I like doing odd things in June. So, this month will be “Bowling For Soup Month!” Mostly because I just went through their discography and really liked it.
So, we start out with the song that brought them to my attention.
Quentin McLintock needed to run away. The shrill howls of the gollums triggered a flood of emotion and memory. Memories of pain and terror. Memories of his friend going insane and destroying his leg with an errant burst of gunfire moments before he was swarmed by gollums. He could clearly remember those leathery fingers digging into his skin.
“Lights on!” barked Mateo, his calm, commanding voice yanking Quentin out of the nightmare and back into the fight. Four beams of dazzling white light pierced the darkness. The four gollums at the end of the hall hissed as the beams illuminated them. The gollums’ withered, leathery skin was decorated with blue-painted symbols. They wore simple leather flaps as loin cloths and clutched carved wooden clubs. Quentin noticed this, but didn’t care. His eyes focused on the stone medallions hanging around the gollums’ necks by leather strips. Until those medallions were destroyed, the gollums were essentially invulnerable.
“Billy. I need into those docks,” Mateo said, “Get me there.” Quentin could feel the small man’s smile. Billy’s beam disappeared. The snicker sound of two batons extending were replaced by an unearthly yell. William Shakespeare, descendant of a Chiriquaua Apache warrior who rode with the infamous Victorio, attacked with the full fury of his ancestry. Quentin saw glimpses of Billy as he danced amongst the beams of light. The dull thuds of wood hitting armor were intermingled with the wet crunch of a metal baton slamming into bone. One person fighting four gollums was, at best, suicidal. Gollums were stronger, faster, felt no pain, and most importantly, invulnerable as long as the medallion around its neck was intact. Suicidal, if you were fighting to defeat them. Billy was just buying time for the team.
“Into the docks!” Mateo yelled over the noise of the fight. Quentin followed his team leader as the man charged into the narrow opening provided by Billy.
“Don’t fight them until we have more room,” Mateo commanded as the gollums reached out from behind the wall of blows provided by their teammate. The door opened to an open-air loading area. The sudden sunlight blinded Quentin. He stumbled forward as his eyes strained to adjust to the brightness. Quentin heard Mateo and the Brit charge past him. Why couldn’t he be as good as he was on that island? Why was he stumbling around like some newbie? Finally the room around him came into focus. The loading docks turned out to be a large concrete room with stacks of crates. The stacks were of uneven height, and in the sudden light, looked like a miniature city skyline. Or decent defensive positions, Quentin’s tactical memory reminded him. He scrambled to set up behind the crates.
“Billy step in and cut right,” Mateo ordered. Billy retreated into the docks, still trading blows with the gollums. As soon as he was through the doorway, Billy rolled to the right to come up in a fighting stance with his batons ready. The gollums charged at the team, but stopped short at the doorway. It was like they hit an invisible wall. What stopped them?
“Take them down,” Mateo said, before placing a burst into the chest of one gollum. Two rounds lanced harmlessly through the gollum’s withered body. The third impacted the medallion. The 6.8 mm round easily shattered the stone. The gollum let out an unearthly scream as the shards of the medallion fell to the ground. Its torment was cut short as Mateo fired again. Devoid of its supernatural protection, the gollum was violently torn apart by the bullets. Slim dispatched a second gollum with the same efficiency.
Quentin took aim at a third gollum. The chevron in the holographic sight lined up on the medallion. He knew he missed the moment the rifle rocked back with the recoil. He rushed the shot and jerked the trigger. Quentin could feel how out-of-step he was in the fight. The gollum snarled as the rounds punched through its stomach. Enraged, the gollum threw its club at Quentin. The heavy wood club slammed into Quentin’s shoulder as he tried to duck behind cover. Quentin felt the blow as the club slapped harmlessly against his shoulder armor. No pain, but the force of the blow was enough to throw Quentin off-balance. Old football reflexes took over as he slid his right leg out to keep him upright. His new leg just couldn’t move as fast as he needed. Quentin felt his breath rush out of him as he hit the concrete. He heard his weapon clatter off the dock. Quentin stayed on the ground for a second, annoyed with himself. What a stupid way to go down. Especially since his team needed him in the fight.
