Whiskey Wednesday: Rants and Horrors

Whiskey Wednesday: Rants and Horrors

Well well well….It is whiskey Wednesday…whiskey not whisky. (Its the bourbon spelling this time, not the scotch spelling) The drink is Evan Williams with iced tea. The summer has been adequate, could be better, could be worse. My motivations for self improvement are as lacking as my sleep, which comes and goes. Some days I awake after sound sleep with the power to conquer the day! Other times I am still awake when the sun is coming up and all I can say is, “For fucks sake, really!?”

“Sleep, those little slices of death — how I loathe them.”

Poe wrote that. Maybe he never slept much? Perhaps I can take a little silver lining in the meaning. Maybe, just maybe I am living more than the average person? Not that I complain to compare and to open the door for criticism, just a thought.

My work is coming well, but slowly. When I am in a melancholic mood, I want to write dark tragic tales of people of thy generation tweaked by society we live in. The death of the Millennials will be the ignored view points of a generation, but that is going to be damn near impossible. (Luckily) Change is the only true building block in life.

However, when I am in a…mood of sorts, my creativity drops down into the pit of horrors and pulls something gruesome out of the toy chest. I play with it in my brain, toss it around and type it up. I never wanted to be known as a horror writer, but I can’t help it anymore. It is coming slowly because I am bouncing from each story. It seems to be the genre I adore, even though I am very critical of the genre as a whole. I once heard someone say, “If a person can think of these terrible things then maybe they have something wrong with them.” That’s all bullshit! I don’t recall Dahmer, Gacy or Bundy publishing horror novels or directed films of torture, rape, and cannibalism. Hell no! Gacy worked at KFC! (Finger licking good indeed!) Bundy worked for a suicide hotline! Dahmer…..I don’t recall what he did, maybe he just cooked people, but whatever! Stephen King gets into rants about politics, and cheers on the Boston Red Sox, all while eating cheesecake and probably wondering why he directed Maximum Overdrive!

So this is my situation. I am a horror writer…for the most part. I do have a taste for the depressing though. I really wish I could write happy stories but its hard for me, my brain doesn’t work that way….even though I can be a very happy person. My Fiction isn’t me, just influenced by this so called life.

When I am at my stress filled job, I stare out the windows when the rain works its way down. I see the damp darkened leaves, hear the water trickle and watch the rain slide down the glass. I wish I could be out there, which may sound depressing, but honestly it makes me fill with peace. It is calming, even the lighting and thunder.

Nessie is getting old, poor old pup! She is getting as gray as my old man! Still gets her attitude when I come around though. Rain or shine, that dog wants to go for a walk! That’s good because I am pretty sure my snakes have no care for me. One likes to hide and the other one wants to kill me….You gotta love those pets…….

I bought a new truck, mainly because my old one is finally on its last leg, which the issue I have is how vex it all is. Money…so much money….loans from the bank, and they metaphorically have their dirty, bony fingers squeezing my metaphoric balls…but hey isn’t that everybody?

I was talking to a girl, hanging out, all platonic. (Surprise! I know, right?) But that all came crashing down when she realized that I deer hunt. A large argument carried out outside the BCPA and continued into a restaurant. Well, she believes me to be a murderer and somehow was able to compare hunting deer with a bow to police killing African Americans. (WHAT!?) I gave very valid points that were ignored, but this girl worships the moon in some witchcraft ideology. (But I am the psycho right?) Either way that piece of fat is now cut off from my life.

Comic con was fun! I met Ernie Hudson! He played Winston in Ghostbusters! He gave me an autograph and was just an awesome guy! Cons are awesome except when people you wanted to see canceled last minute (James Marsters) but I always have a lot of fun and I look forward to every single one in the future.

 

I have been writing one of my novels on my cell phone. I have this app that lets me write and email it to myself where I can download and edit. Its fun to sit in a bar and write on my phone, analyzing and making up stories about the people around me. I can write about the sad man sitting alone on the other side, dirt on his clothes, and a small drink in his hand, looking like the world pissed on him time and time again….I could also write about that girl, following her friends in front of her, Lacking proper clothes, raining in vodka and long islands. I wonder what her life is like? Loved or self esteem lacked? It seems blurred in a gray area, but that is how bars can be. I learn a lot when drinking alone.  Hemingway once said, “Don’t bother with churches, government buildings or city squares. If you want to know about a culture, spend a night in its bars.”

A Life on Mended Wings is my novel on culture at this point in life. It is my love letter to artists who are trying to make something out of themselves at this day and age. Chasing dreams or whatever makes us happy is the hardest challenge we can accomplish. I understand it, for I swim through the cesspool, trying to pull myself up high enough to breathe just a little. The book is a long way from being finished, but when its done, it will be a storm of emotion.

Fall is approaching, and how my smile grows! Deer hunting, Halloween, and fantasy football, also the beginning of a revamped Chicago Bears and Bulls. It all should be interesting…..

Personal life seems stale though, I sit in my apartment currently and I am watching the walls close in on me……I need more life, more excitement and experiences….but how?

I’LL close this  with some words of wisdom…. lets use Hemingway again…

“All things truly wicked start from innocence.”

 

 

 

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Summer! To do is to Dare!

Summer! To do is to Dare!

Here we are…..I am a little older, a little wiser, and covered in poison ivy. The summer struck like a well placed arrow, as I placed a few arrows into some supple fish. Since my last post I have ran off on some adventures. Written words, weddings, Blind Melon concert in Chicago, C2E2 and the hordes of Harley Quinn. (real original ladies) I had a vacation already, most of which was spent bowfishing and the rest was writing and researching most unpleasant things for a dark horror story i am working on. Melancholy bar stool stories have been told, catching up with old broken things (friends) and half my hair was chopped off.

Summer has started for sure and I am fucking excited for it!

As a child, I grew up always assuming summer break was going to be awesome! No school, no problems, hello world! Well, that all ended during my parents divorce and I saw the heated world of people and nature. Summer kind of sucked, and it was boring.

My teen years were filled with a job in the summer….at the good ole movie theater. A lot of learning and growing occurred during these blurry days. Dating, girls, true friends, fake friends, endless drama, and the fact that the processed nacho cheese goes great on popcorn! Those days are long over!

Since then, my summers have consisted of drinking and some fishing. I of course wrote and read, seeing all the summer blockbusters and becoming less and less excited about the next Marvel repeat movie. Friends ran away to their own lives and the world got smaller. By then end of last summer it was easy to say….Summer sucks!

This year I feel a certain excitement for it, one of which I have no way how to process. My heart is fluttering in ways I have not felt in a long time. My imagination is in full swing. The stories I am trying to sell to magazines are blowing up, and when I am away from that cesspool rent maker I have to go to…..there is just not enough time in the day or night!

I have ambitions, dreams, goals, and energy I felt was lost a long time ago! My attitude is poor at that job of mine…I know…but I never planned on making a life out of it….that teenage rebel side from like 10 years ago is starting to emerge for some reason….and the more people try to bring me down, or try to show me that seating people and making sure they got coffee is the most I can do in my life…well….fuck you….middle fingers to everyone and to remind myself to tell the bitch that California wasn’t Wisconsin and it sure as hell aint Illinois, so she should probably buy a map and figure out where knowledge and jurisdiction actually meet.

Spineless people who finished last in life decided to make themselves feel important, but lack anything worth while. Someone recently told me that I am not as attractive as I was when I was 19….obviously….but what the bitch doesn’t realize is that maybe I traded in, soaked up my looks for something worth more…..maybe a personality? One to make friends and have a fun filled life, not sitting around staring into a mirror with caked makeup wondering if these cold streets are worse than the world I left. No matter where you go, Love….Time is your enemy…stop bringing people down and own your shit. Her thoughts are useless and can’t draw blood anymore. To hell with the past, right?

I had an epiphany a month ago…..Everything I used to disregard are things i want know. I want love, a family, and a life full of adventures, constantly learning from my mistakes and never allowing the world or my past make me a victim…..There is a buzz in the air this summer….changes….I can feel it coming….even if it starts bad, the learning factor will make me rise through the ashes and realize those fears that I had are long gone. I won’t just be another bum from a small town. I’ll be something great! Audere est Facere!

So I guess this is a reboot…of me….my life….my thoughts….this blog….fiction….and a reboot of Scalp Collectors. Till next time!

Peace!

Tyler Wayne

 

When Life gives you Lemons….

When Life gives you Lemons….

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade……It is a quote apparently by Elbert Hubbard. In some creepy coincidence, Elbert was born in the town I am currently writing this. Looking at this quote with its real meaning, it makes sense, but looking at it literally it seems ridiculous….so I kind of hate it.

If the only thing that life gives me is lemons, and nothing else, I may pop a testicle. When in life am I ever going to need a fucking lemon? Out of all the things that I need in this world, lemons are pretty fucking close to the bottom, right next sewage and used condoms. I don’t need that shit! Who this hell sits back and says, “You know what sounds good right now? A Lemon!” Who the fuck eats lemons!? (Yes I know Lemon juice is useful in the cooking of fish, along with other foods that are fucking prissy, but if you only cook fish in lemon then maybe you should learn how to cook!)

