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Hubris of the Pests (Unedited)

Hubris of the Pests (Unedited)

Well this is an unedited story of mine, the edited version almost made it somewhere or something once. I have decided to post here so that maybe someone will like it, or be inspired, or some other thing. I have a storied history with my writing. I tend to delete things that are 90% complete and not finish them, feel free to give critiques but understand I gave up real writing years ago. Thanks.

Hurbis of the Pest by Logan

There is nothing like fresh ice. Everything is so much cleaner and the puck doesn’t bounce nearly as much. Just as he hops over the boards and onto the ice the puck squirts by. The player he is replacing is off the ice and he is free to touch the puck. In a flash the puck is on his stick, and he is headed up ice for what looks like it is going to be a break away. Most defensemen would have gone back to their own zone, this is what made him special and this why they were scouting him. Just as he reached the net he let off a wrist shot and it lifted slightly off the ground making a bee-line for the net. The goaltender adjusts and... “Babe it’s time to wake-up! You’re going to be late again!” Even as the words are spoken he can feel her smooth hand running up his bare back, the gesture is familiar in the morning but he’s still pissed he didn’t get to finish that dream.

Without a thought he turns onto his back and pulls Aubrey close to him. “Morning Babe thanks for the wake-up and… last night.” Last night had been great. Both of them had gotten drunk and Aubrey had shown him a few tricks she had kept secret in their years of dating. He kisses her cheek first and then her mouth. Both of them still reek of booze and sweat, but neither seems to care much. The booze smell is getting more and more familiar, and the sweat smell has always been familiar to them, they were too energetic a couple in bed to not smell that way. It only lasts for a moment before she pulls him back and starts hurrying him into the bathroom.

The shower, the few moments alone each morning gave Quinlan Renihan time to think. Sometimes he would think about where he was going, today was about where he had been. The dream brought back memories, memories of when he could play hockey. His mind drifted first to the good times, remembering all the goals, assists, hits, and penalties he had accumulated as a defenseman and how much the media had talked about him as a young kid. He was supposed to be the next Bobby Orr, and that thought led him to the goal in his dream. It wasn’t the same goal but at the same time it was. It had been exactly like that, but instead of getting the quick wrist shot off, he had made a move that slowed his forward progress trying to fool the goalie. Just as he started to skate hard again the other team’s defensemen, who had been racing back, collided with Quinlan’s knee. The dull crack of bone on bone was heard throughout the rink, but the puck had slid in the net giving his team a one goal lead. Three ligaments torn and a micro fracture all in his right knee, he rehabbed that knee for a year and tried to get back on the ice. He could still skate but he couldn’t skate the same, at first he thought it was just rust but then it started to ache. Just like that, almost on his eighteenth birthday to the day, his hockey dream was over. The next day was his birthday party, he didn’t attend. His knee was fine except on the ice where it was too weak to keep balance. Running, jumping, kicking were not problems only skating hurt, the one thing he wanted most.

Quinlan tried to shake the thought of that goal from his head. Quickly his mind drifted back to hockey and to why he had gone to it in the first place. He remembered that day in school when he was researching after school activities. Desperately he looked for whatever activity could take him away from his house the longest each day, and for the most amount of time for the year. As soon as he saw how long hockey practice was, and how long the season was, it had taken him less than a minute to fill out the form and bring it to his coach. First grade and already trying to run away from home as much as he could. What was at home? Violence and drugs were the only things waiting there. His mother was a terrible heroin addict who could never fully guarantee either of her two sons that she hadn’t been high when she was pregnant. His dad was a cocaine addict who sold drugs on the street and often times brought his work home with him. He hit their mom in front of his friends as often as he could, and the sad part was Quinlan had never felt sorry for her. For half of his life he and his brother were taken by child protective services, and then sent back home. It was a horrible cycle. Hockey had fixed all his problems. When he checked a skater into the boards his parents were not there, when he scored a goal his parents were not there. He could do anything he wanted on the ice and he never had to worry about his parents being embarrassed or more likely him being embarrassed by them. It was simple, they were never ever there.

Again Quinlan shook himself out of the thought train. What did any of that matter now? Hockey was gone and so were his parents. He hoped they weren’t still alive but with any luck he would never know. His brother had fallen into the same trap as dear old dad. The only difference was he was apparently a terrible drug dealer because he always needed to borrow money. Quinlan had cut him loose just a few months ago as well, but he had no doubt he would be back. Then there was Aubrey, she was his hockey now. She made everything ok. Once they had the money they were getting married, and then hopefully she could quit her job. On weekends they both worked at the same place, a cheap strip joint a half mile from their apartment. ‘Double DiDi’s’ was a true shithole. That is where they had met though. It was 3 years ago, Aubrey had been working there for a few weeks as a dancer and Quinlan had just started as a bouncer. Both of them only worked weekends so they spent much of her off time talking with each other, the chemistry had been immediate. Eventually Quinlan started getting bar shifts along with his bouncer shifts and Aubrey was getting waitress shifts. It was like fate kept putting them on the same schedule. They gave in and started dating and things moved quickly. A month later they were living together and everything was going great. She was the only thing in his life that was going great. They both still pulled weekend shifts there and each of them was trying to get away.

