Amazing Grace – A Pale Horse

CUT TO: 

INT. DASH’S APARTMENT – DAY 

Dash’s LA apartment is all windows and light, small but modern.  It’s sparsely furnished and decorated, the kind of place that someone lives but isn’t a home.   After some fumbling sounds the door swings open, Amazing Grace enters. 

AMAZING GRACE 

You better be dead you goat fucker.  I waited for you for over an hour and there’s no reason . . .  

Grace comes to a stop as she sees Dash dead on the floor.  Think Brian Tyree Henry.  Dash is sprawled out face-down on the floor and the room it splattered with blood, far more than you would expect from a run of the mill crime scene.   

AMAZING GRACE 

(sighs) 

My Christ Dash, what did you get yourself mixed up in this time? 

Grace checks out the bedroom to make sure no one else is there.  Once back in the main room she peers around the room deliberately as if she’s looking for things unseen.  Once she finishes her scan she moves closer, careful not to disturb anything.  She squats for a moment and runs her eyes over the body. 

AMAZING GRACE

Fuckers got you good didn’t they?  Took some souvenirs off you looks like too.  Fuckers.

Grace stands and closes her eyes, murmuring indistinctly with her hand held out, fist clenched.  With a quick move she flips her hand over and opens it.   Dash’s phone floats smoothly off the floor where it fell by his outflung hand.  The phone stops and hovers above Grace’s palm.  Grace flicks a finger towards it like she’s getting rid of a bug and the phone suddenly comes to life with a full battery.  She waves her hand like swiping on Tinder and the phone unlocks.   

She scrolls through the phone with her fingers a few inches away, manipulating the phone remotely, not touching the screen.  She seehs a lot of calls and texts from someone listed as GOLD-DIGGER in regards to a case.  She sees a calendar appointment at Obsidian Bar with INFORMANT at 8 PM.  She taps her thumb and pinky together three times and the phone dials GOLD-DIGGER.  It goes directly to voicemail without announcing who it is. 

AMAZING GRACE

(in a deep masculine voice, VO from Dash)

This is Dashiel Flint ma’am, my sincerest apologies but I have being called out of town unexpectedly.  In order to keep your case moving forward I am going to refer to you a colleague that will be picking up the investigation with you permission.  I have the utmost confidence in her abilities but I understand that this is an unusual request and I assure you that that this is not how I like to do business.  Unfortunately in this instance it’s unavoidable.  If you’re not satisfied with your arrangement I can offer you a full refund of the retainer and any invoices already paid.  But, as I said, I give you my assurance that this colleague will deliver results and I vouch for her with complete confidence.  At your convenience please contact her at (number)

With another gesture the phone turns off and floats back to the exact spot it was on the floor next to Dash’s hand.  Grace takes some deep breaths, stretches her shoulders and then floats lightly a few inches off the ground like the kids down in the sewer in IT.  Her eyes slowly turn a bright shade of electric blue.  After a few seconds she floats back down to the ground and her eyes change back.

AMAZING GRACE

Not going to make it easy for me huh?

(she speaks to Dash’s body)

Well we know one thing for sure, this is some magic shit right here.  If this had something to do with me Dash I’m sorry.  I’ll find out.  I guess I’m sorry either way.  You were a good dude Dash.  Most of the time anyway.

Grace takes one final look around the room and then leaves.  

CUT TO: 

EXT. BEVERLY HILLS MANSION – DAY 

Outside the mansion gates Grace sits in the driver’s seat of a battered ‘64 Acadian Canso.  The car has such things as claw-marks, acid-burns, and bullet-holes across the body.  Grace is flipping through her phone learning about GIGI MUNSON, think Eli Jane or Jenae Altschwager.  We learn that Gigi married a much older wealthy man, inherited $120 million when he died 2 years ago, and that she was once an outspoken member of CAN – the cult awareness network – but has since renounced the organization. 

Grace tucks her phone away, exits the Canso and slips in through the gates while they swing open to hike a comically long distance to the front of the mansion.   

CUT TO: 

INT. BEVERLY HILLS MANSION – DAY 

Grace and Gigi are sitting in a finely appointed living room, Gigi poised on the couch like a queen and Grace perched awkwardly like a gargoyle on a funky modern art looking chair. 

GIGI 

Can I get you something to drink? 

AMAZING GRACE 

Maker’s Mark and Code Red Mountain Dew if you have it, toss in some Skittles. 

GIGI 

(polite but annoyed)

How about some ice tea? 

AMAZING GRACE 

(waving her off) 

I’m good actually.  I want to apologize again for Dash being called away so suddenly, he had an urgent family matter that he had to attend to, but I can assure you that I’ll be pursuing this case aggressively in his absence.  I didn’t get much of a chance to talk to Dash before he left town so I thought it best that we speak in person, Dash gave me access to everything he had but he’s not big into record keeping, client confidentiality and all that.  You never know who has access to your files right?

GIGI 

Do you know if Dash had any leads on the location of my step daughter? 

AMAZING GRACE 

Yes, I’m going to meet someone with some information later today, but could you start from the beginning please?  I want to make sure I’m not missing anything.  In these types of scenarios it’s not good to assume anything.

