Retrieve the torso
As Ache approached the docks the sky began to change slightly. Its usual brackish look passed and gave way to a lighter yellower scheme. The yellow light made everything look sickly and old. It made Ache feel bad, like the feeling of anxiety before a thunderstorm but with a stickier, unhealthier edge to it. The few stragglers on the streets moved indoors distrusting the atmosphere outside. In the distance past the squawking of itinerant seagulls, Ache could hear the sound of a large vehicle and the muffled sound of someone talking on a megaphone. His friends were a mess. The Captain had not adjusted well to the many forms of stimulation outside the church. He could no longer do anything except stumble along with his eyes closed, hands over his ears. Stead, who seemed the happiest, worried Ache the most. Stead smiled, nodded and occasionally rubbed his hands, but he had not blinked or said anything for several hours. Walking was made difficult for Stead as periodically his knees malfunctioned, the many grazes and cuts on his tattooed forearms were testament to his many unexpected falls. They trudged slowly down the hill toward the waiting sea.
Eventually a sight came into view; there was an enormous amount of cargo being loaded onto Satan. The old ship looked engorged on the massive crates that were being loaded onto her. Ache puzzled stopped walking for a minute. He re-lit the joint hanging from his mouth and looked on. The crew of Satan must have arrived back earlier, for they were currently performing the loading of the crates supervised by Paulhead, his body was nowhere to be seen. Paulhead spied Ache standing at the foot of the road and called him over
Ache wandered slowly over to the bollard atop which Paulhead sat
“Alright Head?” asked Ache as he neared Paulhead, Ache placed the joint in-between Paul’s lips and looked on approvingly as Paul kaned it till it was no more. As Paul spat the roach of the joint to the floor he asked “So where are Stead and the Captain?”
Ache turned round to see if he could see them, the quay behind him was empty. Stead and the Captain had vanished
“Dunno where they are mate, they were a bit you know….” Ache made a twirling motion at the side of his head with his index finger
“Oh right” replied Paulhead “Well I suppose I should tell you what’s going on here”
“Would be nice” Ache admitted as he started to skin up again
“Rattone!” Paul shouted “Come here!”
The bosun ambled over holding a clipboard
“Show Ache the list” asked Paulhead of Rattone
Rattone handed over the clipboard and with a nod to Ache returned to supervising the cargo loading. Ache started to scan the list, his eyes widening as he realised what was on it
“Nice eh?” Asked Paul, raising his eyebrows and smiling happily
“There’s some GOOD shit here, we’ve got ALL this on board?”
“Will have soon, man”
“Nice one, nice one” said Ache his look of surprise, giving way to a broad smile
“Maybe you should tell me how you got your hands on all this”
“I used my body as collateral, told the guy I’d come back in a month to pay him”
“Who was this guy?” inquired Ache “Not many people in Westport can come by this sort of stuff so easily!”
“His name is Grando, fat dude” Paul replied
“Grando, the same Grando who is senior storage manager for Tricky’s supplies and armaments division??” asked Ache incredulously
“Probably” replied Paulhead
“The same greasy, pork chop eating Grando who Cap owes a million trips?” Ache confirmed, his eyebrows reaching for his hairline
“I guess” Paulhead replied
“Shee-it! Are you going to pay him?!” asked Ache
“Paul man, you cant just run off with a major haul of Tricky’s supplies! He’ll go fucking nuts, hunt you down and use you as a sex slave for his booty bandit brigade!” Aches voice was raised in an attempt to make the nonchalant Paulhead realise just who he had been dealing with
“Bit hard to be used as a sex slave when you’ve only got head” countered Paulhead
“Cap and I only just managed to get away with a million measly trips, you got a kings ransom in goods! What about your body? Are you intending to get it back?”
