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Bullet on the Brain

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The Great Hippo's picture

Griff stitched me up the best he could, but it didn't matter much. My name still ended up in the dead-book.I suppose he was a mite surprised when I sat up on his chopping block."Oh, hell, not again," The dwarven physician spat, wiping his bloody hands on his smock. "Third time this week. Can't you have some sense of professionalism? When you're dead, stay dead. How else am I supposed to make a coin?""Gloria." I croaked."Upstairs, with your other things," The dwarf snapped back, still contemptuous at me for coming back from the dead. I didn't blame him - man's gotta make a living. Selling premium deaders to the Dusties is as good of a way as any. "Hurry up and get out of here before you stink up the joint. Third time this week!"I shambled my way upstairs. Along the way, I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror. Greasy hair, greenish loose skin, sunken eyes - Hell, I'd fit in better than before.Upstairs, I found Gloria - my first and only true love. She's a bit of a bitch, but if you treat her right she'll never let you down. I checked her stock and made sure both barrels were clean. Then I reached into the fist-sized hole at the front of my chest and fished out the set of battered slugs that had buried themselves there.They weren't too malformed. They'd tumble a little - not very good accuracy at long range - and they were moist with gunk - but they'd still be deadly up close and personal. I loaded them into the double-barreled flintlock's chamber with a supple click and a sensual snap.My temple throbbed. I couldn't reach the third and final slug - it was buried underneath a good inch or two of grey matter, and I didn't want to risk losing any more of the stuff in some absurd attempt to retrieve it. Besides, I kind of liked the way it felt up there. It made me feel more focused.One slug on the brain, two in the barrel.On the way out, I helped myself to a shot of Griff's Carcerian Grog. He used it to sterilize his equipment and clean his floors, but the stuff worked as a good pain-killer in a pinch. It spilled out of my chest half a second after I tossed it back - but it was the thought that counted.Gloria in hand, I marched out onto the streets of Sigil.----"You don't look too good, Jonesy."This is me dying. Blood welling up from my chest, head throbbing. Didn't know you could still think after someone buried a slug in your brain."My, my. Looks like that lady friend of yours managed to get you into quite the pickle, if I do say so myself."Blurry vision. I struggle to see who's speaking. It's a Baatezu - a grinning Devil. He's wearing an oil-slick suit and his teeth are like pieces of jagged broken glass. There's a cigar clenched between his teeth, and it makes an awful stench. Like brimstone and sulphur."Doesn't that just drive you wild, Jonesy? A woman got the better of you! If it were me, I'd be flabbergasted.""Go away." That's what I want to say, but all that comes out is some hoarse airless croak. My lungs don't seem to be working anymore - shame. I'm sure they're pretty important.Suddenly he's kneeling besides me, and I feel something pressed into my bloody hands. Paper - and a pen. A pen he's busy dipping into my still flowing blood."Now see, Jonesy, it doesn't have to end this way," The Baatezu explains while he works. "Just sign right here - right here on the dotted line - and you can show that ditzy little elf who's really in charge. You'd like that, wouldn't you? Chance to taste the sweet life one more time. Just long enough to put a bullet between those pretty eyes of hers.""I just want to die." It's not entirely true. I don't want to admit it, but the Baatezu's hitting a nerve. I want that bitch to suffer."C'mon, Jonesy. Be a pal. I've got to hit my quota this week, and well, I'm just one shy. Help me out and I'll help you out." The Baatezu winks, and I shiver. I'll be dead in seconds.With my fingers trembling, I sign on the dotted line - and then I die."See you soon, Jonesy." The Baatezu grins. "Real soon."----I found her in the Dusty Mephit - a cheap bub deep in the Hive.She was singing, dancing, laughing - living it up in the sweet life. Relishing it's flavor. And why not? She was beautiful and alive... And I wasn't.As I watched her through that filthy window, I couldn't help but grin. Live it up, girl. Suck up every blessed little drop. Because I'm going to Hell, and I'm taking you with me.The slug in my brain gave a steady hum, throbbing with pain. I checked Gloria for what must have been the fifth time. She was ready to go.Then I slipped on in.----"Sorry, Jonesy," She tells me, pointing Gloria straight at my chest. "But you've got to go."The shot is a roar - a thundering, noiseless roar. And then I'm smashing against the wall like a rag-doll, my body cracking wetly against stone and mortar.And then I'm staring up at her smug little face, that sweet, lovely grinning facelike pieces of jagged broken glassas she drops Gloria down in my lap.And then I am dying - but not alone."You don't look too good, Jonesy."----Everyone in the tavern was too shocked to do anything but stare. No clue why - ain't the first time they've seen a corpse in the City of Doors.But best of all, best of all, was the look on that little saucy elf-bitch's face. It was utter and complete surprise. The kind that just made me smile."Hey," I croaked. "Remember me?"She began to say something, but it was drowned out by the thundering sound of Gloria, the flare of that muzzle. The elf jerked, those pretty, pretty eyes got bigger, and suddenly her chest was wide open.I felt the slug in my brain give another agonizing throb.And then I died again.see you soon, jonesy----The Baatezu's grinning over me, now. Is this a memory? Or is this the present? I'm not sure anymore.who are youThe burning, agonizing throb of that slug in my brain feels like it's burning away my mind. Things are getting hard to remember. I cling for some sort of foothold."You did good, Jonesy. Real good."God, I wish the pain would stop. I just want to die, just want to go to sleep - just want this all to end. Why won't he let me die?third time this week"But we ain't done yet. More names on the list, y'know?"who are youBut at least I got the satisfaction of taking down that elf-b!tch. And the look on her face when I shot her! Utterly priceless. Complete shock. Like she didn't know me. Like she didn't even remember me!jagged pieces of broken glassShe had tried to say something before I pulled the trigger. Can't remember what, hell if it matters. She's dead now, and I can finally rest.Who are you?!There's another throb - that metal slug in my head feels like it's about to explode.And suddenly it does, and I don't remember anything at all.----"The Hell I will!" Griff fumed as Morticus the Baatezu arrived, followed by a wagon weighted with a familiar corpse. "You think I'm not catching on? Every time I patch that bastard up, he just gets back up again!""C'mon, now," The Baatezu grinned charmingly. "Fourth time's the charm, yes?""That's what you said last time!" Griff snarled. "Find someone else to do your meat-work, you cheat!"Morticus chuckled as the dwarf slammed the door in his face. Turning back to the cart, he gave the green-skinned corpse - sporting a fresh array of wounds - a shrug. "Guess we'll have to find someone else, Jonesy. But don't worry - I'll get you patched up in no time."Whistling a cheerless tune, the Baatezu drew out a list of names. Two were crossed out at the top, and as he made his way back down to the streets of the Hive, he drew his pen to cross out one more."See you soon, Jonesy. Real soon."