GIGI 

(takes a moment to compose herself) 

Ela and I were never close but we had as good a relationship as we could have given the circumstances.  I never tried to be her mother, that would be ridiculous since she’s three years older than me.  But I didn’t pretend that we were friends either, I think she respected that. All I could do was I try to be there for her as much as I could.  I knew the kind of problems that she was facing.  After Hal died Ela and I started spending more time together, getting closer than we had before.  Most people treat me like a gold-digging slut but Ela knew that I really loved her father. 

(she wipes away a tear) 

I was sick in love with Hal.  Ela knew that and it was something that brought us together after he passed.  A few months ago things between us were better than they had ever been but then her behavior became increasing erratic.  She . . . has issues with drugs, but this seemed different.  I struggled with the same thing for years, I know what that looks like, this was . . . something else. 

AMAZING GRACE 

Like what? 

GIGI 

(she takes a deep breath and then plunges in) 

I was a 17 when I came to LA.  I had already been using meth for two years.  Everyone I met out here, man or woman, was looking to abuse me or hurt me or turn me out.  LA is a city full of dreamers and that makes it a city full of predators as well.  But some of the things I saw, or think I saw, were beyond . . . any sort of human exploitation.  Some of it was play-acting, people making a show, wanting attention.  But I saw, or think I saw, some things I can’t explain.  I’ve worked with a dozen different therapists, specialists, memory recovery experts, all sorts of people.  I still don’t know for sure what was real and what was in my head from those days. 

I remember being at a party.  There was a stripper there, and a gigolo I suppose, I remember several women I knew from the tennis club having sex with him while wearing hideous masks.  I may have as a well.  I can see him clearly in my mind.  He’s lying on a low table made of white stone.  He’s looking very satisfied with himself until his eyes widen when one of them slits his throat.  The blood, I see the blood.  They all come at him with knives and they hack at his body, ripping pieces of this flesh off and shoving them I their mouths.  After he’s dead and they’re covered with blood and bits of muscle they were chanting and holding candles and things . . . happened.  Things that don’t make sense.  Other memories I question, other memories I have may or may not be true.  But that . . . that one I am convinced is real.   

(folds hands) 

That must sound insane to you. 

AMAZING GRACE 

Not at all.  Trust me, I know reality is a lot more flexible than people like to think.  I’ve seen shit that would make your pubes fall out.  You must be bringing this up because you think your step-daughter is involved with something like what you saw? 

GIGI 

I don’t know what she’s involved with.  When she started acting oddly she would talk about the Apocalypse and Revelations and Judgement Day.  At first I thought she was talking about the Bible, they really try to shove Jesus down your throat in some of those 12-step programs.  It can be helpful . . . sometimes.  She’s had a lot of sadness in her life.  It seemed natural that she might turn to religion in some way.

But this wasn’t anything to do with religion, not any legitimate religion anyway.  She would talk about aliens sometimes and a comet and some of that conspiracy crap about shapeshifters.  She talked about this old occultist named Aleister Crowley like he was a god or some kind of messiah.  She that she had made friends that were all about gaining power and how suffering was the natural human condition so it was okay to make othe people suffer for your own benefit.  They were going to help her gain power and then no one would ever be able to hurt her again.  She sent me all these links to bizarre subreddits and Youtube videos, some of which were advocating acts of violence. 

What really concerned me is when she moved out of her apartment, I don’t know where she went.  She’s not returning my texts or calls anymore and I don’t know how to get in touch with her.  I would have assumed that she was backsliding, going on a bender, I know some old friends of hers were in town which is a trigger for people like us, but I went to this occult shop where I saw she was spending a lot of money at to see if they might know where she was.  

(pause) 

I just got a bad feeling about that place.  The woman behind the counter.  Didn’t seem right to me.  I didn’t speak to her I just turned around and left.  I think I might have been followed by someone when I was coming home that day.  It could just be paranoia but since that day some odd things have been happening.  That’s when I contacted Mr. Flint. 

AMAZING GRACE 

What kind of odd things?

(Gigi holds up her phone and shows a video of crickets coming out of a water faucet when turned on)

Well, that certainly fits the bill.

GIGI

I’m worried that Ela is in danger.  I’m worried that anyone I send after her is in danger.  The things I’ve seen . . . I’m thinking I should call this all off.  I don’t want anyone else to be hurt.

AMAZING GRACE 

(making an awkward gesture of comfort)

Don’t worry about that at all.  I’m a professional.  I know how to take care of myself so don’t give that notion a second thought.  I’m going to do my level best to find out what’s happened to your step-daughter.

GIGI

(wiping away another tear)

Thank you

AMAZING GRACE

Thank you, you’ve been very helpful, and I apologize once again for you having to go over this all again.  One last thing, can you verify the spelling of your step-daughter’s name?  Dash probably ran her through all the usual databases but I have a few other sources I like to check out in situations like this. 

GIGI 

Have you worked many cases like this? 

AMAZING GRACE 

Sadly yes.  It’s amazing how blasé we are as a society about people disappearing.  People throw around this platitude that when someone disappears because it’s because they don’t want to be found.  To me that’s like coming across a dead body and assuming they killed themselves.  It’s the easy way out intellectually, gets you off the hook.  People like to pretend that when someone goes missing they just ditched and have a new life somewhere else, because the alternative, the truth maybe, is too ugly for them to think about. 

Amazing Grace – A Pale Horse

(I thought it would be fun to write an in-universe screenplay for my other blog where a guy writes a story about the main character that is not representative of her personality, attitude, or magical abilities in any way. It was fun. Since I’m not doing anything here right now I thought I’d post it serialized for whatever enjoyment it may bring.