If you have a friend who gets you lemons, then its about time to get some better friends.  If I ever have a friend that brings over a lemon, then it better be for the mixed drinks we are going to be sipping and slopping while chilling like broke ass millionaires.

What life should be giving me is sugar. You cant make lemonade without that! I should know, because I am an American, which means we take healthy food and pour sugar on it. (We also love guns)

So if life gives me lemons I am suppose to make lemonade without sugar. So what, I squeeze the bitch in a pitcher of water? There better be a fucking green tea bag swimming in the bitch if you expect me to drink watery lemon juice.

I guess life should just give me sugar, so then I can make lemonade, Kool-aid, cakes, doughnuts, cereal, soda, and all junk food. Then, surprisingly, life can give me diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and eventually an early death. Then my body will lie rotting in the in the gutter, floating next to the sewage and used condoms.

(This was all a thought that went through my mind when I couldn’t sleep and is not to be taken seriously. I love to rant!)

If you want Lemonade, I suggest the song from Blind Melon.

 

 

Lets talk about my new book

Lets talk about my new book

Welly Welly Well! So after a long absence of nothing but Scalp Collectors, I finally finished my book of short stories, Stories We Tell Our Dead. With a grand total of 7 stories, it is really fucking surprising it took me 18 months to release it. (18 months from my first novel)  I guess I just wasted my time, but with good and bad reasons…..

Fresh off the heels of my first book, I wanted to do a story collection of ones I have not released or no one has really seen. I wrote a couple already, a fantasy story for a friend, and a horror story for a contest (I didn’t win) so I went with those and dove into more elaborate long stories with complex plots and lots of characters….then I realized I was writing a novel. At the time it was called The Glass Spider, but it was topping out around 30,000 words and was still very far from the ending….so after a couple months of working on it, I hit a writers block and put the book away that I may one day go back to.

The next set back was once again another horror story called Blood of the Scarecrow. I really liked it, and wrote a sequel story to it, that became its own chapter, and then I was balls deep into 5 chapters before I hit a block and placed that on the back burner. My confidence level was dropping at a fast pace, clouds of depression slipped into the cracks of my skull, and I fell out of motivation.

I began drinking at impressive levels, blowing what little money I had on whiskey rather than going to the grocery store. Of course being drunk and dealing with a hangover every day while working a full time shit job really gets a big ZERO in the writing world….but then something happened…..

Scalp Collectors. Never meant to be anything serious, just a free online series I was doing for mental relaxation and for fun. A dark comedy set in a strange apocalypse world. Instead of focusing on back story or reasons and questions…I focused on the lead characters and how they interact…and I felt so relieved. However, every single day I worked on those chapters…I felt a voice in the back of my head….

So, I came back to it, not long after I ended most of my hard drinking. I stopped wasting my money and ruining my health to work, edit and focus on new stories. The ones I brought on board did much better, the new edits of old stories I felt confident about….and so everything seemed great….

But I fucking hated it. We loath the things we create…its a curse, and I feel unsure on a few things, but I did my best to make it look pretty (almost pretty) so I felt positive about that overall, but I was and still am confused.

I am not sure how good it is, but I will let you decide that. For the next couple of days you can get the digital copy for free, so give it a shot!

Scalp Collectors 5: The Hen House

Scalp Collectors 5: The Hen House

Kramer cackled like a loon, and Jones growled like an animal as they were dragged away to separate vehicles. They both had their hands tied behind their back and Kramer was dragged by two men and thrown into the back of a truck. Jones was dragged by his long hair, feeling strands ripping out of the scalp. The dragger stopped to look down at Jones with his dark blue eyes. He studied Jones like he was a fish in a bowl. Jones only noticed that the dragger had taken his knife and was wearing it in his belt.

“You sure are pretty, boy. Hair like this makes my marbles jump a throb. Yes sir! Yes sir!” The man said, blowing his dragon breath in Jones’s face. The yellowed teeth were picks in his mouth, but his eyes were dark blue and seemed to vibrate in the pupils. Jones had heard of these types before. A sickening breed of cannibal that made Head Hunters look like saints.

The cannibal began to smell Jones’s hair, and Jones let him get lost in his locks, so he could sink his teeth into the cannibal’s ear and rip it off. “YOU FUCK!” The man screamed, falling away from Jones in the dirt. Blood poured down his head and collected in the white of his shirt. Jones spat the ear from his mouth, blood worn on his lips, grinning. The beating Jones would receive from the man was worth it.

As the cannibal beat him, another man shouted at him. “Quit it! If you bring him all bloody to Ivy she might have the same thing done to you!”

The dragger looked down at Jones, with distance. “I’ll skull fuck you before I scrape your brains!”

“I look forward to it.”

Meanwhile, in the other truck, Kramer was laid flat on his back, with all his weapons removed. An oily muscled man stood over him. His skin was colored like cinnamon and Kramer bet his scalp would look beautiful drying from his window. He would be sure to keep it later. “Your fat friend was stuck under the car. We unfortunately had to cut him out, piece by piece. As he said this, Kramer saw Spencer’s severed head being carried into the truck.

“Well, I guess ginger prick got what he deserved. What are you going to do with us?”

The muscled man smiled as he cracked his knuckles. “Well, your fat friend will be made into soap, and the meat will be fed to the dogs. You and your friend will be featured at our feast this afternoon. We needed two more to appease our Goddess. All our followers will be there. It will be a bigger feast than last year. Your skulls will probably be used as sex toys or bowls. We will probably make canvas out of your back skin.”

The muscled man explained this without a flinch. He has said this before, maybe a thousand times and has performed it just as much. Kramer knew he wasn’t joking, but he didn’t so much care, for he was more distracted by the girl standing to the side of him. As the muscled man was talking, she walked over and began sucking on his left nipple. She was a short girl with a skeleton like body and short strawberry blonde hair.

As the truck began rolling, all the other cannibal hunters packed into the trucks. Kramer watched as this muscled man and girl started going at it. It wasn’t hard to miss since they decided to use Kramer as a mattress. As the muscled man yanked his pants off, Kramer witnessed a man who had mutilated his own penis. It looked he had sawed the head down the middle, giving the appearance of two heads.

As he began to thrust into the girl Kramer said, “Hey girl. If you reach back, you can unzip my zipper and I can slide into your other hole”

“Don’t talk to her!” The muscled man said, and struck Kramer across the face and bloodied his nose.

“Blood play! My favorite!” Kramer said, and used his head to rub blood across the girl’s back.

The muscled man struck Kramer multiple times and of course he spoke again. “Oh, shit! I forgot the safe word!” He felt the man’s fists hit him several more times. “Was it beach? Was it skunk? Maybe ravioli? Maybe monkey balls? Bacon strips?” This went on for several minutes, till Kramer could no longer speak, but he still cackled through a mouth full of blood.

As the trucks pulled the separate scalp collectors to the same destination, they both had secrets on how to get free. At any given moment, they could free themselves and possible escape the truck. The thought was provoking, and the common person would attempt it. They were Scalp Collectors and were above average at their skills. They knew patience was the safest route, because it was best not to panic. One of the largest tests from their training was about patience. Their teacher was a retired old Scalp Collector who went by the code name, Crook Shaw. During his prime, Crook and his late partner were the best Scalp Collectors that had ever lived. After his partner was killed when he stepped on a land mine, Shaw began to teach the up and comers. He was a rough teacher who would beat mistakes out of you, whip your back bare and force you to go days without sleeping. He was the weapons trainer and a survivalist master. His survival skills were the keys to his passing, his training, and his biggest test was his patience test.

He stated, “One day, some men are going to come and take you away. When they do, they will torture you, using any method. Normally, in these situations you would escape and kill everyone. This is not a killing test. Your test is to find a means to escape them and report back to me. If you escape the proper way, you are well on your way to being Scalp Collectors. If you use the wrong ways, then you will be punished. The right way to accomplish this, is with patience. If you do not escape, you will be expelled from the school. Now, these men, may not get you tonight, maybe not tomorrow, or hell, a month from now, but they know who you are, and they are coming. I wish you the best of luck.”

Most victims of the test were dragged through the dirt with wire wrapped around their toes. The easiest way to escape was simple. Rip your toes off. These people were crippled and never became Scalp Collectors. Jones and Kramer used patience and found a proper way to escape.

The trucks arrived in front of a church. Jones was kicked out of the back, “Shit, another church. Be more creative next time!”

The one eared cannibal dragged Jones be his hair again, towards the front door. Kramer followed him, his face a bloody mess, cackling as the pulled. “You people think you are savages, fuck, we are the real savages. Leading us to your leader is the worse fucking thing you could ever do. Most of you will die….and you have no idea!”

“Shut up!” The short hair girl yelled and stomped Kramer in the balls. “I will feed you your guts like spaghetti.

“I only eat tangerines with my sghetti!” Kramer yelled and spat his blood into her mouth. She screamed and spat the blood on the ground.

“Bitch be drinking blood but is afraid of my spit.”

