Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Part VI

          Orlando had just been to an underground Zombie fight club. Not only had he just been to an underground Zombie fight club but he had been a participant. There had been three Zombies. Ruben and Orlando wasted no time destroying them. After it was finished Ruben took off.  He said he had to be somewhere but he didn’t say where.
          Orlando drove home on his Sportster. He had not enjoyed the killing. He pulled up to the house; it was too early in the day for his parents to be home from work but his grandfather would be home. ‘What questions would his grandfather have for him?’ Orlando thought as he sat on the Sportster looking up at the house.
          He heard the TV on as he entered the house; he found his grandfather watching TV. Upon hearing Orlando, his grandfather turned it off.
          “How did your day go?” he asked.
          Orlando sat down on the sofa across from his grandfather.  He didn’t answer. He just sat there staring at nothing in particular.
          “That bad, huh?” his grandfather asked, a chuckle in his voice.
          Orlando raised his head. He looked at his grandfather directly as he said, “Maxwell came by my school, wanted to know what I was doing there.”
          “Thought he might be by,” clearing his throat, his grandfather then added, “He has always been impatient. How did your training go?”
          Orlando gave a half smile as he thought it over before saying, “It was hands on training.”
          “What was Maxwell thinking? It’s far too early for you to be having direct contact with Zombies.” His grandfather seemed a bit upset at hearing this.
          “It wasn’t Maxwell; he turned my training over to some guy called Ruben.”
          “It’s too early.”
          The training didn’t bother Orlando nearly as much as the questions he had for his grandfather. “How did you become a Zombie hunter? Who decided that this would be my thing?”
          His grandfather coughed to clear out his throat; he was not quite sure what he should say. He sat forward in his chair, resting his elbows on his knees and clasping his hands, his fingers touching each other he finally said to his grandson, “I met Maxwell when I was young, about your age. I was coming home late from a friend’s party. I heard screaming like I had never heard before. At first I thought I would ignore it; it had nothing to do with me but for some reason I stopped and didn’t walk inside my parent’s house. There was an alley way that ran alongside of it. I started to hear groaning so I went around and saw a young man about my age. He was leaning up against the trash bins clutching his sides.
“What happened to you?” Orlando’s grandfather asked the young man.
“Get away! It’s coming back!” the young man shouted in warning. There was blood dripping down the side of his head and his clothes were badly torn. “It’s coming back.” He limped forward towards him.
“It’s okay. My name is Ethan. I’ll call the police for you,” he said as he stepped forward so that he could help the young man.
“No!” A look of fear crept on the young mans face as a shadow dropped down over Ethan.
Swinging out from the young man’s side was a sword, it scraped through the air. Upon seeing the sword swoop out from the young man, Ethan dropped to the ground to avoid it. He heard as it sliced into something thick behind him. Blood splattered onto Ethan.
The sword that the young man held fell to the floor clanging. His eyes closed as he took several steps backwards to lean against the trash bins once more. He said to Ethan, “It was hunting.”
Looking it over Ethan asked, “What was that?”
“Zombie,” he said. He was out of breath.
Ethan doubted that. How could there be a Zombie lying dead at his feet?  “No, it can’t be a Zombie,” he said.
“Take a look. See for yourself.”  He watched as Ethan did just that. He went on to say, “Check out the skin. It’s grey, flaking off, and then there’s the smell.”
“Did you say it was hunting?”
“How did you not even smell it when it came up behind you?” the young man asked perplexed.
“We’re in an alley. I didn’t think much of it.” Ethan said, squinting his eyes at him. He then asked, “What’s your name?”
“Maxwell, and for saving your life you now owe me.”
“Don’t think so,” Ethan said. His eyes were back on the Zombie.
“There are more of them, not just that one.”
“Where did it come from?”
“I don’t know.” Moving away from the trash bins towards Ethan, he said, “I can show you how to kill them.”
“I don’t want to know,” Ethan began to back away from Maxwell.
“Going home to your safe little house? Leave me half dead out here to fight the rest of them off, is that your plan?”
“How long have you been hunting Zombies?”
He voice was flat as he answered, “Since my father became one.”

Orlando watched as his grandfather reached behind his back for his wallet. He pulled out a picture. Handing it to Orlando, he said, “This was us years and years ago.” He laughed as he remembered the training Maxwell put him through.
“Why did you agree?” Orlando asked as he handed the picture back to his grandfather.
“I’m not quiet sure why. It just seemed like the right thing to do.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Part V

           Ruben took Orlando into the city; the streets were crowded with cars and people. Orlando didn’t think that zombies would be hanging out in the open. But Ruben seemed to know what he was talking about. He told Orlando that he had been hunting zombies for a while. That he enjoyed it, he liked the rush that it gave him.
