I was lying in a muddy ditch at the edge of a clearing in the middle of a forest. The world seemed to be spinning and the sharp, pinpricks of pain in my head felt like someone was holding a pan filled with boiling oil over my exposed brain, but I could see the flora well enough to notice that I wasn’t exactly in Kansas anymore. I wasn’t in any condition to be standing up, so I crossed a couple of imaginary fingers, turned my head to the side, and hoped that too much vomit wouldn’t get on my clothes. When I was done heaving, I rolled over away from the pool of puke and laid there in exquisite agony. I might’ve had a hangover this bad once, when I was too stupid to know any better, but I wouldn’t put money on it.
DeVries, that son of a bitch. This shit was all his fault. For fuck’s sake, why? Why did this weird, fucked up shit always have to happen to me? Was it really so hard to just let me go about my life in peace? I don’t care
, I thought at the non-present, asshole of a wizard—summoner, whatever the fuck he was. I don’t care. I don’t want revenge for you kidnapping me, or trying to summon some fucked up demon god into my brain, or trying to kill me when you failed, or even apparently teleporting into the middle of some goddamned forest thousands of miles from home. Just leave me the fuck alone
, I pleaded silently, before closing my eyes in a vain effort to make the spinning stop. It made it worse, and I had to roll over to vomit again.
Once I’d finished up for the second time, I let out an involuntary sob. My head hurt. It’d hurt ever since DeVries had tried to summon that thing of his. I’d never had a headache like this before, and I couldn’t help but wonder if there’d been some permanent damage. I couldn’t believe that the human mind was meant to play host for such things. Again, I felt that terrible anger bubble up at the thought of what DeVries had tried to do, at the thought that he may have given me some form of brain damage. No, no, bygones were bygones. Sure, DeVries had tried to turn me into some horror’s meat puppet and kill me, but I had beaten his face in with a brick. We were even, DeVries and I. Square. As long as he left me alone, I’d leave him alone.
I heard voices. Predictably enough, they weren’t in English. As they approached—and as my vision started to stabilize a bit—I realized that they were speaking Spanish. A brown face leaned over the edge of my vomit-filled ditch. He didn’t seem very surprised to see me. He looked over his shoulder and shouted. A few voices shouted back in response. I didn’t speak Spanish. Sure, I knew a few phrases—“¿Yo quieres Taco Bell?
” and “¡Chinga tu madre!
” chiefly among them—but I was in no way fluent. His buddies showed up, poking their heads up as well. There were half a dozen of them. After a brief argument, two of them slid down into the ditch with me. They each had a small, blocky, Uzi-like submachine guns on straps and some sort of flak jacket with magazine pouches on it.
Predictably, one of them slid down into the pool of vomit. He let out a howl of rage, and his buddy started laughing at him. Also predictably, the one who now had my vomit on his shoes, the back of his legs, and ass kicked me in the side. Just because I’d been expecting it, didn’t mean it didn’t fucking hurt. I screamed and cursed at him, hands to my side and tears in my eyes. They ignored me as they grabbed me under my arms and tried to haul me up. I attempted to render some assistance, but they mostly just dragged me.
As I was pulled up out of the ditch, I noted that I’d was at the outskirts of some sort of farm. Row after crooked, half-assed row of small, leafy trees ran from end to end of the clearing. Filthy people in tattered clothing worked at pulling the leaves off of the trees and stuffing them into pillowcase sized sacks. The workers’ gazes shied away from the armed men as they dragged me down one of the rows. Since they seemed perfectly capable at pulling me along without my help, I decided to conserve what little strength I had managed to regain. It was getting a bit easier to think as my head cleared. The strange, prickly headache lingered, but the vomit inducing dizziness that—I assume, at any rate—was caused by the teleport was now quickly fading.
Looking around, I had a suspicion about what this farm was and where that would probably place me. Through the trees, I saw a handful of rather sturdy looking prefab buildings. It seemed that we were headed for the smaller, more prominently placed one. And it seemed I was right. There were a couple more armed men flanking the door to the building. One of them opened the door to assist our passage. The guards chatted with each other and laughed a bit as we passed inside. I found it disturbing that I couldn’t understand what the people who would ultimately decide my fate were saying. It kind of reminded me of those two Armenian kids who sat behind me in middle school. I could never understand a word they were saying, and I was certain that they were saying rude things about me about half of the time.