For the last time Quinlan pushes the thoughts out of his head and finished cleaning up. None of that mattered right now this was not the weekend, and he was just about late for work. Drying off quickly and throwing the clothes Aubrey handed him on, Quinlan rushed out the door and down the stairs. Pulling his keys from his pocket he hurried to the door and unlocked his cab before plumping into the driver’s seat. Almost in one motion he started the engine and gets on the two-way radio. “I’m here. I’m here I know I cut it close, my work light is on though.” From the other side of the radio comes the throaty grunt of the morning dispatcher. “Well, well, look who decided to show up on time this morning. I got nothing for you, time for you to go fishing Quin.” Without responding Quinlan makes up his mind to head for the bus station. It’s far busier than the airport at this time of day and his best chance to pick up a fare. Quinlan pulls onto the main road and immediately starts honking his horn. Why is this guy stopped! GO! GO! Quinlan stops behind the car stopped at the red light and continues to beep his horn. Finally the car pulls onto the curb and Quinlan takes a right at the lights cutting off one of the vehicles trying to cross the intersection legally. With a smile on his face he flips off the car behind him. Now his work day has officially begun.

There was another benefit to the bus station, it was a lot closer to his apartment, which meant it would take a lot less time before he could pick up his first fare, not to mention the fact that it was still only 7:30 in the morning and Quin was not fully alert yet. The ride was no less eventful than the initial take off was, but Quinlan paid far less attention to the horns and shouts that are tossed his way. His mind drifted off and he is back to wishing he was better off, that his past had been different, or that he had never been hurt. He knew all the wishing wouldn’t change anything, but when he wasn’t with Aubrey it was something to pass the time. Of course it was hard to not think about Aubrey, especially that first time he saw her on stage. Her long flowing hair drifted past her shoulders and down the middle of her back, and had a wave to it like long grass in the wind. The color was the perfect mix of amber and deep rose red. Her green eyes shot out in the dark, mostly obscured by the same waves of hair, but if someone was watching they could see those eyes seeking and searching for comfort. She had still been new at the club, and was not comfortable with all the eyes on her naked body. Her body had that soft round shape that can only be described as “sensual”, and despite the apparent shyness in her eyes her body had a natural motion to it that screamed out to all those watching. It screamed “LOOK AT ME”, and your eyes did as the scream beckoned. Quinlan though moved back to those eyes, and the scared person inside, it was those eyes that had drawn him to her. It was also the fact that he actually looked into her eyes that drew her to him; of all the faces she looked into he was the only one that tried to return her gaze with the comfort she sought. It was a night he would never forget, but just as quickly as he could remember it, he was pulling his taxi up towards the bus station.

Bus stations were becoming pits. Plain and simple as more people had their own transportation, or were using other means like planes and trains for long trips, the cities stopped caring as much about the bus stations. They seemed dirtier, less friendly, and more accessible to criminals than the much safer airports or even train stations. It was partly because of this that the bus station was such an easy mark for fares, people wanted to get off their bus and get the hell out of dodge. Not 30 seconds after Quin had pulled up to the taxi line was he at the front and nabbing his first fare of the day. It was one of his favorite type of fares, it was a women in a no frills business suit. Just by looking at her approach the taxi he knew she wasn’t one of those over aggressive bitches in the power suits, or worse yet the hippies that would come off the bus and stink up his taxi for the rest of the day. The lady looked pleasant enough, she was a bit older, not that attractive, but not ugly, and most importantly she smiled as she got into the taxi. He greeted her with his customary, “Good day, where can I take you?” She responded and they went off to her destination, she was one of those people who liked to keep a semi-casual conversation with the driver. He kept up his end of the conversation hoping for a better tip, and then she got out, paid him and was on her way to whatever the rest of her day held.
The rest of the morning shift went pretty normally, Quin drove more people around until about 1PM then he went home. There were no odd customers or anything at all that made his day feel out of whack, it was just one of those hum drum days. When he got back to the apartment Quinlan cleaned out the back of the taxi from his morning fares, it was an easy day there was just a paper on the back seat. Quin took a moment to read the headlines, but it turned out that it wasn’t actually a paper it was one of those ‘crazy people’ tabloids. The headline said something about the government denying sightings of UFOs, and then there was one of those crazy stories about ‘Bat Boy’. That was something Quinlan never understood why people were so fascinated by this kid who was supposed to be half bat? They had all sorts of stories about him in this rag that tried to call itself a paper; there were even stories about him fighting in some of the wars overseas about oil. What the hell does Bat Boy care about oil? It was the only thing Quinlan could think to himself as he threw away the scandal sheet before heading up to be reacquainted with Aubrey, and whatever she made for lunch.
Lunch turned out to be grilled cheese and tomato soup, which was more than ok with Quin, a light lunch made it easier for him to take a nap before he had to go out and drive his afternoon shift. Just as he was preparing himself for his nap, Aubrey came in and kissed his forehead gently. “Quin you got a message from Jimmy, he said they have a shift open tonight. He wanted you to call him back right away. I figured you might want to eat first so I waited to tell you.” As she talked she avoided making eye contact with him, no one liked talking with Jimmy, and the news was considered somewhat bad between the two of them. Quin groaned and put his pants back on heading over to the house phone. The thought crossed his mind that the two of them must be the last people on the planet who have a house phone over a cell phone, and aren’t over the age of 60. They just didn’t have a cell phone in the budget right now, and it irritated both of them. His mind was back on Jimmy, as his fingers pressed the all too familiar number of Double DiDi’s. Jimmy was the manager of the place, there was supposedly an owner but no one ever saw the guy. As far as everyone was concerned Jimmy was where the buck stopped at DiDi’s. The problem was he was a complete asshole. He treated the girls like they were stray dogs he had a right to kick, and he treated the men who worked there even worse. Still, Quin needed the money so he made the call.