          Orlando rode his Sportster, Ruben had his own ride his was a blue Kawasaki sport Z1000. Ruben expected Orlando to follow him but yet when he turned down streets he would turn at the last possible second. He thought maybe Ruben didn’t have any idea where they were going.
          They drove by union station headed south towards North Broadway. Ruben pulled up stopping at a bakery. Orlando parked alongside him.
          “Why are we stopping here? You hungry or something?”
          Removing his helmet Ruben responded, “Or something. This place can get pretty crazy. You’ll see what I mean, dude.”
          The streets were busy they were filled with tourist walking up and down the streets of Chinatown. As Ruben and Orlando began to walk away from their motorcycles Ruben paused and without looking back he raised his right arm and pushed a button on a keychain. The noise of two beeps sounded securing his ride.
          “Seriously?” Orlando asked as they headed forward.
Ruben pointed out a small shop that sold herbs and teas, “This place is known for its underground fighting. I think it would be a good place to test you out.”
“Underground fighting? In that place?” He asked uncertain about whether or not Ruben was being straight with him.
“Yeah, man. Come on I’ll show you.”
They entered the shop no one was at the front counter, Ruben walked right on into the backroom. “Looks like they’re all down there already.” Kneeling down Ruben removed a piece of board that was covering a narrow opening. Looking up at Orlando he asked, “How’s your magik? Are you a classified novice or mercurial?”
          Orlando didn’t know the answer to that for he hadn’t been tested yet so he said, “Guess we’ll find out.”
          “Fair enough,” Ruben was about to led the way down when he was stopped by Orlando’s question.
          “Who am I going to be fighting?”
          “Not who, it’s what. People like to see zombies fight each other and bet on them.”
          “Oh,” Orlando thought that was the craziest thing he had ever heard.
          “Yeah, it’s totally awesome.” The sound of excitement in his voice was clear. “It’s how I met Maxwell, he showed up one day and asked me if I wanted to hunt these things down. Said I’d be good at it, cuz you know I kicked their butt’s in the ring.”
          “Wait a minute, you went one on one with zombies?” That took Orlando by surprise.
          “All the time, it was easy money.” Turning back to Orlando he added, “Just don’t embarrass me man, these guys here they know me.” With that said he led the way down the stairs and into a tunnel. They could hear the noise from the fighting at the end of the tunnel. The sounds of bone hitting bone, the grunting and the shouts of the gamers placing bets on the fights, greeted them as they entered the room.
“Yo! How’s it going man?”  Ruben called out to a man at the entrance.
“You in today?” The man asked. “We got some good ones.”
“Yeah? That’s awesome! This here is my friend Orlando.” Ruben called Orlando over, “My money’s on him.”
“For reals?” The man looked Orlando over not sure there was a fighter in him.
“Dude, you’re asking me? You do remember all the wins I have on my belt?”
          The man began to laugh, “Let’s put him in.”
          Ruben turned back to Orlando a huge grin on his face, “You didn’t eat this morning did you?”
          Within minutes Orlando was in the ring with a zombie. The zombie was taller then him, it was hunched over with broad shoulders that looked to big for his body and its head was grotesque. It had an electric collar around its neck Ruben told him it was a way for the handlers to keep the zombies in line. The zombie growled at him salivating at his lips, it looked hungry. Its collar lit up prompting the zombie to attack. It took a wide swing at Orlando.
          Orlando easily sidestepped the attack ducking down targeting its kidney area.  The zombie turned growling swinging both fist widely. One swing caught Orlando on his chin. He went down; it felt like a semi truck hit him. The zombie was about to drop to his knees hands outstretched for Orlando’s head. 
          Turning onto his side Orlando kicked one leg out hitting the zombie in the midsection. It didn’t move the zombie back much but it did give Orlando room to jump to his feet. They were face to face now the zombie had bent down to Orlando’s eye level. The zombie reached across for Orlando’s shoulders it wanted to rip his arms out of his sockets. Orlando could see perfectly into its sunken lifeless eyes. Raising his hand he poked the zombie in the eye. The zombie stumbled backwards Orlando was quick to follow him. The zombie ripped its wounded eye out of its socket and flung his eyeball at Orlando, causing him to pause for a moment. It was bleeding from its eye as it swung at Orlando missing him with each strike. Orlando inched his way closer breaking the zombies neck with a few twist.
          “What the hell man! You killed my zombie!” An outraged man cried out in foul.
          “Yeah, dude,” Ruben said to the outraged man, “that was the point.” Ruben took out his sword and tossed Orlando’s his own. His eyes firmly set on Orlando now as he said, “This outta be fun.”
“Ruben!” the man Orlando had met earlier at the entrance charged forward, “What are you doing?”
