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Fantasticoe 1997

Bounty Games

From a novel in progress

Mike Hungate

I was sitting across the card table looking at my cards when the husky voice of Xzwarts pierced the air around us "It's your call ya fuck'n punk."

Looking up, I saw his ugly face. Hair covered half of his chin, the other half looked as if it had been shaved off by a bullet. His brown hair was pulled back into a pony tail that hung down to the middle of his back. The grease that he used to slick back that scraggly hair seemed to stream off of his head. He had a cigar in his hand and then put it in his mouth, taking a long drag off of the cigar. I looked him in the eyes, then looked back at my cards.

"Hold your water," I snapped back. There was no way I could lose with my royal flush. Glancing up at his mouth to see if he was bluffing, I could only see the part of his mouth with the cigar in it. I decided to raise the bet to over twenty joules, he was slow to call. He laid down his cards, and there were four aces and a king. Xzwarts reached for the money.

"Hold it right there ya greedy ass hole," I said.

I grabbed my beer and drank down the last bit that had settled to the bottom of the cup. I slowly laid down my cards, watching his face the entire time to see what he would do. In disbelief he started shouting "you cheated, you son of a bitch." My side arm was still in its holster when Xzwarts went for his gun. I was quick. I had my gun out and a bullet through his head before he could get his hand into his coat. Every one in the bar turned and looked at me, the band stopped playing.

"Hey pal, who'd ya kill?" asked the bar tender.

"Xzwarts," I said. After saying that, every one went back to talking, and the band started back up. It was nice knowing that no one would try to cheap shot the best bounty in the universe. I have seen many planets and killed many types of life forms some looked more like trash than life forms. In this time humans are becoming a rare breed. Test tubes and incubators are know being used to try and replenish the human race.

After I got up from the table I reached for my over coat, flipped the bar tender a joule and went on my way. When I reached the street, I took a left and headed for home to finally put this day in the books. The streets were dimly lit with the street lamps that barely worked anymore. The pot holes were deep and filled with water. The city never bothered to fix these holes because of the latest break through, hover cars. I looked at the windows that lined the rows of odd shops. I passed the electronics shop and then proceeded down the side walk. As I passed the adult shop, I saw a couple of kids come running out. The owner soon followed, stopping me to ask if I had seen the kids that had robbed him. Not wanting to mess with these little grab ass crimes I hit the owner and went about my business. I walked down the street, took a right and went down the dark alley that led to my apartment. Looking down the alley I saw the opened dumpster on the left and the door on the right was hanging on one hinge. A stream of water was pouring off of the roof tops and collecting in puddles in the alley. The fire escape was old and starting to rust. The light at this end of the alley had been shot out in one of the not so rare shoot outs. The light at the other end of the alley was still working and the steps that were on the side of the building were illuminated. I walked up the stairs and noticed that the door was slightly opened. Slowly I pushed open the door.

As I entered the apartment, I felt a strange presence, as if someone or some thing was watching me. "Who's there?" I asked. There was no reply. I carefully removed my gun from its holster and flipped off the safety. Crouching down I reached up and turned the lights on to illuminate the room that was now empty with the exception of the furniture that was cluttering up the place. It was the same as when I had left, feeling kind of foolish I picked my self up, "I need a drink." I walked into the kitchen to see that the dishes were overflowing and starting to mold. Last night's dinner was still on the stove and half of it ended up on the wall beside it. I opened the refrigerator door to find the Barren refrigerator had only one occupant left. It was my last case of beer. I grabbed a beer and closed the door. On my way out I picked up the remains of what was once a bag of chips. I went to the couch, sat down and flipped on the video vision to see what I had missed since I went into my drunken haze. Taking a drink of beer and setting it on the table beside me I saw a small piece of paper that I didn't remember being there before. Deciding to read the letter, I took another drink and began to read:

Please help me. My father has been taken by some Clacoids (who everyone knows as scavengers that look like a dogs head on a cats body, but they still walk upright like humans and speak some shrill language). They have taken him outside the cities wall and are holding him, threatening to kill him. I am willing to give you anything that you want, if you will help me. I beg you to help me. Meet me in the alley beside Scriptoids Bar at midnight. I will be there tomorrow waiting for you. You will know me when you see me, if not the word is "mum."

It was signed, Jenny.

After finishing the letter and my beer I decided to finish off the rest the case of beer.

An hour passed and so did the beers. I noticed that my gun was still in its holster by my side. It was the only weapon that I knew that I could rely on. Today's weapons just couldn't be trusted. They would work half the time and would always find the worst times to die on you. I took the gun out and began to polish the silver muzzle and the wooden handle. By the time I was finished cleaning the gun off it had a shine so brilliant that I could see my reflection. Staring closer at the gun I saw how my once blue eyes were now blood shot, and my hair was no longer in the pony tail that I had put it in this morning. A thick black beard had started to grow high upon my checks, leaving little skin uncovered. Adjusting the gun in my hand made my reflection look as if I had gone from somewhat human to a freak of nature. The beard on my face that was once black in color now seamed to melt into my hair that was also looking brown in parts then went back to its true color of black. My eyes were off center and one of my ears had moved to the middle of my face. I knew then that I was drunk. Beer was the only way for me to escape this hell hole of a world that I live on and gave me a chance to forget all of the drugs, rapes, and scum-bags that I had to deal with on a regular basis. This new job was going to bring me face to face with the worst scum-bags that this planet had ever known. Should I take the job or not? I finished my last beer and thought about the question at hand. Do I put my life on the line again like I had done so many times, or should I just give this shitty job up and find a job pushing pencils. "I'll take that god damn job even if it kills me, I'm not going to be some scared shit pushing pencils for some fat fuck in Queens!" That was the last thing I remember before I passed out.

Acknowledgments: I would like to thank the entire fantasy writing class for giving me so many great ideas on how to add on to this work that is still in progress. Every one in the class wanted me to expand on the ending of this chapter a little bit more so there isn't one specific person who gave me a manuscript, but the class has helped immensely.

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Fantasticoe 1997