(Trigger/content warning – kinda gross)

FADE IN: 

INT. BROKE TO YOLKED MMA, BISHOP CALIFORNIA – DAY 

The gym is wrecked.  The bodies of defeated MMA dudes lay all around on the floor.  AMAZING GRACE stands amidst the carnage choking out one of the last men standing.  Think Mackenzie Davis in Terminator or Betty Gilpin in the Hunt.  Maybe even Gwendoline Christie.  Someone splitting the difference would be ideal.   Grace throws the man she choked out to the ground and the last last man standing is there to confront her.  Think Danny McBride or Walton Goggins. 

MMA DUDE 

We are the Heirs of Dim Mak! 

AMAZING GRACE 

Yeah, I’ve heard that like fifty times already. 

The MMA dude goes into a precise martial arts kata, magic energy starts to dance across his body as he sways and moves.  Grace steps forwards and knocks him on his ass with a straight headbutt.  She holds out her hand and a discarded funky martial arts sword flies smoothly into her palm.  She pokes MMA Dude in the inner tight with it and he scoots away desperately, hitting the wall as bloody spews from the wound. 

AMAZING GRACE 

Hey Siri. 

SIRI  

(voice from pocket) 

Uh huh? 

AMAZING GRACE 

Set a reminder to start working the phrase “Don’t bring your dick to a machete fight” in conversation whenever possible. 

SIRI 

Okay 

MMA DUDE 

How did you do that?! 

AMAZING GRACE 

(confused) 

Do you not have a smart phone? (she glances at the weapon on her hand) Oh, you mean this?  Magic.  But you know that you were just doing . . . oh, I see, how am I so damn good at it?  (steps forward and presses the blade against his crotch) I don’t know how advanced you are in your training so this may come as a surprise to you, but all the theatrics?  You don’t need them.  They help, but you don’t need them.  All the chanting and the hand movements and the singing and candles and shit, or in your case karate disco breakdancing, those things are like putting up the bumpers when you’re bowling. 

Magic is like masturbation karateman.  When you’re going to jerk off you dial up the Redtube or Pornhub or the camera you hid in your underage neighbors daughter’s room and you lube up your fleshlight and get your butt plug ready and your noose and everything and all that helps you get the job done.  It makes things much easier.  But you don’t need all that right?  You could do the whole thing just with your mind.  Crazy right? 

When I was in the army there was a dude in my unit that could get hard and pop off without even touching himself, just by thinking about it.  People would come from all over to watch him do it.  The army is a weird place .  Anyway I’m like that dude, only with magic.  I cast spells most of the time because I like to make things easier for myself just as much as the next person, but in a pinch, shit happens just because I want it to.  Fuckboy physical adepts like yourself probably shouldn’t mess with someone like that should they?  You didn’t know though so I can’t hold that against you.  What I can and will do is stab your dick off if you don’t tell me where it is. 

MMA DUDE 

Where what is? 

AMAZING GRACE 

(sigh theatrically) 

Come on karate man, don’t be like that.  We were having a nice friendly death battle here, don’t make things turn ugly with lies.  I don’t want to neuter you but I will.  Oh sure, when I was new to magic I went through a dick ripper phase.  I was working through some stuff from my childhood.  You know, you find a serial rapist, rip his dick off, and you feel good for a while.  You feel like you’ve done something for the world.  But I’ve outgrown that, you can’t go around being angry and dick ripping all your life right?  

(stabs in other thigh with a bright arc of blood) 

But here we are karateman, so tell me where it is right now. 

(MMA dude points shakily to a staircase, Grace gestures with the weapon) 

Thank you, lead the way. 

MMD Dude walks nervously up the stairs with Grace at his back.  They enter a small spare office with an old battered desk.  Grace points with her weapon. 

AMAZING GRACE 

Stand in the corner. 

MMA Dude moves to the corner as Grace sits behind the desk and starts looking through it. 

MAA DUDE 

(peeking over his shoulder) 

What exactly is it anyway? 

AMAZING GRACE 

(she stops looking and puts the blade down on the desk) 

There’s a place in Germany called Wurzburg, or at least there was in the 17th century, maybe it’s gone now.  A girl lived in Wurzburg named Gobel Babelin and according to record she was a total knockout karateman.  They put that on Wikipedia.  She had all the stuff guys liked back in the 17th century, weird swan necks and pointy foreheads, who the hell knows what they were into.  Because she was so pretty the Mayor of Wurzburg or whatever they had at the time wanted that pussy real bad.  Real bad. 

But Gobel Babelin wouldn’t give it up to him because that was when God was a big deal and He didn’t want anyone to have sex.  Plus that was back before lady orgasms had been invented so what was in it for her anyway?  As you probably know guys don’t like it when women won’t give up the puss.  So the Mayor did the only reasonable thing he could do given the situation.  He went to his priest and said that Gobel Babelin was a witch and she had enspelled him.   

At that time God hated witches even more than He hated people having sex.  So the Inquisition, which was a real thing as it turns out, grabbed Gobel Babelin.  The Inquisition tortured the fuck out of her to see if she was a witch.  They tortured her real good.  She never said she was a witch though because probably she wasn’t and she knew God was watching.  They cut her head off anyway just to be sure.   I can only assume at that point the mayor got want he wanted with her headless body.