Without sparing him a look Ruben answered, “Killing Zombies.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Part IV

It was the oddest looking school he had seen. He knew L.A. was going to be a strange place. He just hadn’t figured it would be strange in so many ways. Orlando rode up on his Harley Davidson Sportster. It had only needed a few minor repairs. He added oil, replaced a few parts and managed to get it running.
His school was divided into parts along a jagged hill. The parking lot was located at the bottom of the hill. The hike up wasn’t too bad. It gave him a chance to look things over. He kept getting peculiar looks as he made his way up the hill. He thought it might be the odd looking object he had wrapped in a black binding that was creating the interest. He had rigged his sword to his backpack. It was awkward but he didn’t feel good without it around. He figured that if anyone asked him about it, he would just say it was for his fencing lessons after school.
He heard the other students comment about him as he made his way up the hill. None of them seemed to care if he heard them or not.  Orlando didn’t care either.
He walked into the main office; an older woman was seated at the front desk. She was typing on the computer and speaking on an earpiece as he approached the desk. The back wall was lined with empty chairs.  The woman looked up as Orlando approached. She had black hair with silver streaks. She wore colored contacts that made her eyes look like cat’s eyes. She held out a hand to Orlando in a motion to have him wait. Her nails had pointed tips and were painted gray.
Pressing a button on her earpiece, she ended her phone conversation. “You are?” she asked, not looking at him. Her attention focused on the computer in front of her.
“Orlando Drake,” he said. He noticed the others in the office were trying to make themselves look busy while they surreptitiously watched him.  They weren’t any good at it. He couldn’t see why he was drawing so much attention.
“Drake, Orlando, hmm, where are you in the computer?” she asked, as she typed in his name. “Let me have your I.D. card or drivers license.”
The moment he handed his license over she jumped from her chair and ran into a backroom. Returning, she said, “You have not been tested for your levels yet?”
She was referring to his level of magik skills. Each student was tested to see what their level of ability was. Orlando had moved from Oklahoma and was never tested.
Before he could answer she said, “No worries, we will take care of that for you.” She printed out his schedule and sent him up the hill to his first class.
Orlando was on his way to class when he turned the corner to find Maxwell standing before him.
“What are you doing here?” Maxwell asked irritated.
“I’m at school. I’m supposed to be here,” he replied. Orlando did not like finding Maxwell at school. It was going to be hard enough and he didn’t need Maxwell to add to it.
“School?” he asked, looking around as if he just realized where he was at. “You have training to do. We don’t have much time to get you ready.”
“It will have to wait.” Orlando tried to move past Maxwell.
Maxwell stepped in front, “If you must attend school, then you must.”
“Okay, so move,” Orlando attempted to brush by; he was again stopped, as Maxwell stepped in front.
“School will still be here tomorrow, but you may not be. Do I have your attention now?”
“What is it?” he asked.
“There is someone I want you to meet. It won’t take long.” Maxwell extended his left arm out for Orlando to go forward.
“Where are we going?” Orlando hesitated.
“A hunter is only seen a moment or two before they attack.”
Orlando looked at Maxwell oddly, “So, they are hiding before they attack me?”
Maxwell began to laugh, “Just to see how fast you are.”
“You want to do this at my school?” Orlando didn’t like the idea of this meeting taking place at school.
“A zombie can attack anywhere,” he said.
With those words spoken Orlando began to scan the nearby area looking for places of attack. Nothing looked suspicious. There were trees but they were to thin to hide behind. Next were the tables and benches but nobody could hide within those. Trash bins? Orlando laughed, maybe in there.
“I thought you said no one else could be a zombie hunter but me?”
Maxwell thought about that for a moment before saying, “Maybe I was being a little dramatic.”
“Yeah, maybe,” Orlando took a cautious step forward. He had not reached for his sword. He left it where it was, attached to his backpack. He felt odd doing this but he was curious as to who the other hunter was and where the hunter might be hiding.
It was the one place Orlando hadn’t thought to look; the benches and the tables were beneath an open enclosure. The roof was made out of wood. He didn’t give it much thought because it looked very unstable.
A huge shadow covered him from above. Releasing a fierce battle cry, the shadow leapt from the roof. Landing a few feet from Orlando, the hunter’s sword was drawn. Orlando wisely backed up a few steps.
“Dude, I could so totally have had your head.” It was a young man with blonde hair and gray eyes about Orlando’s age. Looking over at Maxwell, the young man added, “Is this the guy you were talking about?”
Maxwell vigorously nodded his head, “Orlando, this is Ruben. He will help you with your training, which begins now!”
Ruben looked Orlando over. All he saw was a young kid who looked like he had never been in a fight before. “Let’s go hunting; see what you can do.” Ruben said doubtfully. He knew he wouldn’t be impressed with Orlando’s hunting skills.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Part III

The next morning as Orlando opened his bedroom door to go downstairs, he found the sword that Maxwell had held the night before standing in place before him. The sword was unsheathed; the blade tip rested upon the wooden floor; it did not pierce the floorboards. Orlando closed his bedroom door, waited a moment, and opened it again. Yes, the sword was still there. He hadn’t imagined it. What it was doing there, he did not know. Reaching out for it, he took the green handle into his left hand, examining it closely.
