This is part eight of Web of Deception - a round robin story. This is continued from Steve McDonagh's blog entry here. If you're late to the party, please start with Chapter 1 on Ben's site and go from there. You can also follow the RSS feed hosted at http://www.andthentheboilerburst.com/WebOfDeception.rss.
Mikes eyes slowly opened and swept over his bleeding body.
"Oh God. It really happened.. I swear I'll never drink Miller Lite again.. This is the worst hangover of all time.. " he muttered to himself, getting himself off the floor. Staggering around, he found some more clothes in a box, and slowly dragged them over his bleeding skin, pain flashing red over his eyes.. Where had Callie went ? And whats the big deal with all those cats..
Mike was not one of lifes leaders. He'd never captained the bowling team, he'd bought the nasty cars the salesmen recommended, and he still hurt over that Vista laptop.. So he did the only thing he knew. He had to call to a higher authority... Limping to his beloved bowling trophies, he looked for the 'Bowler of the year, Sams Bowling Alley, Virginia' one, shaped like a rather badly cast bowling ball. He unscrewed it from its base, and from the bottom, a sleek black cellphone dropped out.
He prayed to the Gods of celluar coverage for a moment, and switched on his tiny BlackBerry.. Finally, it lit up, battery charged - and praise be! - a signal! He mashed the 'J' key and the speed dial kicked in.. A long series of digits bleeped from the phone..
"Mike ? Is that you ?" said Joe, his co-worker.
"Yeah, something's happened... I need some help.."
"But your supposed to be on leave.. For a long time.. I mean, its against Agency rules to marry the suspect your supposed to be tailing.. The boss is still pissed at you.. ", sputtered Joe
"Look, ignore that. Take a look at what happened to me.. ". Mike manuvered the phone around, muttering to himself whilst he tried to remember how to take a picture.. Finally, the flash erupted over his left arm. Mike then sent Joe the picture.
"Oh, this is some sort of joke, right ? Like the time you ordered a missile strike on that British Prime Ministers helicopter? I mean, trying to end the British Hegemony here in the US 200 years after they left?" said the tinny voice on the phone.
"Nooo - that was a mistake.. No, some dammed cats burst in here and carved me up good. These go all over my body!". Mike was clearly playing the wounded soldier card - or more precisely - the wounded-and-suspended-special-agent card..
"Yeah right. You got drunk in New Orleans again.. Has Callie seen that tattoo yet ?". Joe was not buying any of the schtick.
"How can I tell you? No. I've been up at the new house, moving in. And boy this town is freakier than a Disney full of computer geeks!". They both shuddered at the memory.
"Mmm. Okay. I'll get someone to look at this - in the meantime, get yourself to a doctor. A real one this time, okay?". Joe hung up..
"That went as well as expected", Mike exclaimed wearily. He knew he wasnt agency material - all his co-workers were real smart dudes and frowned on his redneck ways. But he had a relative down in Texas who got him in, and so he had to stick with the job. At some point, he'd have to explain to his wife precisely how they met.. Still, that could wait.
Behind him, a desiccated Mr Hodges appeared in the window at the back door. Slowly, the Zombie turned the door handle to his old house, and rather unsteadily walked in.. Such was Mikes mental state, he didnt notice he had company till the George Forman Grill smashed over the back of his head.
In the field, Callie was enjoying her new form. This happened less and less as the modern world spilled over the earth, this freedom to change. She swooped high, relishing the wind under her wings, and using her newly aquired eyesight to seek out the house. Near the house, she saw tracks leading to and from what appeared to be a bush.. New found curiosity led her to swoop down and perch on the vines, and peer into the dark and gloomy cave. She spied the twisted little man, crouched over in one corner, furiously knitting. Beside him was a primitive stove, long cold, and some straw for a bed. The cave seemed to stretch on and on behind the hobbit, into the darkness...
In the distance, she heard a crash.
"Mike!" she crowed, and took off. In the cave, the Hobbit flinched at the outburst and stabbed himself in the leg with a needle.
"Dammit, I'll never get this row finished.. Nothing happens for years, and in one night, so many interruptions!", spat the twisted little man, sighing as he started again. "Who would have thought tartan was so hard to knit. Especially with only one colour of Black to work with".. He often kept himself company by talking to himself, and like a Microsoft executive, found it strangely reassuring.
Callies new eyes found the farm, and saw Mr Hodges stumbing away. "A Zombie", she thought curiously, "But we're not even at the elections.." But Callie had to get to Mike first. She swooped down on the porch, and without missing a step, changed back to her normal form.
"Mike!" she screamed as she climbed through the reamains of the Kitchen, and found him lying, bleeding, in front of his Bowling Trophy shrine. He was awake, but clearly confused.. "What happened?"
"Urrr... My great aunts husband was here - but I thought he died years ago. He hit me over the head with the grill and came at me as if to strangle me.. But as soon as he touched my skin, he screamed and ran out again.."
Callie's mind worked furiously.. She took in Mikes' new wounds on his arms, and she could see new wounds bleeding at his ankles. She risked looking down his bloody shirt and saw more.. All in curious circle-shapes.. Just like JC did to his leg.. Ahh... So JC had rounded up more protection for him.. Thats what he was talking to the other cats about. How could she get Mike to forget about that? Her old job in the City was in Software Sales - it involved pursuading people to pay money for crap. That was *easy* compared to *this*.
"And thats not the only strange thing. Just before that a bunch of cats invaded the house, ripped my clothes off me and... "
"Hush", she interrupted, "shhhh.. Lets move you to bed, and fix that head of yours.. Looks like you've had an interesting time whilst I've been away.. ".. She picked up Mike with surprising strength, and helped him through to the bedroom.
"I'll get something for that head of yours", she said, heading back to the kitchen.. She quickly found her pouch, the witch hazel and some industrial-strength sleeping tablets she was in the habit of taking when he snored too much. A little Prozac too, to keep him woozy.. Obviously, Mike was safe now the cats had worked their magic on him, so she could get to the bottom of this Zombie infestation.. Quickly, she made up a drink with the tablets, some wet towels, and put some Web within the bandages.
A few minutes later, Mike was snoring happily to himself in bed, wounds temporarily staunched. Callie pulled the kitchen back together as best she could, put some firelighters and her trusty Crème brûlée torch in a small cotton bag, and headed back to the porch. Within seconds, she was back in her hawk form, picked up the bag with her talons, and went off to hunt some Zombie.
High in the air, she quickly saw the road in the moonlight. Up and up she climbed, heading towards the town. As she neared, she saw cars snaking down the country roads, lights shining from the quaint little houses. Finally, she was over main street, and she spotted the Zombie heading towards the back of one of the stores. Within the blink of an eye, she wheeled and tucking her wings in, dropped like a stone. The impact of the Hawk on the Zombies face knocked him over onto his back, and within seconds, Callie
had changed back to her normal form. She stuck one of her boot-heels in the zombies shoulder, and unpacked the blowtorch.
Lighting it up, she shouted "Who are you!!?!"
Like a rather less politically unstable olympic torch, I hand the next chapter to Nathan Freeman, who has somehow got to incorporate the word 'hidalgo' in there...