Raw and uncut, but sets the stage for Henchmen 3.
There’s a girl screaming and begging at the bottom of the gully. She’s buried up to her neck in the sand and our parent star hasn’t been kind to her. By my estimation, and bear in mind I’m no expert at burying women in the sand, she’s been there at least since yesterday. Her face is red and her eyes are sunken. Heat exhaustion is a hell of a way to go. At least they didn’t bury her in an anthill.
You’d think the guys milling around would at least give her a sip of water or cover her face from the sun but they appear to be assholes. One of the guys is pacing and gesticulating wildly. For all his frenetic energy he looks like the walking dead. He’s sinewy in ways rarely seen outside of Iggy Pop’s shirtless beefcake shots and his complexion is gray and waxy. Meth got its teeth into him and like the guy having sex with a psycho, he just can’t manage to get away. He paces back and forth before finally walking in front of the girl and kicking sand in her face.
She coughs and chokes but keeps up a steady stream of weak cries and begging. I can hear her clearly from up here, one of the quirks of sound in the desert. “Pleasepleasepleaseplease,” she cries, running the words together. “Letmego.”
A moment of clarity hits her, penetrating her sun-addled mind and she adds, “I swear to God, I won’t talk, just let me go.”
“You can swear to God when He gets here,” the meth head snarls. “He’s a mean Dream God and He’s going to give us everything we want.”
“You’re insane,” she says, eyes going wide. As if being buried up to her neck wasn’t sign enough, I think it finally dawned on her that these guys aren’t playing with a full deck.
“Leave her alone,” the other guy says. He’s calm, but still skeletal. Heroin would be my guess. “He won’t come if she stops screaming. He likes terror. He needs her to be afraid before He’ll show up.”
I like terror? News to me.
The first guy stares in wild-eyed wonder at his buddy and sways back and forth on his heels. It’s apparent who the brains of the operation are, so to speak. I wonder which one of them decided to slaughter the sheep. I’ve never cared for sheep, but I certainly don’t hate them. For that matter, I wonder which one of them figured out the exact set of things they’d need to do to get me to show up here. From the carcasses down there – cats, dogs, sheep – my guess is they just started killing stuff and hoping something would work.
Bad news, guys. It wasn’t the sacrifices and it wasn’t the girl that brought me here. Right now I’m not exactly certain what it was, but in my defense I’m new to this whole “being a god” thing. There should be a manual or something that tells you what to do and what to expect but – and don’t let the other gods know I said this – we’re just making this up as we go along, just like you are.
One second I’m enjoying a beer and burger with Jessica, the next second we’re both here looking down on a couple freaks and girl buried in the sand.
“You want her afraid?” the meth head asks. “I can make that happen.”
He stomps off toward a beat up truck and grabs a bucket out of the back. Methy holds it up and says, “I can make her scream like she means it.”
I’ve got a bad feeling about that bucket.
Methy’s buddy smiles and nods. “Yeah, man,” he slurs. “Make her scream.”
The girl starts screaming of her own accord but Methy keeps walking straight at her, muttering under his breath about power and gods and girls who don’t know when to shut up and when to scream. He stops in front of her and shows her the bucket. “I’ve got some new friends for you,” he says and backs up.
She stops screaming and starts panting. Stark, raving terror is creeping across her face, the kind of terror you only get when you are absolutely powerless to stop something. Methy pulls the top off the bucket and grins a huge, decaying smile. The few teeth he has left are black and rotting. “Scream for me, bitch,” he says and dumps the bucket on the ground.
Dozens of scorpions hit the ground and start heading for the girl’s face. Her scream is a mixture of pure horror and desperation. It echoes around the gully until it sounds like her scream is coming from the very ground itself.
“If you’re not going to do anything about this,” Jessica says from behind me, “I will.”
I think she’s still pissed that she got sucked into this mess along with me. She had just popped the top off a beer and was about to take a sip when the world went all wonky and we left Irish pub behind. Having dinner in Durango one second, blink and – pop – we’re here in the ass end of nowhere when our eyes open. Jessica starts to walk down the gully but I put a hand on her shoulder. “Wait a second. Time is of the essence.”
A couple scorpions have almost made it the to the girl’s face and the look of abject terror in her eyes is making me nervous. I close my eyes and reach out. My vision changes until I’m seeing from my normal height and from ground level. My regular eyes see the shadows crawl out of the brush like silent black blobs. My shadow eyes see the scorpions getting closer. The arachnids are creepy enough when you’re almost six feet tall. When you have to look up to see their bellies and claws and barbed tails they hit a whole new level of scary.