Both Scalp Collectors were dropped at the back of the church. They were surprised to see that the church was filled. Every seat was taken by different people, not dressed like savages but in their normal every day garments, some were even in suits and dresses. They turned to look at the commotion at the back of the church. Someone called out, “Dinner is served. The audience clapped their hands and cheered. A couple of the cannibal hunters placed their weapons on a steal table to the left of Jones. One was carrying Kramer’s lightning bolt shaped knife and seemed memorized by the blade. On his back, he was carrying Spencer’s bag of credits. Jones and Kramer both eyed this with pleasure. The one eared hunter stood in front of Jones. His scalping blade was in the front of his belt. It should be too close for comfort, but the dumb hunter felt safe because he personally tied Jones’s hands behind his back. This is the biggest mistake they did that day. Since both collectors were forced on their knees, they had access to their escape.

“I’m going to bite your ear off first, boy!”

“Is that going to be before I bite your nose off and escape. You are running out of time!”

The hunter all stood in front of them and laughed. The Scalp Collectors counted twelve armed hunters and two more standing at the front of the church. Easy.

“Order!” A man yelled walking to church podium. “It looks that our Hunters have brought us the rest of our dinner for us. They were tipped off that some foolish men were traveling the Devil’s Alley. Our trusty friend Allocer and his lovely friend tipped us off! The rest of our pigs have been slaughtered and are currently being cooked in the basement below. These two will be ceremonially eaten to welcome out feast. Our Goddess Ivy will feast on their hearts like tradition has shown. They are Scalp Collectors, so their meat might be a little tough, but we will make screamers out of them no doubt.”

“I am a moaner!” Kramer yelled back.

“We shall see Pig!” Allocer said, walking down the aisle. His silver hair hanging on his shoulders. His smile made the blue crosses on his cheeks appear awkward, almost how awkward it was for Jones to see Amaryllis following him, flexing her razor fingers as she did.

“Pig!” Allocer said walking over to Kramer. “You have no idea it is for me to see you like this, all bloody and broken. It’s good to see you so filled of pride.”

“Wait till I get free.” Kramer said.

Amaryllis walked over to Jones. She looked stunning, her tanned skin covered in a long silver dress, her eyes bright with a sick love. She bent down in front of jones, close enough for him to smell her intoxicating scent. “This will hurt me, My Love. I asked to personally have your cock.”

“Maybe it will taste like what you remember. That’s only because you don’t get to eat my heart out like you tried before. Another girl gets that right.”

She whispered to him, “If they knew you like I do, they should have killed you when they had the chance. I am betting your heart will still be up for grabs before this day is over.” She kissed him on the tip of his nose and stood up.

“Fair well boys! It’s been a real pleasure knowing you. We are going to watch from the side!” Allocer said.

“Order!” The man at the podium cried. “It is time to introduce our Goddess! It is a real pleasure this year, for I Dokken, oversee bringing her forth!

“His name is Dokken?” Kramer said, confused.

“OUR GODDESS IVY, QUEEN OF THE CANNIBALS AND THE MEAT MEN, FOLLOWER OF THE WITCH GODS, TAKER OF SKULLS, DEVOURER OF HEARTS, MASTER OF THE HUNT AND SEX BEAST OF THE RED DESIRE! COME FORTH FOR US!”

The crowd cheered as if the anticipation brought forth a surge of an entrance, something they could tell people for years, but that is not what occurred. She simply walked out with her arms raised and took the podium. She was a brunette, but all the hair was pulled back into a single long braid, that went all the way down to the floor. The gold jewels that lined her ivory skin, gave her an Egyptian look, or based on what the Scalp Collectors knew of Egypt. The makeup was caked as if to make her a great beauty, but she lacked the interest or the raw power of a real woman. She wore an odd bikini top. It was made with the faces of skulls, and covered each breast except the nipples stuck out of the eye sockets. She was an interesting sight to the Scalp Collectors.

“Greetings my children! Welcome to our yearly feast!” Everyone cheered, children were raised in the air and she pointed to each one with a smile.

“This is your Goddess?” Kramer said. “Looks like someone brought a hem to the rooster house!”

Everyone froze in place.

“What?” Kramer asked within the silence.

Jones turned to him, “That is not a saying!”

“Yes, it is! It is what they used to say in the old days.”

“No, no one has ever said that!”

“Yes, they did! That is how we get chicken eggs!” Kramer screamed.

“How? A horny chicken walks into a rooster house and all the roosters take turns with her until she produces eggs?”

“Yes! Exactly!”

“No!” Jones screamed. “That’s not how it happens!

“Yes, it is!”

The muscled cannibal lost his temper. “Be quiet!” He slapped Kramer in the back of his head.

“Trust me, you can keep doing that to him and he will keep talking. He has the need to talk to everybody” It’s kinda annoying.” Jones said.

“Exactly!” Kramer said. “We have to talk about how I think your Goddess is the equivalent of a chicken, and how she is about to let everyone in this room how a go on her!”

This time Kramer took a several stomps to the stomach till he was on his back. He laughed through the whole experience.

“BE QUIET!” Dokken bellowed. “THIS IS OUR GODDESS IVY! QUUEN OF THE CANNIBALS AND THE ME- “

“We already heard this fucking part! Just get to the killing already!” These words were spoken by Jones, a surprise even to himself.

“Yeah, Bokken Dokken, whatever your fucking name is!” Kramer said, moving to his side to help himself up.

The confusing nature of this conversation the Scalp Collectors had was entirely intentional. For they were distracting their captors from what they were doing. While they spoke to each other, they were blinking in rapid unique fashion. They spoke in a language they constructed on their own with winks and blinks. During this, their bound hands laid motionless on the back of their boots, slowly pulling the razor blades they had hidden in the skin of the boots. They rubbed their bound wrists against this, freeing themselves. They both were free, just waiting, being patient, just like they were taught. The whole while they devised their plan of escape. It wasn’t a smart plan, but they could operate it.

Ivy returned to her speech, completely unaffected by what had just occurred. “As I said, welcome to the yearly feast. We have many activities to attend to before the eating, mainly the sacrifice-.”

“The one eared cannibal lowered himself in front of Jones. The blood from his missing ear had dried down his neck, and browned in his shirt. He whispered carefully, his rotten breath was filling his nostrils with dread. “The killing starts real soon. Yes sir, yes sir. I think I will start with the ear.”

“Why not the nose?” Jones asked, headbutting him right in the spot with a satisfying crunch.

The cannibal fell back holding his nose, leaving Jones’s knife in his belt unattended. To everyone’s surprise, Jones stole the knife from the belt and slipped the tip across the cannibal’s throat. One of the other hunters ran at Jones and he stuck the blade through his belly, pulling him around and spilling his innards out.

Two armed guns from the stage fired at Jones, but he used the dying cannibal as a human shield as he back tracked to the steal table, flipping it on its side, spilling his weapons to the floor. Jones dropped the body and dove behind it to take cover.

Meanwhile, Kramer attacked too. He knew he couldn’t over power the muscled man with his own strength, so he took a note from Jones and bit him in the throat. His teeth tore through the skin as he pulled the neck open, like a wolf ripping apart a rabbit. Kramer threw the cannibal back and ran towards the opposite table, throwing down for cover, grabbing his hand gun and blunderbuss. The first cannibal tried to get him with Kramer’s own knife, but he jumps shot him through the head before he could use it. Kramer grabbed his knife and began firing.

Jones found his pistol and fired at the hunter’s dropping them where they stood. He fired one shot at Dokken, hitting him in the throat. Ivy was nowhere in sight. Jones ran from his side of the table, firing his shotgun as he did, drilling a few of the hunters down. He slides into the spot Kramer was. They circled into the corner of the church, hiding behind thick pillars. The towns people seemed to be armed as well, as they rained shots at the pillars, chips and dust breaking off the pillars. Clouds of dust were so thick no one could see. Kramer could make out several children all holding guns and firing wildly at them.

“Really wish I had my tommy gun right now.” Kramer said.

“Out gunned, out manned and back into a corner. This is not good for us.” Jones said, looking around. “You think Allocer is still around? I would love to end him right now.”

“Can’t tell. You think I could use my blunderbuss right now. Maybe blow like twenty of them down. Even the odds a bit?”

“How the fuck, do you think that is going to work?” Jones said.

“Watch and learn.” Kramer said, shouldering the gun and spinning around to fire around the pillar.

Before he could fire the gun, an explosion blew apart the side wall of the church. Anyone standing near that wall was killed instantly and several lifeless corpses flew across the building. The air turned to smoke, and the bright light of the sun shined into the church. Grenades were thrown through the hole and exploded into the crowd of people.

“Run for the hole!” Kramer said and took off into the smoke oh what could have been a suicidal approach to what was about to happen.

Jones followed, but was unsure. If they stayed they were easily killed and if they jumped through the hole they could also be killed. The idea did cut into his brain that this could very well be the day they die. Shots flew bouncing around as the Scalp Collectors found the wall and worked their way to the hole. Fire had ignited in the church and the screams and cries of the families inside were sickening.