After they burned that headless body a passerby found an iron nail that she had in her pocket.  I don’t know if you know this karateman but sometimes when someone experiences enough trauma and despair and horrible shit and then dies all that evil black magic mojo they release can turn something on them into a magic artifact.  Crazy right?  And that’s what happened to that nail.  Somewhere along the line someone melted the nail down and turned it into a little blob, it’s supposed to be art I guess.  It was safe in France for a long time with some magic people there but they’re all dead now and it was sold to a rich guy right here in the US.  Then your master stole it.  Now I’m here.

MAA DUDE 

Oh. 

AMAZING GRACE 

Yeah, oh.  Not much else to say is there?  Magic is fucked up sometimes. 

(she opens a drawer and pulls out a dull grey metal blob) 

And here we go. 

MMA DUDE 

What are you going to do with it? 

AMAZING GRACE 

Destroy it. 

MMA DUDE 

But you said it has power. 

AMAZING GRACE 

Oh yes, a shit load of power.  If your master had used this instead of sticking it in a drawer he could have knocked my tits off when I walked in the door instead of getting his ass kicked.  Maybe he didn’t know how to use it.  Or maybe he realized that it’s evil and didn’t use it on purpose, that would be nice if that was true.  I don’t know what he’s been teaching you karateman but this is what you do with magic abilities.  Destroy evil things like this.  Ripping off drug dealers or whatever you chuckleheads are doing, that’s shenanigans.  You have fucking magic!  You have magic.  You’re a superhero!  You should be Batman, not a douche. 

MMA DUDE 

Batman doesn’t have any powers. 

AMAZING GRACE 

Yes, that’s the point I was driving at, thanks for paying attention.  Get the fuck out of here. 

MMA Dude scurries off.  Grace takes a deep breath, closes her eyes and holds the blob in her fist out in front of her.  She murmurs softly under her breath and after a moment there’s a bright flash of purple light.  She opens her hand and the iron has been reduced to just a few flakes.  Across the room a woman appears dressed in old German peasant clothing – think Milana Vayntrub or Carly Foulkes. 

GHOST 

Wo bin ich? 

AMAZING GRACE 

Sorry, I don’t speak German. 

The ghost fades away quickly, think Thanos dusting people in Infinity War 

OPEN CREDITS 

During the credits “I Enjoy Being a Girl” from Flower Drum Song (or a new cover?)  plays over a montage of Grace in violent fights like the beginning of Deadpool 2.  Mostly physical stuff but with a few magical flourishes.  She dishes it out but this shows her taking a lot of punishment too. 

Super Short Story Saturday

I forgot how much breaking my routine discombobulates me. Yesterday I posted on the Grace blog instead of today, what a disaster! In order to make up for it (?) here’s a thing I wanted to write so I did. Back in the super Ela story I ripped off Deadpool 2 and had Ela interviewing new heroes. It wasn’t good but it was fun to write.

Meanwhile at the Halls of Justice Human Resources Department our dynamic duo faces their most challenging test to date!

Pete (tapping papers on the desk) – I don’t want to waste anyone’s time here so there’s one thing that I feel that I need to say up front, we already have a water person, Martialla.  We didn’t want to deny you your chance to sell yourself but I don’t think there’s much chance that you’re going to be hired on honestly.  If you want to continue we can but there’s just not a lot of call for more than one water person.

Sea Lion (examining a globe-shaped paperweight on the desk) – Is this real?

Pete (frowns slightly) – Uh, it’s a real paperweight if that’s what you mean.  I’m not sure what you’re asking, real in what way? (he waits for a response but Seal Lion just sits back) So, uh, like I was saying we have the water thing covered pretty much so . . .

Seal (pointedly) – Do you though?  The earth is mostly water.  That 70% thing people say is just the surface area, by volume 98% of the livable area on earth is water.  Is one person enough to cover tall that?

Pete – We do also have Leviathan as a reserve member.  But people don’t really live in the ocean and most of our work involves, you know, people, people committing crimes, on land.   So yeah we’re mostly a land based organization.  And like I said we’re staffed up on water people.

Sea Lion (Seal starts to say something but Sea Lion talks over her) – Why do they call her Martialla the Super Mermaid?  She’s not a mermaid, she has legs. 

Pete – Uh, it’s just a name I guess, so did you want . . . uh . . .

Seal (leaning forward to draw attention) – It’s fine actually because we mostly do stuff on land anyway.  We operate primarily on land, right Sea Lion? (she nods absently) We have super swimming powers but we don’t actually use them that much. 

Peter (mildly surprised) – Oh really, what other powers do you have?

Seal (smiling) – Well we both have super strength of course, Sea Lion is stronger than I am, but we’re both very strong.

Pete (leaning back in his chair) – Is that so?  Are seals strong?

Seal (nodding quickly) – Yeah, they’re strong, see the thing is most animals are stronger than humans by comparison.  So almost everyone with animal powers has super strength.  Like an 80 pound chimp is much stronger than a person right?  Do you have a pet?

Pete (nodding happily) – I have birds.

Seal (face falling slightly) – Well birds aren’t, uh, a good example, but uh, have you ever tried to hold down a cat or a dog to give them a pill?  They’re really strong for how small they are right?  Animals are just comparatively stronger that people, something to do the muscle structure I think.  So yeah, we have super-strength.  Not like super super strength.  You know?