“Yeah, I know where he’s keeping it” said Paul, nodding knowingly
“Cool, cool” Ache with a twist of his long dextrous fingers, finished skinning his joint sparked it, popped it into his mouth and began puffing away. Paulhead winked at something behind Ache, to see why Ache turned around and did a double take when he saw the Captain and Stead stood behind him; they were glaring unashamedly at his burning joint
“Where the fuck did you come from?” Asked Ache taking a step back
The two who appeared too calm, spoke in monotone unison: -
“Give us a toke on that”
“Nah, fuck that!” said Ache haughtily
Stead made a grab for the joint but Ache was too quick, ducking Stead’s outstretched arm he darted away from them down the quay, where when at a safe distance he turned to jump up and down waving his index fingers
“Need smoke!” Grumbled Stead, worry lines furrowing his brow
“Smmookkke” Echoed the Captain, sounding like a demented whale
“Feeling a bit wired lads?” Asked Paulhead smiling. In response Steads face changed colour several times and the Captain’s teeth made a grinding sound so loud even Ache winced all the way down at the other end of the quay
“Look lads, I would cook up some lovely Shotgun’s for ya, really meaty. But some cunts got my body! If you go get it back for me I’ll cook up a couple of rounds to settle you down, would you like that?” bargained Paulhead
The unhinged pair nodded vigorously, eager to calm their ravaged minds with the soothing balm of cannabis. Paul talked to them at length, cajoling them, encouraging them and informing them of where his torso was and what kind of resistance they could expect. Then he gave them some Angel Dust. They snorted it gladly from its tinfoil package and this is what happened. Their poor, battered metabolisms soaked up the new substance eagerly, mistaking it for sustenance. Soon it was in their hearts and brains and working its sinister ways.
“Jah! Jah!” Stead jumped and jerked, his eyelids opening wide enough to show the entirety of his blue irises. The Captain experienced a total body shiver so violent it nearly threw him off the quay and into the sea. Stead lifted a thick forearm to his face and wiped a large string of snot onto a black flame tattoo.
“I think we’re ready to go get your body back” he stammered, more snot falling from his nostrils as he turned and walked stiffly off. He was followed shortly by the long confident stride of the Captain, who stopped, turned and walked back a few paces to retrieve his whip from the floor where he had dropped it earlier. Paul smiled, they were the perfect way to retrieve his body. Paulhead being detached from the body for so long was becoming more adept at what it was designed to do, thinking. Thoughts, possibilities, permutations and calculations charged through his mind surprising him. He was still the same person but since his awakening on the island, his mental power had increased dramatically, allowing him to obtain the goods they required. Soon his friends would return with his torso, which although he didn’t need it anymore for some reason he felt quite attached to it. Ache wandered back over to Paulhead and said
“You really expect them to come back”
“Yeah, I do” replied Paulhead smiling shadily.
Night never falls in this land. This is probably just as well because its citizens are totally demented and at least a little violent. They would find that the nice, kind darkness of a natural night would provide them with the cover required to do unlimited hideous things to their friends, family and neighbours, without the handicap of actually being seen. So apart from the rare crushing darkness that hides death in its depths, the darkest it gets around Westport is a dusky evening glow, the kind that would cast hazy, indistinct shadows. Two such shadows flitted down a silent alley between two immense warehouses. The two people causing the shadows stopped at an unremarkable spot. High above them in the wall of an off white building, was a small-unbarred window
“That’s our way in.” said the Captain, jerking his head up quickly to indicate the window.
Stead looked up, studying the height and composition of the wall
“I couldn’t jump up there” he said “I’d estimate that to be about fourteen foot up, I can only jump seven feet”
“Well if your estimations correct. I’m seven foot tall stand on my shoulders and jump, grab the ledge get in and find some rope or something, help me get in” suggested The Captain; talking the kind of high quality bullshit you only get when severely baked.
“Nah fuck it, let’s just storm the front gate, I feel like I could take ALL those motherfuckers and really enjoy it!” Stead was indulging the high quality PCP circulating his brain.
