"
    "I wouldn't know about that."
    "I thought you told me you'd take me where I wanted to go."
    "Trust me. This is where you want to go."
    "I haven't even known you for three full hours, Trick, so I should trust you...why again?"
    Truck turned around in his seat. He pulled his sunglasses down on his nose so that I could get a look into his deep, brown eyes. "You should trust me because I am someone you can trust. All night you've been telling me how grateful you are that I got you away from those idiots in West Seatrailia, right?"
    "You bet, and I fully intend to hand you hundreds and hundreds of dollars for doing that for me."
    "I don't want your money. That's stolen money."
    "I did not..."
    "What I want instead is for you to trust me. I want you to trust me enough to go into that house just because I'm asking you to."
    "Here." I pulled some hundreds out of Earl Ware's leather coat.
    "I just told you I..."
    "Take it."
    "Now you're insulting me."
    I let a few hundreds drop to my feet on the floor.
    "I don't want that money. That's tainted money."
    "And it spends just like any other kind of money." I don't know how many hundreds I dropped, but there were more than a few. A couple dozen, maybe. "Okay, one more time. What is it you want me to do right now?" The phone in my pocket started to ring again. I took it out, put it to my ear, then hit the TALK button.
    "Yeah?"
    "You're dead," said the voice on the other end of the line.
    "Fine. I'm dead. Hey listen, I'm in the process of handing a big chunk of your money to someone and insisting they keep it."
    "Don't matter."
    "Hope you don't mind."
    "Don't matter. Dead anyway."
    "It's a cab driver."
    "Coyote?"
    Fuck. I'd gone too far. I was so intent on being a wise-ass, I inadvertently gave Earl too much information. "Who?"
    "He dead too."
    Fuck. "I'll be happy to hand you the rest of your money," I said, "and your coat, and this cell phone I've got in my hand. Just tell me where to leave them, and I'll go leave them."
    "Don't matter. You a dead man."
    "You know what? That's fine. That's just fine, and you want to know why? Because I'm sick of your motherfucking, self-centered bullshit, that's why."
    "You the one screaming for the..."
    "No. No more bullshit. I'm trying to do right by you, but you don't want any part of it, so fuck you. I got a surprise all ready for you, motherfucker, so you come get it. I can hardly wait," and with that I hit the END button. Nowhere near as satisfying as slamming a phone down on its hook, but what can you do? Times change.   

                                                                       CONTINUE