When they approached the hole, they held their hands up, holding their dog tags in one hand. Several vehicles could be seen on the outside, mounted guns and armed soldiers stood on each end. A bald woman towered over them as she approached. She was wearing large black sunglasses and he facial expression went well with the muscled arms she had exposed. A large logo was patched over the front of her tan jacket, and all the other soldier matched as well. “Freedom Fighters.” Kramer said. “I guess we should be glad to see these guys.”

“You don’t think she is still mad at us?” Jones said.

The bald woman drew her katana at her side as she walked up to them.

“Well I had sex with her because we needed to distract her while you scalped her brother.” Kramer said.

“Well, fuck.”

Scalp Collectors 4: Stars in the Wind

Scalp Collectors 4: Stars in the Wind

The red gate opened and the jeep rolled into the settlement of Queensmen. The Scalp Collectors drove over the Way Station where Georgie greeted them. “How was it?” Georgie asked, picking at some honey colored crust that was growing out of his left ear.

“A bust.” Kramer said sounding annoyed.

Since their massacre in Petersburg, the Scalp Collectors have been on a dry streak. The last three missions they took ended in no payment. The first was a three-day drive that lead to the jeep breaking down, it took them a week to walk to the destination. On arrival, they found the scalp had already been claimed. They paid what little money they had to be driven to their jeep and to have it fixed. The next mission was far closer and only an hour drive, that ended with the target killing himself before the scalp could be collected. They waited a month for the most recent contract to come in, and they found they were late again, as some other collectors have come and claimed their prized scalp. One of the residents in the town spat at them, and Kramer scalped him just on good principle and to let some frustration out.

“Well, look at it this way,” Georgie began, slipping his finger into his mouth to suck the scum he tore out of his ear. “You brought back all those extra scalps last time, that maybe the Gods in the world think you have had enough for a while. Maybe it is time you pick up some new work until contracts come around here?”

“Like what?” Jones asked, brushing the dirt and dust out of his long hair.

“Why, I just had a fellow wondering around here asking about you two! He’s looking for a driver and some extra protection to take two people to an Oasis for some trade he is doing. I gave him both of your names, and said you would be back in a day or two. You can’t miss the guy. Real ginger prick wearing an eye patch. I usually see him over by the Saloon on Cricket Lane. He seems to like that pretzel stand right by it. Looking at his size you would bet he loved him some pretzels. Damn, Head Hunters could have damn feast eating off his corpse. Nice fat and marbled just like my mum!”

Kramer and Jones looked at each other half amused. “We aint stagecoaches.” Jones said. Kramer nodded in agreement and added. “Why doesn’t he hire one?”

“He didn’t say. The day is still young, go find the ginger freak. I heard they don’t have any more dough down at the pretzel stand, so he is probably drowning his sorrows at the saloon.”

“Thanks.” They said and drove off. “You wanna do it?” Jones asked, almost disinterested.

“I guess. I mean, we could use some money. I mean I am almost broke.”

“Same,” Jones agreed. “Let’s just find out how much he will pay.”

“True.”

When they arrived on Cricket Lane, they parked the jeep and avoided the small farmer’s market that was happening in the middle of the road. They stuck to the sides walks on the edge. Odd eyes from the town’s folk kept Jones hand on the butt of his gun, even though most of the stares were at Kramer carrying a ridiculous blunderbuss over his shoulder. The gun was so impractical Jones was surprised he carried it around.

They approached the pretzel stand and Kramer walked up to it. The girl working behind the counter was young with dead blond hair that hung in greasy strands across her face. She looked like she dove head first into five stages of depression. “What’s good here?” Kramer asked. “The girl looked up at him, her hand keeping her head off the counter. She didn’t answer him.

“Pretzels?” Kramer asked, stating the obvious for her.

“We don’t have any dough.” The girl said between her fingers.

“What do you have?”

“Drinks.”

“Lame.” Kramer walked back to the Jones and they entered the saloon. “Selling drinks outside of a place like this. Because people want watered down lemonade when they can have beer in here.”

“I guess, I don’t even know why you wasted your time.”

“I was just curious on what she would say.”

They walked around the saloon, heading towards the bar in the back, keeping their eyes open for Ginger Prick, or whatever Georgie was calling him. The locals at the saloon, surrounded the bar and all the tables. Waitresses were wondering around serving mugs and bowls of food. A sign pointed to the steps leading up the stairs in the back. It was a well-known brothel in town and was said to be far better than others in the settlements. Not that the Scalp Collectors themselves were familiar with it, even if they were they wouldn’t admit it, not even to themselves.

Finding a spot at the bar, they took their seat and ordered a couple of beers from the bartender. They drank their drinks in silence while Kramer talked a bit with the bartender. He eventually tapped Jones and whispered, “I see our guy over there at the corner table, laughing with some people, he has one of the waitresses sitting on his lap sliding credits down her shirt.”

Jones stared and saw a jolly fat guy with the most attractive waitress in the saloon on his lap. His face was flushed red and glistened in sweat, mouth surrounded in chunks of red hair, making up for the bald spot on the top of his head. The eye patch was the only thing that seemed intimidating about the man.  She flirted with him, but that is because the guy seemed eager to spend his credits.

“That Fire Crotch Santa Clause is the guy who needs a ride?” Jones said.

Kramer laughed, “Let’s wait till his lap dance is over and we will talk to him.”

They went back to their beers and waited. Every few minutes they would order another round and Kramer would order a couple shots for them to take. When good and buzzed they still saw the girl sitting on his laugh, whispering into his ears, she kept moving her thigh into his crotch.

“Am I drunk or are her tits bigger?” Kramer asked.

“I think she just has her shirt stuffed with lots of credits.” Jones said, swallowing large mouthfuls of beer.

“This guy must be rich. Let’s go talk to him.” They stood up from the bar and walked over, glasses still in their hands. They slipped past him and stood on either side of his chair. The people at his table scooted back a bit and stared, fearing the worst. When the waitress got up from his lap she ran away as if she had forgotten she was working.

He turned and looked at them. “Good going you cock blocks! I was a few minutes away before I would put my cock ring on!”

“I think you were a few minutes away from giving her all your credits.” Kramer said.

“And you are going to need them, if you want to hire us to drive your ass around.” Jones said.

“Oh, I see your dog tags! Kramer and Jones! I heard about you two! You have driven through Devil’s alley! I heard you’re some hard-killing sons of bitches!

“We have great personalities, but no one ever brings that up.” Jones said, Kramer laughed and spilled his beer some. “Especially this one!” Jones said, pointing at Kramer.

“I am Spencer Walker, dealer of fine goods.” He said, holding out one of his fat paws to shake. “Chaz Kramer, Scalp Collector” Kramer said taking his hand.

“Alpaca Jones, Scalp Collector, not a driver.” Jones said, taking his large, soft hand.

“Well met friends, well met. I need your skill though. Need to get my package off to an Oasis to be picked up for transport. It’s located at the end of Devil’s Alley and I need a driver and protection. I can’t find a single soul to take the task, even when I throw butt loads of credit in their face!”

“Or down their tits.” Kramer added.

“Right! I need people who are not afraid, experienced in the alley, good killers, and in need of credits! Rumor has it that you two lads are who I am looking for.”

“Do you know what is in the alley?” Jones asked. “Do you have any idea what this is going to cost you? You are better off just trying to go around it.”

Spencer sat back in his chair and a loud crack escaped from the wooden legs. The Scalp Collectors were half expecting the chair to burst under the massive body. “Now, boys you know just as I do that the alley is in a No Man’s Land, and the Oasis is located between a mountain. It is nearly impossible to make it from the sides. The Alley is the safest way.”

“Why the fuck, do you have to deliver your package to the Oasis? Those are death traps!” Kramer said.

“I don’t expect you both to believe me, but I have delivered many goods to dangerous territories. Why do you think I wear this eye patch?”

“Because you think you are a pirate?” Kramer said.

“Old Halloween costume?” Jones asked.

“It’s because I had it cut from my face from a Head Hunter and I watched him eat it before me!”

“No, you didn’t.” Jones said, laughing.

“Bullshit, show us the hole!” Kramer yelled.

“I have nothing to show you boys, except what is in this bag.” He lifted a black bag that had been sitting under his chair.

“That’s where you keep your eye?” Jones asked.

“Better than that…” Spencer said and unzipped it. An untidy mess of rolls of credits took up most of the room in the bag. The credits were in large amount as most of the bills were in pink sheets, which were worth a thousand each. He had stacks of the pink sheets, ready to be spent. Neither of the Scalp Collectors even heard him ask, “How much?”

Kramer broke his trance, “What is this package?”

“That knowledge is only for me and my business associate. I will pay you to not ask questions.” Spencer said.

“Fair, but you must have a price in mind to pay us. I am thinking you have no idea what lingers there.” Jones said, guzzling the last of his beer.

“Thirty thousand seemed fair, I believe.”

Kramer looked at Jones wide eyed and looked back at Spencer. “Let us talk for a minute.”

Spencer raised his hand in the air to gesture a waitress over. “Will do, I’ll order all of us another round.”

They stepped back to have a bit of privacy. “We could probably ask for more.” Kramer began. “He shouldn’t have showed us the inside of the bag.”

Jones thought for a moment. “How much more did we need to join the Dwellers?”

