Friday, March 14, 2014

Bulgakov's Bar

I wrote this tale for a writing contest where the last line of the story had to be a line from a song. Hope you like it.

Bulgakov's Bar

Chapter 1

There was a song playing in the background, that was vaguely familiar, but since the band playing it wasn't even humanoid, their rendition of the tune was avant garde, to say the least.
This had to be the worst bar I had ever been in. You wouldn't believe the slime they let in here.
I'm talking real slime, wallowing in tubs by low tables, sipping drinks from extruded tubules projected from their shapeless mass.
I don't know how I get talked into these missions. I swear every time I get done with one I'll never do another, but the boss can be rather persuasive. I think it has to do with the fact that I am a bar fly. I have been frequenting drinking establishments since the people of the worlds first figured out how to concoct liquid inebriates. That goes back an astonishingly long time.
Because of that, the boss always tosses me the jobs that requires a presence in a watering hole. This place had to take the prize for shit holes, and I don't say that because of the excrement covering the floors, it certainly is a hang out for the most unsavory characters in the multiverse.
The joint, Bulgakov's Bar, no doubt named for the author, is where the boss told me to rendezvous with a target who has been instrumental in starting serious wars, on various planets, spreading bio-weapons use, and being an all around pain in the arse for the boss, for many years.
I was here to get him to cease, or there would be hell to pay. I have been tracking this guy for quite some time and had finally been told by one of my locals that he comes here every so often. That, unfortunately, could mean a long time spent in this dump, waiting for a no-show. But I had no option but to wait and see. To help pass the time I conjured a copy of "The Master & Margarita" to read while I waited. I figured it was only fitting since I was in a place called Bulgakov's.
I have always liked this book about the adventures of a young human female who is chosen to be the hostess for an annual party. The party turns out to be quite unusual, with the hostess standing for hours, while the guests kiss her heel, as they arrive, in tribute to the host.
Finally after several hours of sitting at the counter rubbing elbows with patrons who don't have elbows, my local arrives.
Thanks to the boss, or maybe not, depending on the situation, I can follow whatever gibberish is spoken in the worlds. This particular dialect my local speaks sounds like gargling gravel and snorting, not one enjoyable to hear.
"Am glad here you be. Target is to be coming in time not to long." said my local.
"Good, I tire of waiting for this creature."
"Target is come within soon time, not more than a turn or two at least."
"A turn or two? That's 700 days! Why so long?"
"Target busy till wars gets started in the other place, must be sure it goes before come."
"Best can be said, no sure way to get better time."
"I thank you for the help and hope to work with your new child in the next cycle."

"Is an honor to serve the boss, this people will not see you again but will come as child soon after an explosion of life. Thank you for this creature be to help."
With that the local left to go mate. These locals have three sexes or breeding units, can't say that this local had a sex really. They have a male and a female element in as much as two of the three contribute genetic material used to produce offspring, but my contact is the recipient of both and essentially only contributed continuity of consciousness to the reproductive process.
That means my contact will be exploding directly and will return to me as a new person, with the old mind in it. Of course, it will have to contact me since I will at first fail to recognize it. The offspring mature to a usable age in just a few hundred days, so I will be operating alone during that time. Such is life.
Things have significantly changed since I was first asked, by the boss, to "do a few things" for him. He is hard to deny, and I have been in his service for far longer than I first planned to be. I have worked some demanding jobs and have always been able to get the results I needed. A few were touch and go for a while, but in the end, it worked out. Things got a lot tougher when the people of the worlds learned to travel through space and dimensions. This created a far greater opportunity for mischief. When they were contained to a single world they could only bugger with each other, but once they got the technologies to travel things got wild. Back in the days of old, most travel was by using a lower life-form to do the walking, swimming or flying. Travel between population centers took a long time, and problems were mostly isolated incidents, not effecting whole worlds or groups of worlds as it is today. Now these greedy little fools can cause all manner of mayhem resulting in the death of millions, billions sometimes.
This current target has been particularly nasty spreading chaos on several worlds simultaneously. I have to stop this.