Pete – Could you lift up a car?

Sea Lion (after Seal looks over at her) – Yeah I can lift a car.  I threw my ex-boyfriends car into the river once.

Seal (leaning forward again quickly) – Because he was a bad guy!  Not, not, you know, because of relationship stuff.  I could lift up a little car maybe, like a compact, Sea Lion is the muscle in our duo, but we both also have super-agility.

 Pete (dubiously) – From a seal?

Seal (nodding quickly) – Yeah, seals and sea lions are both very agile.

Pete (titling his head slightly) – I guess they are in the water, but not on land.

Seal – No, no, they’re still agile on land it’s not their environment right?  Think about a gymnast in the water, they don’t lose their agility, it’s not just their natural habitat.  Right?  Seals and sea lions are both very agile and really flexible too.  We’re basically like someone with cat powers in that sense.  Do you have like an obstacle course or a gym or something?  We could show you. 

Sea Lion (after a moment of awkward silence) – We’re both trained combatants.

Seal (nodding again, eagerly) – Yes we’re both trained I hand to hand combat, judo, BJJ, I’m an expert in dirty boxing and I have claws.

Pete (making a face) – What?  Seals don’t have claws.

Seal (smiling brightly) – They do actually, big claws on their flippers. 

Peter (snorting) – Sure, technically dogs have claws.

Sea Lion – Those are nails.

Peter – What’s the difference?

Seal (holds her hand up and extends vicious 3 inch claws from her fingers) – See?  Claws.  Seal claws.  Sea Lion doesn’t have claws but she’s stronger.  And we both have a layer of protective blubber, which is what really gives us an advantage in a fight.

Peter (looking at them both in turn meaningfully) – What blubber?  You both look like you’re a taco short of 80 pounds soaking wet.

Sea Lion (eyeing him) – I don’t think you’re allowed to comment on our bodies.

Seal (waving her hand frantically) – No, no, it’s in, it’s there under the skin.  If you took a scan you’d see we have a thick layer of blubber.  Like an x-ray or something.

Pete (confused) – And that protects you somehow?

Seal – Yeah, yeah, it’s like padding right?  It’s like uh, ablative armor I think they call it.  We’re almost immune to impacts.  So punches and kicks and bullets can’t hurt us.

Pete (frowning) – Because of fat?

Seal Lion – It’s not fat, it’s blubber. 

Peter – What’s the difference?

Seal (picking up a stapler off the desk) – Look, take this and hurl it at me as hard as you want, I won’t be hurt. 

Peter (holding out a hand) – Oh, I don’t think that would be appropriate. 

Seal (desperately) – Just launch it right at my face, you’ll see it won’t hurt me.  Unless you get me in the eye, that’s not protected, but practically everything else . . .

Sea Lion – Or the butthole.  (they both turn to stare at her) What?  Our buttholes aren’t protected either.  All our holes are vulnerable.  It doesn’t come up much, but I’m just saying. 

Seal (even more desperately) – That’s why we wear goggles when we’re on patrol, the eye thing isn’t an issue.

Pete – Bulletproof goggles?

Seal (after a moment) – I mean . . . no, not bullet . . . proof but they’re bullet resistant.  I mean when’s the last time you heard of anyone getting shot in the eye?

Pete – Cylcopious got shot in the eye last week.

Seal (cringing slightly) – Well . . . yeah . . . but his eye is huge.  Anyway, that’s where you guys could help us out.  With some gear.  You give us some body armor and some eye protection and maybe some . . .

Peter – Why would you need body armor?

Seal – Well . . . our blubber doesn’t protect us again blades or cutting attacks.  It only works on blunt force impacts.

Sea Lion – Or heat.

Seal – Yeah, or heat.  But that’s why I think we’d really be good for this because the issue with most body armor is . . .

Seal Lion – Or poison. 

Seal (losing her temper for a moment) – No armor protects you against poison!  (hands up) Sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean to yell.  We’re not unpowered right, we don’t need like a super-suit like Arsenal but we’re more like the super soldier level right?  I think with our powers and some gadgets we could really be an asset to the New Justice Team.  And you know if some water stuff does happen then Martialla and Leviathan could have us as back up.  Or you know, they can go on vacation and we can fill in with the water stuff. 

Pete (clicking his tongue) – Well you’ve made a better case than I expected.  We aren’t really looking for a duo though, budget wise we can’t really afford two more salaries.

Seal (eagerly) – That’s fine, we can live with just one paycheck.

Sea Lion (taking out her phone) – We’re mostly just in need of the health insurance. 

Pete (making some notes) – Well, it’s an interesting proposal for sure.  How did you get your powers?

Seal – I was on a basketball trip for school and I got bit by a radioactive seal. 

Pete (nodding absently as he writes) – Classic.  How did the seal get to be radioactive? 

Seal – I don’t know, it swam off after it bit me, no one studied it or anything.

Pete (looking up) – Then how do you know it was radioactive?

Seal (frowns for a moment) – I guess I just assumed . . . you know because I got seal powers . . . after. 

Pete (looking to Sea Lion) – What about you?

Sea Lion (scrolling through her phone) – My mom is an ancient sea lion goddess or something.  Some Native American thing. 

Seal (hopefully) – Yeah, yeah, she’s totally half first nation, that’s good right?  Like isn’t there a box we can check for that, like, uh, for a program or something? 

