On Monday, Sept 21st, I lost my cat Bucky. Fuck cancer. Fuck kitty cancer.

Bucky came to me fourteen years ago with his brother Ghost. They were part of a litter from a feral momma cat that my friend had brought in so Momma Cat could give birth indoors. My wife at the time had moved out maybe a few months before the two tiny kitties came into the house. Even then, Bucky was clearly the dominant one.

Baby Bucky

Fast forward a bit. My friend needed a place to stay after his divorce. He brought with him three female cats and a thirty-pound dog. Bucky was my street-punk cat who brooked no shit from any of the other animals. Including the dog. Then we were joined by friend’s new girlfriend and her pug. Bucky was in charge of the animal herd – and proved it multiple times. This era was also when Bucky got his first taste of beer. That cat loved his beer.

Young Bucky

Bucky Goes to Work

Bucky was a big cat. At his largest, he was pushing fifteen pounds. Which he used to prove his point when he wanted your attention. Which he did, but only on his terms. It was I want attention. Thank you. Nip.

Then came Irma. I made the decision that instead of riding out the storm by myself in a house I wasn’t too sure about, I would evac to The Brother’s place. Bucky had not been outside the house in probably a decade. He didn’t understand why I was putting him in this tiny cage. He didn’t understand why I was throwing him into the noisy metal box. He didn’t understand why the noisy metal box was moving. My big, strong, silent cat began to let out the most horrible sounding cry of distress. I would grow used to it over the next few years as he was forced to move from The Brother’s house back to mine. Then when we moved him down to what would become his final home.

I was worried when we were moving him into a house with several cats who were already established. Yeah, I should have known better. Within moments of being sprung from isolation, Bucky established himself as alpha of our clowder.

The last few months, you could see something was wrong. The Wife mentioned he was breathing harder than normal. He developed a cyst under his eye. We took him to the vet to get it removed. She took a look at his x-rays and told us that there was some cloudiness in his lungs. There wasn’t anything we could really do, so we kept him comfortable. Then, our normally voracious eater and demander of treats, started getting very finicky. We took him in Monday. He’d lost almost a pound and a half in less than six weeks. The cloudiness had taken up almost all of his lungs. After an excruciating period, The Wife and I made our decision. We spend a good ten to fifteen minutes giving our Bucky attention. If you didn’t know he was sick, he would have seen almost normal. Purring and happy that we were there.

Miss you my friend.

The Boss

Metal Tuesday- Iron Saviour – Condition Red

This one came across my mix, and much to my surprise, I hadn’t previously shared it.

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part 5 – Chapter 37

Mexico City, 27 June 2010, 2200 Hours Local: Countdown: 1 Year, 5 months, 3 days

Jessica Montgomery’s eyes snapped open at the sound of the animal snarl. Her assailant froze in horror, his wide eyes focused on something behind her. Jess rolled onto her belly and came face to face with the largest dog she’d ever seen. It kind of looked like a German Shepard, but tan and light brown. Oh yeah, and it was the size of a pony. It stared at Jess’s assailant with teeth bared and muscles rippling. The animal should have terrified her, but she just felt very safe.

The gunshot startled her. Jess felt the bullet pass over her. A splotch of red blossomed on the animal’s shoulder. The creature didn’t even shudder from the impact. It almost seemed to smile just before leaping over Jess. The man let out a terrified scream. Jess heard bones crunching and the scream stopped instantly. Jess twisted around. The animal was gone. The man was still on the ground.

“Sweet Savior, what was that monstrosity?” Slim asked as he slumped down next to Jess. She stared at the tall Brit for a moment. She had been so transfixed by the creature, Jess had completely forgotten about her Zombie Strike teammate.

“Are you okay?” Jess asked.

“I’ll survive, but I’m bloody getting tired of being banged about every time we sortie out,” Slim answered. The two helped each other up and found their rifles. Jess would have time to figure out the giant dog later. Zombie Strike should have started their attack on the zombies brought by the recent firefight. Jess and Slim found a small building that looked relatively unscathed. The two scaled up onto the roof. The battle was evidently underway.