The phone only rang a couple of times before Jimmy picked it up himself, he had probably been in his office napping or touching himself. The answer on the other end was just as arrogant as the man himself. “Its Jimmy, Go.”

Quin rolled his eyes and held back saying something that would result in a firing. “Yeah, Jimmy its Quin. I just got in from my morning fares. Aubrey said you had something about a shift tonight and wanted me to call ASAP?”

From the other end there came a breath of air that could only come from a fat, sloppy, mess that worked in the back of a strip club and still slicked back his hair. “Yeah, Quin we need a barback tonight. I know you usually do door and bar only, but we got no one else. Basically if you don’t do this you can find a new place to work. I would say I would pay you some extra dough, but I know you need the cash so you ain’t going to tell me no. I’ll see you at 9, don’t be late.” After the last few words there was an audible click and then the sound of a dial tone.

Just as the conversation, such as it was, ended Aubrey walked in clearly curious about the result. Quin muttered a few curse words under his breath and rolled his eyes at her. “It looks like I get the pleasure of hauling around kegs and bottles tonight, babe. Working an extra shift right before the weekend is going to make me one tired man come Friday, think you will be able to handle me?” A playful smile crosses his face as he wraps his arms around her waist.

Her hands reach to caress the back of his neck and she returns his smile. “I think I can handle anything you have to offer, slick. I also think if you have to work tonight you better hurry up and get that nap in right away.” Aubrey quickly ushers him back into the bedroom and leaves him in the dark to catch what little rest he could. Quin falls asleep very quickly; he sleeps for a bit over two hours before Aubrey is waking him for his second shift behind the wheel. The two hours feel like hardly more than a heartbeat to Quin, and as he rolls out of bed he has a moment to think. I’m killing myself here. Before he knows it he is rushing down the stairs again and getting ready to hop back in the taxi. Just before he enters he has a moment to look up at the early evening sky. I don’t think I have ever seen a city sky look like this, it looks more like someone painted their idea of a sky and posted it up there! It is so beautiful; I hope Aubrey gets a chance to take a look at it. With that he is back in the cab reporting for duty ready to work his shift from 4:30Pm until 8:00PM. The shift runs just as smoothly as the first, and Quin thanks The Lord for small favors.

He has enough time to run home and grab a quick dinner, once again provided by Aubrey, and rush out to head to the hellhole that is Double DiDi’s. The place was the epitome of a dive bar; but with strippers, and cheap smokes too. Just as Quin left his cab he noticed a paper in the back seat and decided to grab it now before he had to worry about it in the morning. It turned out to be the same tabloid he had seen earlier talking about the spaceships and of course Bat Boy. He shook his head at the amount of people that read such trash and threw the paper in the dumpster as he went in the back of the club.

Quin was greeted by small smiles and waves as he entered the back of the club, most of the people that worked at DiDi’s were nice enough, and the girls liked when he was there even if he wasn’t slotted in for bouncing. He returned all their greetings with a similar nod and wave. His first order of business was to make sure Jimmy knew he was not only at the club, but on time. He quickly popped his head into Jimmy’s office speaking as kindly as he could muster. “Hey boss, I’m here. Need anything before I start lugging kegs?” He asked the question to make sure it didn’t seem like he was popping in just to be seen, even though he was, but he still expected some sort of task for his trouble.

