Think of something you like. Now imagine that someone said that you couldn’t have that thing. They’re not going to prevent you from having it, they’re just telling you that you shouldn’t have it. Now think of something you don’t just like, think of something you love. Love with all your heart. And the same thing happens.
Someone says, don’t enjoy that thing you love anymore. They’re not taking it away from you, it’s still going to be EVERYWHERE around you, you’re just supposed to refrain by choice. They’re telling you to ignore the constant ads for the thing you love, and the boundless opportunities to get it, and the fact that everyone else is doing it all the time, and just not do it.
Now imagine that this thing you love also makes you physically feel really good, and not having it makes you feel like shit. As soon as we walked out of Snakey Sally’s office, I realized I left my smokes in there. I had the pack in my hand when we walked in and I set them on the corner of her desk when I sat down to talk to her. There were only two cigarettes left in there but there was no way I was leaving them behind. You ever see in the movies when a character is upset and they try to light up and it doesn’t work right away and they get mad and throw the pack of cigarettes away?
That is the most unrealistic thing in movies. More unrealistic than a woman jogging with her hair down. More unrealistic than a flimsy table stopping bullets. More unrealistic than people ordering food in a restaurant and it showing up four seconds later. More unrealistic than someone going through a giant glass window without a scratch. More unrealistic than people finding parking spaces. More unrealistic than women running full speed in heels. More unrealistic than characters in clubs being able to hear each other talk. Because you NEVER throw away a cigarette. Never. That would be like a woman drop-kicking her newborn baby off a cliff. I can’t say that it’s literally impossible, but if it does happen it’s noteworthy.
I went back in to grab the pack and I saw Serpent Tina sitting there in her stupid catsuit happy and healthy, lording over her sad little domain of criminal assholes and I felt something coming over me like someone tossing a blanket over their stupid pet bird’s cage – it’s not FAIR. Childish, I know, but I still felt it. Say it however you want, I believe Oscar Meyer stated it best “Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not”. This woman is a criminal and she gets to have a fully belly and shampoo and clean clothes and deodorant and I never did anything wrong (I mean not REALLY) and I have nothing? In that moment, it was just too much.
While I picked up my smokes, I also picked up some stupid globe thing she had on her desk, a paperweight I guess, and I hurled it sidearm at her shotgun toting bodyguard on the left (my left). It cracked him on the side of the head and he dropped to his knees and sat there – I think he was unconscious – up against the wall. Bodyguard number two swung his shotgun down as I kicked the desk back at him – the corner hitting him right in the dick. I’m not normally one to feel sympathy for that kind of thing, but it looked like it hurt. His mouth flopped open like he was trying to yelp, but no sound came out – like all his air had been taken away.
Serpent Tina meanwhile had executed some kind of gymnast cartwheel thingee over the desk while it was in motion and landed agilely in a kind of fighting crouch with her hands in some kind of dumb snake kung fu stance.
“Okay now that was cool, I have to admit that.”
“Why are you doing this, I thought we had a deal.”
“Just tell me where Count Yorba is man, I’m tired of running errands for crimelords, just tell me will you? Why do you have to get something out of it? Why can’t you just tell me?”
I will never know the answer to that because she came forward in a very dumb manner with like a shuffle-step sideways move like a fencer would do maybe. Her hand darted at me in a chicken-shape, I think she was trying to snatch out my eye, but I managed to move enough that she hit me in the bridge of the nose. I tell you this, you wouldn’t think a hand-chicken to the nose would hurt much, but you’d be wrong. My vision went away for a split second and then I was seeing stars. She followed up with a kick that hit me high on the ribs right under my armpit. I’m not saying it didn’t hurt, but for a kick to the ribs it didn’t hurt that much. I caught her around the calf and shoved her down – she hit the ground so hard the floor cracked and stuff came flying up. I’m very strong you see.
I rubbed at my watering eyes “Jesus, that stings.” I looked down to the floor where Tina was writhing like a snake having a seizure while making the noises of a skinny kid having an asthma attack. “You know, I think I saw Bruce Lee on TV once saying you should never try a kick above the knee.” She managed to gasp out something about how she wasn’t going to tell me anything and I grabbed the back of her head – squeezing lightly “Are you sure about that?”
With effort she managed to force out another whisper “You’re no killer.”
I nodded “True, but why would I kill you? You have the information I want, if I kill you then I don’t get it. So killing you would make no sense, I’m just going to hurt you until you tell.”
“You don’t have it in you.”
“Six months ago, you would have been right about that. But I’ve grown as a person. Being in this horrible place, on top of my physiological issues, has really changed my mind about the nature of pain, and more salient here, my willingness to inflict it on others. I think if I put my foot on your butt and push down slightly until your pelvis cracks, I would be just fine with that.”
She was strong, much stronger than a ninety-pound Asian woman should be, but not nearly as strong as I am. She struggled to get up and I held her down without much effort. I grabbed the back of her stupid catsuit, intent on moving her, but the damn thing ripped like it was made out of tissue. I wonder if Cathy Gale ever had that issue. What kind of shoddy leather was it made out of? The dead cow that spawned that pelt should feel ashamed of itself. When I tore the suit up, I also accidentally snapped a jade necklace that she had on underneath. It didn’t look like jewelry you’d wear, it looked like something that should be in a museum.
All at once the strength went out of her. I think she looked suddenly older too, it’s hard to say. The look on her face was so terrified that I felt sorry for her, just for a second. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone look so scared in my life. She grabbed the end of the necklace but I pulled it away from her without feeling any resistance. The necklace itself didn’t break again though, which must mean it’s pretty robust, which probably means it was choking the hell out of her when I snapped it. Examining it, I saw that the jade was carved into little turtles.
See, reading the last post I was just thinking how refreshing it was to see Ela not being and absolute c*nt to people that should be able to kill her… and here she has to go and do this.
There’s dozens of armed guards between her and safety, and like they said in the Rocketeer, “You ain’t bulletproof, Frankenstein…”
It’s interesting you say that because originally I had this written up as them accepting the mission from Serpentina and moving on. I changed it for a couple of reasons. One, in my real games my players have complained that my campaigns are just an endless series of fetch quests chaining from one person to the next. I thought that in a story that would be even less interesting.
Two, the dice had indicated that this deal wouldn’t work out and my original idea was that Serpentina would double-cross them, but I decided that was boring. One thing I struggle with with in my writing is my main characters not having a lot of agency, I have a bad habit of having them just be around while things are happening instead of them making things happen. I thought it would be more interesting if Ela once again ruined things with her impatience.
And lastly, I wanted to come up with a better reason for Ela and Martialla to have a falling out (SPOILER). I write ahead a ways because I like writing more than people like reading my stuff and the scene I had with them “breaking up” was kind of lame because it was just general , I thought it would be better with a specific inciting incident.
More than you wanted to know I’m sure.
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I’m sorry if what I said sounded like criticism. I am definitely excited to see what happens next.
No offense taken, I rarely do re-writes so I thought it was noteworthy that my one reader in the wild liked the original.
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