“Lead, Rifle is back up,” Slim reported as Jess set up her weapon.

“Thank God,” Mateo breathed over the radio. His command voice returned with the next sentence, “We’ve linked up with the Army. How much more are we facing?” Slim scanned through his scope. Jess took a brief second to make sure Billy was with the rest of the team. There he was, fighting six zombies with a baton in one hand and a Glock in the other. She smiled as she watched him casually destroy the half dozen zombies. He was just so graceful.

“Lead, I’m estimating a couple hundred walkers,” Slim said, “They’re too thick for me to get a good estimate on crawlers.”

“That’s what I thought,” Mateo said, “You’re on over-watch.” Zombie Strike and the soldiers formed a loose half-circle. Billy, as one of the team’s close-quarters specialist anchored one end. Quentin, who could have been mistaken for a human wall, anchored the other. The soldiers made up the center. They were pouring a lot of fire downrange. The Zombie Strike team were methodically whittling at the front edge of the zombie horde. Small piles of re-killed zombies grew as the team went about its work.

“Target 0-3-0,” Slim said in a low voice. Jess brought her rifle to bear on a zombie that slipped between the Army’s and Collin’s field of fire. She brought it down and cycled the bolt. Slim was giving her new coordinates as she felt the next round chamber. A zombie got too close to Sport. Jess vaporized its head. The fight raged as the humans fought off ten times their number in zombies. She concentrated on taking down the ones that managed to get just a bit too close to the line. The team’s fire shrank the horde until it was just a few pockets of stragglers. Those were quickly finished off. Jess and Slim rejoined their team after picking their way through the ruins to avoid crawlers and possibly buried zombies. Mateo and Collin were talking to one of the soldiers. The Steve was busy tending to the soldiers injured in the firefight against the drug gang earlier. Quentin was opening a crate.

Billy stepped in front of her. The world seemed to stop for a moment as she looked into his dark eyes. Eyes that silently asked if she was okay. Jess answered with a smile. Relief washed over Billy’s face. She felt him take her hand. Even in the middle of a destroyed city, it all felt magical. She heard footsteps behind her. Billy looked up and suddenly went cold. He yanked his hand away. Jess could only stand there stunned as Billy turned and walked off. Anger seethed through her as she put the pieces together. Jess whirled around to face her foster father. Mateo was still glaring at Billy’s back.

“Matt, why did you do that?” Jess asked keeping her arms tucked across her chest to keep from punching Mateo. He looked down on her, and suddenly it all made sense.

“You told him to stay away from me,” Jess said in her coldest voice.

“He’s five years older than you,” Mateo shot back. He silenced her next volley with a hand gesture. “He’s an adult and you are not. This is not the time or place to discuss this. We will have this talk after we’re through here.” His tone made it clear he was speaking as her team leader, not her foster father. Jess seethed, but it wouldn’t do any good to scream at Mateo. It would have been a lot easier if they all weren’t in the middle of trying to stop their shadowy nemesis from fulfilling an ancient prophecy of doom.

“The Army says they’ve seen Giant,” Mateo announced as the team gathered around. Jess opened her forearm armor bracer to access the PDA underneath. “Some of the Colonel’s men spotted something matching Giant’s description heading towards this area.” A box appeared on the map as Mateo highlighted the area.

“Just Giant?” asked Quentin.

“No, he’s brought some friends along,” Mateo answered. The map flipped to an image captured by a nightvision camera. Giant was easily recognized. Four others were dressed in similar costumes. That made them minions. Another six were only wearing loin cloths. The painted runes showed clearly in the image. Gollums. Jess swallowed as she remembered the last time she encountered the nearly indestructible creatures. Ironically enough, it was here in Mexico City during the fight at the museum.