Chapter 2

I just caught a glimpse of my quarry, but the target saw me and lit on out. I did finally managed to get a genetic sample from the target, left on a beverage container. Now I will no longer have to sit and wait for the target to show. I will be able to track him wherever he goes. I have some extraordinarily sophisticated wetware that allows me to home in on any target, anywhere, once I have a genetic marker, as reference. My job just got that much easier. This is good since this particular target can change its appearance and size to fit in with the local flora and fauna.
It looks as though he has gone to ground back on an ancient world where at least the locals are vertebrae humanoids.
I've always liked this world it reminds me of home or what home used to be like an incredible amount of time ago. It's one of those worlds that have a strange creation loop going that is extremely rare. It is as though the world keeps rerunning the same history. The locals rise to a certain level of technology, and then a gigantic rock hits the planet, and they are nearly wiped out. The few survivors start over, and after a while, they get back to where they were, just in time for another hit. The cycle keeps repeating, and the most remarkable thing is that everything returns to, as it was, right down to the location of cities, the names of places and people, and even the same literature. I got my copy of Bulgakov's, "The Master & Margarita" here, and I could go down to a store in a few years, and I am sure I could find a copy so close that only a few words would be different. I was gonna ask the boss about this, but I keep forgetting. But right now they are just starting to, once again, have the technology to create impressive buildings of stone and to craft with iron.
The problem, presented with such a world is, if my target is causing problems now, he has probably been here before, and done his mayhem in a previous epoch. These worlds are exceedingly difficult to change in a way that breaks the loop. This could significantly complicate my difficulty in dealing with him.

I have checked the records, and I got problems with this one. He has been here before, and millions have died as a result of his interference. He is already gathering followers and creating much turmoil in the local government. I only hope I can stop him before this gets too far. The boss wants it stopped this time to break the cycle of endless rise and fall of civilization. He thinks the target is somehow an integral part of this cyclic loop, and it's of the utmost importance, to break that cycle.
He's been extremely busy making speeches and gathering followers to his cause. But he has made a fatal mistake. He just couldn't stay away from his favorite bar, and has returned for a break, before the final push when he does his act, and convinces the locals to follow him. If he succeeds, the repercussions will result in the deaths of millions of locals, for a frightfully long time. The locals will become fanatics killing and torturing each other, practicing genocide and destroying cultural diversity. They will wipe out entire civilizations and wage war for their beliefs for millenniums to come. He must be stopped here and now while I have the opportunity.

I do not kill my targets, I simply need to get close enough to touch them, and I can wipe their memory. Never again will the target be able to cause so much misery on various worlds.
I have disguised my appearance and the target will not be able to detect me. I am close to him, and if I am successful, I will end his career of spreading misery, torment and hatred through the worlds. I have come to the realization, during my lengthy pursuit of my quarry, that he is the most dangerous type. He firmly believes that what he does is right and is for the betterment of those he subverts. He fails to realize the shortcomings of his followers and how in just a short time his teachings are twisted and perverted into a justification for the persecution of vast numbers of locals that fail to embrace his views. I intend to once and for all put a stop to the senseless deaths and destruction on many worlds.
I elbow through the crowd and take a seat at the bar next to him. I am disguised as a member of the same race as he is. A perfect excuse to introduce myself and shake his hand. Once I do, the mission will be done, and he will be just another bar fly, with no direction in life other than to sit here and drink.
"I couldn't help notice you sitting here, looks like you and I are the only humans in the joint." I say.
"Look like it, sit down and have a drink and chat a bit." he says.
"Love to, I'm Mike," I say and offer my hand.
"I'm Jesus," he says as he takes my hand.

I just caught that same song again in the background I heard the last time I was here. It is a tune that I heard an awful long time ago.
The band sings in the background,"...and they don't make Jews like Jesus anymore."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Another Story For Your Enjoyment.