          What was he suppose to do with this? Hunt Zombies? Just how was he supposed to do that? Tossing the sword onto his bed, he headed downstairs for breakfast. His mother was downstairs and about to head out for work. “You start school tomorrow,” she reminded him.
          “Yeah,” he said as he opened the fridge.
          “I know you weren’t looking forward to moving out here, but I think we might be able to change that.”
          His mother had his full attention. He closed the door to the refrigerator. “Yeah,” he responded. “How is that?”
          “Look out the window,” she replied, crossing her arms as she leaned against the counter.
          Outside parked on the broken up driveway was a rustic car. It looked like it had seen better days.
          Orlando put two and two together fairly quickly. Frowning he asked, “Seriously?”
          “I know it’s not much, but you can work on it and make something better out of it.” 
          “Make it into what, an actual car?”
          “A Thank You would have been nice.”
          “Thanks,” he said as he opened the refrigerator.
          “Your grandfather will take you out to the junkyard for some parts later today.”
          “Thanks,” he said again in a tone that clearly did not convey any sort of gratitude.

          The junkyard was more than what Orlando expected. He left his grandfather talking to the guy who ran the place and headed out on his own. With his earphones on, he wandered the aisles, not paying attention to where he was going. Then he noticed something set in the far back corner behind boxes. It was an old motorcycle. Moving the boxes out of the way, Orlando got a better look. It looked like it had been painted black at one time, yet it was definitely a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Based on the fork and blade design and V-twin engines, he identified it as a 2004 Sportster.
          “How’d you end up over here?” his grandfather asked from behind.
          Turning, Orlando saw that the guy who ran the junkyard was with his grandfather. He asked, “How much for this?”
          “What?” his grandfather asked Orlando, surprised at his question.
          The guy gave a crooked smile before saying, “Are you sure you want that?  It didn’t do so well by its last owner.”
          “Are you crazy?” his grandfather asked, not sure he was following
          After a short discussion, Orlando was the proud owner of what he liked to think of as a “pre-owned” Sportster. The guy told him that he could have someone deliver it for him first thing in the morning but Orlando didn’t want to wait. He told them both that he could walk the bike home. They didn’t live too far and he didn’t mind. He wanted to start working on rebuilding it right away. He knew it was illegal to walk it on the sidewalk but it was worth the risk. He was a few miles from his house and the streets were busy. A car full of teenagers drove by him; it slowed down only so that they could laugh at him. Orlando didn’t care. The sidewalk began to narrow as he turned down a side street. He had his headphones on so he didn’t hear the noise behind him but he definitely felt the hand on his shoulder. Its grip was tight as it pulled him back. Orlando dropped the Sportster as his attacker whirled him around like a top.  
          His attacker was a man who looked like a street walker. His hair was long and dirty. He had no shoes and he reeked of urine, sweat, and decay.  His eyes were sunken into his face, looking dull and lifeless.
          “I need a fix, dude.”
          “What?” Orlando asked, not sure he heard him right. He saw blood dripping down the man’s arm.
          “This is the place where I always get it!” he snarled at Orlando.
          “Whatever,” Orlando turned to pick up his Sportster. He wanted to get out of there. He heard a loud growl behind him. The hand clamped back onto his shoulder. He was thrown into wooden slats which formed a wall. He hit it hard. The man was on top of him; his mouth wide opened. Several teeth were missing and his breath smelled of rotting gums. He began to foam at the mouth. Then an even stranger odor emanated from his mouth, nearly knocked Orlando out cold.
          There was a piece of wood from the broken fence lying next to Orlando and he reached for it.
          A Zombie! His grandfather wasn’t crazy. He was right!  The guy on top of him began making strange sounds as his face came closer to Orlando’s head. He was incredibly strong; Orlando could not push him off. With the piece of wood in his left hand, he thought of flames and it immediately burst forth into flames. He rammed it into the Zombies eye. The head lit up in flames as it jumped back. While its hands reached for its head in an attempt to put it out, the rest of its body caught fire.  It gave a cry then dropped to the ground dead.
          Jumping to his feet, Orlando grabbed the Sportster and ran down the narrow sidewalk. He did not look back.
          All the way home, the words his grandfather and Maxwell had told him went through his head. How could there be Zombies? How did people not know about this? He thought about what he had seen in the street in front of his house. Did this mean that the guy with the gun was a Zombie Hunter? Did that guy kill a Zombie in front of his house? Orlando had many questions. The most important question of all; would his sword fit into his backpack at school tomorrow?