We’re up to chapter four of my new #iHunt tie-in story, Cocaine. If you haven’t read up to this point, start with Chapter 1. If you haven’t bought #iHunt, you don’t need to know it to read this story, but it’s a good way to support an independent author. Also! If you haven’t read the San Jenaro Sampler, it’s totally free, and it’s got a couple of chapters of Blood Letting, the next San Jenaro vampires story.
I make my way around to the southeast end of the house, to the main entrance. I stand there for a moment, crossing my arms, holding myself.
Should I even be here? I can walk away.
Despite her revolutionary artificial intelligence, Eve didn’t bother to lock the front door. Convenient. I think back to Geena’s commentary. She said Rebecca housed the AI and all the important computing stuff in Eve’s head. To me, that sounds stupid. Why make your godless monster weak in the same place the humans it’s emulating are? But hey, I’m not complaining. I take the pickaxe off my backpack sling and slowly, and quietly push open the door with the handle.
She’s watching a group of nerdy men make jokes about sexually assaulting fashion models, with a laugh track backing it. She’s not laughing. She’s licking her fingers clean of blood. I briefly wonder if she’s killing people based on sitcom plots. While I’m curious, it’s probably wrong to let the monster continue murdering just because I think it might be funny.
Monster hunters don’t really do “fights.” We do assassinations. We do assaults. We do struggles to stay alive. We do cheap shots. We do beginner’s luck. A lot of times, we just die. Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, this ain’t. Fights are usually won by the person most willing to do something ridiculous and brutal. Since most monsters have no problem with jumping straight to over-the-top murder, hunters have to beat them to the punch.
That’s why I brought my pickaxe.
I swing it in a high arc over my head. Yay for those high Cedar Hills ceilings. I figure the shadows will give me away, and I’m right. But Eve can’t respond quickly enough to stop me. I bury the pickaxe blade deep down the middle of her skull, all the way down into her neck. She looks like she stepped out of one of the old urban legends about lawn darts falling back down and impaling kids. I pierce metal on the way through. Her head tosses out a few blue and orange sparks.
It’s not quite enough.
Impaling is one of my single favorite monster hunting tools, even when it doesn’t instantly kill. Most everything responds to impaling the same exact way—they grab the thing that’s impaling them, and they try to jerk it out. This gives you an opening for an immediate followup.
Eve stands, grabs the pickaxe right at the base of the handle, and starts yanking. Her hand slips from the blood.
Everything according to plan.
I take one step back, then lower my center of gravity and slam my shoulder into her stomach, pushing her back toward the TV. She loses grip of the pickaxe and buckles at the stomach. I take a deep breath in, grab her by the shoulders, and throw her right through Sheldon Cooper’s smug motherfucking face. I’m not touching her when she goes through the TV, but I still feel a burn and jolt, and all my muscles go numb for a second or two.
I see Carmen again.
I shake it off.
I couldn’t save Carmen. It was a lesson learned. I went to college because I wanted to save people. I wanted to be a therapist. The more I delved into the supernatural, the more I realized there was no use trying to save people in the long-run so long as monsters were slaughtering them in the immediate. That’s why I dropped out. I couldn’t be the solution. I couldn’t be the cure. I had to be the clean needle you give to addicts to save them right now.
As I come back to my senses, Eve’s standing back up. She puts up a hand, palm facing me from a few feet away. A hole opens in the palm. A spray of tiny objects starts flying out. I obey my first instinct and jump across the room. I duck and jump and duck like a fish fighting against waves, landing behind the record player. It isn’t quick enough—I’m bleeding from the stomach. I don’t have time to figure out how bad it is. I can’t feel it. Usually that means it’s really superficial, or really bad.
Eve walks over to the record player, and bends down to lift it. She hefts it over her head. I grab some candies from the candy bowl that’s now on the floor, and toss them up at her face. She steps back once, and the record player drops behind her. I fall down low, crouching with one knee bent all the way, the other leg thrust outward. I thrust my palm into her stomach and knock her back. She grabs around blindly, and throws a piece of the destroyed TV’s frame at me. I shift to the side and bat it out of the air. She holds up her other hand and sprays another wave of tiny metal flechettes at me. A couple nick my side as I dodge. She reaches around behind her and lifts the record player again. I clasp my fists and smash her in the stomach again, rushing past her. She drops the record player again, and I dive behind the closest love seat.
