A Life in Transition 1
My name is Jonathan Thames...you can call me Nate.
Sh*t! That was a rib.
POW!!! THWACK!!! CHNG-CHNG!
Ouch! I collapsed to the floor, as blood dribbled from the corners of my mouth. I could still hear the loose chain link fence ring in my ears as I struggled to breath. Yep, I definitely broke a rib.
On the pavement I could see the four white alligator shoes in front of me. Those shoes belonged to Genghis Quan and his larger but younger brother Kublai. No one in Indigo City knew much about the brothers' Quan, but if nicknaming them after famous Mongolian warlords gave any indication, it was that you didn't want to be alone with them in a cold dark alley, which described my current predicament perfectly.
"Bossman give you 12 hour to bring back dust. If not, we make you live no more!" Genghis informed me.
"Wow! Tell him...if he makes it a full day...I love him loooonnnng time."
Kublai kicked me hard in the chest. "Assh*le!" He grunted, before he returned to their limo with his brother.
I lifted up into a kneeling position as the ignition started. I waved slowly to my work colleagues before they pulled away, gradually rotating my wrist and withdrawing four of my fingers once they turned the street corner. It was definitely time for alternative career path, the trick would be getting out alive.
I should probably explain what just happened, starting with my profession. In layman's terms I'm considered to be a drug dealer, however, I like to think of myself as a street pharmacist, soothing the medicinal desires of the underprivileged and the disenfranchised, one customer at a time.
Besides a few negative factors, it's actually a pretty sweet gig. I get to pick my own hours, the pay is great, I meet tons of new people, and I'm offered a decent level of respect by my peers. A lot of people ask me "How do I sleep at night?" or "How do I live with myself?," but I don't really see a moral conflict in what I do. This is mainly because I only sell to adults and never coerce my clients. I feel as if I am offering them a choice' and therefore, shouldn't be burdened with their decisions, especially if that decision is usually lucrative for me. In fact the only negative factor in my profession is that working relationships are less than ideal.
As much love excitement, I'd be lying if I said that the CBTF didn't suck some fun out of the job. Frequent raids and random run-ins have made me a person of interest, a title that is never good, and for a carrier the closest thing to a jail sentence. All that POI really means is that they are waiting for me to make a mistake.
If the main opposition wasn't bad enough, the closer associates. Let's just say I've had a bad track record with choosing partners. Of the two I've worked with, both have proven to be greedy and/or homicidal. Despite being Chinese, my new partner, Mr. Yun is a capitalist in every sense of the word. He knows I need him way more than he needs me and has used that to his advantage ever since I accepted his protection. Yun doesn't accept excuses, either you keep meeting his demands, or you die very painfully. There's not much of an in between.
Looking back, it was supposed to be so simple. Earlier this morning I was doing the big drop for Yun at Lake Kingville. A second dealer was coming into the operation and needed the monthly supply. I waited on a bench next to my bookbag filled with 10 keys of stardust. The new guy sat next me. He had fauxhawk and wore a blue Captain Mighty hoodie, with a bookbag identical to mine strapped on his back. He asked me if I watched Demon Dog (the coded question) and I replied yes. We pick up each others bags and went our separate ways.
About seven hours ago I get a call from Yun’s enforcers screaming about how I cheated Yun out of his product. Apparently Yun’s dealer had cancelled and the guy who had taken the dust was an imposter. I had told them I could fix it, yet another stupid move on my part. With Yun’s people reputation is everything and if I didn’t come through on my word I would be dead to him. Unfortunately, people who were dead to Yun had a habit of quickly becoming dead in real life.
Like most of the people who got on Yun’s bad side I thought I could get out of it fairly easily. For about a year I’ve had the power to psychically track people and have gotten pretty good at it. I just needed to focus on a few physical details and after a few seconds I would have a location.
For some reason it was harder to find him than my other tracking attempts. It was like my link to the imposter was getting weaker as I got closer. It took me a while but I narrowed the imposter’s location to a backstreet in Lovecraft. As I past a gate I could smell the burnt flesh and already knew it was too late. The imposter was burnt alive on a chair in an empty lot. Behind him were the words: thinking of you written in cursive with blood. Immediately I wiped my prints off of the gate and vacated the neighborhood.
I told Yun’s people what happened and you can see what that got me. In 12 hours I might as well be a blight. As I patted my ribs I could hear my phone ringing. I clutched my phone and answered. “This is sort of a bad time, would you mind”—
“Now’s as good a time as any,” A familiar voice spoke.
I scoffed. “What’re you doing on the outside Bryce?”
“Learning, adapting, settling scores, but mostly, enjoying my newfound freedom. You should come by to visit; maybe bring Tess along. It’d be nice to see a few old faces from the good old days.”
“Don’t you say her f*ck*ng name!” I roared.
“Sorry, did I hit a nerve? I just want to talk to an old buddy of mine, but if you don’t want to chat I can always call back in say…12 hours.” He cackled.
“You did this?” I asked rhetorically.
“Well it’s not like you ever gave me a choice: stealing my girl, setting me up, and having the nerve to keep selling my drugs. I mean, if I didn’t teach you a lesson, who would? Look, I’m willing to let bygones be bygones. You can keep the whore, you can even keep selling my drugs, but I need to know that you’re willing to move past this. Meet me in Denton and just hear me out, or you could always take your chances with the Chinese. Clk!”