“Quentin, are you okay?” Mateo called out, between bursts. Quentin couldn’t answer for a moment. His frustration gripped him like a vice. Mateo called again, more concerned this time. “Quentin, you with us?”
“Yeah, just tripped over myself,” Quentin growled, finally finding his voice, “Lost my gun.”
“Go get it while we deal with these two,” Mateo said. Quentin rose to a crouch and walked to the edge of the dock. Mateo, Slim, and Billy could handle two gollums that couldn’t even come into the room. Why couldn’t they come into the room? The question nagged his mind. The rear of the loading area was a pit that allowed trucks to back up to the docks and roll out their crates without the need of a ramp. It was safer for the precious cargo. Quentin’s rifle was a few feet from the edge of the docks in the middle of the pit. Quentin jumped down, picked up his weapon, and inspected it. It didn’t look too bad. Just some scrapes and scuffs on the housing.
Quentin head snapped around as he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. Giant stood at the corner of the building with about twenty zombies behind him. He was still dressed in the black ninja suit. His dark eyes were wide in surprise. Giant was trying to trap the team, and he wasn’t expecting to find Quentin out of the trap. Quentin had an instant to bring up his weapon.
The crack of the whip boomed with the force of a concussion grenade in Quentin’s face. The sheer ferocity was enough to stun Quentin. He didn’t even feel the whip as it wrapped around his neck. His mind was barely aware he couldn’t breathe. He felt the dimness around him.
Four loud barks of a pistol snapped Quentin back. He saw Giant flinch as four spurts of blood erupted from his chest. The whip loosened a bit. Quentin’s head swam as blood rushed back into his brain. The primal need for survival awoke a part of Quentin’s mind he tried very hard to keep locked down. Rage flooded him. He grabbed the whip. A cold, sick energy rippled up his arm. Quentin didn’t have time or emotion to care. With every bit of his strength, he yanked on the whip. Giant was strong and powerful, but physics still ruled. Giant flew off his feet and into Quentin’s waiting fist. There was no art or technique to the blow. It was pure and simple savagery.
Giant’s head snapped back. The blow would have killed a normal person. It should have, at the very least, dazed the man. Quentin felt the whip slither off his neck like a dead snake. He heard the sound of suppressed fire as Slim and Billy engaged the zombies. Mateo landed next to his friend with pistol in hand. Quentin felt a small rush of relief. Then, Giant stood back up without a hint of any injury. Even the bullet wounds were gone. What was Giant?
“Drop the whip!” Mateo yelled at Giant, rising to his favored Weaver stance.
“Mateo Cortez. You aren’t as tall as I expected,” Giant said, his voice flat and cold. The accent was odd. It sounded American, Spanish, and European all at the same time. “You are not supposed to be here.” Mateo answered by unloading his pistol into Giant. The seven foot tall man jerked back with each impact, but showed no pain. As the slide on his Sig locked back, Mateo dropped the magazine. The whip tagged Mateo as he was slapping a new magazine in. The team leader dropped without a sound. Quentin moved between his fallen friend and Giant. Slim and Billy jumped down next to him with their rifles raised. They made relatively quick work of the zombies with Giant. Quentin could feel their rage at not being fast enough to protect their leader.
“I didn’t kill him. It’s not allowed quite yet,” Giant answered, “Still, you have managed to annoy me.” The whip shot out and knocked the rifles out of Slim’s and Billy’s hands. Giant flicked the whip out to the side. The long cord froze rigidly. Before Quentin’s mind could comprehend what was happening, Giant ran the whip through Slim like a lance. The tall Brit was slammed into the wall of the pit as blood poured out of the tiny wound.
Giant flicked his wrist and the whip went limp. Another flick and the whip curled back to Giant. Quentin fumbled for his medical kit. He needed to stop the river of blood pouring out of Slim’s unmoving form. Quentin heard a sick crack and looked back in time to see Billy lying in a heap in front of Giant. The man locked eyes with Quentin. There was no amusement or even annoyance in those dark eyes. They were filled with a fire Quentin couldn’t decipher. The moment was broken as Giant leapt over Quentin and his fallen team. As the man strode into the museum, he cracked his whip once again.
The crates on the dock began to rattle as the familiar moan of zombies echoed through the loading dock. Quentin’s mind raced, trying to figure out what to do. Then, Slim grabbed Quentin’s arm, and moaned.