The room we walked into looked like a living room converted into an office space. There was a desk facing towards us, positioned at the far end of the room around where you might normally put a couch. Off to the side was a cramped kitchenette and a hallway that I could only assume led to some bedrooms and bathrooms.
Behind the desk was what looked like a girl that couldn’t’ve been older than thirteen. I say “looked like” because I immediately knew she was a vampire. Vampires have a certain vibe about them. If you spend enough time around vampires, they’re pretty easy to spot. I’ve spent years living in an apartment just across the hall from one who had some serious, deep seated issues. Notably what seemed to be some form of agoraphobia. All and all, I couldn’t help but see her as pretty poor example of vampire-kind. This mini-vampire didn’t throw off any pathetic sort of feeling. She was obviously a Caucasian, and she sported a modest, yellow sundress and a businesslike demeanor. One of her hands was pressing lightly down upon a stack of papers and she cradled a satellite phone against her head with the other.
“No,” she said, a moment before casting me a short glance. “It seems they’ve found him.” She listened for a moment before frowning. “That isn’t the issue, DeVries.” There was a light, almost indistinct accent to her English. “No,” she said again, shaking her head. “We’re finished DeVries. This is it. After this, we go our separate ways.” The vampire was beginning to look crankier and crankier as the conversation dragged on. “I am not
your lapdog, you silly, little wizard, and frankly, I don’t give much a shit. I will honor our agreement one final time, but it will be on my terms. What’s convenient for you is not my concern right now.” … “Goodbye, Mr. DeVries.” She placed the phone very, very gently back on the desk and positioned her now free hand alongside the other.
“Now,” she said after taking a deep breath. She turned her gaze fully to me. “You must be Mr. Ajax, yes?”
I didn’t exactly see the need to respond to her.
She smiled before continuing. “Our mutual acquaintance, Mr. DeVries, sends his regards. He sounded upset and may have mentioned something about how his face may never be the same again.”
I allowed myself a little satisfaction. The son of a bitch deserved no less and probably a whole lot more.
“It is unfortunate, however, that I owe Mr. DeVries a favor. Personally, I find the man despicable—and this is coming from a drug dealing and manufacturing vampire, mind you—and would much rather tell him to go to hell. But business is business, and I have a reputation that I would prefer to keep. To be honest, my presence here is merely tolerated, and the FARC is already breathing down my neck as it is. There is a deal in place with them, but if they were to see what they could interpret as a sign of weakness… Well, let’s just say that this little operation of mine would be in danger.”
I saw what was coming.
“I’m afraid I’m going to have to kill you, Mr. Ajax.”
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!”
“Yeah. How about this: You tell that piece of shit to come down here, because there’s no way in hell that he’d want to miss my death, and then when he shows up, you fucking kill him. And then we all go home happy. Except for DeVries, but who gives a shit about him? Even if someone found out about it, I don’t see how anyone can see it as a sign of weakness.”
“Not possible, I’m afraid. While I deal in good faith with the FARC, I can’t really say the same for them. Say what you will about DeVries’ intelligence, but he has a certain—shall we say—cunning about him. If I were to kill him, I’m certain that word would get out, one way or another. That would be all the excuse that the FARC would need to seriously start muscling in on me. I’m certain that it’s bound to happen eventually, but for now, I’m content with the profit that I’m making off this little venture of mine. My bottom line is simply more important to me than your life. Sorry.”
I was about to respond when a scream came from just outside the door. Everyone’s heads swiveled towards it, hands moved to weapons, and I looked for a place to hide. One of the guards still had a single hand wrapped about my forearm, but I was bigger than him and had gotten—more or less—back on me feet. I took a few steps back towards the kitchenette, dragging the guard with me. He shot me a vicious look, but before he could do much about it, the door was ripped from its hinges and fell loudly inward. A unicorn pranced in.
“What the fuck?” I squeaked.
The unicorn was midnight black except for its mane, tail, the ends of its feet, and its horn, which were all the color of the purest of ivory. Its two-foot-long horn had a spiral shape similar to a narwhal’s, but it was much neater, straighter, perfect. The creature was absolutely beautiful, and from the way it pranced in and came to a stop on top of the sundered door, it knew it.
One of the guards who’d been outside the door came in behind the unicorn, babbling and gesturing to his vampiric mistress. Outside on the ground, I could see the curled, whimpering form of the other guard, lying in an expanding pool of his own blood. I noticed that the guy who came in with the unicorn was crying and shaking with what I could only assume was fear.