Jimmy was quick to prove Quin right with his response. “Of course you are here, I told you to be. I need you to get this trash out of my office, it stinks, then gets to work you lazy slob.” Quin walked toward Jimmy without saying anything and nodded his head. He was starting to boil inside and speaking now would get him in trouble, so he grabbed the garbage bag and headed back to the dumpster he had just used.

He made his way out the door and flung the bag up into the dumpster, and heard it make a thud. It startled him for a moment, he wasn’t used to being here on a Wednesday and they must have just emptied the dumpster today. He stopped for only a second to turn when he heard the thud but it was just enough to make all the difference in the world.

Suddenly, and only for a brief second it felt like Quin was being sucked backwards and down, then with almost twice as much force he was being thrown forward. Whatever was throwing Quin was strong; it picked him off his feet and into the dumpster. Like the trash bag before him Quin was sure he had made a dull thud, but it only occurred to him then that he couldn’t hear anything. A moment after feeling the hard metal underneath him everything seemed to turn upside down, he could feel the coldness of pavement on his hands and he struggled to regain his sensations. The feeling of the cool ground disappeared and was replaced by heat. Quin, moving by some unknown instinct mostly, scampered into the farthest, darkest corner of the overturned dumpster. His shoulder was pressed against the metal and instantly it felt like it was being stabbed with a hot poker, and in that same instant flames licked the inside corner of the dumpster. It was the same corner he had been standing in when the dumpster first overturned. Quin did his best to hide his face, and curled into a ball. The heat was intense and almost unbearable. Just as quickly as the fire had come it vanished, and for a moment Quin found himself choking, his lungs searching for breath that the fire had already taken. The metal inside the dumpster was white hot, and Quin stayed in his ball afraid to touch any of the sides of the container he found himself in. He was perhaps almost more afraid of what was still outside. His nostrils filled with the stench of burnt hair, flesh, and garbage and Quin instantly knew he was cooking inside this death trap. He definitely needed to get out of here as soon as possible, but he had to do it without killing himself. What would Aubrey do without him if he didn’t make it out of here?
Quinlan did his best to gather his wits; he took a few deep breaths and tried to look around the inside of the dumpster for anything that could help. In the corner where the flame came into the dumpster he could see that the dumpster was stuck on something and there was a fairly large gap between the edge of the dumpster and the ground. There wasn’t much in the unit that appeared to be helpful, just the bag of trash he threw away and what appeared to be an old quilt. Quin scooted his way over to the gap and realized it was big enough for him to fit through. The dumpster had cooled considerably, but was still hot, he still didn’t want his head touching the metal if he could help it. He grabbed the quilt and put it over his face and head as he tried to get through the gap. He was able to squeeze his head out fairly easily, and he knew if he could do that the rest would follow. It only took him some time to get out because he had to keep checking the quilt and sliding it into position to avoid burning himself. He could see the quilt blackening in a few spots when it had touched the metal for too long. When he had made it out of the dumpster the first thing he realized was the smell, it smelled exactly as he had thought in one sense, there was definitely the smell of fire. However, there were some other smells that came with the fire that Quinlan had never encountered before and yet he had a sense of what the smells meant. Everything smelled of burnt, like when something gets stuck on the bottom of the oven and fills your house with smoke. There was an even worse smell though, it was the one smell everyone could identify the first time they smelled it, death.
Quinlan briefly realized he still couldn’t hear anything, nothing but a low buzzing sound that told him he had probably burst an eardrum. The odd thing wasn’t so much the buzzing after the incident it was the fact that he couldn’t hear anything else at all. Before he fully had time to register the fact that sound was missing from his life, he finally noticed what his eyes were inputting into his brain.

There is always that moment when you see something that you aren’t expecting to see, that moment of delay between what you are seeing and what your brain is thinking you are seeing. It may have only been a moment for Quinlan but it felt like minutes as he registered what it was he was seeing. He had expected to see fire, maybe a small explosion, but not this. The small mutter escaped his mouth almost before he had fully realized he was speaking, “It’s gone, everything is gone.” Those words had been muttered by millions perhaps billions or trillions of people throughout the course of human history, typically they were an exaggeration. When a man loses all his material possessions his instinct is to feel like everything is gone, in this case though, the phrase was meant quite literally.

Once the spot that Quinlan was standing had been the very center of a bustling city, it was the center of civilization; the very proof stamped into the earth that man was not only here but that he was in control of his environment. Now it looked like nothing more than the aftermath of a flattened ant hill. Sure there was rubble, but where there were tall buildings, everything was one level now. Where before monuments to engineering, architecture, science, art, music, and even to the very people who lived in the city there was nothing but dust, rock, metal, and broken glass. To be sure there were bodies in all the rubble, there was some evidence of people, but in this moment the tremendous loss of human life seemed almost secondary to the thought of everything men had built as their legacy being completely destroyed in what equated to a handful of seconds. Quinlan slowly turned in a circle, but changing his line of sight did nothing to change his view. In every direction there was nothing but the same view of destruction, with one exception.