“Yeah! Fuck! Shee-it!” cried the Captain as he bounced on the spot and also indulged the drug. They turned and headed eagerly for the front of the building. Looking back quizzically, Stead asked
“Why the fuck only one little window in that whole side of that huge building anyway?”
“I have no idea” replied The Captain “Ventilation maybe”
To be fair the guards at Warehouse No. 666, were not expecting any trouble, because they never had any. Their warehouse held low priority goods, stuff not really worth anything. Blankets, toilet seats, body bags and the occasional headless body. So the guards currently on watch in the front courtyard were un-alert and lax. They were certainly not in Tricky’s elite guard, but bore similar black uniforms with the red insignia and matching black helmets. Armed with forty shot repeating rifles, surrounded by a twelve foot wall (with spikes on top), broken only by a huge metal gate (closed & locked) they felt safe enough. Especially guarding nothing of interest to anybody willing to take them on, in short they were too comfortable. They were all about to find out that life is like a video game; you always die on your first go.
A voice boomed out “I AM HARDCORE, HEAR ME ROAR!”
Every guard in the cobbled courtyard turned to see a wild haired, inelegantly muscled cyber barbarian crouched atop the gate wriggling his little metallic toes, he roared
“ROAWWWWARGH!” it was very throaty, loud and involved a lot of spittle. Several guards dropped their weapons and ran. A few took aim and fired. Most stood there gobsmacked as Stead dropped nimbly from the top of the gate and scuttled to the gate so quickly his long ponytail remained horizontal in the air, like a yellow war banner. At the gate controls he pushed aside the guard who stood there with ease. He opened the gates, bullets zinged past dangerously close. But Stead paid no heed, instead he turned to the dazed guard who he had pushed aside and took hold of his head, and with using his monstrous ring encrusted hands viciously twisted it back and forth, until the nasty cracking sounds became the sounds of tearing skin. Stead tore the man’s head off, staggering a bit whilst holding the disembodied cranium, he realised it was dribbling gore onto his shiny metal feet so he cast it away in distaste and ran into the nearest body of guards screaming like a banshee.
The Captains heart was thudding as the large metal gate began to creak open on rusty hinges. His sweaty palm gripped the handle of his whip tightly, its long razor like length lying coiled around his legs like a loving silver serpent, he slowly started to turn, then to spin, accelerating slowly so the whip started to rise into the air and curl around him, looping slowly. He gathered so much speed that soon the Cap had surrounded himself with a cyclone of nearly invisible razor sharp wire. He slowly started to spin towards the opening gate.
After witnessing the decapitation of their colleague by the blonde cybernetic nutter, who was now leaping erratically toward them, most of the soldiers fled, dropping their rifles. The two remaining men were experienced officers, veterans who did not scare so easily. These two raised their rifles and began to fire at Stead. Stead started to jink and dodge, jumping huge heights into the air to throw off their aim. Despite his speed, inventiveness and ability to perform these neat little somersaults, as he came within ten feet of them a slug caught him in the shoulder, knocking him back several paces, Stead tried not to feel it (the PCP helped). The second bullet caught him the stomach and left a horrible wound gouting blood, this also sent him staggering back a few more feet. The officers continued to fire and advance on Stead, two more bullets slammed into his torso and slowed him considerably. Suddenly Stead stopped dodging and just stood still arms by his side, blood covering his body. His head was bowed as if in surrender. One of the officers removed his bulky helmet revealing the rough-hewn face of an older man, his eyes burning hatred
“You really think were gonna let you surrender after what you did to Tweedy?” he said gruffly, indicating the cooling corpse of the soldier Stead had brutally decapitated. Stead looked up but remained silent. The men opened fire, two bullets raced towards Steads calm waiting face. In one movement too quick to see Stead kicked a smooth arc in the air, the bullets deflected off his metal feet and returned along their exact line of trajectory back down the barrels that had bore them. The two officer’s rifles exploded in their hands, blinding and burning them. They fell to the ground wriggling like two halves of a severed worm. Such a manoeuvre was so unlikely that physically it drained the verisimilitude from the whole scene. Stead slowly crossed his arms and smiled gently then collapsed onto the cobbles, staining with them his lifeforce, tainting them with his bullshit.