OOC – Update

Far more successful bloggers than I say that updates are important. One of these more successful bloggers is also doing a “no self-depreciation” challenge so I won’t say why I think they aren’t important.

Today’s post is going to be the last one in the main Elapocalypse story for a while. I’ve been running out of steam for a bit and I want to shake things up.

You see when I was a kid there used to be this thing called TV shows. They made loads of them and most of them didn’t survive. Like fish laying eggs. Sometimes when a show was not doing well they’d try to tweak it a little to save themselves. It never worked. I’ve always thought it would be neat if in that situation the show took a wild swing. If your sitcom about a married couple in Chicago isn’t working how about you inexplicably make it a supernatural drama about mummies?

If you’re going down why not go nuts?

I know why, they have to think about their careers, but the point is I’m going to do some flashbacks/background/prequels/whatever where things get funky. Why not? I’m just writing for my own amusement anyway.

Anyway, I’m probably going to take a few posts off before I start up with that. Or post about random stuff.

What kind of random stuff? Stuff like this – when I started out on WP I had three blogs. With my busy social calendar that was one blog two many. Now that I’m re-posting blog #2 on wattpad I’m getting into the same scenario. I’m doing a lot more new material on wattpad that I planned.

Sidenote, I found out that “wattpad boy” is slang for a dude who’s super-dreamy, which makes me more convinced than ever that it’s for 12-year old girls and maybe I shouldn’t be there.

The funny thing is I would prioritize wattpad first even though I only have 1 reader and I think it’s a terrible platform to attract readers. Maybe just because I’m exciting to be re-writing the Grace story.

I live, I die, I live again

I like an action movie as much as the next person.  Actually that’s not true since the next person is Martialla and she likes action movies more than me.  I like action movies fine is my point.  But.  At a certain point you’ve seen it right?  How many times do you need to see Sly Stallone machine-gunning foreigners?  I don’t understand the people that watch tons of action movies any more than I understand the people that watch tons of rom-coms.  Even if you like the formula after a certain point it has to become rote doesn’t it?

What getting at is that I’m not sure if there’s any point to outlining the rest of our encounter on the high plains.  But Ela, what’s the point to any of this?  There’s no one even reading this.  A well measured argument.  I suppose to quote Del the Funky Homosapien “I brought all this so you can survive when law is lawless”. 

After a smashed the first enemy Mario Kart I got hung up chasing one of the other ones.  Their driver was a crafty one, whoever they were they knew a few maneuvers and I couldn’t get him.  I think military people in plane movies call that getting target fixating.  Is that what Kelly McGill was in Top Gun?  The problem is that when the only method of attack you have is ramming there’s not much you can do but dump and chase you know? 

While I was doing that the two other bogeys bracketed Lucien and Paul’s car and harpooned the Christ out of them.  Was that the plan?  Car one get killed, car two distract me and then car three and four go in for the kill on our other vehicle?  Since I’m the best driver should I have been driving the worse car?  Should Martialla have been in the slower car since she’s the best shot?  Should Paul have been with me since he’s useless anyway?  Should Lucien have been with me since he was injured?

It’s a classic question, do you give your best scene to your best actor and really knock people’s dicks off, or do you give that scene to the producer’s girlfriend who can’t act for shit and hope that the writing is good enough to stand on its own? 

Martialla likes to say that I have no friends other than her, which mostly true, but my friend Dobalina was one of those “I’m in this movie because I’m sleeping with someone” sorts.  We met on the set of Out of Luck Two – Honeybee’s Revenge.  I never did figure out if it was Billy Zane or the director she was banging to get the role.  Could have been both of them, you know?  To her credit she knew she couldn’t act worth a damn and often asked for her role to be reduced.  It’s not like she was getting paid by the word you know?

I wonder how she died in the apocalypse.  I hope she was just obliterated by an orbital missile or something like that.  Something quick.

Anyway, I chased car number two into an ephemeral river that popped up after the storm.  It really came out of nowhere.  I very nearly went over the side myself.  I would have if I didn’t suddenly see the car ahead of me dip down and then slam into the opposite bank.  Doing a hundred and ten on the coastal highways makes you forget how fast forty miles an hour is.  Seeing those bodies explode on the embankment and sclorch into the water below was a good reminder.

By the time I got back our other vehicle had been wrecked but everyone was still alive.  Lucien shot one of the drivers of the attacking vehicles and they bugged out after that.  I suppose they’ll be back.  Since we can’t cram everyone into J-Lo Two we were brought to a halt once again while they tried to get the other machine working.  It’s going to take us forever to get back to Junktown at this rate. 

That’s how sad things are, I’m annoyed that I can’t get back to a junkheap faster.

While the mechanic (who I swear to god said was named Skank) Martialla and Lucien were messing with the other buggy and Paul was off doing whatever he does I invited our other new friend to sit around doing nothing with me.  Her name apparently is Wool.  I asked her if she grew up on a sheep ranch but she didn’t know what a sheep or a ranch was.  That’s just her name. 

I asked her what she thought of all this, assuming she had never been out of Junktown before, and she said that it reminded her of when she first came across the plains on account of they had been attacked by the plainspeople all the time as well. 

