Wednesday, June 15, 2011

And he put him away in round number one

            I think what I said about 20th Century Boys was a little too close last week, because here I am staring down the barrel of a big creature and it feels to me like the Kenji Group picture you keep seeing in that book. Turns out, I had to go to things instead of them coming to me. Sage is away on another one of his little trips and left his home city a little neglected. Normally, I don't mind as much, but there's some kind of unspoken rivalry between where he is and where I am. Something about they got all the lawyers and we got all the hellmouths because we got first pick, maybe. Also, there's the tourist thing. I hate the tourist thing. If you're a tourist, it's like  you're a leper, except if lepers actually lived where you are, people would help them out and be nice to them.
           Naomi hands me a jug (the rum is important) and I spill it all down the golf club and light it off with a chrome-plated old-style Zippo lighter.
           Perhaps I should explain. In the large under-bridge area in front of us is a very, very annoying problem. Trolls are large, smelly, unhygenic, and offend my delicate sensibilities. So obviously, this thing will go, and it will go BY MY HAND. Oh, also, they kill people, but fuck that, even if they didn't I'd be doing this and the fire's almost reached my hand. Oh, fuckerrang. I'm worried about a rum fire burning my hand right now and that's the last thing I want. The other thing I don't want is happening right as I'm worried about my hand burning. Two big eyes, like lights, like something from Shadow of the Colossus or a Mars Volta video are staring right at me. It's up, and it's angry.
            I'm not about to engage it straight on, so I look to the other five. "Colin." I say. Colin raises his gun and gets a shot off, but it doesn't even stall the thing. Which is weird, considering Colin's totem of choice is a large-caliber revolver with a big black barrel that makes great big holes in things. But I take advantage of the confusion and swing for the fences with Stormbringer. The troll doesn't really know how to handle that right now...crazy guy, long black coat, burning weapon, Tevas. I work a little differently than the others. Colin is quiet. Naomi is quick. Lila is ferocious. Constance is downright frightening. And I...I overwhelm any rational instincts. You see, everything has a logic, and logic can be subverted.
            So when I attack something, it has no idea what the hell is going on. Usually, since it's alien, that makes it all the worse-- they're already adjusting to a strange environment, and now they have to deal with something outside their own busts them through the ass. Problem being, this is a troll. These fuckers recover fast. And they've been here long enough to adapt. I take one to the chest and that isn't supposed to happen, but while I'm low, Constance has stepped forward and the troll's hair is curling back and away from its body. I grab my firebrand again and pile on it, getting two good hits in before I'm low again. I can't keep doing this, but then Lila drops in with her knives and starts carving out chunks of it. And then comes Adam.
              Adam doesn't fight, usually. He doesn't need to. He's already seen that he doesn't need to get involved. But every now and then, that invisible hand of his just reaches into the flow of events and brings them up short. Because what use is it being Muad'Dib if you never get to use it? He leisurely walks up to the troll and taps it on the nose. And just like that, suddenly everything resolves into position and I'm back in the fight.
          I light one off again and finally it works, though I don't know how. I was out of my groove for a moment there, but suddenly it's back and smack the thing around. And then the singing starts. This time it's a classic, that song I can never remember the title of but that goes

"Alive, alive-O!
Alive, alive-O!
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive O!"

I'm not sure if it's me or Lila who starts, but soon she's got a nice chunk carved out its skin and I've burned the rest, and those luminous eyes are staring at me as if to say "Why? Why did you do this?" and I smash and I smash until there's nothing left, all
        "Rum!" I snap, and Naomi hands me the jug (the rum is important). I douse the stunned and beaten thing with it and then with a flick of my lovely windproof lighter, it suddenly gets very warm under the bridge. We disappear, as we always do, and I send a little verification to my favorite employer for when he de-lubes his hands.

"Let this be our calling card. A burning troll and a message that thou dost not fuck with us." I tell the night.

 We walk off, out into the night, and we are swallowed by it, and then it's the train and back up to our little single-story lodge. Things do not work the way they say they do. They work the way we say they do. And that is all that matters.