” the vampire shouted. The man’s mouth snapped closed and he rolled to a stop a few steps behind the unicorn. “What is the meaning of this?
” she shouted at he unicorn.
The unicorn shook its mane, the ivory hair shimmering gloriously in the light, and whinnied at the vampire.
She began to tremble and rose from behind her desk—which wasn’t really all the impressive, considering her diminutive size—her face contorting with rage. “You—you dare—you dare threaten me with the Dread Unicorn? Leave now, faerie, whilst thy limbs remain untwisted and thine eyes canst still see.
The unicorn cast the vampire a contemptuous glare and, without looking, raised one of its hind legs and kicked the kneecap of the guard standing behind it. The limb gave out with a terrible sound not unlike that of a snapping branch under the man’s weight and bent backwards as he shrieked horribly. As the man screamed, clutching at his knee, the unicorn pounced upon him, all of its hooves raining down in succession, again and again. Grunts of exertion huffed forth from the unicorn’s mouth as it trampled him. Those horrible screams continued until one of the hooves crush the man’s throat, silencing him instantly. When the unicorn was finished, what lay beneath its feet couldn’t be called human anymore. Its white feet were now stained the crimson of the dead man’s lifeblood. The beast turned, its head cocked to the side, and fixed a single, deranged eye upon the vampire. A low, psychotic neigh uttered forth from its lips.
That’s when guards all around the room opened fire, some screaming in terror as they pulled the trigger. Bullets pelted the unicorn’s flanks, bouncing off rather than burrowing into its flesh. The unicorn let loose a whinny of pure rage. I hurled myself to the floor as the creature turned, its horn scything through the air. The horn flashed across the belly of the guard who was standing next to me and coils of intestine spilled forth from within. The man screamed, dropping his weapon and trying to stuff his entrails back where they belonged. He never got to. The unicorn thrust its horn up through the bottom of his mouth and into his brain before turning and flinging the corpse at the other guards. The corpse struck one man directly and blew him from his feet.
Then the vampire made her move. I didn’t see anything, but I heard the unicorns hind legs snap. The monster let out a shriek of agony and rage as its rear limbs twisted and buckled beneath it.
“Despite how I look, unicorn, I am of an age far in excess of your years,” said the vampire calmly, suddenly standing before the crippled unicorn. “Even in broad daylight, you are no more than an insect before me.” Her hand flashed out faster than I could follow and struck a blow across the creature’s mouth. A couple of its large teeth landed on the carpet before me. The unicorn began to topple onto its side, but the vampire wouldn’t permit it to fall. She grabbed the beast’s horn with one hand and her arm began to tremble as she squeezed the horn with all her might. The unicorn let out a shriek of agony unlike even the ones when its legs were broken. It began to thrash and then vomit blood as its horrible screams reached new heights. Eventually the beast passed out.
“Take this… thing
and that man to the kennels,” she said without looking at either of us. “They aren’t being used yet. Throw them into the same cage. I’m going to lie down. This jetlag is getting to me.”
* * *
I was trapped in a dog kennel with an unconscious, psychotic unicorn at a coca farm in Colombia. Sadly, I couldn’t really help but feel that shit like this was par for the course considering the direction my life had been headed ever since… Doesn’t matter, I suppose. I needed to get out of here. The kennels were distressingly well made. It rather reminded me of the pound without the concrete dividers to prevent dogs from biting each other in the face. I glanced at the unicorn, again. It hadn’t moved for hours. I’d felt a rising sense of dread even since I’d been shoved in here with the thing. I made sure I was on the opposite side of the fucking kennel from the monster. And I was afraid to even look at it too long. A glance up at the window high up on the wall outside the cage told me that night was beginning to wane.
The unicorn snorted quietly and its eyelids twitched. Fucking fantastic. The monster blinked its eyes and picked its head up drunkenly off the floor to look around. Strands of bloody drool stretched from its mouth to the floor. It saw me, it puffed out a grunt of air, and then pulled its lips back—exposing its new, bloody dental work—and let out a psychotic whinny. The unicorn started struggling to get its front legs under it, making deranged noises all the while.
Why? Why the fuck did shit like this always happen to me? It wasn’t all that long ago that I didn’t have to worry about wizards trying to serve me up to some demon, or drug dealing vampires, or fucking unicorns trying to kill me. I seriously could not comprehend what I did to deserve any of this shit. I’d tried to lead a low-key life. Back and forth to college so that I could go back and forth to a boring ass job. My hobbies consisted of little more than reading books, strumming lamely away on my guitar, playing some video games, and grabbing an occasional drink at a bar. Nothing screamed, Please, supernatural assholes of the world, please come on over and fuck my shit up
. I never asked for this bullshit.