“Twenty-six thousand.”

“Fuck…. Let’s ask for more. A lot more. Show him that scar. Might be easier to persuade.”

“Alright, I’ll let you handle this.” Kramer said.

They came back to the table as the waitress brought three mugs and three more shot glasses.

“So, what did you boys decide?” Spencer said, wiping foam from the top of his upper lip.

“Fifty-thousand credits.” Jones said.

“Done.”

“Each.” Jones said, glaring at him.

“A hundred thousand credits to deliver a package. They said you were both crazy, and now I believe it. How about seventy-five for the whole package.”

“It’s called Devil’s Alley for the Dust Devil’s that linger there. Last time we should have been killed!” Kramer said, lifting his shirt to show a grotesque scar that went from his belly button to the edge of his left nipple. “I mean when you add in the risk, the discretion of the package, and with the cost of gas these days, it will be a pretty penny. It’s a fair trade, but of course you could try to find somebody else.”

“No, no. It’s a fair trade. I have never been much for trying to Jew people down their prices. So, do we have a deal?” Spencer said.

“Is that all? Anything else you need to mention, details, weapons at all?” Jones asked.

“I suppose you boys have your own weapons, they should do just fine, and I will need to mention I have a partner joining me on this journey.”

“Really? Well that will cost you more.” Kramer said, nodding to Jones.

“Seventy-five thousand each.”

“Jesus Christ! You two leeches are trying to suck me dry.”

“You don’t deserve it wet.” Kramer said.

“Fine! It’s a deal! I’ll get a lot more for this package anyways. Have a shot, cheers to our agreement?”

They each took a shot from Spencer and sealed the deal. “We ship out tomorrow morning at first light. Better call it early tonight, lads.”

“Buy a couple more and we will.” Kramer said.

 

 

 

In the morning, they sat in the jeep outside the saloon and waited for Spencer to make his appearance. They each had a hangover they needed to cure before the trip ahead of them. Their Scalping salt was always the best medicine. They each dipped the tips of their knife blades into the bag and took out a little mound of salt. They held it to their nose and snorted it fast. It burned their nostrils and throat, but sent a pleasant sensation through their bodies, curing the hangover sickness, and eradicating the headache, but it also caused dizziness.

Spencer approached them while into a fresh bump and froze in spot. “Drugs this early in the morning! You are going to get me killed!”

“Not drugs. Medicine. Helps with the hangover.” Jones said, taking another dose.

“It does get us high though.” Kramer said laughing.

“If you need to cure a hangover just go find someone selling breakfast! I had a big pile of eggs and roasted pig for breakfast and I feel great.”

Kramer looked at Spencer’s exposed belly sticking out of his tiny shirt. “We can tell.”

During their drug use, they didn’t even see the man standing behind Spencer. In all fairness, he would have been hard to spot behind Spencer’s fat ass. “Gentlemen, this happens to be the partner I told you about.” The man was wearing a tight black mask and garment looked uncomfortable and stuck to his skin. A slot was left in the crotch so his balls could hangout and a ball gag was in place so he couldn’t speak. A collar and chain was around his neck and the lead was in Spencer’s hand. “I proudly introduce, the package.” A large smile grew on his face, and the masked man moaned.

“What the fuck, man?” Kramer said, cackling.

“Are you fucking serious? A gimp! You want us to deliver a fucking gimp!” Jones said, stunned.

“Why, yes! It is very important, but I believe we agreed that I am paying you for discretion?” Spencer finished his statement with a spank on his gimp who he pushed forward. “Now, shall we go?”

“Alright, you both in the back. I hope to god you brought your money with you.” Jones said, adjusting his gun to make it easier to draw while sitting.

They drove on, heading west into the region that no one liked to go. An origin story for why the western area was worse, is undetermined, nor would it ever be explained to either of the Scalp Collectors, they just rolled the dice when the destination took them there. Everyone knows the area was distasteful all the way till California. Most who wonder in are never heard from again. The Scalp Collectors are one of the few who made it back, and are the only ones known to have done it twice. The less vegetation, the closer they were getting to their destination. They drove in silence, watching the barren wasteland as it began to appear, like a disease on the earth, ripping away the greenery until they drove on dried dirt and skeletons from long ago. Animals or people, the bones crushed all the same.

They approached a rock valley at midday. Two rock hills separated by a strip of valley. These hills were tall and impossible to cross with a vehicle. Numerous things that kill linger in the hills, a person’s best bet was to take the alley in between. Dust Devils lingered there, and occasionally Head Hunters.

“This is it.” Jones declared. “Last chance to turn back.”

“Ha! We are going in!” Spencer barked. The gimp had fallen asleep, his head was resting on Spencer’s shoulder. “Wake up, you bitch!” He pushed the gimp off him and adjusted himself in the seat.

“We have to trade seats.” Kramer said to Spencer. “I need to stay in the back to watch our tail.”

“Have it your way. Gimp! Stay here. Spencer got out of the jeep, taking only his bag full of credits with him. He crawled into the passenger seat next to Jones and his body odor slid in after him. A combination of musty corn.

They trade seats and Kramer reached underneath the seat for a suitcase that he laid in his lap. “Ready when you are.”

Jones laid his knife in his lap, sighed, and said. “Let’s go.”

The tires spun to life and the jeep jerked forward. The gimp moaned something in the back but no one could hear, nor they cared. Things were going to take a turn for the worse and it was only going to be a matter of minutes. Both times they crossed this region, it all began in the first two minutes. Kramer kept his handgun out, ready to jump shoot the first thing that flew their way. His arms twitched every single time they crossed a bump in the path. His knee was cramping up something terrible. Blood would be shed soon.

A gust of wind was coming down the alley and straight into the jeep. “Goggles!” Jones roared and he slipped his on and Kramer followed. Dirt slapped across the windshield of the jeep, Spencer cursed and covered his face, the gimp moaned. The wind picked and the jeep jerked to the left a bit. “It’s coming!” Jones roared. Kramer aimed his tommy gun and waited for it.

“The walls, they are moving!” Spencer cried.

Jones ignored him but Kramer paid attention. He watched sides of the rock walls and saw several sections moving, like a thousand ants moving across the ground, but then he saw more clearly. It was hordes of the Burned Ones, and they were wearing clay to camouflage into the walls. The crawled the sides of the walls like spider and they were looking towards the wind and the jeep. They all hissed at the same time. Jones heard it and looked up. “Oh, shit!”

“What are we going to do! What are those things?”

“That’s what’s going to kill us! Straight ahead!” Kramer pointed.

In a massive cloud body, frail and small corpses were riding the wind, hissing as they did, heading for the jeep, several more jumped from the sides of the wall and were landing all over the jeep. Jones ran a couple over that jumped to early. The ones riding the wind hit the glass of the windshield and broke their frail selves. One grabbed the top of the windshield and threw himself over onto Jones.

Jones caught him in the middle of his chest with his knife and chucked him out of the side of the vehicle. “We need to get a roof!” He screamed.

Kramer was laughing as he was jump shooting the ones trying to land in the jeep. He was a solid shot for a gun known for its inaccuracy. The Burned Ones split in chucks from the bullets and pieces of them landed all in the jeep. “Ah! It’s on me! It’s on me!” Spencer cried.

“Quit crying you ginger prick!” Jones yelled and sped up. He didn’t know how many of the corpses were landing all around him. The jeep jerked every time he ran one over, hoping one wouldn’t burst the tires. That’s all they needed. The wind grew worse, it was numbing the sound of the tommy gun. Jones struck at several of the corpses with his knife, sending them flying off course. Some hit the windshield so hard the cracked it into spider webs. The gimp lost control of his chain leash and the wind took it into the air. One of the corpses fell from the wall and took the lead when he hit the group. It hit with enough force the gimp flew out of the back of the jeep and rolled on the ground. Kramer not only noticed the gimp’s balls hanging but his ass was hanging out too. “My gimp! My gimp! Spencer cried. We have to go back for him!”

“We can’t turn back for him.” Kramer yelled and shot a few rounds into the gimp. “There, he won’t have to suffer what they are going to do!”

“You killed him! I was going to sell his ass!”

“I thought we were just transporting him!” Jones yelled.

“Fuck no! He was a slave! I was selling him to the Slave Underground.”

“The Queen outlawed slavery, bitch!” Jones yelled. “You’re going to get us killed for this!”

“Yeah, and I aint paying you a fucking thing!”

“Fuck you!” Kramer screamed. “This is what is going to happen! We are going to get out of here. We will take turns shooting your knee caps out, scalp you, then take that bag full of credits and leave you fat fire crotch ass to die! You hear me you ginger fuck! You are going to die today!” Kramer ripped the eye patch from Spencer’s face, revealing a perfectly good eye. “You are lying mother fucker!” Kramer struck him over the head with the butt of his gun.

“There is nothing wrong with his eye!” Kramer said. Jones struck Spencer in the eye with the tip of his knife. “AAAAAAHHHHHHH!” Spencer screamed.

“There is now.” Jones said.

The jeep jerked back and forth as more bodies hit the car. One landed on Kramer’s tommy gun, carrying it under the car. “Fuck!” He screamed, opening the briefcase.

