Time is crawling now.
My head throbs with a silent scream as the lead slug creeps across the room puching a neat little hole in Larry’s naked back. His flesh ripples around the hole, a pebble in a pond, and a red spray of blood and lung tissue spatters across the wall in front of him.
He’s turning now, his face stupid surprise. He’s facing me and I see the crater in his sternum. It’s the size of a pot pie, black and smoking around the edges. He’s raising his own gun.
He’s fast, but not fast enough. The slide on the .45 pops back and then forward jacking another shell in the chamber. My finger lays a slow pressure on the trigger, the hammer creeps forward.
I see the spark as the firing pin pops, my forearm jerks upward as the slug exits the barrel in a gout of flame. This one crawls across the room and catches him in the shoulder exposing splintered bone and spinning him back around. His gun drops from his nerveless hand as another shell is racked into my .45's chamber.
His guts open up when I put another in his lower back. I smell burning shit as loops of intestine race each other to the floor.
He’s facing me again, a knife flipping toward me from his good hand. He’s fast, but he’s tore up. It misses wide left.
I tear his lower jaw off. His tongue flops limp down his neck.
One in the neck sprays a fine mist of blood into the air. I don’t see a rainbow. Guess he doesn’t have one in him.
This one right in his fucking heart. He won’t miss it.
This continues until Larry is a pile of ground meat twitching in the muck on the floor and my gun clicks empty.
I drop the clip. By the time it clatters to the floor I’ve already slammed another one home and popped the slide forward again. The creature living in my head is howling, a jet turbine of hate and rage.
I keep carving pieces off of him until the twitching stops.
I, It, The Creature in my head smiles and tastes the blood pouring in a stream from my nose. I slam another clip into the .45.
I move into a low crouch and slide around the wall of the room to the exit and the darkness beyond.
It was bad before we got to Vegas, but at least it was just the four of us. My little head popping trick and my speed with a knife kept Larry and the Cupcake at a distance and Sarah and I alive.
Before we ran into Larry and his first little band of cannibals, the Cupcake kept us around for a bit of companionship. Even the devil needs an audience to acknowledge his evil artistry, but once he found his brother all bets were off.
Only three things are made for the world we live in now. Mutants, psychopaths and cockroaches, and Vegas had plenty of all of them.
We rolled into Vegas in a limo. We’d found it twenty miles outside of Vegas. The driver was missing but the bloated suit clad body of it’s passenger was still in the back. A pistol in one hand and his brains dry painted across the seat. I played chauffeur and rode up front with Sarah while the devil and his brother happily sipped piss warm champagne and caught up in the back.
The first stop was a deserted Army reserve base at the edge of town. Larry knew right where to go. In a concrete bunker we found boxes of WWII leftovers packed in heavy grease. Box after box of sixty year old Thompson sub-machine guns, 100 round drum clips, and army issue .45 pistols. All of them taking shells the size of your thumb. Crude and ugly and deadly and shiny new under all the grease.
Enough firepower for an Army.
Our next stop was the Strip. We waded into the middle of a nightmare. Shufflers and fast movers crawling the length of the street, moaning and bubbling.
Sarah drove slow. Larry and the Cupcake stood up through the sunroof, I leaned out the passenger side window, and we tore them apart. We made four laps up and down the strip. When a Thompson turned to a lump of molten metal in our hands, we’d drop it and grab another. By the time we were finished there wasn’t a mutant in site, just a thick green soup peppered with spent brass shell casings covering the street and sidewalk.
It felt good. It felt right. It felt like we were taking something back from the shit hole world and the sneering god above who’d stolen it all from us.
Our next stop was the Bellagio and the high roller suites. Clean sheets, a full kitchen, and all the booze we could drink. We were jubilant. Even the Cupcake and Larry seemed almost human, their lust for death sated by the carnage we had brought down on Vegas.
Sarah and I made love and watched the sun set blood red over the desert from our penthouse balcony. It almost felt like there might be a future.
On a long enough timeline, nobody wins in Vegas. There’s only brief ups followed by life breaking downs. I should have known this.
The next morning we loaded up in the limo. Sarah and I in the front again, Larry and the Cupcake in back with a copy of the yellow pages. I knew something was up by all the whispering and giggling the creepy bastards were doing in the back, but I was still feeling high from the day before. All they would say is that we were going shopping.
First we hit the high end stores and outfitted ourselves with new clothes. We walked through the mall gunning down all the mutants shuffling through Gap and the food court, fighting our way to Armani and Gucci.
We laughed at each other’s new clothes. I told the Cupcake and Larry that they looked like half baked televangelists, all gold pinky rings and white suits and wide lapels, they laughed and said Sarah and I still looked like ragamuffins, but at least we didn’t stink like blood and sweat anymore.
Next stop on Larry’s list was Radio shack where he picked up a couple hundred pounds of batteries, wire, and audio equipment.
Sarah and I spent the rest of that day wandering through the radio dial until we found that same lonely transmission from Harveryville, Ohio that we had heard weeks before. It’s a recorded message. A stammered address and a cry for help. I wonder if they are all dead.
Cupcake and Larry spend the evening in the garage working on a ‘surprise.’ I wasn’t even worried about it.
After breakfast the next day Sarah and I found the two brothers still in the garage asleep in the back of the limo which now had huge bullhorns strapped all over it. We shared a laugh, let them sleep and crept back upstairs to make love.
They woke us around noon, pounding on the door and telling us it was time to take a drive.
And so we drove through town, Sarah and I in the front again, the brothers in the back again. Only this time they stood through the sunroof decked out in full televangelist regalia, gold sparkling, white suits glowing, hollering into a microphone as we rolled through what was left of Vegas’s residential districts.
“Come out!” they said. “Join us!” they called.
At first I thought they were crazy. Surely everyone in this shit hole was already dead and gone.
But once again I was wrong. There weren’t many at first, only a trickle, but they came. They came crawling and shaking out of their basements and their bolt holes. The came crying and wailing and wanting someone to tell them that things were going to be okay, that there was hope, that someone was here who could make things better again.
They crawled out of the dark and into the sun. A trickle, then a flood. Only one out of a 1000 people was still alive in the wreck of Vegas, but that still left plenty of desperate people. People looking for a leader, even if that leader was the Devil himself. Or the Devil and his brother.
The Cupcake had enough guns for an army, and now he had one.