Inner City Romance

Chapter 1

The alarm on the side of the building screams, a burglary is in progress, the target an upscale jewelery store. Creeping closer the police officer sees a man crouched down with a gun in his hand by a dumpster.
The officer shouts, "Drop the gun, hands in the air, I'm not gonna warn you twice."
The burglar raises up and points his gun at the officer. They shoot simultaneously and both hit their mark. They drop to the pavement.
The burglar has been hit in the left side of the head taking a large piece of scalp and skull off with a good portion of his brain with it. He convulses for close to a minute before he is still.
The officer is hit just below the right clavicle severing a major artery. Copious amounts of blood spurt from the wound. The officer's partner rushes up and tries to stem the flow.
"God Damn it, don't you quit on me now," he says through tears, knowing that help will not arrive in time. The artery in question is the one used by undertakers to drain a body of blood, it being the most easily accessible with the greatest capacity. He cannot stem the flow and the officer bleeds out as he hears the sirens in the distance. His call in for help was fast but not as fast as the flow of blood. His partner is dead.

The dead burglar is placed on a gurney and loaded into an ambulance. He had been carrying a back pack with some miscellaneous items one would expect to find in the possession of any young man, a cell phone, an MPG player, a laptop, a clean shirt.
Ed Robbins, the partner of the dead officer, takes it as evidence and puts it into the trunk of his police car. He will process it when he gets back downtown. He dreads that. He will be faced with the looks of doubt, looks that always happen, looks he himself has given other officers when they return to the station without their partner, a partner that is usually en route to the morgue. Looks that say what happened, did you let you partner down, did you fail in your duty to cover your partners back and they died because of you?
Not only had he lost the best partner he ever had in his 23 years on the force but now he would face the inquiry into the death of not only his partner but that of the burglar. Losing a partner like this could ruin a career--who would want to team up with a cop who had lost his partner in a shoot out while he was on the other side of the building?

Back at the station Ed rushes into the evidence room to avoid the stares and logs in the belongings of the thief. Once he has done that he takes the laptop and phone back to his desk to see if they contain anything related to the break-in. Luckily for Ed there are few in the station at this hour.

Ed was depressed as he drove towards home. He was sure that the news of the deaths had already reached his wife. Information like that spread very quickly through the network of officer's wives. As he turned onto his street he decided he needed a drink or six first and went to the local watering holes. It was a neighborhood bar owned by his cousin, one where he wouldn't run into any off-duty cops.

Ed stumbles home, plastered, and goes into the den. He lays down on the couch there and is asleep in a moment. His wife comes down from the bedroom and looks in to see if he is alright. She covers her face with her hands and silently weeps.

Chapter 2

It was a bright sunny day and Joan awoke early. She had things to do to prepare for her big date tomorrow. She felt she was the luckiest girl in town. She had met a wonderful man. Although her friends had all warned her not to trust anyone she met online she had found a great guy and was already in love with him. He was a construction worker and a musician. They had met on facebook. They were soon emailing back and forth and then they had exchanged phone numbers. Eventually, after two weeks, they had done video calls using their laptops. He was out of town on a job and would be back tomorrow when they would finally meet face to face.

Bobby slept till noon. He was plagued by the idea of going to meet his new girl without being cash flush. His job had tanked, being shut down before it was finished because funds ran out. The owners of the site were scrambling to get another loan to finish but that wouldn't be for a week or two, if ever. The crew had been sent home without pay and things looked grim. He had to get some money and fast or the meeting with the woman he hoped to marry would be ruined.
          Bobby had just been fooling around with his facebook account when he happened to start exchanging comments with a woman. Her picture looked to be a babe, but on the internet things can be deceiving. But she was sassy and smart, self-confident. He liked that. After a few days they had exchanged email addresses and the conversation turned to romance. They both were in their early thirties, both lived alone and both were looking for "the one". They both had decent jobs, rare in these times and they both seemed eager to take the relationship out of cyberspace and into the real world.
Soon they were talking on the phone. She had a charming voice and Bobby was elated every time they talked. It was she who suggested they use their laptops to do video calls. That was when her real beauty hit him. Not only was she witty and intelligent, she was also a knockout babe.