The guards who had fled were grateful to see the main doors swinging open, this meant they had somewhere to run to. They were more confused than frightened at the sight of a tall, hairy man outside the gate swinging what appeared to be a small stick, a few of the more attentive soldiery noticed the man was surrounded by silvery blur. But in their panic to retreat from Stead did not pay this much heed. About seven of them ran straight into the spinning razorwire, arms and hands flew from their correct positions on the body and took to the air. The soldiery seemed distraught, as their wrists and elbows squirted blood in every conceivable direction. The next few soldiers running closely behind their companions tried to stop and either, fell headfirst into the shimmering cyclone or barrelled into their already injured companions knocking them back into the area of injury. High pitched screams rent the air again. The few at the back who saw what was happening managed to stop in time to be showered with gore, bone chips and blood. The Captains whip slowly came to a stop twirling in the dust at his feet, he too was splattered with the remains of his victims and looked very pleased with himself, a self-satisfied grin took his face. The few survivors ran past him and down the street, rapidly falling into shock. The Captain staggered forward a few feet and saw Steads bloody, slumped form beyond the charred corpses of two guards. He ran towards his injured friend forgetting how fucked he was, he actually ran past Steads body three or four times before he finally knelt next to him, put his hand on his shoulder and said
“Are you ok?”
“Of course I’m not ok muthafucka, I’m shot!” Stead screamed back at him
“See all this blood?”
The Cap nodded
“It’s mine muthafucka! Take me to Ache, he can repair me, he has the technology……” Stead regained unconsciousness. The Captain got up and wandered over to the warehouse door, he kicked it open. Inside towering over the Captain were rows upon rows of shelves stretching up to the faraway roof. The shelves were filled with many thousands of boxes and crates, the atmosphere was dusty and dry. Slumped against one of the nearest shelves was Paul’s body, Cap stumbled over to it and gave it a hefty kick in the ass. Startled the body jumped to its feet, its neck orifice gulping for air. Cap took it by the hand and led it out into the courtyard, it followed him happily. In the courtyard Cap slung Steads limp body over his shoulder and began on his way back to the ship. Unaware that he was being followed.
Cap was struggling now, he had pushed himself to the limit. His mind was weary from the many drugs he had taken, his body was weary from carrying Steads bloody carcass halfway across Westport. Paul’s body had obediently followed him down many wrong turns and dead ends. He was on the final straight now, dragging Stead down the same hill Ache had walked down earlier in time. The docks were below him, and the mighty red sea behind them spread to every point on the horizon. Nearly there, he thought. He had long ago stopped whinging about his predicament and was now just getting on with it, now he was craving just a glass of water and a flat place to pass out. Satan edged into view around the side of a building, Cap noticed that all the cargo had been loaded and the ship was ready to sail. His shuffling speed increased slightly at the sight of his destination, knowing that smoke, food and merciful sleep were not far ahead. Almost there, he thought encouragingly as he got to the edge of pier 187. He saw Ache with the burly Rattone heading down the pier to meet him and they were carrying (Joy of joys!) shotgun bongs, a tear ran down the Caps rugged, hairy cheek as he dropped Stead and hobbled eagerly forward arms outstretched to receive his bong. He had just got his hands on his Shotgun and was starting the fight to clear it when Stead appeared beside him eagerly toking on another bong handed to him by Rattone. Cap stopped toking and looked at the man he had just carried/dragged about five miles and said
“I thought you were injured!”
“I am, I am!” protested Stead “But not THAT much”
“You’ve got four fucking bullet holes in you!” exclaimed Ache after counting them, Stead cleared his shotgun but instead of the usual plume of smoke darting from his mouth on the exhale, a small trickle of smoke emerged from the wounds in his chest.