“Should I use these?” He said, to Jones.

“You better!” Jones yelled. The dust devil was coming up on them and he was about to lose control of the vehicle. He could see two dozen more corpses riding it and more were coming their way. The wind in the alley was sucking the ground in, taking the car and the wind above began to circle.  The dust devil was seconds away.

Kramer threw the ninja stars, little pieces of tin and metal they made to fight the flying Burned Ones. He threw dozens of them as fast as he could, letting the wind catch them, some broke against the rock wall while others found the Burned Ones. He threw handfuls of them, just letting the wind direct their course. One struck Jones in the arm, but he hardly noticed. He yanked it out and let it bleed freely.

“Hold on!” Jones screamed and everyone did the best they could. Jones jerked the jeep to the right trying to stay out of the dust devil. The bumper of the jeep struck the rock wall and he lost a bit of control. The wind picked the jeep up and turned it upside down, everyone screamed but held for dear life. The jeep rolled on the ground and fell out of the vortex of the dust devil as it rode on its way down the alley. The scalp Collectors were thrown out of the jeep during the rolls, but Spencer was still locked into place, all the way to end. He was stuck inside the jeep, with it being upside down.

More burned ones were still littered on the ground and began crawling towards Jones and Kramer, before either of them could draw a weapon. Machine gun rounds shot all around them, blasting the corpses into pieces, rotted organs and black blood spilled all around. Someone was saving them. At least that is what they thought.

The machine gun blasts came from a cave in the rock wall. One of the gunners was on Kramer before he could draw and pointed a bayonet against his throat. Another smacked jones in the back of his head and pushed the gun barrel into the back of his skull.

One of the gunners walked between them. Look it here! Look it here! We got some heroes trying to cross the alley. Lucky for us, because we haven’t had dinner yet! Jones could see Kramer on the ground. “Cannibals!” he yelled to him.

“Yeah….” He responded. “Shit!”

Scalp Collectors 3: The Sghetti Incident

Scalp Collectors 3: The Sghetti Incident

Kramer rubbed his knee as Jones drove. The shrapnel in his knee was always irritated on the day they would kill someone…. or everyone. It was a warning sign he was very aware of. That morning, Jones picked him up with a smile on his face. “fifty thousand credits!”

“Who are we skinning?” Kramer said, hopping into the jeep.

“A mayor…”

“Oh, fuck…” Kramer said, and felt his knee begin to hurt.

Each bump in the road made his knee throb even more. He hoped he could run later, they both were about to.

“Man, knee hurts today.” Kramer said, a dark tone present in his voice, a rare occurrence.

“Oh, thank God! It has been awhile since we shed some real blood. All this talking we have been doing is really starting to haunt me. I’m itching to stick the gun barrel in the mouth of some of these pricks!”

“This is one is bad. Let’s try to aim for the heart or throat this time. We don’t need what happened last time.” Kramer said.

“I shot him in the fucking mouth!” Jones explained.

“Yeah, but the bullet ricochet off the jaw bone and went out his forehead, ruining the scalp we were going to get a bonus for! Fuck, it really hurts today.”

“Well maybe if you didn’t spend your off nights on your knees you would be in good shape for work.”

“Fuck you, man.” Kramer said, lighting one of his rolled-up smokes, trying to avoid laughter.

When the jeep approached the woods, they were located under 10 klicks from Head Hunter territory. “We got to be careful here. They could be watching us.” Jones mumbled.

At the entrance into the woods, he stopped the jeep and they both considered the green foliage for signs of anyone. The trail in front of them had a bloody sign peering at them. At first glance, they thought it was a Head Hunter sign. “I’m not seeing shit.” Kramer said, coiling his gun in both hands.

“Sometimes we can smell them, but I can only smell the woods.” Jones said, sniffing the air like a rabid dog.

“That sign isn’t Head Hunters, is it?”

Jones and Kramer stepped out of the Jeep, Kramer limping as they did so, and wondered over to the sign, guns raised. The sign was a wooden post at first glance, but was covered in a bloody sheet. The sheet was made of human skin, an entire blanket made from some person that had been flayed. From the top of their head to their tip toes was present before them. The eyes were present in the skin, but they were the blackest eyes and they were bulging out from the face they were stuck in. The hair and scruff of the beard were matted and caked in crimson mud. A sign was tacked into the chest of the skin.

Kramer read the sign in a whisper. “I was once skinned and I can’t control the crying. Now, I skin and I can’t control the laughing. Can you say the same? Will you think the same? I drowned in a Sea of salt and blood, but now Eye Sea everything!”

“Fuck is that supposed to mean?” Jones asked. “The previous sign is laying on the ground.” Jones kicked at it. “Petersburg, 1 mile.”

Kramer touched the blood on the skin and rubbed it between his fingers. “It’s jellied and the bugs haven’t done much to it. Maybe a day old.”

“Can’t be head hunters. They use skulls.”

“These are not human eyes.” Kramer suggested, pulling one out of the face.

“Buck eyes. They came from a deer.” Jones said. “I watched Georgie dig those out of a doe I killed last year.”

“What do you think it means?” Kramer said.

“That man is game now. Whoever did this, is sending a message. Sounds like he has been scalped before.”

A light breeze came from the woods, and chilled their skin on a late summer day. “Let’s keep going.” Kramer said, heading back to the jeep.

“On it.”

The tires kicked up dirt as they drove into the woods. Branches were scraping at the sides of the jeep. More alert than ever, the Scalp Collectors kept their guns unsheathed in their laps, waiting for the killer or killers to strike. An outsider wouldn’t be able to tell from their appearance, but they had their hearts filled with a sick love. They wanted to kill, something the Queen’s people slipped into their brains during their youth builds. They were calmer than ever, just itching to squeeze the trigger on anyone who gave them a reason to shed some extra blood. Kramer would gladly kill anyone if it would make the pain in his knee die out and Jones just wanted the game to be played. Maybe this was the day they would be bested? Or maybe this was another day of much slaughter, something to help them both sleep at night and make the money needed to get closer to the end. This was the best therapy for them.

“What’s that on the side of the road?”

Jones jerked the jeep to a complete stop. The foliage was thick on each side of the road, but there was no doubt there was a moving arm trying to drag themselves out of the brush. The skin was white and blistered. “A Burned One.” Jones said, stepping out of the vehicle.

Chaz followed and they walked over to the brush, guns raised.

The Burned One’s head was present, eyes red with a tanned orange face that contrast with his pale skin. It took them a minute to realize he spread some type of clay across his face. “Aye,” He said. “No harm from me. I am about done anyways.”

“Man, what you are doing rolling around in the bushes for?” Kramer asked.

“I ride the dust devils like the others, came to close to the woods and got caught in a tree.”

“Explains why you are not walking.” Jones said.

“Aye, lost that trick years ago.” The Burned One said, coughing in his raspy voice, beads of sweat rolled off his bald head towards his lips and he licked at them eagerly.

“Never met a dust devil rider that could talk.” Kramer said.

“Some can, I choose not to. I only do now because I know I am dead.”

“Yeah.” Kramer agreed.

“Can I trouble you boys for any water? It’s been a couple days. I have only had a couple handfuls of piss. I would like to die with a wet whistle.”

“Sorry, can’t spare it, man. I mean what happens if I get thirsty? I got a lot of better choices than piss back in the jeep.” Kramer said.

“Very well. End it then. I aint done a thing worth living. I might as well die like nothing.”

“Rock, paper, scissors, for it?” Jones asked, holding out his hand.

“Deal. 1, 2, 3, go!”

They shot their hands out and Jones’s scissors cut Kramer’s paper. “I usually never win!” Jones laughed and put his gun away. He drew his Bowie knife, his skinning blade to perform the deed.

“I thought you would just shoot me?” The Burned One asked.

“Yeah, I would, but I only have a few bullets. I have to save them for a really good time!”

“Well, be on with it, but can you humor me for a bit? Since I will be heading there soon, what do you think happens when we die? I never really thought about it until today, but where do we go from here?”

Jones knelt near his face. “Heaven? Hell? Some place in between the Void? Maybe a cool place in the shadows, or a dip in the icy pool? Fuck if I know, but what I hope for is a dark world where nothing exists. It’s just nothing.”

“That’s gloomy.” The Burned One said.

“Yeah, well, I don’t really give a fuck.” Jones slapped the blade into the temple of the victim and twisted the eleven inches of steal around his brain, and yanked the blade out before slamming the tip into the top of the skull, pushing his face into the dirt for good. When he yanked the knife free he watched the blood pool for a moment, and noticed the nerves twitched before he remained still for good. “That was quick, I guess he was close to death. How did that do for your knee?” Jones asked.

“Not a fucking thing! It is starting to stiffen.” Kramer said, massaging his leg.

“Well, if we hurry we can make it to town before night fall.” Jones said, using the arm of the dead Burned One to wipe the blood off the knife.

They journeyed on through the woods, hoping to reach Petersburg before dusk. Jones fiddled with the radio until a broadcast could be heard over the static.