I don’t know if she’s from the seaweed scum town that Martialla and I first encountered however many weeks ago that was or one that’s just like it, but the point is she’s originally from that valley.  On account of her great beauty (add quotes there) she was sent to Crow when she was of age where she worked until she was bought by a Road Hog gang boss who then swapped her to a merchant in New Frisco.  I didn’t know what to say that, what can you say?

“It wasn’t so bad, I was drugged most of the time” is what she said about it.

I was about to ask her how she ended up with the Church of the Lady Jesus when she threw a curveball at me. 

“I saw you die once in Murdertown.”

“That’s the entertainment place right?  They must have old movies there?  Which one did you see?  There aren’t many parts I had where my character dies, not ones where I have many lines anyway.  Was it Blood on the River Nile?  That’s not a bad flick, it got really screwed up in editing but if we had had a few more weeks to shoot and eight million more in the budget . . .”

She didn’t know what a movie was any more than she knew what a sheep was but I figured that she had seen one of my films without understanding what it was – you know the old gag where aliens see Gilligan’s Island or Murphy Brown and think it’s real because they don’t have entertainment.  But that isn’t what it was at all.  She claimed that she saw me actually get killed in really real life. 

I figured there was a tiny chance that it was someone who looked like me, tiny on account of everyone now is small and ugly and I am tall and stunning attractive, or more likely she was just insane in the membrane.  Who knows what those future drugs did to her brain?  Plus, maybe she has “religious visions” or something.   

“So how did I die?”

“Duke Eagle strangled you in the arena.  After you tried to kill him and were captured.”

I laughed politely, must be what passes for a joke these days “Oh yeah, and it doesn’t bother you that here I am alive now?”

She shook her head and gestured to my necklace “No, I’ve seen you die a couple times, you die and then you live again.”

I smile “I hope things work out better with the Duke this time eh?”

She nodded somberly “Me too.”

I alone tempt you

Did you know that the Sahrawi People’s Liberation Army pioneered the use of non-standard tactical vehicles in the late 70s fighting for independence against Mauritania and Morocco?  I didn’t know that before but I sure do now because when they aren’t talking about stupid prairie grass or how dinosaurs aren’t really dinosaurs or some other damn thing Martialla and Lucien are obsessively talking about how Sahrawi guerrillas successfully used NSTVs against the less agile conventional armies of their opponents, which as we all know is unusual in that the force equipped with improvised vehicles prevailed over the force equipped with purpose-built fighting vehicles. 

Martialla and Lucien are trying to develop a combat doctrine for the ramshackle warbuggies and killwagons of the day.  No offense to them (well some) but I don’t know that a retired Coast Guard pilot and a combat engineer/science experiment are the best people to define the way battles are going to be fought.  Although in fairness to them I don’t think there are any tactics to be gleaned from how people fight now.  I’ve been in a few battles now and I would describe them as combination of a Black Friday trampling, Woodstock ‘99, and an English soccer riot.  Except everyone is in a poorly made car made out of nunchuks, flamethrowers, knives and dynamite.   

It’s beautiful in a way.  A society has evolved from the ashes of the one that I came from and it is a society that knows no stress or concern.  In my time everyone thought they had all these problems, because they were after some kind of answers, some deeper meaning to life.  The psychos alive now don’t bother to ask questions, they must smash into each other and gouge and stab and murder.  Theirs is not to reason why, theirs it but to do and die.  For them, the great spiritual war of humanity is won. 

The key, I guess you can call it a tactic if you want, is to drive with a reckless disregard for your own safety, and survive long enough to become very good at successfully pulling off daring vehicular maneuvers.  Also having an indestructible car doesn’t hurt.  Not at all.   

Case in point, on our way back to Junktown we were attacked by a quad-squad of the plainspeople.  On our side we had J-Lo’s Revenge, which is both faster and more durable than any of the four attacking machines.  And since I was driving also the best handled machine.  Our other vehicle was one stolen from the very people attacking us, so it was the same.  So what’s the tactic you’re supposed to take in that situation?   

I mean I guess there’s strategies in boxing, biting and groin punches, stuff like that.  I’ve heard boxers talking about their strategy and this and that, but at the end of the day who wins is just a matter of who’s better at punching right?  Has a guy that sucks at punching ever won a fight by using a super cool tactic?  Hit as hard as you can hit and try not to get hit back.  What else is there? 

When I saw the attackers I engaged what I call the Ela Maneuver – I drove directly at them and initiated a head on collision.  Its beauty is in its simplicity.   Like casting Bruce Willis as a quick-witted, snarky action oriented everyman who smokes, you do it because it always works.  I don’t think anyone else does uses that move these days.  Probably because their cars are made of papier-mâché, beetle dung, and snot.  If they weren’t apocalyptic psychopaths trying to kill me and use my flesh as a canteen I would almost feel sorry for them. 

I don’t like shooting people.  I’ve made me peace with that fact that shooting people is part of my life now.  But I don’t like it.  I HATE hand to hand combat.  I hate it so much.  I can’t even describe what it’s like.  Thinking about it makes me physically ill. 

But.  If we’re being honest, and I feel that we are.  When I’m behind the wheel of J-Lo and we’re crushing fools in their clay and cardboard cars with spears for weapons it feels good.  It’s exhilaration of a kind that I never imagined could exist.  I’ve performed in front of huge crowds thirsty for my glory.  I’ve jumped out of air planes.  I’ve done all kinds of things.  Nothing gives you a charge like smashing into another vehicle and watching it fly to pieces.  I don’t feel great about how great it feels but that’s how I feel about it feeling great.