The sky itself was filled with…metal. It was hard for Quinlan to describe to himself, but up there were what looked like buildings in the sky. They weren’t moving, but they were huge and there was one right over the city and what appeared to be a lot more of them off in the distance. Each point where he thought he saw one of these giant aircrafts he saw something else, smoke. Before he could really start putting all the pieces together in his head he remembered something more important to him. “Aubrey, I have to get to Aubrey.” The sentiment was easier said than accomplished. It was true that they only lived about a half mile away from DiDi’s, but that half-mile had gotten significantly harder when the streets of the city had become covered in piles of debris. Quin was going to have to climb over debris for an entire half mile, and he had no supplies or any place to get them. Though there was no one around to see it, the expression on Quin’s face changed. It went from the shock and wonder of a person dealing with the end of everything he has ever known, into something with a sense of strong purpose.

Before he started his arduous climb, Quin decided to give himself a check over. He had been tossed around like a rag doll and almost burnt to a crisp, not to mention the fact that he still wasn’t sure exactly how well he could actually hear things that were not coming from his own head. He quickly looked over all his parts and pieces, gingerly taking his clothes off to see if there was blood on his back and other parts he had difficulty seeing. He also felt his hair and the back of his head with his shirt looking for anything that seemed like excessive amounts of blood. Quinlan found little more than minor cuts and scrapes and those seemed to cover just about everything pretty evenly, but his shoulder that had touched the side of the dumpster was pretty badly burned. The burn hurt, looked bad, and smelled like cooked flesh, but it also wasn’t a big gaping open wound. Quin looked around a bit and saw the quilt he had used to escape the dumpster. He split the seam of the quilt and tore a corner from one side of the fabric. He used the small square of fabric to quickly fashion a bandage for the burn, more to stop it from getting dirty or irritated than to promote any kind of healing. It took him a minute to tie the bandage using mostly one hand, but once he had it tied he rotated his arm a few times to see how well it stayed where he put it. The bandage seemed good enough for the task at hand.

Quin took one more look around to make sure his bearings were right, and started heading for the spot his apartment used to be. “I’m coming Aubrey, I’m coming just be there.” The trek was even more difficult than Quin had first thought; there was no setting foot on the ground and climbing over stuff. The entirety of his climb took place 8-10 feet off the ground with an occasional jump down to get under some obstacle. Darkness had set in pretty quickly after Quin had left and it only made finding suitable places to climb more difficult, though he wondered how much light he would have with that giant aircraft overhead anyway.

The grind of moving from spot to spot began to come more naturally and Quin’s mind began to wander, and then his thoughts were broken sharply by something he had not been expecting. Quin froze in his tracks and waited. He wanted be sure he had been right before he wasted any time, and that it hadn’t been his mind playing tricks on him. As he sat there crouching on top of some piece of iron or steel there it was again. Clear as day he could hear what sounded like a voice, a voice that sounded desperate even if he couldn’t make out the words. The voice was definitely coming from Quinlan’s right which was going to take him off track. He took a moment to check what few landmarks remained and reckoned he was just about halfway to Aubrey. Can I take the time to check this voice out? What if I help this person and Aubrey needed me and she doesn’t make it because I wasn’t there in time? Then like it wasn’t coming from his own mind a second voice spoke to him, this voice was softer than his own but it was still strong. Quinny what if that voice IS Aubrey. Immediately he knew that he had to go find the source of the voice, not only because there was the slim chance that it could be Aubrey, more importantly the voice was SOMEONE’S Aubrey. If some person heard her screaming and didn’t stop he would be pissed, and now he was thinking of doing the same thing? There was no way he was going to let that happen, he could never live with himself, and Aubrey would have no respect for him either.

Without another thought Quin began moving faster in the direction the voice had come from, and he called out himself. “I’m coming; I’m coming to help you! Keep yelling so I can hear you!”

The voice must have heard him because it called out again but this time Quin could make out what it was saying. “I’m over here, I’m here! Please, help me mister. Please.” He could tell the voice was a girl, probably young, and suddenly he was moving at a frenzy hoping he could help her. She kept calling out and Quin kept calling back to her.

He wasn’t sure if he was responding to comfort her or to comfort himself at this point, but he kept saying the routine thing expected of someone in this situation. “I’m coming, everything will be ok once I get there. We will get you out of this. It’s going to be fine.” Just as he said the last words he was basically on top of the girl.

