Nothing Like Getting Rained On (A Chuck Wendig Challenge)

Posted: October 9, 2014 in Fantasy, Fiction
Tags: , , ,

This week’s CWC’s challenge was to take someone else’s sentence and work it into a story. I ended up using Anthony Crociata’s “I finally step outside after three weeks of healing, thinking and plotting, the bullet still lodged somewhere in my gut.”

The result is more like Sandman Slim fanfic than an original story. Which is bad. But it is also 1000 words or so I hadn’t written last week. So that’s good.

Nothing Like Getting Rained On

“Sorry, Blake.” Monica, the bitch, points a snub-nosed revolver at my stomach. Probably picked it up for fifty bucks off some ‘banger in the hood. Doesn’t mean it wouldn’t fuck me up to get shot with it. I didn’t even know she had it.

We’re standing in the liquor store we’re in the middle of robbing, the clerk crouched down behind the counter, hands over his head. He’s shaking and the acrid stench of piss fills the air, all courtesy of a hex I threw at him as soon as I walked through the door.

“Why?” My gun is tucked into the waist of my pants, and I think about going for it, but Monica’s got a look in her eyes, asking for an excuse to pull the trigger.

She gives a half-shrug, the barrel of the gun not shifting for an instant. Her eyes aren’t focused on any one thing, which tells me I’m in trouble. She’s waiting for me to make a move, any move, and that’ll be when she puts the bullet in me. “You wouldn’t understand.”

Right there, that’s when I know it doesn’t matter what I do or don’t do. She’s going to shoot me. My hand is halfway to my gun when she pulls the trigger. The bullet rips into me, and I stumble back, force my legs to move. Behind me, I can hear more shots being fired, hear bottles exploding around me. The smell of cheap liquor mixes with the piss stench. I ram into a fire door, my shoulder low enough to punch the emergency handle down. A wino looks up from his bottle of Mad Dog as I bounce off the alley wall, keep running. My hand is pressed to my side, and I can feel blood spurting through my fingers.

I take off in the opposite direction from the front of the store. I don’t know who made Monica her offer, but I can only guess they might be waiting for me to walk out the front door if I managed to take her down.

‘Course, they might be waiting back here for me, too. I wrench my gun out, flick the safety off as I head down the street. So far, so good. I take my hand off my wound long enough to wipe some blood on my lips. I spit out a bit of magic, and shadows gather around me, street lights growing dim as I walk past. I wonder how I’m going to get home. My apartment is three miles away and Monica was my ride.

I walk another five blocks, taking the long way to get there through side alleys and back alleys. I slump down in a bus shelter. I barely register when my salvation pulls up, the driver kind enough to yell at me. The gun is back under my jacket, and I’m lucky he doesn’t see it as I fumble for the fare. I nearly fall down when he gets to my stop. I’m a bit surprised, but no one is waiting for me when I enter the lobby, and no one’s been to my rat trap apartment since I’ve been gone. I crash on my coach, not sure if I’m going to wake up here or in Hell.

I finally step outside after three weeks of healing, thinking and plotting, the bullet still lodged somewhere in my gut. I’ve been living off of cheap Chinese takeout and Redbull. The delivery guy stopped flinching after the third time I answered the door wearing nothing more than a holster and a bloody bandage.

My first stop is Long Lugh’s, my local bar. I’d taken Monica there a couple of times when we were flush off a job and needed a quiet drink. I wouldn’t say I was friendly with Trevor, the bartender, but we knew each other and he knew the kind of circles I moved in.

“Blake!” he calls out when he sees me enter, already pouring me a Guinness. Good man, Trevor is. “Where’ve you been lad? Haven’t seen you in a dog’s age.”

I try not to wince as I straddle the bar stool, and I mostly succeed. I can feel the bullet sliding around in me. Maybe I should have gotten it taken out first. “Been out of sorts the past few weeks.” I glance at the Guinness, half-poured now. He takes my meaning and sees to finishing it, setting it in front of me so I can watch it settle. “Say, you haven’t seen Monica around have you?”

Trevor looks at me sideways, his brow furrowing. “Yeah, she’s been around. I asked her about you, and she said you had a falling out. Can’t say I was too worried though. It’s not like she’s your first ex or anything.”

“She come in with anyone?”

Trevor takes an order for a Guinness, starts pouring it as he thinks. “Yeah, she was hanging around a few guys. Tall guys, nice suits. Not her usual crowd, you know?”

I nod, looking down at my ripped jeans and torn t-shirt. “She ask about me?”

Trevor finishes pouring, handing the glass to a guy with a backward baseball cap and a small amount of scruff that might one day aspire to be a real beard. “No man, she didn’t. Seemed more like they were celebrating something.”

The corner of my mouth twitches up. “I just bet she was. Thanks mate.” I leave a twenty on the bar.

“Not going to finish your Guinness?”

“Not as thirsty as I thought I was.”

It’s raining when I walk outside. I’m not sure who Monica’s new friends are, but I can hazard a guess or two and none of them are good. Magic is an ill-kept secret, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t folk out there that like the fact some of us use it for less than legitimate purposes. And those are the good guys. For all I know, Monica’s fallen in with a bunch of devil-lovers and I was the price of admission to their little cult.

Looking up, I’m staring at the outside of Monica’s apartment. I draw a bit of blood with the pen knife I keep in my pocket, smear a bit of blood under my eyes. I whisper a few words of power, feel the hoodoo crawl over my skin like fire ants. I approach the door just as an elderly woman gets to it, pulling a small metal cart with her week’s groceries in it.

“Here, let me get that for you,” I say, propping the door open with one foot.

“Oh, thank you. Harold, isn’t it? In apartment 3B?”

I smile, nice and easy. “That’s right. Would you believe I left my keys in my apartment? I didn’t want to call the super, you know? I’ve got a spare key with the couple in 3C.”

The old woman smiles sympathetically. “We’ve all been there, dear. Thank you for getting the door for me.” She moves over to the elevators, turns back to see me taking the stairs.

“Better for my health.” I wink at her and am gone.

Monica’s apartment is 5E, and my legs are burning by the time I get there. The bullet in my gut isn’t too happy either, but the pain keeps me focused. I don’t bother knocking, smearing a bit of blood on the door handle and barking out a few words of power. I grab and twist, the whole mechanism sliding easily to one side. She hadn’t bothered with a chain.

Inside, she’s sitting on a couch, a look of shocked surprise on her face as it’s her turn to stare down the barrel of my gun.

“Blake? I thought you were dead.” Her eyes dart around the room, looking for something, anything to get out of this.

“Takes more than a bullet, darling. Who was it? Who got to you?”

She snorts, eases back onto the couch. “No one got to me, asshole. I was working for the Syndicate the entire time. They’re moving against freelancers. You were my ticket in. Why couldn’t you stay dead?”

“Not me, baby. I’m like Lazarus.”

Unlike her, I don’t stop at one bullet.

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Comments
  1. […] week, pick a title and go! I’ve used Blake before in a bit of flash (“Nothing Like Getting Rained On“) though if I’m being honest this is more vignette than flash. Ah well, and so it goes. […]

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