She grunts, and I hear metal grinding from inside her. She lifts the record player back up and underhand tosses it to me. Just like kindergarten softball, give or take two hundred pounds of wood and electronics. I put a foot up on the loveseat and vault upward, jumping over the record player and swinging my leg around to kick her across the face. It hurts my shin thanks to the pickaxe reinforcing her neck, but she screams out with a digitized wail.
This fight should be over. She’s tougher than I thought.
She grabs the pickaxe, and rips it out. The handle splinters, and I’m thankful it was just $35 at Home Depot. She doesn’t release the blade, though, and grabs it two-handed like a baseball bat. Since I know what’s coming next, I roll backwards behind the main sofa. I initiate stage three of the plan. While she’s dodging around the love seat, I grab some of the weight plates from the free weight bench beside me. One by one, I toss them like frisbees at her face. It doesn’t stop her, but it slows her approach.
As I run out of weights and she gets dangerously close, I have to dodge under a swing limbo-style. It clips me in the boob, ripping right through my shirt, and I am really, really, REALLY grateful for the cocaine’s numbness right now. I fall to the ground and scramble around the treadmill, hopping to the side. She steps forward for another swing. I notice her foot’s on the treadmill, so I smash the power button and put the control console between us. She trips as the thing comes to life, I hear her gyros whir as she tries to keep from falling over.
I glance down. My chest and stomach are bleeding way too much for comfort. My shirt’s soaked already.
If I don’t end this, she’s gonna kill me. I don’t even know if I’ll survive the blood loss even if I win.
I look around, and spot one of the weight plates. 25 pounds of cast iron. I hook my fingers into the hole in the middle, and swing it right across her face. She flies into the picture window, shattering it. She’s propped up against the remains of the window, the pickaxe blade fell from her hands to the side.
No way that’s enough.
I rush forward and swing it again, taking off a chunk of her jaw. I swing it again, crashing against her like waves, once, twice, three times. Then I lift it over my head, and raise one knee in the air. I drop my weight and drop the weight plate, smashing down on her skull. I see chips and capacitors and other things I don’t have names for. I’m pretty sure I’ve got it in the bag, but I take one more swing for good measure.
She puts a hand up and stops the weight. With her other hand, she grabs me by the collar. She stands back up and lifts me off the ground, then throws me across the room. My back smashes into the fireplace. I taste blood in my mouth.
Not good. Not good at all.
On the other hand, she’s not got much of a face left. Inside, she looks like a busted up Terminator. She swings at me, but she’s maybe eight feet away at this point, so she’s swinging at air. She stops as I get my bearings. Her head turns to face me perfectly.
Fuck. She’s got some kind of other sensor.
She dives straight at me. I don’t have time to jump, so I just twist my body to the side, thrusting my ass away from her, and letting its weight carry me a few extra inches. Her dive lands her right in the middle of the fireplace.
This wasn’t part of the plan. But it’s a welcome surprise.
I grab the fire poker, and thrust it down into her. Just like last time I impaled her, just like every time I impale something, she reaches for the poker. While she does that, I turn the fireplace intensity knob all the way up and step back.
Lights come on. I hear fans start. Some cheap-assed plastic fake fire waves upward.
Fuck, it’s fake.
I look around for weapons, for anything. I grab the vase to the left of the fireplace, and smash it down on the metal stump of her face. Then I grab the vase to the right. I smash it down, too. She’s still moving. Standing.
I need to catch my breath. Now.
I run through the door to the master bedroom. I couldn’t get a view of this room through the windows, thanks to thick curtains. It’s simple—wrought iron four-poster bed, dresser, vanity. I hear her stomping after me.
No time for catching my breath. Not now.
I put my foot on the bed frame, and grab one of the iron posts. I pull with my hands, and kick outward with my foot. The frame collapses, and I rip the post free. Six feet of slender iron. I feel like a ninja turtle. Eve comes through the door. I spin the makeshift staff once to my side like a baton, then twist it around to bat her across the remains of her head. This time, the whole rest of the head flies off.
She falls to the side, and sparks start flying out of the neck stump. Geena said these things self-destruct, so I’m not sticking around to see if I can survive however that happens. I run.
Back at my car, I turn the dome lights on and sit in the driver’s seat, checking my wounds. My left breast’s torn open bad. It’s not as bad as the hole in my stomach though. I put two fingers in the hole and yank out a little chunk of razor-sharp metal. The fact that I’ve gone this long says it didn’t hit any vitals, but the bleeding’s still awful.
I know without the cocaine, I’d be in shock right now. There’s no way I’d be able to do what I’ve got to do next. If I survive this, it’ll be because of the coke.
That’s chapter four! Stay tuned for chapter five.