“-when the Bloodsuckers hit St. Louis, they devoured and pushed out all the refuges from Illinois, all of which were victims of the bird attacks that were occurring upstate. During this time, the military was trying to hold the east coast from destruction. Panic had already spread and the only side of the United States with minimum panic was the west coast. Talk of the dead were the only report coming from San Francesco as of this broadcast. The dead have kept their distance in the south and west. The dry weather is treating them better than the harsh winters in the north and east experience. The Bloodsuckers are the real threat in the surrounding Missouri area. Just an hour before the broadcast I dropped a Molotov off the top of my tower to burn six of them that tried chopping their way in. Remember folks, fire kills them faster! The bird threats look to be tamed now. An unsung group of heroes started eradicating all the bird nests in the north. There is hope along the horizon! We will not divide! Remember, protect your loved ones and yourself! This is Riley Scott, and this was The Midnight Hour!”

“Fucking rerun.” Jones mumbled, switching off the radio.

“I wonder how many times we have heard that one.”

They drove on, down the dirt road, time clicked from the clock, and the sun was lost behind the trees. “I really don’t want to camp here.” Kramer said.

“So, what are we going to do? Scalp the mayor and sleep in his house?”

“Yeah, I am saying that.”

“That should go over well.”

Kramer cackled. “Yeah…. It will.”

The road took a large turn in the woods and they came upon the front of a gated town. A gateway was in the road, surrounded on each side by brick towers, but no access to a vehicle could happen, for large metal spikes were crossed in front of the gateway. A single person could move through them, but a car had no access. Walls, made of brick with barbed wire at the top were surrounding the town. It was more fortified than the Scalp Collector’s home.

Armed guards stood at the top of the towers, holding pipe pistols, potato guns, and house made rocket launchers. “How goes there?” One of the guards yelled down.

“Just a couple of the Queen’s men, hoping to enter your town and speak to your mayor?” Kramer asked.

“On what grounds?”

“We have word on some dangerous people in the area and we are here to offer our aid incase these people attack the town of Petersburg.” Kramer lied.

“The guards radioed back to someone else. After listing to a reply one motioned to the other. “Leave the vehicle and walk through the spiked gate. The mayor will be out shortly.”

“Christ, these guys are easy. That wasn’t even your best lie!”

Kramer smiled, “I know, man. How many guards do you think?”

“Homemade guns, maybe a dozen, probably less.”

“I was thinking that.” Kramer said, wincing at the pain in his leg.

Jones walked through the rusted spikes first, maneuvering through them carefully, keeping one hand on his gun’s holster. He laughed when he watched Kramer attempt with his crippled leg.

“You think this is funny, huh?”

“Crippled motherfucker!” Jones said, laughing.

When Kramer was free one of the guards yelled, “The assistant mayor will meet you down the street.”

“Will he show us to the real power around here?” Kramer asked.

When no answer came, Kramer rubbed his knee, nodded to Jones, and they walked side by side. They loosened the guns in their belts.

“I saw the guards were wearing dog tags. It’s a good target. Aim a little above and it should be a direct hit.” Jones said.

“How many are you thinking?” Kramer asked. “We only have seven bullets between us.”

“I only saw three.”

The town was well kept compared to what they know. Clean and kept homes with yards of fresh green grass. Everything was clean compared to wear they came from. The few people they saw on the street moved inside. Children were playing on a swing set and the mother called them into the house. “Well we sure stick out.” Jones said, watching the children running inside.

“Only one person was still standing outside. He’s leaning against the stop sign smoking something.” Kramer said.

“Might be our guy? Or the assistant.”

As they walked up to the guy, they noticed his faded t shirt, and torn jeans. His scruffy beard leads up to his blazed bloodshot eyes. He looked at them as if they weren’t there. He smoked more of his rollup and blew the smoke in the air. Kramer and Jones could smell the weed as they got closer.

“You know where we can find the mayor?” Kramer asked.

“He’s up in the house. Will be down in the minute. I am his assistant. What can we help you gentlemen with?” He offered the joint to Kramer who took it eagerly. After hitting it, he said, “Just an offer we have for him.” Kramer pasted it to Jones who took a long hit from it before passing it back. “That’s good shit,” Kramer began. “You have a stockpile around here?”

“The man smiled and said, “Got a whole garden in the back. You boys help yourselves to a bug full before you leave.”

“Nice.” Kramer said.

A man walked out onto the porch of a building to their left. He was wearing all black with a gun belt on his right hip. Jones noticed what kind of gun he had and knew then he was going to take all his bullets.

“Scalp Collectors. I recognized your kind as you walked down the street.” The mayor said. Kramer watched the assistant try sliding his hand behind his back all smooth.

“You are the mayor, Paul Peters?” Jones asked.

“Wait! That’s his fucking name?” Kramer chuckled.

The mayor’s face grew red behind his long white hair and mustache. “That is me. How about you boys come inside and have a drink while we discuss this business you brought to my doorstep.”

The assistant was struggling to pull something out from his pants and Kramer watched from the corner of his eye. “Sounds good,” Kramer said. “Lead the way.”

The assistant tried to pull his gun early and the killing began. Kramer drew his knife and slashed at his gun hand and the pistol dropped to the ground. The knife circled up into the assistant’s neck and Kramer pulled the throat open. Blood splashed out down Kramer’s arm and he laughed while the blood rained.

The mayor was quick with his revolver, but Jones was a second faster. While the mayor pulled the gun out of the holster to fire on them, Jones shot from the hip and the slug struck the mayor right through the wrist on his gun hand and the gun dropped into the dirt. The mayor screamed and ran back inside the building he came from. “Kill them you bastards! They came from my scalp!”

“Kramer jerked his pistol out and swung backwards, shooting three single shots at all the guards men. He could make out where the dog tags were and aimed a little above. These were hard shots, but all their training made them experts. Each bullet shattered into the chest bone of each guard. The chest bone exploded, sending shards of bone into the heart and lungs. Kramer watched one of the guards fall from the tower dead. They never got a shot off.

Others did, as people with homemade guns fired from the windows of their home. The bullets missed by a couple feet and Jones said, “Get the mayor! I’ll handle them.”

“On it!” Kramer said, and ran at full speed towards the building, ignoring the fact his knee was even hurting. The mayor slammed the door shut behind him and they imagined he locked it, but Kramer threw his shoulder into it and it smashed open. Jones moved his guns back and forth between every window on the street as bullets flew passed him. Homemade guns shot like shit, but Jones was carrying real steal, something he could rattle them back to their skeleton ancestors. The assistant mayor laid bleeding out on the ground, he recognized the 22. Pistol on the ground but ran backwards from a spray of bullets that came from between the houses. “There is one of them! Fucking kill him!”

Kramer ran into the building that looked like an old-time saloon. Chairs sat upside down on tables and a bar with a large mirror was present. He heard a door slam from somewhere nearby and he saw that the blood that sprayed from his gunshot wound left a blood trail heading towards the stairs. Kramer power walked with his gun drawn, knowing that he was going to have to kill this guy, but knew he probably had more guns.

As Kramer headed for the stairs. Jones ran to the porch, stopping to pick up the mayor’s gun as he did. A whole witch mob of people came from around the houses with homemade guns, knives, axes, whatever weapon they could use to cut down the Scalp Collectors.

“Fucking knew we were coming!” Jones yelled as he ran into the building, following Kramer. He checked the mayor’s gun and saw they were the same caliber. Jones’s gun was well oiled with a hair trigger, the mayor’s gun was rusted to the point of a dead weapon. Jones wasn’t sure the gun would even fire. The cylinder was full of six fresh rounds and Jones took these with pleasure, and rolled them into his own gun till he was fully loaded with a couple to spare.

Kramer made it to the top of the stairs and threw himself into the door till it opened. He found the mayor digging through a cabinet, knocking boxes of bullets to the floor, trying to find what he needed for shotgun he had laying by him. A pool of blood was forming from where the slug went through his wrist. A milk white color was staining his body. Kramer knew he didn’t have much life left. “You are feeling alright, man?” Kramer asked. “You are looking a little sick there. Can I get you anything? Medicine? Bandage? I’ll trade you for the scalp?”

Jones Pushed a chair to the door to try and block it from the witch mob that was making it to the porch. “C’mon Chaz!” He would mumble by flipping around to each window, knowing it was only a matter of time before they blew their way through. Gun shots rang and the windows broke of ancient glass as the bullets flew into the wall behind him. One hit the grand mirror, turning it into a spider web.

Kramer’s gun rang its last round throughout the room and echoed through the building. “C’mon God damn it! They are coming in!” Kramer heard Jones’s gun go off three times from the floor below. “Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!” Kramer laughed as he began skinning the mayor’s head. He let the poor man load the shotgun, but got so distracted by a gun in the cabinet that he almost let the man get the drop on him. Kramer pulled the trigger and the mayor’s throat exploded. He choked and wiggled but soon died. “I don’t fucking think so!” He heard Jones scream as more glass broke.

“You alright, man?” Kramer yelled. “I think you need to get up here. You need to see this.”

He heard him run up the steps and run into the room, gun still pointed. “What!? We need to go…”

Jones looked upon the open gun cabinet. Barrels lined the back wall and boxes of bullets we all over the floor. His jaw dropped. “Seriously?”

