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Ex_Libris

 

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“Run Moose.”

“RUN!”

Dream shades of black and green gave way to the gray morning sunlight that penetrated the dirt and smog stained windows of the tiny room. The sunlight was seemingly filtered through the acrid sky that hung like a soiled blanket over this city. Losing any brilliance before being able to brighten the day of those poor souls who “lived” in Kings Row. The dream had returned.

For months now Moosemeat had lived without the terrible images of his last encounter with the good Doctor. But for the past few nights, zombies had been his dream. They say that certain smells can trigger memories. Moose had memories he wanted to forget. He hadn’t been down there in day, but the awful smell of the sewers wouldn’t leave his senses. The smell was so strong you could feel it. Moose could feel it. Something was going to happen, something had to happen

Moose slowly lifted his heavy shoulders off the undersized bed that he managed to sleep on everynite. His oversized frame gracefully lifted from his bed and moved into the second room of his small two-room apartment. If you could call it an apartment. You see, in Kings Row, you didn’t live, you didn’t have a home, you merely survived. The smell of vomit and urine from the hallway outside his door was nearly overwhelming this morning. It was nearly 95 degrees outside. Some might think it awful, but compared the smell of the sewers; the fragrance from the hallway was like smelling a freshly bathed little child, right after Mom had put that great pink lotion on them, it was comforting. It made him forget the smell of the sewers. It made him forget the last visions he had of his best friend and fiancée.

Moosemeat had been changed. The cramped little spot he had now in this abandoned building made him long for his office, and the quite life he once had. Though it felt as if it were another lifetime, two years earlier Moose was a reasonably successful stock broker in Galaxy City. He and his partner Oscar managed a very large portfolio for some of Paragon’s upper class. But that was an eternity ago, he doubted any of those old clients would recognize him now. Though Oscar was nearly twice his age, he was best friends with Moose. When they first met, Oscar was a tax specialist with nearly 30 years in the business. Moose was new, fresh out of college. Oscar decided to take him on as a financial planner to assist his client base. They became fast friends.

Born George Goulet in the mountains of New Hampshire, Moose had earned his nickname at the rip old age of 10, on hunting expedition, he bagged a 950-lb. Bull Moose with only one shot. Moose was a great athlete, very fit, played football in college, ARMY ROTC, all state, you name it. His time in the ARMY taught him character, weapon skills, and best of all, helped pay for his schooling. Oscar had given him the chance of a lifetime, so Moose worked for Oscar for several years. He eventually fell in love with Oscar’s middle daughter – Kristine.

This is when his life began to change. Moose asked Oscar to join him for dinner in Galaxy City one Sunday night. He was going to ask Oscar’s permission to wed Kristine. As Moose prepared to leave his uptown AP apartment that night, the newsman on the radio began talking about a rash of vanishings. “The Medical Community is on edge tonight in Paragon. Today in Paragon over 25 people have been reported missing. Among those are missing are medical students, several college professors and a few other seemingly unrelated citiz…. “ Moose clicked the radio to silence and proceeded out the door.

As he entered his car, his cell phone chirped. “Moose, Moose, she is gone.” The frantic caller said. “Who’s gone? Who is this?” “Moose its Oscar, Kristine didn’t come over this morning after Church like she had planned, we cant find her anywhere, we…” “Slow down Oscar, don’t panic. I’m sure she is ok. We can find her. Ill come pick you up, and we’ll track her down”

About 15 minutes later, Moose pulled into the driveway of the Tirado residence, he was met by a frantic looking Oscar, complete with 12 gauge and beretta. “What the hell are you doing with those?” Moose questioned, a shaken Oscar replied, “It was that Vahzilok guy, Paragon police just released an APB on him and advised the public to stay away from sewer entrances and any underground access point. They’ve closed the city hospitals and have quardoned off the medical school. They are sure he is behind the disappearances.” As he moved into the car he managed the long barrel of the 12 gauge between the front seats. When he got his behind into the seat, he looked at Moose with a glare that would have stopped a charging bull, “Moose, we have to find her.” “Hold on, you don’t know that she is missing, she could be anywhere.” “Trust me Moose, she is missing. She has never missed Sunday dinner at our house, and her grandmother is here from Boston. She was going to be HERE.” With that last sentence Oscar began to weep. His graying hair like sidewalk grass coming through the cracks between his fingers as he held his head low to his chest. “We have to find her Moose.”

“We will mate. We will find her tonight.”

Moose was right. They would find her tonight. As he pulled the gearshift down the R, Moose set off an unstoppable and irreversible chain of events that would forever change everything, and everyone he loved.


 

Posted

Chapter 2

Moose made his way into the second room of his tiny refuge. They wouldn’t be able to find him here. Not many people come through the Gish, not even Paragon’s finest. The good Doctor couldn’t find him here either. Not only wanted by the authorities, it seemed the Vaz wanted him dead, or at least “incorporated”. He sat down on the floor of the small room with this large back against the wall opposite the only window in this side of the apartment. His legs out in front of him, Moosemeat began to stretch his long arms to meet his toes. Who knows what today will bring? Today he would be ready. With the final release of tension from his left shoulder, still aching from the arrow, Moose rested his head back against the wall and gazed out the brown stained window on the opposite side of the room. The events of that night in constant loop in his head..