“Bloody hell, six gollums,” Collin said, echoing the team’s thoughts, “Well this certainly got more interesting. In the Chinese sense of the word.” Jess suddenly understood why the Chinese saying of May you live in interesting times was a curse instead of a blessing.

“What about giant dogs?” Slim asked. The team turned to him. Slim quickly explained to the group. As he finished, Billy barked out a laugh.

“Don’t worry about them,” Billy said, “There isn’t time to go into it now, but trust me. We don’t have anything to fear from them.”

“Okay, if you say so,” Mateo said, “The plan is to find Giant, find out what he’s after, and grab it before he does. If we have to fight, best bet will be divide and conquer.” There were no questions. The Army was kind enough to give the team a lift to the target area. It was clear that Col. Allen, the commander of the Army’s anti-zombie force didn’t want his troops going up against Giant and his group. Jess couldn’t blame him. Jess and Slim were loaded into the back of a Humvee. As the convoy sped along the devastation, Jess began thinking about Billy. More to the point, how she was going to convince Mateo to stop interfering. She knew her foster father was trying to protect her. To his credit, her last boyfriend had been killed fighting zombies, and she’d taken it hard. Why couldn’t Mateo see she was stronger now?

Jess was ripped from her thoughts as the Humvee rocked violently and then rolled over.

[Zombie Strike Part 5 Chapter 38]

Friday Quote – Thomas Sowell

Love is one of those bonds which enable people to function and societies to flourish – without being directed from above. Love is one of the many ways we influence each other and work out our interrelated lives without the help of the anointed. Like morality, loyalty, honesty, respect, and other immaterial things, love is one of the intangibles without which the tangibles won’t work.

This Is The Way

Season 2 of The Mandalorian next month.

Finally Some Range Time

On Saturday, I finally got to take my new pistols that I bought way back in March out to the range. With some of the money from the sale of my Tampa house I picked up a Ruger Lightweight Commander 1911 and a Steyr L9A1. I also managed to get my Beretta Tomcat fixed, so that came along.

I wanted to add a 1911 to my collection for a while, and the Ruger was so damn pretty. It didn’t hurt that it was on sale at the time. Even The Wife, who deeply dislikes guns, was impressed by the Ruger’s aesthetics. It shot like a 1911, smooth and crisp.

The Steyr was one of those guns that intrigued me since it was introduced to the market. The looks and the weird sights were very cool. Then I picked it up in the gun shop. The Steyr is one of the most ergonomically pleasing guns I’ve picked up. I’m glad it wasn’t at my gun shop when I went shopping for a replacement for my Sig so many years ago. Finding accessories for the Steyr is difficult now. Seven years ago? Ah well, it’s now the office gun.

The Beretta? Well, it shoots. It will hit. I can make nice little .32 caliber holes. I don’t particularly care to shoot more than a few magazines. It will not become a primary carry gun for me. It might make a decent BUG. Maybe. If I needed a last resort kind of thing.

Metal Tuesday- Black Label Society- Bored to Tears

Another solid from Zack Wylde.

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part 5 – Chapter 36

Above Mexico City, 27 June 2010, 2100 Hours Local: Countdown: 1 Year, 5 months, 3 days

Jessica Montgomery shifted the sling of the unfamiliar weapon as she tried to avoid any more bruising. The L96 was heavier than her accurized version of the team’s ZKC, not to mention being longer and bulkier. Most of all, Jess hated the kick of the L96’s .338 Lapua cartridge. Every time Mateo made her practice with the rifle, she made it known how much she hated the weapon. Jess was ready to let loose with her reasoned argument when Mateo told her to take the rifle on this mission. The words died before she could speak them as she saw the looks on the faces of Mateo, Quentin, Collin, and The Steve. There was such a heartbreaking mix of sadness and hope in their expressions as she hefted the rifle. As much as she hated it, Jess slung the rifle and followed the rest of the team.