Ed awoke in his clothes feeling like ten pounds of beat-up monkey crap in a five pound bag. His wife knowing his guilt and shame at losing his partner in a gun fight had gotten up early and fixed his favorite breakfast, Eggs Benedict with home fries, toast and jam and some fresh strawberries on the side. She also had made some strong coffee and fresh orange juice.
When Ed came to breakfast after showering she said, "Honey I'm so sorry what happened last night, Please don't blame yourself."
"I should have been there, I should have known the perp was not going to come out the front door."
"Baby you know the risks involved in your work, things can spin out of control in a second."
"I know but such a waste, such a waste," he says as his wife hugs his head to her breasts and he quietly sobs.

Joan was a real beauty no matter what she wore but she wants to look irresistible for tomorrow's date. She doesn't have to work till later so she plans to get her nails done, her hair and get a waxing. That was after she bought a new, sexy outfit.
She had liked her new friend from the start but was astonished when she saw him on the video. He was very handsome with piercing blue eyes and black hair. She had talked him into taking off his shirt and he was chiseled from the construction job and tanned. She was in love for the first time since high school. He had a deep sexy voice to die for and she planned to make love to him tomorrow night. She had been very patient and selective in her search for the man of her dreams and it had paid off.

Ed gets to the station and don't know what to do. He is lost without his partner. The chief, who has been through this too many times, calls Ed into his office. He is not happy over the loss of another officer but knows Ed is devastated.
"Ed we're going to schedule you for an appointment with the grief counselor this afternoon and have you take a break from the streets for a few weeks. Dig through that bastard-who-killed-your-partner's phone and computer and see what's to be found. I want to know everything there is to know about this clown. This was an inside job, someone left the door unlocked and he was told about it, most likely with a text message or an email."
"Whatever you want, chief."
"Ed you can have some time off if you need it."
"That will only give me more time to think about it, I'm better off working through this. I'll get right on the computer and phone."
"Thanks Ed, you know we all feel the same as you, just not so much because we didn't spend day after day with your partner like you did."
Ed gets up and leaves the office. He heads to the desk he and his partner shared and sits down ready to plow through gigabytes of worthless data till he finds what he's looking for.

Joan buys a provocative dress that hugs her figure. She also buys some very sexy underwear and some stiletto heels. She heads to the salon to get the works and thinks about how long it has been since she lay in the arms of a man. She hopes tomorrow's date will be perfect, dinner and a comedy show then back to her place to sip some special wine she's been saving for ages. And if things go as planned, some hot, passionate lovemaking.

Chapter 3

Bobby goes to the neighborhood hangout, a little bar with a few pool tables, hoping to run into one of his friends and borrow a few bucks for the big date. Instead he runs into an old high school buddy who has a serious gambling problem. He has managed to keep the bookies from breaking his legs for months by robbing the family business but now things were out of control and he had thought of a desperate solution.
"Hey Frankie, long time no see, how's it going," says Bobby.
"Great Bobby couldn't be better, How you doin'?"
"Oh pretty good, where you been keeping yourself?"
"Working for the old man down at the shop."
"Great, great, say Frankie, I need a favor. I got this hot date tomorrow and need some dough to take my girl out."
"Sorry Bobby I'm real short at the moment, but have I got a deal for you."

Ed starts with the phone and is shocked to see the numbers in the memory. There are also saved texts that just don't seem right. He is completely baffled by what he finds. 'This can be right' he thinks to himself as he heads down to the evidence room to see if there is some kind of a mix up.

Joan arrives home several hundred dollars lighter and hairless from the eyebrows down. She has allowed the girl at the salon to talk her into a full waxing. The girl said that was the style now and that it drove men wild. She had been reluctant but when the girl offered to do it for just an additional twenty she went for it. She had gotten her nails done, feet too, and hoped she didn't ruin them at work. She stripped down to change for work and admired herself in the mirror before jumping in the shower. She had to admit she could see why the bare look would drive men crazy, just the effect she was after.

"So here's the deal bobby, I got some goons after me for some money I lost betting on the ponies. These are mean dudes. But I got a plan to get you what you need and what I need. I got the keys to the shop and can leave the door open so you can just skate in grab some rocks and skate out."
"If it's so easy why don't you do it?"
"Because the old man is suspicious, I been lifting merchandise for a while and he watches me like a hawk. I have to be somewhere I am seen by people so I have an alibi at the time of the robbery."
"I quit this shit years ago, I can't get involved with this type of thing again."
"OK, no problem I was just offering you a chance to get a few grand to treat your girl right."