But I sure as fucking shit wasn’t going to let it drag me down without a fight.
The unicorn had managed to get its front legs beneath it and start dragging its way towards me, its useless hind limbs dragging behind it. It was moving faster than I expected with what it had, though. There wasn’t a lot of room to maneuver around in here, but I could probably get past the unicorn if I had too. I decided that it would be best if I kept away from its horn, considering how easily it tore open that on guy’s belly and head. Bullets seemed to piss the damned thing off more than they hurt it. Although, sufficient blunt force trauma worked, if what that vampire did to its legs was any indication. I seriously doubted by ability to do anywhere near that much damage to it.
When I started to move to launch myself past the unicorn, it turned its head so that I’d impale myself on its horn if I tried. I didn’t realize horses were capable of snarling, but then again, I hadn’t realized unicorns were a race of psychotic fairies, either. Eventually, after enough surprises, they sort of lose their oomph. I was going to have to get past the fucker somehow.
I moved to go past the unicorn on its other side, and it swiveled its head to match. So I started hopping back and forth, left to right to left to right. The monster peeled back its lips back and neighed in frustration. I took the opportunity to dive past it, causing the unicorn to let out a second, enraged cry. Just as I was about to start stomping on its broken, twisted hind legs, I noticed that it was dragging its rather large, bulging scrotum behind it. A grin split my face. Blunt force trauma it was. I jumped into the air as high as I could go and landed on its testicles with a single heel. After a moment’s resistance, the unicorn’s testes ruptured like particularly tough water balloons.
The unicorn let out a terrible shriek that quickly gave way to a gurgle as vomit welled up and erupted forth from between its lips. It flailed and convulsed violently before, finally, its horn snapped off against the floor of the kennel near to where it met flesh. Then silence. The moment the horn came off, the unicorn died. I recalled what happened when the vampire squeezed the unicorn’s horn. Whatever, I had to move. If someone came to investigate before I made my way out, I was fucked. On intuition, I picked up the horn from where it had landed nearby and thrust it into the kennel’s locking mechanism. The horn sheared right through the metal.
I walked out of the kennel, leaving the unicorn’s corpse to rot behind me, and made my way to the door. The knob turned as I approached. I switched the horn into my left hand and yanked the door open. The guard on the other side of it stumbled inward, and I didn’t give him any time to make noise. I thrust the horn through an eye, right through his head as if it were tepid butter and out the other side. Personally, I didn’t really give a fuck about any of these assholes. I even found myself planning to kill as many of them as I could on my way out, and not just to cover my escape. It wasn’t exactly pleasant, but slinging coke and leaving people locked in a cage with a deranged unicorn weren’t pleasant, either. The way I saw it, they didn’t have much right to complain if they were killed. And I didn’t much give a fuck if I was the one to do it. Fuck ‘em all.
I dragged the corpse inside and stripped it of its body armor and submachine gun, tossing the strap of the latter over a shoulder and letting it hang. I gave the gun a closer look. It had a wire stock that folded up along the rear and top of the gun. Above and to the rear of the trigger it read: INGRAM M10 CAL .45 AUTO. There was a safety just forward of the trigger within easy reach. After everything was set, I stepped outside into the twilight and around the side of the building. I didn’t get much of a look as I was being dragged in, but I did remember seeing three, longer prefab buildings. One of them had significantly more windows and ventilation dotting the sides.
My college days were behind me, and all in all, they’d been rather tame. Not much more than drink, weed, and the occasional bit of unprotected sex. But I’d had friends who were friends with a couple of guys who were into more hardcore shit. One time, the conversation turned to discussing the various, nasty shit that went into the things they smoked, snorted, and injected.
There were guards patrolling, but the moon was down and the sun wasn’t up. And I just happened to be dressed like everyone else. I approached the single guard milling around the front of the building that I assumed they were making their coke in with the unicorn’s horn concealed behind my left leg. He looked up at me and blinked a couple of times, but before he had the chance to realize what I wasn’t, he was dead. No one shouted or raised any sort of ruckus. I opened the door of the building a crack to make sure it was the right place, before dragging the corpse in with me and setting about my business.