Mackenzie and Winston provided Zombie Strike with their ride into Mexico. Jess wasn’t sure where the insurance firm got a tilt-rotor, but her fascination wore off soon after the pilot began flying like a crazed roller coaster. Collin called it “nap-of-the-earth.” Jess just gave the experienced man an evil look as she tried to keep her last meal down. Collin tried to explain that it was to keep their approach to the devastated hidden from the various governments converging on Mexico City. He stopped abruptly as Jess used her airsickness bag. Jess felt better for a brief moment. Then, she saw Billy looking at her from across the cargo bay. Jess tried to shrink into her body armor. Oh God, did he see her just puke her guts up? How could she look at him in the face again?

“Everyone brace,” Mateo said over the radio, “We’re doing a fast approach on the outskirts. No feds, but there will probably be zombies and maybe some local resistance. Zombies you can kill. Don’t shoot a human unless he’s a threat.”

“Are you sure we don’t need Haz-Mat suits?” Sport asked, looking out a window.

“These were orbital kinetic strikes, not nukes,” Quentin answered, “The filters in our armor can take care of anything that was thrown into the air by the impacts. For the last time Sport, there is no radiation.” The Brit mumbled something, but let the matter drop.

Jess strained against her restraints as the plane plummeted. Her mind raced with terror that they were about to crash. She was slammed back into her seat as the plane screeched into a hover and gently landed. The rear ramp came down. Jess fumbled with the buckles on her harness. She barely managed to free herself from the accursed plane an instant before Mateo motioned for her to run down the ramp. As her feet hit the cracked asphalt, Jess drew her tiny HK MP7 submachine gun. She searched for targets as she ran to meet up with Slim, who was Jess’s partner and spotter for this mission. The tall Brit barely acknowledged Jess as she huddled up next to him behind a low wall. The tilt-rotor screamed out of the area and shot away from the landing zone. The moans were audible as soon as the noise from the tilt-rotor faded out.

Jess peered over the wall. Several dozen zombies were walking or crawling over the ruins of buildings toward the team. At least, Jess assumed they were zombies. Many of the corpses were so badly burned, Jess didn’t see how their brains could still be intact. She was suddenly very glad she puked on the plane. Even after six months of battling corpses on an almost daily basis, the sights and smells of this horde turned her stomach. She pushed back the foul-tasting bile as Mateo issued orders to the team.

“Let them close to twenty yards,” Mateo said, “We need to put down this group fast and move. Watch your fire and try to conserve ammo.” There was a chorus of double-clicks as the team acknowledged its leader’s commands. Jess extended the stock of the MP7 and squeezed the fore grip. The nightvision picked up the laser’s small dot as Jess aimed at a zombie’s head. The seconds seemed to take an eternity. Mateo signaled the team by firing the first shot.

Jess stroked the trigger. She pivoted just a hair to put the laser on the next zombie’s head. She fired a short burst again and twisted to engage the next zombie in her zone. Her mind assessed the threat as her muscle memory took over the shooting. The horde was maybe fifty strong, but they were spaced out across a fifty-yard wide arc. The eight trained zombie killers divided up the kill zone and methodically whittled down the horde. Jess wasn’t even through her first magazine when she ran out of targets.

There was no celebration or even acknowledgement of their victory. As soon as the zombies were dealt with, the Zombie Strike team hustled across the ruins of what had been a shanty town on the outskirts of Mexico City. Jess struggled to keep up with Slim as he slipped from shadow to shadow with unbelievable speed and smoothness. Where was this side of Slim during all of her training sessions with him? The sounds of a firefight brought the pair to a halt. They were still a couple hundred meters short of the waypoint. From the sounds, Jess guessed the fighting was at the waypoint. Jess holstered her MP7 as she crept around Slim and climbed up some rubble. Jess unslung her rifle and peered through the scope. Two groups were in a nasty gun battle. One of them was the group Zombie Strike was supposed to be meeting.