Ed checks and double checks with the evidence room officer, the same one that was there last night when he checked in the evidence.
"That's the right phone Ed. No doubt about it."
"Jeeze I can't believe this," says Ed shaking his head as he walks away.
He decides to give the phone a rest and work on the laptop. The news is no better here as he finds more files that substantiate his worst fears. He goes to his appointment with the grief councilor in a daze, too numb to even try to listen to what she has to say.

Bobby finally decides to do the job for Frankie, but reluctantly.
"So all you have to do is show up a half hour after we close, slip in, grab the goods and slip out. There will be more than enough to cover my debt and to make a few grand for you. We'll meet up later and go sell the stuff, I got a buyer all lined up. It should go off without a hitch."
"I sure hope so, I want to marry this girl and don't need no legal hassles to screw it up."

Joan gets out of the shower and dresses for work. She is very careful not to chip a nail or screw up her hair too much, although her hair looks very natural it cost her $75 to get it that way. Soon it will be time to go check in and she heads out, thinking of her soon-to-be-lover and tomorrow night.

Ed decides that the only way to prove this is all some macabre mistake to it check his partner's laptop. He looks through the hard disk but finds nothing. He is about to give up when he runs across a folder named, "XOXO" in a sub-directory. His worst fears are confirmed, he can't believe it although the proof is before his eyes. He knows he has to report this to the chief but just sits staring off into space for a very long time.

Joan arrives at work and is greeted by her co-workers with the same exuberance as always. Her presence brightens the day of the others, mostly men in their forties and fifties. They all think the world of her not just because of her looks but because she is kind and caring to them all.

Chapter 4

Bobby goes back to his apartment to wait till it's time to do the job. He tries to get some sleep but that don't happen. He is concerned, nothing can go wrong. This woman is the best thing that's happened to him in a very long time and he can't bear the thought of screwing it up.
Finally it's time to go. He gets his backpack to carry the loot in and as a last thought he grabs a revolver out of his nightstand and shoves it into his pocket. He goes outside and catches the bus across town and gets off a block from the shop. He still has bit to wait so he enters a convenience store on the corner and gets a bottle of water.

Ed finally snaps out of his state of shock and heads to the chief's office. He taps on the door and the chief waves him in through the glass.
"What's up Ed, did the session with the councilor go OK?"
"Yeah I guess, I was a bit preoccupied at the time. So was not at my best."
"Why what's the matter?"
"You won't believe this, Chief."

Joan get's ready to go out in the field with her partner, Ed. They have been a team for 3 years and are close. Their shift starts at 4:00 but they are in the car and on patrol by quarter to. The first few hours are uneventful with only a minor fender bender to deal with. It is not until 8:43 that they get a call about a silent alarm being tripped. They respond and pull up in front of a jewelery store in the better part of town.

Bobby looks around before he enters the store. Seeing no-one in sight he enters. The door is unlocked like Frankie said. He goes over to the cases and starts to open them and removing the merchandise within. He is nearly done, having picked only the most valuable items, when he sees a police car pull up in front. He panics, drops the loot he had put in the bag he got with his water and heads for the back door.

"You just cover the side and I'll go in the front," says Ed.
"OK but be careful Ed, I don't want to lose you."

Bobby hits the side door and the alarm goes off. He crouches down by the dumpster in the ally and draws his gun. 'This can't be happening, I can't screw this up' he thinks as he sees a figure moving in the shadows.
Then Joan shouts, "Drop the gun, hands in the air, I'm not gonna warn you twice."
Bobby stands up watching all his plans of love and happiness crumbling in his mind and fires his gun. Joan fires in the same instant and they both drop to the ground.
As she lay there bleeding to death all her plans for a life with Bobby run through her head and the last though she has is the memory of Bobby telling her he loves her just yesterday and she telling him the same thing. She never realizes she has just killed the man she loved as her partner says from very, very far away, "God Damn it, don't you quit on me now."