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©02 The Media Desk
My pillow was soaking wet. So were my sheets.
I got out of bed shaking and went to the bathroom to wash my face. Then I walked downstairs to the kitchen. Keia always had a jug of green tea in the refrigerator. I heated up a cup of it and sat at the breakfast bar trying to get over the nightmare that had me thinking about an old epitaph my grandfather used with people he didn't like.
"Tonight, is a good night, to wake up screaming." He would say with a cold voice and intense stare that would give you insomnia.
Both of my jobs gave me bad dreams from time to time. And sometimes they overlapped.
Occasionally I would be IN one of the video games, especially if I had been testing some of the virtual reality games. The typical nightmare went something like this.
I would be chasing some monster like a Mutant Spider when I'd run out of ammunition, the creature would then be chasing me. I'd usually wake up screaming when the thing cornered me.
But this one was from my weekend job working for the Bishop.
I had to smile at the thought of my 'boss' whom I'd never seen, never really even talked to. But he seemed to me to something between a boss and a friend.
I sipped the green tea and replayed it. Even in the familiar surrounding of the kitchen of the farmhouse, the dream made me look through the windows and think about getting the 'house gun' out of the drawer by the stove.
The dream had started in the belly of the huge old freighter I had gone monkey hunting on. I even recognized the port authority officer at one point. But once I was down in the hold, I was alone. And I was carrying a smaller caliber semi-auto than I would normally use.
This dream was so real I wasn't sure I was dreaming. But then in the half light I saw a body laying on the deck that looked like Allied Forces, except it wasn't exactly him, but I knew it was supposed to be. I crouched down and looked around wondering what was going on.
Then I saw John, the kiddie porn dealer, running along the corridor. I went after him. Even in a dream, I enjoyed the idea of getting a shot at him.
As I rounded a corner I ran into the big fat agent from the treasury department.
"Hi there!" he said, with a big smile. "Go get'em."
I nodded and resumed running.
There was a low dark door at the end of the corridor. I ducked through it then dove right back out again at the sound of gunfire. Several rounds made small dents in the bulkhead. I heard muffled yelling in Spanish again. For some reason I thought it sounded like the Mexicans I had argued with years ago. After the shouting died down, I looked through the door carefully. The coast seemed clear, I sneaked through and blended in behind some boxes.
I smelled smoke and burning hair, then heard odd chanting. I knew the Satanists couldn't be here, but then again, nobody else was supposed to be either. I saw smoke along the ceiling, but I never did see the high priest or his fire.
Dodging down a side passage I was shot at by a drug dealer I had very bad memories of from a recent mission.
The nightmare went from bad to worse. I ran across the robot blacksmith, a faceless carload of thugs with guns, and the hood from Keia's parent's house.
I ran out of ammunition and didn't have a spare clip.
Then I started finding monsters from the video games. Giant crabs were mingled with Mafia types, all looking for me. Which made my day of course.
Somehow I found my way back to where Allied Forces was lying dead. I rolled him over to see if he had a gun. He did, but it was a blaster from one of the games.
But now all the bad guys had blasters too. Screaming energy tore into the wall behind me. I returned fire and fled back down the passage.
Second Grace was there, as was Centre. They thought my being chased by a Storm Troll was funny and refused to help. As I turned to run I felt heat from an explosion nearby. I knew without looking that they had been killed by my enemies.
The ship was far larger and more complex than I remembered from the mission.
Side passages, dead ends, and combinations thereof ran everywhere. I went through two kitchens, storerooms, and rooms from the games. Some of them were combined together in an insane mixture that was disorienting to say the least. Soon I was hopelessly lost, and just tried to find the main deck again. But no matter which way I ran, there was no way out and it seemed the bad guys and monsters were closing in on me.
Before long the blaster ran out of power and I was left to running again.
Then the passages ended in a monstrous cargo hold. With every sort of nasty coming in after me. Bullets and energy bolts flew past me from every direction. I picked up a crowbar laying nearby and determined to make a stand of it.
I couldn't see any single face clearly, all there was in front of me was a blur of hate filled eyes.
That's when I woke up in a cold sweat.
I didn't get back to sleep. But sat in front of the computer and started typing.
For some reason, I felt the need to document some of the facts instead of fear and fantasy. If I recorded some of what happened, maybe the dreams wouldn't get so out of line.
Maybe the nightmares would be tempered by real life.
Maybe real life wouldn't be so hard to take once it was written down.
In transcribing all this, the idea came to me that I had no idea who or what the Bishop was.
A name on the computer, an artificial voice over a modem speaker.
I had killed for that name, I had been shot, stabbed, and chased by gangsters as well.
At least Centre was a real person.
As I typed I realized what being theHunter had done for me. I looked at the cup of green tea.
I had Keia from it, whatever sort of relationship it was, less than a marriage, more than a friendship, theHunter had Keia. I had met Thunder. A girl that in my regular job wouldn't ride the same bus I did, told me she thought of me as an excellent partner on a job.
I had met Conga. A walking armored personnel carrier.
Second Grace. A woman that had taught me more about everything from the ground up in one weekend than I thought I would ever know.
And even if I quit, got fired, or whatever they did to you in the organization, I would have my memories and experiences for life.
And if I didn't come back from my next mission, Keia would have my record here, in my computer. After beginning through a series of fits and starts I began thinking of things to write up sometimes while the mission was still in progress.
Which can be dangerous with bullets smashing into the woodwork inches from your head as you crawl along in the dark in some furniture factory full of illegal alien slave laborers.
But it has also given me some inspiration.
I was kneeling in a marsh in New Jersey, waiting for a signal from another operative to begin a diversion that would allow them to smuggle out an informant and some evidence on a syndicate run gambling and prostitution ring. I was wondering just what kind of diversion would work and started thinking about what would look best in a write up of the incident. Then I came up with it, when in doubt, go for the absurd.
I put my gun in its holster and went back to the car. There I rummaged around and found a camera and a notepad, I put on an ugly hat and stuck a cigar in my mouth. When the signal came I walked right in the front door and started issuing orders and discussing camera angles with anybody within range. Playing the part of a film producer scouting the place for a shoot tomorrow. For awhile I did all right too. They almost bought it. I gave out phone numbers for people in New York and California and dropped the crime boss's name several times as having approved all this. But in the end, I used the excuse of going out to my car for paperwork and ended up shooting it out with the guards as I drove away in a big hurry.
But the informant and evidence were long gone by then.
Another successful hunt for...
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