“We will find her tonight mate, don’t worry.”, Moose stated with an uneasy assurance. “Lets go to her place” Oscar interjected. Within several minutes they were in downtown AP, near Kristine's apartment building. There were several emergency vehicles in front, rotating red lights creating a fluorescent breakdance on the walls of the building and all those standing around, Moose shuddered. The crowd that had been assembled was being forced back by Paragon’s finest, and several citizens. Providing ID and an explanation of why they should be let by, Moose and Oscar followed the walkway to the rear of the building where the emergency workers had created a makeshift triage center. Channel 10 newscaster Sarah Evens was near the center of the commotion, attempting to speak to the camera. “This is Sarah Evens with a Channel 10 exclusive. It appears that several of the non-medical disappearances came from this downtown Atlas Park apartment community. The authorities have been tight lipped on the facts of the case, but this reporter has learned from eyewitnesses that several people were possibly killed and dragged into one of two nearby Paragon City Sewer Network entrances. Allegedly the kidnappers were dressed in black, using some type of smoke weapon to subdue their victims. Emergency personnel are attempting to stabilize those who survived the apparent attack.” “It seems we have… yes… ok Jim can you uh… ok, yes. Yes, it appears that Police Captain John Harriman wishes to make a statement.” As Ms. Evans ended her sentence, a man approached from her left. He was apparently the captain she had mentioned. To Moose he appeared to be in his late 40’s, possibly early 50’s. In good condition, and dressed in formal police attire. He approached the camera, adjusted his tie, and began to speak. Sarah Evans was the first to speak, “Captain Harriman, what happened here tonight, and what is your department doing to rescue those who were presumably kidnapped?” With an unshakable fortitude wrought through years of practice in front of the news camera, the Captain began to speak. “The evidence that we have been able to gather to this point does not point in any specific direction. Our investigation is ongoing, and we will inform the public, as pertinent information needs to be shared. We ask that no one panic, and I wish to assure Paragon City that your police force is doing everything in its power to find those who are lost.” With that the captain quickly turned and began to walk back to the open door of a large white unmarked PD car that was apparently waiting for him. Sarah Evens attempted to ask more questions but was quickly pushed away from the Captain by several officers.

“We need to get into that sewer network.” Oscar stated emphatically. “What, are you nuts? We haven’t even been upstairs to see if she is in her apartment.”

“I know she was taken Moose, I can feel it.” “You don’t know that, we can’t just run willy nilly into the damn sewers this late at night.” “I’m going Moose, without you if I have to. I am going to find my daughter.”

With reluctance, Moose placed his large left hand onto the shoulder of the man who had given him nearly everything in life; opportunity, friendship, a wife. “Mate, your are my best friend, you are like my father, and I love her more than anything. You’re a damn fool, but I’m not going to let you go alone.”

They quickly went back to the vehicle and retrieved the weapons. Moose tucked the small beretta between his belt and the small of his back; Oscar loaded the 6 shot pump on the shotgun, placing the extra shells into his coat pocket. Moose slipped the extra 9mm clip into his jacket pocket. They moved away from the crowd to the visible sewer access grate on the west side of the complex.

Moose stooped down and with some difficulty and removed the cover, providing their access to the rarely seen world below Paragon City. He was immediately grateful that he missed lunch. The contents of his stomach emptied upon the sidewalk and his shoes. This was his first encounter with the smell, little did he know, it was not his last. The overwhelming stench of the sewers caused Oscar to lose his balance, nearly falling into the open hole. Wiping the vomit from his chin Moose used his free hand to grab Oscar and prevent his fall. He looked down at the open manhole; hearing what he thought were screams, Moose quickly dismissed as the noise of a never-ending river of sewerage that awaited them below.

With a nod, Moose began down the ladder. Oscar was right behind him.

Startled from his daze by the banging noise apparently coming from the floor below, Moose leaned to the left and used his good right arm to lift himself to his feet. He shook of his daydream and tried to stop the looping images in his mind. He thought about his gun, which seemed to make him feel better. It was his security now. The easiness in his body was quickly escaping. The swelling on his left shoulder had subsided, but the effects of the toxic arrow still lingered. Though it had been a few days, he could still feel the tip of the arrow in his shoulder, must have broken off when he pulled the shaft out. He couldn’t remember if all of it came out, he was near the entrance to his apartment when he performed the removal. The pain caused him to black out. When he awoke, the arrow was missing, and so were a few of his smoke grenades.

Moose eased his large frame onto the nearly broken three legged stool, that besides his bed, was the only thing that could be considered furniture in his hiding place. He needed medical attention, badly. He needed food, and he was running out of ammunition. The shoulder wound from the dart, and many other bumps he had sustained, all screamed in unison as he reached for his large, multi powered gun. He nearly blacked out. How he had survived the past several months was a mystery to Moose. By all rights, he should have died at least 8 times. Moose was resilient.

Retrieving the weapon from the shelf, he began to clean the soot from the tip of the flame-thrower barrel that hung below the much larger main barrel. He doubted that he could get help, the Paragon PD wanted him, and it even appeared the Good Doctor wanted him. He couldnt leave his apartment during the day, and he hated to leave it at night. This was the only place he felt safe.

But he had to find him. When that was done, he would turn himself in and pay for his own crime. Until then, there was work to do. No matter how much it hurt.