“Yeah, he tried loading this triple barrel shotgun. Looks a bit homemade.”

“I want that.” Jones said.

Kramer cackled. “Good! Because I want this one!” He pulled a tommy gun out of the cabinet and began to load it. “Plenty of your .45 rounds in here and my 9’s.”

“Hell yeah!” Jones dropped down and began digging around the bullets.

The door broke down and they heard the footsteps run around the bottom floor. Kramer shut the door. “Alright, so what’s up, man? How are we going to do this?”

Jones checked the shotgun and the barrels. All the hammers were welded into one big hammer. This gun was meant to unload all three barrels at the same time. He checked if it was loaded and stood behind the door and placed the barrels onto the midsection of the door. “When I drop down, unload the tommy on them.”

“Nice!” Kramer laughed. “What is this, like the ninth time this has happened?”

“Twelfth.”

Jones felt pressure on the door and he unloaded the gun. It nearly kicked him over as if blew the entire midsection of the door apart. The midsections of three people behind the door spilled down the stairs. Blood rolled down onto the bottom step, ropes of intestines swam down like water snakes. Jones dropped and Kramer fired like a mad man, laughing as he did. The gun wasn’t the most accurate, but in the space of a stairwell it landed its mark as much as it missed.

Bodies slipped on blood and several more were thrown back as bullets caved in their torsos. The fell back when the bodies were piling to high and the rest ran out of the building. The Scalp Collectors ran to a window and began raining down on each one. Driving bullets into their back as they ran, screamed, and pleaded for their lives. The ones who tried to be brave died first and the cowards died last, using their handguns to see who could hit the farthest victim as they ran down the streets. Jones replaced bullets from a box next to him and Jones traded out a couple preset magazines that were waiting from him. The last person to run up at them had the white hair and beard of a crazy man. A red stain was all over his beard and he pointed a chunky finger at the window. “I only eat tangerines with my sghetti!”

“What?” Jones said lowering his gun.

Kramer chuckled. “Hey man, I always eat tangerines with my sghetti!” He shot the man twice through his throat and they watched as he choked to death on his own blood.

“Eat this,” Jones said. “You should have said that. Fits whatever the fuck he was talking about.”

“Dude, I have no idea.”

The mob was dead. One of the worst makeshift groups that ever tried to kill them. The whole slaughter only took about seven minutes Thirty-eight were dead and the biggest stockpile of ammo they have ever seen.

Let’s camp here. I am sure we just abandoned some of these houses.” Jones said.

“Yeah, and there is promise of sghetti for dinner.”

“Fucks sake.” Jones said.

Kramer laughed as they began to raid the gun cabinet. “So, how should we divide this all up? I mean, we probably have over thirty scalps worth 10 or more credits each.”

“I saw a couple who had been scalped in the past before.” Jones said.

“Right, I know we give ninety percent to The Dwellers, but what about that last ten percent? Like I feel that I killed most of them, so I should get a bigger cut.”

Jones laughed. “Right, you didn’t see the ones I gunned down at the windows, and I took out more far away than you did.”

“I got the three in the guard tower, and the other ones coming up the stairs!”

“Let’s just split it fifty each.”

“How about sixty-forty?” Kramer said.

“fifty-five for you and forty-five for me, but I get to pick through the guns first.”

“Deal.”

Kramer found a large duffle bag in the closet and started loading all the ammunition in it. Even if they didn’t have the right gun for it, they could sell it for a lot of credits. Jones investigated a cabinet by the desk and found a bottle of whiskey sitting at the bottom. “Hey, Paulie. Hiding the good stuff down here?” Jones said. “What year do you think this was?”

Kramer took it and pulled the cork out and smelled it. “Man, before the bombs dropped. Wanna do some shots while we scalp the pile?”

“Yeah, man. Find more of that weed too.”

With the guns lined up on the floor, Jones picked a .38 revolver and hid it behind his belt in the back, a .22 Derringer pistol that he slipped into his left boot, and the sawed off three-barrel shotgun that he blew the door open with. “So, I’m getting the tommy gun, this gold plated .50, and this fucking blunderbuss?” Kramer said. “Look at the barrel on this thing, it’s like a megaphone! It doesn’t even take actual bullets! Pour some black powder in it, throw a bunch of metal shit in it and hope it shoots!”

“Got a problem with it?” Jones asked.

“No, this is pretty sick.” Kramer said, cackling.

They dragged all their goods to the bottom floor. Kramer found two shot glasses behind the bar and filled both. They clinked their glasses together and took the first shot down. “Hey man, I think you are bleeding.” Kramer said, pointing to Jones’s right arm.

Jones looked and saw a line across his arm that dripped blood down to his wrist. “I didn’t even feel that. One of those bullets grazed me. What luck?”

Jones rolled his sleeve up and took some of the scalping salt and clapped that one the wound to stop the bleeding. “Yeah, that burn.” Jones said, watching the white foam bubble from the wound. “It is almost addicting.”

They spent the next couple hours scalping and throwing back drinks. They would drag the bodies from the street into the building and scalp the ones who needed it. Thirty-five good scalps, counting the mayor’s. The flies were beginning to fill up the building to feed on the dead so they saw it best to camp in another house. Before they left, Kramer was chopping at one of the scalp victims. He removed the severed head of the last kill.

“He held the scalped head up and started moving the jaw, treating the severed head like a puppet. “I only eat tangerines with my sghetti!” He said in his best worst impression, something he constantly did to people who irritated him. Kramer chucked the head like a ball out the window.

“Fucking weird people live here.” Jones said, laughing. They took some string and linked all the scalps together like a large multicolored animal pelt, blood still dripping from the skin rags.

They walked down the street with their pay, guns, and booze when a little boy stepped out into the street. Jones and Kramer both drew on him but didn’t shoot. They boy had been crying. His red, wet, tired blue eyes were nearly hidden behind his sandy hair. “You killed my daddy.”

“Oh shit, I am sorry kid! Which scalp is his and I will let you have it!” Kramer said.

“I am going to kill you both one day.”

“Really?” Jones asked, Lowering his head smiling. “You know, I don’t know how many people in this world have threatened that. So far we are still standing.” Jones lowered down till he was standing eye level with the kid. He took his revolver and spun it to where the barrel was facing his own chest and the butt of the gun was facing the kid. “Come here, kid.” He gestured for the boy to take the gun.

The boy walked over, reluctant at first, Jones made a note of his dirty bare feet. He took the gun in both hands. Jones pushed the hammer back for him and he pushed the barrel into his own chest. Jones pressed his hands against the boys. “Pull the trigger, kid. Kill me. You may even have enough time to kill my partner. You got the look of a killer in those eyes.”

“I’ll do it.” The kid threatened, snot rolling from his nose.

“I bet you could, but that is the trouble with children. They think they know the whole truth of the world. You know, from the mouth of babes, but if that was true then the world would be a better place, but I see angry eyes on you, kid, but I also see something else. I see a little boy who can’t pull the trigger.”

Several seconds passed and Jones stared in a glaring smile. He flipped the gun out of the boy’s hands and pressed the barrel to the boy’s forehead. He slowly released the hammer and holstered the gun. “Don’t be like you dad, kid. Or you will end up just like him. Now get your ass back to your house before your mother worries.”

They walked on in silence. Knocking on doors, waiting to see who was home and who wasn’t. They settled on a two-story house. They could lock the bottom doors and sleep upstairs to give them the high ground incase if someone broke in to kill them in their sleep. Kramer locked picked the door and they walked in and investigated the house. It was in good shape, clean with paintings on the wall. Upstairs they found three rooms with empty beds. They decided to settle here for the night. Kramer tied a trip rope around the front door in case anyone kicked it open. The rope connected to the trigger of his blunderbuss that was filled with knives from the kitchen. Looking through the cupboard, Jones found jars of peanut butter, a half loaf of bread, and some salted meat. “It aint sghetti, but I guess it will do.”

They ate peanut butter sandwiches and salted meat that they believed to be pork. After drinking the rest of the whiskey, they each took a different bedroom. Kramer took the master bed, while Jones took a bed that looked to be for a guest room. They slept with the doors open, guns loaded on the nightstands and they dreamt of blood and torture. The residents that were hiding after the gun fight scurried through the night, but stayed clear of the house they knew they went in.

In the morning, they wondered down the street, headaches from the whiskey and they craved their own home.

“Someone sold us out.” Jones said. “Seemed like they were waiting for us.”

“It did seem like that.” Kramer said, squinting in the bright sun. “Rival skinners I think.”

“Probably. Your knee isn’t hurting, is it?”

“Nah, man. I guess we are in the clear to drive home.”

They twisted around the rusted spikes and made it to the front of their vehicle. They both stopped and stared at the wind shield of the jeep. Blood was dripping down the glass and a message was spelled out. “Eye Sea You.”

Jones walked forward and saw that a pair of black buckeyes were sitting on the hood, a bloody smile was drawn underneath, creating a monstrous face.

“Looks, like we have a fan.” Jones said.

“But who?” Kramer asked.

“I am not sure, but I think he knows who we are.”