[Zombie Strike Part 3 Chapter 22]
My good reason to carry a knife is that God gave me rather weak teeth and rudimentary claws in an evolutionary trade-off. The hairy-armed person who figured out how to put an edge on a suitable rock made it possible for us to be recognizably human in the first place.
I wear a wristwatch whether or not I have an appointment to keep, and I keep a pen and/or pencil because I am a literate person whether or not I have a specific writing task ahead of me, and I carry a knife because I am a human and not an ape.
A knife comes in handy for all sorts of random tasks that involve separating matter. Like cutting a string, or making a sandwich, or opening a package. It can also come in handy in an emergency, which need not involve a human assailant, and emergencies are by their nature unforeseen, so one should carry a knife all the time.
And in a perfect world where nobody needed a weapon, I’d probably carry a slightly larger knife, because it wouldn’t scare people.
So John Kra-something-or-other sold his web series “Some Good News” to CBS.
I’m torn. As a capitalist, I’m glad he’s going to make a bunch of money on a great little project. On the other hand, part of SGN’s charm was its simplicity and “thrown-together” feel, as well as John K’s charisma and enthusiasm for his project. I’m skeptical that will survive CBS’s ownership.
After an off-hand remark to her co-worker, we ended up selling The Wife’s car to said co-worker’s daughter. Doing a private sale on a car with a lien is a PITA. Honestly, I could see car dealerships offering a transfer service. I’d pay a couple hundred bucks to have someone more knowledgeable go through all the steps.
This event necessitated the need for a new vehicle for The Wife. She’s wanted an SUV as her next car in the whole time we’ve been together. We had a plan for her to get one when the current vehicle was paid off. Well, that got shot in the face. Technically, the old car will be paid off, just not when we planned.
The real fun was introducing her to the used car market. Particularly when she realized that she could get more car for less money. It was even more fun listening to her describe her epiphany to said co-worker. In the end, she picked up a 2017 Honda CR-V with all the bells and whistles she wanted.
Quentin McLintock swallowed down a wave of nausea as he caught sight of the ground speeding under the helicopter. Motion sickness was one of his curses. Quentin swore under his breath. He closed his eyes and forced his mind to concentrate on something else. Like the new gear Mateo foisted upon him before bundling the team onto the helicopter.
The armor was comfortable. In fact, it reminded Quentin of the pads and protection he had worn as a linebacker. The base was simply a version of the popular Lycra sports garments Quentin had worn for years, except this stuff was tear-resistant. That meant it was also very hard to bite through. Then came a harness for the electronics, including the radio, sat phone, GPS, and a few other things Quentin wasn’t sure how they worked. They all tied into a PDA that reminded Quentin of a very rugged iPod. A Camelback went on next. The shoulder, chest, and gut protection was articulated polymer over Kevlar. The arms and legs were protected with leather augmented with plastic at the joints. All of his gear was stored in a series of rigid pouches scattered around the outside of his armor. The helmet was perhaps the strangest piece of the armor. The actual helmet was styled similarly to an American combat helmet with a flip out mount for enhancements. A tinted face shield attached to for a seamless wraparound bucket. Quentin caught a reflection of himself, and felt like the ancient ancestor of an Imperial stormtrooper.
The carbine, at least, was relatively normal. The “Zombie-Killing Carbine”, or ZKC as the team called it, started out as a Bushmaster ACR. The rear of the weapon retained the familiar controls and stock. An ACOG-type sight graced the top of the weapon with a flip-up bracket to attach additional enhancements, such as nightvision or a thermal imager. The front of the weapon displayed none of its lineage. It looked like a single piece of molded plastic with an integral suppressor, high-powered white light, laser, and flip-down vertical grip. The whole package was somewhere between combat functional, tacti-cool, and futuristic. Mateo swore the “ZKC” was an easy weapon to master, but Quentin wished he had more time to work with it.
“Okay, the bad guys are in the Mexican Museum of Anthropology,” Mateo said over the team’s radio, “The place emptied out fast once the zombies showed up, but intel says at least ten to thirty civilians were turned.”
“Where are we getting intel?” asked Collin DuBois from the other helicopter.