“Matt, it looks like the soldier boys managed to run into trouble,” Jess reported. “I think they’re narcos.” She felt Slim snake up next to her. Her foster father let out a string of curses before asking for a report.

“I think we’re looking at maybe twenty hostiles,” Jess said as she scanned the area. Slim nudged her. “Oh, and the fight’s pulling in maybe a hundred or so zombies. Those should be hitting the edge of the fight in the next few minutes.”

“Help the Army,” Mateo ordered, “The rest of us will deal with the horde.” Jess swallowed. Zombies were one thing, but Mateo wanted her to kill living humans. Slim noticed her hesitation. With freakish accuracy, Slim hit the core of her fears.

“Jess, those aren’t Mexicans defending their homes. Those are the criminals attempting to increase their territory,” Slim said quietly, “Now, target at 3-5-9, 1-9-5 meters.” Jess easily picked out the target. The scope’s reticle hovered on the man’s head. It was his face that made Jess’s decision. The target was laughing as he sprayed his AK at the soldiers. Jess barely tightened on the trigger before the rifle slammed against her.

“Hit, target down,” Slim reported, “New target. Man with SMG at 0-0-4. Range, 2-0-0 meters.” Jess cycled the rifle’s bolt and shifted slightly. The rifle cracked again. This time she saw the man’s body fall. The bad guys were now aware there was a sniper taking them down. Slim swore as the bad guys started ducking behind cover. Jess took down another bad guy when the man poked his head out from behind a wrecked car. Jess missed as another bad guy darted between two rubble piles. His success was short-lived. The man was cut down by a soldier’s burst.

Both sides stopped firing at each other as the first zombies entered the battleground. Jess watched as most of the bad guys tumbled over each other as they scrambled to get away. Normal people didn’t deal well with the undead. Primal panic was the term Quentin used. The Army soldiers formed a ragged line and opened fire at the zombies. Oh yeah. These were definitely the soldiers Zombie Strike was supposed to be meeting. These were members of the Army’s Task Force 11, the American military’s anti-zombie force. It was made up of soldiers who belonged to the very small group of humans who didn’t suffer from the primal panic. Like Jess and her team.

With the criminals running away, Jess reloaded her rifle and joined the fight against the zombies. Something as loud as a firefight brought zombies from miles around. Slim quit playing spotter and joined Jess in taking down zombies. This was so much easier. Jess didn’t have any problems popping the heads of zombies like unwanted acne. She was in the middle of slapping in her second magazine when she felt an icy cold run down her spine. Instinct made her roll a split second before the pistol fired. She felt her armor shudder as stone fragments splattered her. A large Hispanic man with strong Indian features snarled as he scrambled up the pile of ruins. His hand gripped a Beretta. The man fired twice at Slim who was rolling to bring his rifle around. One round hit the rubble as the other careened off of Slim’s armor.

Jess fumbled with her MP7. Why hadn’t she practiced this more? As she scrambled back, Jess felt the rubble pile shift. She had a bare instant to recognize it before the pile collapsed. The three of them tumbled to the concrete below. Jess felt the wind get knocked out of her as her back slammed into the floor. Her head hurt from slapping the concrete, but the helmet soaked up most of the impact. Jess turned her head to look at her teammate. Slim was on his hands and knees, but he was definitely wobbly, and definitely unarmed. A string of loud and angry Spanish drew her attention. Their assailant was already on his feet. His left arm looked broken. Jess’s attention was focused on the gaping barrel of the man’s pistol. She screamed at her body to move, to flee, to do something. All she could do was just lay there as the man loomed over her. She closed her eyes and waited for him to fire. The armor was supposed to be able to handle pistol fire.

Her eyes snapped open at the snarl.

[Zombie Strike Part 5 Chapter 37]

Friday Quote – Geraldine Brooks

  • September 11, 2001, revealed heroism in ordinary people who might have gone through their lives never called upon to demonstrate the extent of their courage.*

I Must Not Fear

Because the trailer for the new Dune movie looks awesome.

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