She was a young girl; she couldn’t be older than 7 or 8. She was really just old enough to realize she was stuck and something hurt, but not how badly she had been hurt. Quinlan looked down at her and was brought back to his childhood. The girl was blonde with blue eyes, and he could tell she meant to grow up and be pretty, but as he looked at her he saw something different. There was a look in her eyes that he had only seen once before, it was in the eyes of the little girl from the movie Poltergeist. That little girl had been able to portray a look of terror that was so strong it gripped at your soul, and Quin had that feeling now. This girl was scared out of her mind, and of course she was, if Quin himself had taken more than a few seconds to process everything he would be just as scared. The fear began to quell up inside Quinlan, but he didn’t have the time to deal with it now, so he shoved it back down into whatever hole it came out from and made sure he put on a strong face for this little girl. He looked her over quickly and could tell she was in bad shape. There was blood all over the parts of her that Quin could see, but most of her was trapped on a giant slab of concrete with what looked like steel rods running through it. After the quick, grim assessment Quin looked her in the eyes and as he began to talk, his voice cracking for just a moment. “What’s your name sweetheart?”

The girl’s big blue eyes welled up with tears as she looked back at Quinlan and he was sure that she had seen the fear in his eyes, or heard the cracking of his voice. Instead she surprised him by sounding excited as she talked. “My mommy said not to talk to strangers but I really want to talk to you and mommy ain’t here no more.” She managed a small smile and Quinlan realized that it was probably a relief to have someone ask her name in this situation, it was a moment or normalcy in an hour of chaos. “My name is Jennifer, mister. What’s your name?”
Quin felt a genuine smile cross his face as the girl answered his question and understood more about her situation than Quinlan could have guessed. “My name is Quin, Jennifer. Now you tell me where it hurts. I want to get you out of here, but I want to do it carefully ok?”

Jennifer nodded at his answer but as she started answering she began shaking her head. “It doesn’t hurt anywhere, my stomach hurt earlier but the pain went away Mr. Quin.” She looked down in the direction of where her stomach should be, but instead stood a giant mass of concrete and metal.

“Ok Jennifer I am going to try and get you out of there and then we can see what’s going on better. Let me find something to help pry that rock off of you, you just keep talking. Tell me about school, or your mommy, or whatever else you want ok?” Quin began searching around for something he could sneak under the concrete and pry with. He didn’t have to look far there were rods of steel everywhere, and one the right size was pretty close to him. He was listening to Jennifer as she started telling him about all the stuffed animals in her collection. As she talked he grabbed his makeshift crowbar and slid it carefully under the slab, and began to lift the slab off of her. He lifted it just a little and looked underneath to see if he could see where she was hurt. He didn’t see anything of consequence, just more blood, and so he lifted higher. He had to climb on the other side of the slab at some point in order to pull it over and away from Jennifer instead of pushing it. It was probably in this moment that he stopped listening to her speak, and a moment after that where she stopped talking. As he flipped the concrete over in triumph he took a moment to admire his work, he had worked up a sweat and his arms were incredibly tired. In this moment of admiration he turned to share his triumph with the newly free little girl.

When he turned, her eyes were closed and it was only then he realized he hadn’t heard her voice in a long while. He looked further down and the smile left his tired face. It looked like there had been a metal rod through her midsection, the rod had been attached to the concrete slab, and the slab had also done a pretty good job of almost cutting her in half. She hadn’t been able to feel anything anymore; the shock had taken care of that problem. As Quin had lifted the slab off of the girl, he had finished separating her torso from her pelvis. As he had tried to save her, he had been speeding up her impending death.
Quin fell to his knees with his face in his hands. His hands were covered in dirt, and Jennifer’s blood, but by the time he was done crying they were almost clean from his tears. When he had no more tears to cry, he sat there, still hoping somehow that as long as he kept his eyes closed when he opened them she would be alive. After some unknown amount of time, reality took hold and he realized he could not save her any longer. He would have to go on, but there was something he wanted to do first. Finding his crowbar, he began lifting the slab he had just turned over. It took most of what he had left in him, but he managed to get the slab back over onto Jennifer. It made a sickly squishy sound as it fell onto her lifeless corpse. This time it covered all of her. He couldn’t give her a true burial in this mess, but at least he could keep her body safe from whatever dogs or birds managed to survive. With Jennifer’s face still fresh in his mind, he knew he had to get moving and get to Aubrey, now he was more worried about her than ever. Getting his body to start moving was like trying to start an old tractor that had been sitting in the same field for years, it took a bit of work and it resented him for making it move, but finally he started heading back to his apartment.

Other than the night getting darker, the rest of his trip was similar to the first half. Quin had to stop and gather his bearings, to make sure he was where he thought he was, quite frequently. This practice of getting his bearing grew even more frequent as he got closer and closer to his apartment. Luckily he had lived not too far away from the bridge, so he knew when he got closer to the river that he was close to home. It disheartened Quin that he wasn’t seeing less damage as he get closer to his target, and he certainly wasn’t finding more people. So far Jennifer had been the only living thing he had come across.