Martialla said something along the lines that the impact of a freight train is equal to two tons of dynamite concentrated in a much smaller area and focused in one direction.  She said that even in World War 2 a lot of surfaced submarines were sunk by ramming.  Violence is wrong of course but if you’re going to do it you may was well do it right.  And there’s something about ramming that just feels right.  Sex pun here. 

I don’t know why but I started singing “I Alone” as the remaining three kill-cars scattered and I fishtailed around to chase one of them.  I don’t even like that song.  I wonder if the songs I sing during combat have some secret message from my unconscious that would reveal something new about me.  I should started recording them for future generations to puzzle over.  Of course they wouldn’t know the songs so I’d have to write them all down too.  Yawn. 

I had a role as a nurse on some stupid war show and between takes Matthew Broderick said to me that he would have liked to have been in combat for real “as long as there was no chance I could get hurt”.  Which is the kind of shit you expect a Hollywood dickhead to say.  In short he was just saying that he wished he could murder someone and get away with it.  At the time I thought he was disgusting for making that comment.  Now?  I get what he was saying.  As my agent said one time “Firing a man gives you a hell of a rush, but it’s no replacement for killing.”

Or to put it another way, it’s easier not to be great and measure these things by your eyes.

Tell don’t show

The Atlas-journals I found are an attempt by someone named Ellen (almost a great name) to document the downfall of American society.  She came to the garage with a guy she calls Silke which is not a real name, and an older fella by the name of Ezra.  Sometime later in their living in a car garage adventure they are joined by someone she calls Max.  She doesn’t say so outright but I’m pretty sure Max killed Ezra and she and Silke were too scared of him to do anything about it.  She doesn’t say anything about Max directly but reading between the lines I think he was the bad one. 

Ellen says that there was an energy crisis in the mid-2020s.  As a result of this crisis the government made a big push for alcohol fuel cells and passed a bill to nationalize oil and natural gas resources.  The first thing didn’t bother people so much, the second one did.  It bothered them a lot it sounds like.  Texas did what Texas always threatens to do, they seceded.  As Ellen tells it for a couple of years the Lone Star state and the federales tried to talk things out but according to her even after the US capitulated and said the rich Texans could keep their oil fields it was too late, the Texan weren’t having it.   

Talks came to a halt when Texas National Guardsmen seized military bases in San Antonio.  Ellen dates this as happening in 2032.  This is where the narrative gets confused.  She talks about a battle in Selma, but that’s in Alabama and she talks like it’s part of Texas.  Maybe she meant that a couple states left the Union and formed the “country” of Texas?  I say this because she also talks like some cities in Oklahoma and Louisiana are in Texas.   

It gets even more confusing when she starts in about Mexican forces.  After reading through it a couple times I don’t think she meant national troops from the country of Mexico, I think she was talking about Latin Americans in Texas who weren’t happy with what was happening.  She talks about protests and riots and crackdown and even more confusingly she talks about a Mexican leader being executed for plotting to make an alliance with Brazil.  

Regardless of exactly what was going on, it sounds like things weren’t going great for Texas.  She says there was a battle of the Tulsa oilfields were US armor punched through the Texas Guard and they retreated.  She says there was a surprise attack from New Mexico that seized a lot of land from Texas.  She claims that Texas used a tactical nuke to stop that offensive.  This caused a real uproar.  The US response was “we have enough nukes to wipe you off the map” to which Texas said “yeah, but you want our shit so you won’t”. 

The war never officially ended but per Ellen active fighting mostly stopped.  The high-tech vehicles that formed the backbones of the armies on both sides became too expensive to keep in the field and the US became occupied with a bunch of other bad stuff that was happening.   

So then in Texas there was flooding and a crop blight and food riots and the economy and infrastructure was already fucked from the fighting.  Houston and San Antonino both “collapsed”.  I’m not sure exactly what that means.  Did everyone leave?  Or did the cities literally crumble?  So that’s why in 2036 Ellen and Ezra and Silke decided they would become refugees.   

Ellen claims that the auto mechanic shop they found to live in, which we are now currently fucking around in, is located in what was Kansas, which cannot be accurate.  I admit that I don’t know exactly where we were, but the former site of Kansas has to be literally a thousand miles away. There’s no way we’re anywhere near Kansas.   

Now, that does raise a question.  If we accept as fact that Ellen and her buddies ran away from Houston because the city government ceased to be and the downtown area was “taken over by gangs”, even the idea of them wandering as far as Kansas is hard to believe.  She makes it sound like they were just on foot with a couple backpacks walking along the backroads because the main roads were too dangerous. As crazy as that seems, it’s more believable making it on foot to Kansas that it is to Idaho, where I think we are right?   

How far can you walk on a good day when you’re not in a country that’s falling apart and avoiding rape-gangs?  Twenty miles?  Thirty?  Wouldn’t it take half a year to get this far north?  Back in covered wagon times didn’t it take them like a year to get anywhere?   

The irony is I would really like to take a look at the maps in the Atlas that she destroyed to create the paper to write her journal on.  But then I wouldn’t have the “history” that I was questioning that made me want to look at the maps.  It’s a real gift of the Magi scenario.  If nothing else it would be nice to see what an atlas from the 2030s looked like.