I exhaled squeezing my temples as I fought the urge not to yank my hair out. Remember when I mentioned that I’ve gone through two partnerships? Well, that was my original partner, Bryce Conrad Durst. To make things worse we used to be best friends until about six months ago. The man is a parasite who knows my every fault and has taught me most of my moves. Crawling back to him now might actually be worse than pissing off Yun. I needed a good plan but I was already out of ideas.
Devil Den, Winslow’s Pub
As I walked into the tavern I could already see Durst in the corner watching sports on the tv. He lunged up from his seat and shouted, “DESTROYER’S!!!” as his team scored a try. Before sitting down he notice me out of the corner of his eye and smiled. I joined him at the edge of the bar, preparing to leave as quickly as possible.
“Great game!” Bryce commented.
“I don’t watch Rugby.”
“Well you should. It’s a healthy way to let out aggression.”
“Is burning teenagers alive in empty lots healthy too?” I sneered.
“I needed to send a message.”
“The phonecall was just as effective.”
“The message wasn’t for you.” Bryce clarified. “The chinamen need to know that they can’t scare away all of the competition.”
“So that’s what this is about? Some bullsh*t turf war between you and Yun?”
“Don’t sell yourself short Nate, I still want you to suffer, but I have bigger fish to fry before I get to you. I’m a petty person but I’ve never been shortsighted. You can either build yourself a ladder, or you can keep digging a bigger hole.”
“What do you want from me?”
He smirked, then snapped his fingers. The bartender opened a safe, pulling out the bookbag I had dropped off earlier. Inside the bag were the 10 keys and 30,000 dollars. “You’re getting a little too predictable y’know,” Bryce said. “still using the Demon Dog question made it easier than taking candy from the baby. Of course I had to persuade the other dealer not to show, but it didn’t take much work. I’d say it only took twenty minutes to ruin your life, but I can still fix it just as easily.”
“What’s with the money?”
“Well if you just show up with the drugs, Yun is gonna think you were stealing from him and chickened out, in which case he’ll still kill you. If you show up with more drugs to appease him he’ll just think you were holding out, and he’ll kill you, but if you have the drugs and make a serious donation he’ll think you’re even more vulnerable and take you back. Once you go back to Yun you work for me as a set of eyes and ears into his organization. It’s the only reasonable choice.”
I zipped up the bookbag and strapped it around my shoulders. “No.”
“Pardon?” Bryce scoffed in confusion.
“As much as you would like to think that I ruined our friendship, you betrayed me first. The problem with this plan is that you’re forgetting that I already know you. Everything always starts out reasonable but each step along the way you force people to do things they don’t want to do until they forget who they used to be and become whatever you wish to mold them into. Maybe you’re the one who’s too predictable. I’m leaving with this bag, then I’m done with you forever.”
As I walked away from the chair, Bryce took a shot from his glass and slammed it to the bar. “You got some set on you Nate Thames, but I always have a backup plan. Four carriers stormed each side of the bar stopping me at the center of the room. “I really wanted you to live, but I have to cut my losses.”
I smiled back at Bryce. “You know buddy, there’s an even bigger problem with this plan than your last one.”
“Oh yeah, please enlighten us!” Bryce hollered, as a few of his goons laughed.
“I’ll be glad to. If you are going to kill a carrier that can blow sh*t up, never leave him next to a wall of alcohol. I activated the cosmic ring, one of my carrier powers I got during the Great Impact. Immediately a ring of gases surrounded me as lava and asteroids formed within the ring. I moved the asteroids into to bar. The entire room exploded with blood red flames as I jumped through the front window and ran.
While, Bryce had went on about his speech I was busy pocket dialing the CBTF on my phone repetitively. The sirens had already sounded by the time I had escaped the pub with my bookbag, so I had to run quickly. As a CBTF truck pulled up I darted through a side alley and climbed a fire escape.
I kept jumping between rooftops until a strong gust of wind knocked me back into the alleyways. My body slammed against a dumpster right on my battered ribs. It hurt like hell, but I needed to keep moving.
As I clutched for my backpack I could hear a voice behind me. “Leave it and surrender now!”
I rose to my feet and slowly turned around. “Officer, I’m having a real bad day, is there any way you-“ I cut myself off when I noticed the man behind me was wearing a blue elastic costume. “Who the hell are you?” I inquired.
“Surrender now or face the wrath of…Wind Duster!” The man proclaimed, obviously making up the name on the spot.
“Well you either need a better name or psychiatric help; I personally don’t have the time to solve this identity crisis, but I wish you luck man!” I picked up my bag and walked away sighing. Great, I’ve pissed off two ruthless drug kingpins, called in a sea of cops, and now I run into a costumed weirdo who’s clearly seen one too many episodes of Captain Mighty, how could my day get any worse?
My question was answered when the man in the blue costume teleported to my side and blasted me back against the dumpster. The costumed nutjob was also a carrier. Even better, I thought. As he came closer to apprehend me I smacked him with the full force of my cosmic ring. The explosion knocked him on his back to the other end of the alleyway. I rolled to my feet as the self-proclaimed hero rose to his.
“You wanna fight? Fine! Let’s dance blueballs!”
“Have it your way!” He replied.