Some of you may remember that I had started writing a sci-fi novel about the end of the world. Some of that story has changed. Here’s my latest rewrite.
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Tina Turner, We Don’t Need Another Hero
The Book of Carrot
Book One: Principal Virtues
Chapter One: Love is a battlefield
Episode One: The heart of a hero
Toate drumurile duc la Roma.
All roads lead to Rome.
A Romanian Proverb
The dark, long night was endless. John’s heart was still pounding from the death match that he had just won an hour ago. Below, the dead dragged their feet.
“You are so totally epic!” whispered George excitedly.
“You rocked the tournament.
Using those two transplutonian holographic thing-a-majigs to distract Marko’s sentry drone and that scary ass, Adams-family-looking, Tiny Tim zombie…
… while you went for an epic kill shot – EPIC!
Marko thought he was about to pwn you – then, BAM!
You threw that axe and buried it in the dutchman’s chest…
Oh – that is going to be a legend.”
“This is the plan,” John typed slowly.
“We stay in this tree until we get back-up to secure the area. We don’t talk or whisper.
We’re going to get through this with our level and gear intact. Ok?”
“What was the tournament prize?” George asked.
“Type. Don’t talk.” John typed on the illuminated keyboard on his open hand.
“They can hear you.”
“Whatever!” George replied.
“What was the tournament prize?”
“STFU!!!” John typed.
The slow scuffle of a dozen feet stopped as the zombies waited for George to speak again.
“We’re dead…” George said as he pointed his rocket pistol down at a zombie that was leaning against the trunk of their tree.
“Time to Hulk up and S-M-A-S-H…”
Fuck! John thought to himself.
George pulled the trigger.
The gun roared and flashed. The bullet entered the skull and a greasy, fluorescent, white-yellow substance smoked out from the entry wound as the bullet exploded and phosphorous violently burned inside the zombie’s skull.
The zombie fell. It’s brain continued to burn and smoke.
“Alien rounds – 2 Gold each,” George said as he grinned.
The darkness below swelled like choppy dark water at sea.
“Bam! Bam-Bam!” exclaimed George as he fired into the moving darkness.
John lit a flare and threw it 10 meters to the North. Zombies were already everywhere but more were coming.
He threw two more flares; each flare landed 10 meters further than the previous – each flare scattered zombies from where the flares fell.
John fished a silver ball out of his back pack – it was about the size of a softball. He threw it 20ish meters to the south. It hit the ground and rolled. A life-size hologram of a 12 year old girl flashed above it as kept on rolling. The hologram was crying and shrieking at the zombies surrounding her.
The zombies pressed toward the moving hologram.
“That Hologram thing-a-majig was like 100 Gold! That’s 100 Euros, John! What if someone picks it up?”
John swung his leg over the branch that he had been straddling.
“The funny thing about that is that I never lost one yet. Tonight, however, might be the exception,” John typed.
John jumped. It was a six meter drop. He fractured his left wrist as he rolled on the landing.
Better a broken wrist than a broken leg, John thought to himself.
His roll stopped at the feet of Mr. Rogers – sweater and that unforgettable… retentive smile. Mr. Rogers looked down at John with glassy, dead eyes and he seemed to sigh in self-disgust.
What an unfortunate turn of a posthumous acting career, John thought.
John grabbed Mr. Roger’s ankles and pulled them forward and out from under him. Mr. Rogers flailed his arms as he fell backwards. John was up.
He ran the line of flares that he had thrown.
“Are you just going to leave me here?” George yelled from the tree.
“Stay in the tree and I’ll be back with some guys. Maybe, tomorrow,” John typed.
“FUCK THAT!” George shouted back.
George was about to jump from the tree when he saw the dim flash of sniper fire from the South. George was hit in the stomach.
There was another flash. This time it was a head shot. It was an alien round. Steam blew out through the entry wound.
George’s body fell into the sea of zombies below.
A twenty-something Lady Gaga, chrome monster heels and titanium bikini, held George’s face in her hands. She took a greedy bite of George’s cheek. Meanwhile, others also feasted on George – whatever they could put their mouths on.