In the darkness, I could just make rows of what looked like oil drums and a bunch of shelves lining one of the walls. I pulled a flashlight out of one of the vest’s pockets and turned it on, keeping the beam well away from any of the windows. I grabbed a couple of sacks filled with coca leaves from near the drums and emptied them out, before marching over to shelves. Bottles of methanol and kerosene and cans of gas and diesel lined the shelves. I smiled nastily. Everything I needed was right here.
* * *
I emerged from the building with a now filled sack tossed over my left shoulder. There wasn’t much time until it got light enough for someone to notice something amiss. I did a quick check of the other two long buildings. One was a sort of barracks for the guards and most of them were still inside sleeping. The other building was too well guarded for me to approach, so I had to assume that was where the workers slept.
As I was making my way towards the garage, I saw someone with strangely familiar swagger approaching the kennel building. I altered my course, picking up speed. No, I knew who it was. That ugly, cold anger began to burn hot. I placed the bag on the ground and reached inside. I knew this was a terrible idea, but I couldn’t stop myself. I maneuvered myself behind the bastard and began closing in as silently and quickly as I could manage.
“That bitch will pay if he isn’t still alive.” It was him
, alright. He had that infuriating accent and everything. When he entered the building, I was still on his tail. He stopped dead a few feet inside. First, he looked a the guard’s corpse, and then his gaze shifted to the unicorn’s.
” I shouted, my voice distorted with rage. He turned, utter shock on his smashed, raccoon-eyed face. His hands came up as he prepared to cast a spell, but he was too late. The Molotov smashed against his feet. From the smell, I could tell that one had been made of diesel. He began the shriek as the fire spread over his body in an instant, his arms batting futilely at the flames. I heard a half-mad laugh escape my lips. This is what the son of a bitch got for fucking with me. He’d earned this and more. I watched him drop to the floor and roll around, still shrieking. And then, with a loud crack, he was gone, taking most of the flames with in. “No!
” I screamed. Just when I’d almost lost myself to the rage, I thought I heard voices.
I ran back outside the building and didn’t slow down when I swept up the sack. The vampire would be showing up soon, and if she did, that was it. If she was that strong during the day, she must’ve been ancient
. I dropped the bag again as I got closer to her little house, lighting up another cocktail as I went. I peered through the windows, trying to figure out if she was inside or not, when a sleepy eyed vampire appeared at one window, scrubbing at her eyes. I didn’t hesitate. The Molotov smashed through her window, and burning liquid sprayed into her face. Her screams rose up immediately. Fire did a real number on vampires, old or otherwise. This close to daybreak, it’d really fucking hurt her. I seriously doubt it’d kill her considering the way she manhandled that unicorn, though.
Once again, I retrieved my back o’ tricks, and made a beeline for the garage. The kennels were burning up surprisingly well, and I could see a handful of shouting guards surrounding them. Another guard was approaching from the direction of the garage, shouting something at me in Spanish.
” I shouted back, putting my hand on the Ingram and flicking off the safety. I waited until I was sure I wouldn’t miss before I pulled the trigger. Most of my rounds missed, anyway, but a couple took him in the upper chest and another hit him in the head. He dropped dead without a sound. I quickly bent over to rummage through his pockets and was rewarded with a ring of keys. I picked a key and random and looked at it. It was old as hell and said “TOYOTA” on it.
When I reached the multi-door garage, I stooped down to pull one up. I did a quick inventory. Four pickup trucks, each one was a different make and model, except for two Fords. They all looked like they were from the ‘80s and ‘90s. I spotted a blue Toyota truck and climbed inside, setting the sack and horn in the passenger seat. The truck started up without a fuss and I pulled it out of the garage. I put it into park and got out with another Molotov, casting it back into the garage with the other trucks. After climbing back in, I juggled another couple Molotovs in my lap and hurled one out the window at the barracks as I drove past it and another at the side of the building where they distilled their coca into cocaine. A few bullets came my way after that, but too many of the guards were busy trying to organize what seemed to be a fire brigade to notice that a new fire had started and that the culprit was cruising away.
I drove along the dirt track through the coca fields rather slowly doing much the same, using almost all of my remaining cocktails setting the cash crop aflame. I glanced in the rearview mirror as I took the winding dirt track out of the clearing. The sun was rising up through the trees behind the burning buildings. Something exploded, probably inside the garage. A handful of guards ran my way, firing their guns as they came, but virtually every shot went wide. Maybe only a couple harmlessly plinked into the truck.
Soon, trees blocked my view of the burning coca farm. It was time to go home, and I’d only made one new enemy this time. Yippee.