“Local control says there are a couple of Mexican police on scene who haven’t run,” Mateo answered, “They’re keeping their distance, but trying to watch what the bad guys are doing. Best estimates are fifty or so zombies, two guys in dark clothes, and Giant. The non-zombies are hunting for something while the zombies are keeping away the humans.”
“Sounds like a party,” Billy Shakespear interjected.
“Glad you think so,” Mateo answered dryly, “Control wants us to eliminate the outbreak.”
“I know that tone, Matty,” Collin said, “What’s the real op?”
“Giant and his two minions are in there for a reason. They need to be captured to find out what their end game is,” Mateo answered, “That’s Alpha team’s job. Quentin, myself, Slim, and Billy are on Alpha. Collin, you have everyone else for Bravo. Standard zombie clearing, but be ready to come to the rescue.” There was a chorus of mike clicks as the team acknowledged Mateo’s orders.
The two helicopters flared to a hover before dropping to the ground. The first out were the professionals – Collin, The Steve, and the Brit Boys. The rest of the team followed them onto the museum grounds. Mateo flashed hand signals. Quentin couldn’t remember what they meant. It didn’t matter. He just had to stick with Mateo.
Collin and the rest of Beta team moved into the museum’s shattered entryway. Debris and discarded items were scattered over the marble floor. There were no zombies, but the wrecked exhibits left a clear trail. Beta team cautiously moved in. Mateo didn’t wait for them to disappear into the museum. He pulled the four members of Alpha around him.
“The police focused on the zombies, so we don’t have a clear idea of where our target is,” Mateo explained, displaying the museum’s floor plans on his PDA, “Suggestions?”
“The museum was the main recipient of the artifacts we were digging up,” Quentin said, “They’ll probably be searching the labs and offices for the more recent artifacts.” The others nodded.
“Okay, Billy you’ve got point,” Mateo ordered, “Quentin, you’re next. You know the place better than we do, so you’re navigator.”
“Matt, I’ve never been here before,” Quentin protested.
“You know the back side of a museum,” Mateo answered, “Good enough for now.” Quentin knew better than to argue the point. Mateo didn’t care if he was asking for the impossible again. He just expected Quentin to perform. As Billy led them through the museum’s entrance, Quentin studied the information on his PDA. The best place to start would be the receiving dock. Quentin drew a line on his PDA from Alpha’s position to the dock and uploaded it to everyone else’s PDA. Okay, the technology was pretty impressive. The question was how much was it going to help against someone like Giant?
Quentin winced at the sound as Billy smashed open the door leading to the back. For such a small person, Billy could deliver a lot of force when he wanted to. The corridor was a main access hallway. It was lit by flickering fluorescent lights. The off-color walls and linoleum highlighted the eeriness of the empty and quiet hallway. Quentin felt like he was walking into the set of a horror flick. It was a straight shot of maybe three hundred feet to the docks. Mateo flashed urgent hand signals and the team entered the hallway with trepidation.
About halfway down the hallway intersected another. Quentin’s heart pounded in his chest as Billy slid against the wall towards the intersection. Billy popped around the corner into the other hallway. Endless seconds passed as Quentin strained to listen for the faint sound of suppressed gunfire. He almost longed for action – any action. Anything to break the nervous tension. Billy slipped back around the corner and motioned. Nothing. Maybe the way was clear.
Quentin felt a little better as the team neared the door to the docks. He didn’t expect to find his target in the docks. Maybe something that would give Quentin an idea of why Giant had come to the museum. He started thinking on this as the team skulked towards the door. What had they come for? What could they need from this museum they didn’t find at the dig site? The team was maybe thirty feet from the door to the docks when it all went dark.
“Welcome to the trap gentlemen,” came the familiar voice of the man dubbed Giant, and Quentin’s stomach plummeted. The next sound was the familiar howls of gollums.
[Zombie Strike Part 3 Chapter 21]
The “private sector” of the economy is, in fact, the voluntary sector; and the “public sector” is, in fact, the coercive sector.
Monday was the fortieth anniversary of the Mt. Saint Helens eruption. I have vague memories of the eruption when it happened, as I was only a kindergartner and on the other side of the continent. The Wife was living in Washington State at the time and remembers the ash fall.
This is an interesting little video out out by the Smithsonian Channel:
This video’s been making the rounds.
Don’t get me wrong. I love me some X-Wings. That being said, I prefer this one.