“I think we better patch you up mate” said Ache with concern. The Cap shook his head and started his bong. As Stead was helped aboard Satan by Rattone, Paul’s body wandered aimlessly about the quay without anyone to guide it. Three black armoured cars began to pull up at the bottom of the pier, Paul’s body was the only one not to look concerned.
“Uh oh” gulped Cap as he spied the cars, smoke from his bong started escaping from his mouth, his eyes rolled back into his head, his jaw dropped. Accompanied by a long, deep croaking sound thick yellow smoke began to pour from his gaping maw. Paul’s body under the control of his observing head wandered up the gangplank and safely onto Satan. Tricky’s guard began to pile out of their vehicles, for they could not drive them on the weak wooden pier. The survivors of warehouse no. 666 had reported straight to their superiors, revenge was now being sought. The Captain started to cough, spittle flying randomly from his gob. At first it was throaty, controllable but then it sank to his lungs and got ROUGH, the coughs then became quicker, sounding like the shots of a small calibre rifle. Cap turned purple and started to collapse still coughing reluctantly. Ache was desperately trying to drag Cap onto the ship when they all heard a deep distorted laugh coming from above them. Looking up into dismal jaundiced sky, they saw a black dot. The dot got closer and closer until, white robe flapping Andy descended from the sky and hovered gently just above the pier between Satan and Tricky’s forces. His arms were crossed across his chest and his robe was stained with the blood of a recent kill.
“Ha ha!” laughed Andy, “Jug wen u fort it waz ova!” the harpoon lodged in his jaw obviously made speech difficult for him. He smiled deeply, gloating over a struggling Ache and a Captain on the brink of showing the world his lungs. That was when the bullets started to hit him in the back, Tricky’s men had opened fire.
“Satop, U fules, eye’m on yoor side, argh!” more bullets slammed into his body knocking him this way and that, tearing great holes in his robe yet no blood stained it. Ache saw his opportunity as Andy turned to address his tormentors, he reached up and took a firm hold of Andy’s long dark hair, pulling on it fiercely he said
“Look here cunt, your gonna be my “human” shield, alright?”
Andy was in no position to argue as bullets were constantly hitting him in the chest and his hair was in severe danger. Ache dragged Andy over to where the Captain lay coughing weakly, bullets thudding into the pier around him
“Come on Cap, get behind harpoon head with me.”
He helped the Captain to his feet and they shuffled along behind Andy who was now in mortal fear for his hair and paying no heed to the bullet ridden mess that was now his chest. A bullet shattered Andy’s kneecap, another ricocheted off his harpoon sending uncomfortable vibrations through his skull. All the while Ache was manoeuvring Andy across the pier towards Satan’s wide gangplank, when they reached the bottom of it they could see crewmembers on deck egging them on. Ache placed his sneakered foot firmly on Andy’s ass and as he let go of his hair he used his foot to push Andy stumbling across the pier. Simultaneously one of Tricky’s eager guards lobbed a grenade down the pier. Ache scrambled up the gangplank shouting
“Go! GO! GO!”
Satan was already ticking over and somebody threw her into full ahead, she pulled loose of her moorings easily snapping the ropes that bound her to land, the gangplank fell into the sea. The grenade rolled to a gentle stop right in between Andy’s legs, then exploded.
“BANG! ZOOM! To the moon Andy!” cried Ache from the safety of Satan’s deck, Andy flew up into the air arms and legs flailing to fall neatly onto the hood of one of the armoured cars, denting it. Satan sailed off. The Cap’s coughing fit finally began to subside, he managed to say in a weak voice
Tricky’s men surrounded the much abused corpse that was smouldering quietly on the hood of their car. The body, apart from missing an eye, having a harpoon stuck in its head had a ribcage that was basically a mass of bullet entry wounds and was now charred from the explosion. One guard nudged his nearby companion
“Hey, at least we got one of them!”
Andy’s eyes flickered open.