“No way – is that Lady Gaga?!” George howled in laughter as he viewed various angles of Lady Gaga eating his face.
“Now that’s some funny shit!”
John didn’t look back to see the horror comedy. He knew exactly what had happening.
If only George could have kept his mouth shut…
John kept on running and throwing flares ahead of him for the next 100 meters – until he was out of Cismigiu Park. He crossed the street (Schitzu Muguranu) and ducked into a burned out building.
There used to be a coffee shop here – in the game and also in real life. He went there from time to time.
John had a hiding place inside the former coffee shop. There was a crawl space in the ceiling above the toilets. It lead to a room where the door had been walled off from the outside.
He had stocked the hideaway with water, food, medical kits, ammunition and a solar charging station.
John had set it up for guild members needing a hideaway in this zone – having a place to hide out, patch up and log off was key to keeping levels and gear.
The room was guarded by an alien K-9-3 sentry drone – it looked like a rubiks cube with different hues of metallic pastels. It didn’t look scary but it fired three deadly, high voltage rounds per second. Any curious intruders that might come into the room through the crawl space would be in a world of trouble.
Actually, John had three K-9-3s from the beta game. The other two were stationed in other hide-aways.
John logged out of the game.
“GET MY GEAR,” shouted George from the living room.
“No one from the Guild is responding. They must have logged out after the tournament.
I can’t secure the area – not alone,” John typed.
“I’m calling Anca,” George replied.
“K,” John typed.
“THAT WAS YOU – ANCA?!
It was you who fucking sniped me?” George shouted at his phone.
Ha-ha – NOT Funny!
You better get my stuff, bitch! Get my stuff or I’ll come over to your apartment tomorrow and kick your ass. For real!
I don’t care if you’re a mommy and have two kiddos.
Whatever – after what you just did to me, I’ll talk to you anyway that I want.
You’re a bitch because you PK’ed me when you knew it was me – DUHHH!
I lost twenty levels, tonight. That’s a month of real time. That’s 12 hours per D-A-Y! 12 hours every day for a whole fucking month!
I’m sorry, I called you a bitch.
Now, GET MY STUFF – OK?!
Call me when you got my stuff. Ok?
I’m serious, bitch! You better call me!
Call me when you got all of my stuff!”
George took off his headgear and grinned at John across the room.
“What was the tournament prize?”
“Alien Technology – Infiltrator’s Uniform.”
“Congrats, bro! Um… Stats?!”
John read off the uniform’s stats from the wiki:
Psychic Modifier: +12
Alien Faction: 3000
Human Faction: -1000
Skills: Ultra Vision, Universal Translator, Subtle Motion Awareness, Force Shield 7, and Regeneration 3
Other: Three K-9-5 Surveillance Drones, 12 Bio-technology Sockets and 12 Technology Sockets
“What is Subtle Motion Awareness?”
“The wiki says it notifies you of any movement within a 100 meter radius – giving you a Spider Man like sense of danger.”
“SWEET – I bet you could eBay that for 2000 Euro.”
“One is listed right now for 5000,” replied John as took off his head set and shut down the game application on his computer.
“That’s more than most working stiffs make in a year,” George commented with a big smile.
“This requires celebration. You’re buying!”
John turned on the lights.
John was 5-9; he had shoulder-length brown hair and brown eyes that glowed blue under a black light. George thought that was freaky.
George was slightly taller – even with his shaven head. Captain America’s shield was tattooed on the back of George’s head.
John thought the tatoo was even more freaky.
George pulled a yellow T-shirt on. It was decorated with a white skull and crossbones. Above the skull, Love hurts was written in Arial Black font with Swarovski crystals.
John’s T-shirt was white.
It had a hand painted face of Batman framed with a thin, metallic silver circle – it was just about over where John’s heart was. The words written in black above the circle read: The heart of a hero beats in this chest.
All Rights Reserved by Stan Faryna
18 September 2012