Nemui's picture
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factotums
Joined: 2004-08-30
Bullet on the Brain

It's Memento meets Torment!

Very well done, in other words.

The Great Hippo's picture
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Namer
Joined: 2005-07-28
Bullet on the Brain

Definitely drew off of Memento when writing this, as well as every gritty detective novel I read as a little kid. Also, now - in retrospect - I realize that it's actually a lot too similar to your story (Nemui), My Skin Is Not My Own (which I really enjoyed by the way) - right down to the grinning Baatezu. So, er, sorry about that.

As for continuing it - I plan to finish Jonesy's story in another unrelated tale that eventually crosses paths with the Baatezu-manipulated killer.

Anarch's picture
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Namer
Joined: 2004-05-19
Bullet on the Brain

Very nice. Though while I'm certainly eager to hear more in this vein, I suspect (contra Clueless?) that further tales of Jonesy would probably be misplaced.

Nemui's picture
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factotums
Joined: 2004-08-30
Bullet on the Brain

I didn't really see much of a similarity between outr stories. On pw.com, you can't throw a rock without hitting a yugoloth conspiracy or three and a couple of stories about someone being tortured and manipulated into service by a fiend. Eye-wink

I'm with Anarch regarding continuation.

Clueless's picture
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Webmonkey
Joined: 2008-06-30
Bullet on the Brain

Bah! All of you bah! Eye-wink

*throws a rock - hits a loth - epps and runs* Laughing out loud

Clueless's picture
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Webmonkey
Joined: 2008-06-30
Bullet on the Brain

.... wow. Seriously dead on (pardon the pun) for the noir style - which is honestly a sort of little vice of mine. I *like* noir. So - um. Can we get more of this? I'm feeling for Jonsey here...

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