Finally Quinlan made it to the apartment building that he and Aubrey had lived in just hours earlier. There was a part of him that expected to see her, or a message from her, but what confronted him killed that part of him. She was not there, the building was not there, there was no message, and maybe worst of all there was no sign that anybody had been here since the devastation. It had never crossed Quin’s mind that no matter what he did or how quickly he got here that it wouldn’t matter. His mind hadn’t been able to cope with the fact that Aubrey could have died in the initial violence of the explosion. In fact it only occurred to him now that he had been avoiding the thought of death this entire journey. Not only had he failed to consider the fact that Aubrey may not be alive, he hadn’t bothered to check and see of any of his co-workers had survived before he left DiDi’s. He hadn’t bothered because it was obvious no one had survived anything there, just as it was equally obvious that no one had survived anything here. His own survival had been nothing more than a mere stroke of luck; he had been in an area with less tall buildings and had been stuck by an upside down dumpster. How many other people could have possibly fallen into a similar situation?

There was still something inside of Quin that refused to give up. His whole life had been about fighting; fighting for himself, fighting for his loved ones, and fighting for what he believed in. As the tears of realization flowed from his eyes, he ran to the ruins of his apartment building shoving as much debris aside as he could. The tears turned to rage as he looked frantically for signs of life, the fire of that rage escaped from his body as power. He tossed aside debris that he could not have moved moments earlier, he could feel the weight of the concrete tearing into his muscles and he screamed into the night air forcing his body onward. As the hole he was creating grew slowly bigger Quin found something that forced him to stop a moment. He found an arm, an arm that was outstretched upward as if it had been digging. The fingernails were ripped from the hand, and the rest of the arm was dirty and badly burned. In his mind he already knew this was the hand of his lover, of his life, it was the hand of Aubrey. Her hand was lifeless, but it only made Quinlan want to free the rest of her more quickly. He wracked his body, and used everything nearby to clear the wreckage from the body that the hand was attached too.
It wasn’t Aubrey. It was their neighbor, Samantha, a rather shy girl who had always kept to herself. She was almost unrecognizable as she lay there filthy, naked, and badly burnt. It appeared as though her clothes had burned off her body, but she had managed to live. Most of one side of her face was burned beyond recognition, and she hardly had any hair left, but Quin recognized the small butterfly tattooed on her wrist. She wasn’t Aubrey, but in a sense she was Aubrey. Quin was sure that further down he would find Aubrey in a similar state, or worse. He was done, there were no more tears, no more rage, there wasn’t even a desire to dig any deeper or bury Samantha’s body out of decency. Whatever it was that had happened today had finally won and broken him.

There was going to be no planning for what was next, or any thoughts on what had happened. Before he had a chance to get to any of the topics that must come next in his situation, something else happened. Suddenly the darkness of the night exploded in a bright searing light. On any normal day Quin would probably chalk the occurrence up as a flash of lightning, but this was not a normal day. The flash had happened VERY close to him, and there was no thunder. There was only the flash and then it had been gone. Quin lay still for a moment as he looked in the direction that the light had come from, and his stillness was rewarded with the sound of movement. Something was walking about in the aftermath very close to him, and it had arrived at the same time as the lighting. For the first time Quin’s mind thought of the news rag he had found in the back of his taxi twice this same day. He remembered the headline about the UFO’s, and wished he had read the article more closely. Instead he had focused on ‘Bat Boy’, maybe it was ‘Bat Boy’ making the noise. Surely if ‘Bat Boy’ was fighting in foreign wars he would be here to help Quin in his time of need. Quin forced the nonsense from his head and found the closest piece of metal rod that could be used as a weapon.

Very slowly Quinlan peered from out of the hole he had dug in his frantic search. He could see what was moving. It was literally only a few feet from his spot. He had no idea what it was, but it was not human, and it was not any animal Quin had ever seen before. The only thing he knew for sure about the creature is that it was ugly. It had something in its grasp that it was moving back and forth slowly. Quinlan watched it for a minute and realized by its movements that it was searching from something, but what could it be searching for? Quin risked a glance away to look up into the sky, and he could see the giant aircraft in the sky but something was different about it. There was some sort of light emitting from the craft. He had no idea what the light was, but he knew it was the same color as the flash of ‘lightning’ he had seen earlier.