The first shadow hits a scorpion and I feel the arachnid’s mind. Food, shelter, scared, sting anything, sting everything. I know the critter isn’t evil, it’s just doing what it was programmed to do and I feel bad about it, really, but I shut the thing’s mind down and move onto the next. I sent three shadows and they took care of all but two scorpions in almost no time at all.
The meth head is jumping for joy, pointing at my shadows and screaming “He’s here, he’s here, we did it! He’s here!” The girl is still screaming, eyes squeezed shut, pretending if she can’t see the scorpions they can’t hurt her. Methy’s buddy crawls out of his chair and stares. Grins cross both their faces. They think they just called down Santa Claus and he’s going to deliver all kinds of presents.
To begin with, I’m not that kind of god. I’m also pissed as hell that these two numb nuts ruined my dinner. I’ve got presents for them, though, but I doubt they’ll like them.
The shadows scurry back into the brush and the guys look around, wondering what just happened. The girl is still screaming. Methy leans down and slaps her, but she just screams louder. He kicks her in the face, breaking her nose and probably knocking teeth loose. He’s so focuses on beating her he doesn’t feel a scorpion crawling up his leg. Methy’s just about to kick the girl again when I send a message to the scorpion.
His leg goes out from under him and he collapse on the ground screaming and cursing. My other scorpion almost made it to the other guy but got squashed when the calm dude stood up and looked around. “I know you’re,” he says, looking around. “We called you; you need to do our bidding.”
I motion to Jessica and point to the guy on the ground. She nods and closes her eyes. I feel her mental fingers digging through my brain, dredging up horrors I’ve seen in other people’s dreams. When she finds something she likes I can feel her grin.
Jessica can make things happen as long as someone can feed her blueprints. I don’t pretend to know exactly how it works. She can make things she comes up with, but for some reason they’re always small and frail. Maybe she needs my energy to make big things happen. A shadow, a regular shadow, forms over Methy’s legs seconds before a huge boulder falls out of the sky and crushes his limbs.
“Well played,” I tell Jessica.
She’s smiling again so maybe she’s not too pissed about dinner. “I thought about cutting them off but this seemed like it would hurt more,” she says.
From the sound of Methy’s cries, Jessica was right.
The other guy, calm as a cucumber, pulls a pistol out of his waistband and stalks toward the now quiet girl buried in the sand. “Come out,” he says with a little slur. “I called you out here. Now it’s time to do my bidding.”
“Where do these guys get these ideas and how did he know how to get you out here?” Jessica asks.
I shrug. I’d kind of been wondering that myself. “Internet maybe,” I say. “I think they just got lucky, though.”
“Get out here!” the guy screams. “I’ll blow her fucking head off right fucking now.”
He doesn’t seem so calm anymore. The heroin must be wearing off.
Jessica starts to go down and I walk after her. If the guy won’t back off, I’ll turn her loose on him and he’ll wish for the sweet release of death before she’s done. She’s got quite the temper on her, this girl of mine. Together we walk down into the gully. I pull my own gun out of my waistband and cock the little Detonics.
The guy swings his gun toward Jessica and glares. We stop dead in our tracks. I may be bullet-proof, emphasis on may. Jessica probably isn’t. “What kind of god carries a gun?” he asks.
“Thor had his hammer,” I say, “I’ve got mine.”
“Put the gun on the ground,” the guy says.
“Eat a dick,” I reply.
“I’ll kill both of these bitches,” he says, drawing a bead on Jessica’s forehead.
I have this quick flash of terror from him. Some kind of monster is always on his mind, a creature with a blank face and huge talons for hands. The vision is complete down to the minute details of fluid pumping through some kind of hoses on the creature. I can taste the guy’s mind and he tastes like mescaline. That must be how he called me here. He managed to hit the dream world without leaving this one.
Well, he won’t have to dream much longer.
“Put the gun on the ground,” the guy says again.
I gently place my .45 on the ground and stand back up again. “What do you want?” I ask, figuring if we’re here I might as well learn a bit.
The guy nods frantically. “Power,” he says. “I want power.”
“Sorry,” I say, “I don’t own power plant.”
His face scrunches tight. “I WANT YOUR POWER!” he yells.
“Can’t have it,” I say.
He makes a show of cocking the gun. A bullet flies out the ejection port when he pulls the slide back. Either he didn’t realize it was already cocked or he was just going for effect. Either way, I’m unimpressed.