There was no doubt that this creature came from the craft above, and had caused everything that had happened to him today. He realized how selfish that statement was, it was really what had happened to everyone else. It was what had happened to Samantha…Jennifer…Aubrey; they were the ones who had suffered at the hands of this bastard creature before him. Without thinking anymore, Quin shot out of the hole, the metal rod held firmly in his hand. He knew it would only take him seconds to close the distance between him and…the thing, so he wasn’t afraid to let out an angry, hate-filled shriek. Oddly Quin remembered his dream from the night before. He could see the net, and he had a stick in his hand one more time. As he closed the short distance between the two it felt like an eternity passed, the entirety of the dream from this morning played on in Quinlan’s mind, and then just when he was ready to swing his weapon it happened. For the first time in his life Quin’s knee gave out in a situation where he wasn’t on the ice. His knee literally crumpled under the weight of his body, the war-cry he had released turned into a frightened horror-movie scream. The creature had time to run and Quinlan learned very quickly what the instrument in his hand had been. The moment the instrument was lined up with Quin a shot of the colored lightning flashed forth and struck Quin in the chest.

There was a moment where Quin could think but couldn’t move his body. The irony of his knee giving out struck Quin but it was fleeting. Instead he reflected back on his day, he had missed so many signs of the impending circumstance. The signs had been so insignificant, but they had been there. The paper showing up twice, the sky looking unreal, his dream, and he was sure there were others that his quickly fading brain couldn’t process. Could he have stopped this, or at least done something to warn people? His last vision was of the thing hanging over him with its weapon, and then there was no more of Quinlan Renihan.

There is always an excitement in moving, especially moving into a new home. There are a few steps involved in moving. First there is the searching phase, this is the phase where you look at all sorts of places and decide which one suits you best. Most people like this stage right up until it becomes hard. The second stage is the selection phase, this where you finally pick a place and decide what changes are going to have to be made to it before you can move. The next stage is the honeymoon phase, this is where you actually move your stuff in and you love everything about the place you chose. The Honeymoon phase wears off and its then that you really see what your new place is about. Then there is the last phase. The last phase is either where you decide you can live with your new place, decide you need to change more things, or get out as soon as possible. Kor certainly was not immune to the excitement of finding a new place; he just hated the selection phase. It was his job to make the changes that needed to be made before he could move. Most times when people move the changes are simple, there may need to be some landscaping or something else silly. Sometimes though after a home was inspected some serious problems pop up, and that is when professionals need to be called or the decision has to be made to go back to the searching phase.

In this particular move, all sorts of problems had turned up in the inspection. It had turned out that the layout of the new place would have to change, but most importantly there had seemed to be some sort of pest that needed to be exterminated before the home was livable. Kor didn’t mind changing the layout of a place, it really didn’t take much effort, but pest control was a real pain in the ass. It didn’t matter; the new place seemed perfect to Kor once these issues were taken care of. The place had everything they were looking for, and so Kor would do what needed to be done.

The fun part about the extermination process is that a good chunk of it was going to be done when they changed the layout of the place. Anytime you rip out that many walls, you are bound to take out more than a few nests for pests. After the initial demolition, it was just about finding whatever small infestations were left and killing the pathetic creatures. Every extermination was exactly the same; it was much easier than it should be. The pests never seemed to realize how vulnerable their nests were. It was typically very easy to swoop in to a nest and destroy it, batting away whatever few pests with fight in them remained. This time had been easier than most, usually there was some sort of initial attack by the defending pests and Kor would have to swat them to avoid being stung. This time there was nothing; these pests hadn’t even seemed to realize they were threatened even right up to Kor’s first attack on the nest.

The layout had been changed and Kor had gotten the majority of the nest when he knocked down the walls. He was in the final stages, all he had were a few pests that still seemed to be active. He was able to locate their buzzing about and then finish off the poor creatures. Kor entered their new home, knowing the area the buzzing was coming from. He was just trying to pinpoint exactly where that last critter was. As he was searching Kor heard the buzzing behind him, he turned around as quickly as he could before the pest could get away. When Kor turned fully around he saw the pest wriggling around on the ground, it just kept buzzing at him. He could see the fear in the pest’s actions. He fired his weapon at the pest and ran to its body to make sure the thing was dead. As Kor leaned over the body of the thing he could see the last bit of nerves acting, so he kept his weapon pointed at the pest in case it was still alive. He watched the life leave the creature. Kor thought for a moment about how big and ugly these things had been for pests. He could see into a hole where there was what appeared to be a burned body of one of them that died in the explosion that changed the layout. He fired his weapon at the thing even though it was dead. These creatures gave him the creeps.

Kor transported back up to his ship. It was good that his people had finally found a new home. They knew this wasn’t going to be a home they could stay in forever, the sun wouldn’t last long enough for that, but at least this planet still had iron. It wasn’t just that it had iron, but that there was such a large amount of it sitting right on the surface, especially in the northern hemisphere of this particular land mass. Now it was time for the moving in stage, the ships would land and deploy and they would be all moved in. Kor couldn’t wait to settle in.

I realize this is a bit late, but it was a one-off not a start. I would call it sci-fi.

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