Chapter 1

Mike had decided to kill himself. It was not a spur of the moment decision, but something that he had been considering for a long time. The cold rain poured off of him as he walked home, making him cold and miserable.

"One less thing to worry about." He thought.

Earlier that day, he had lost his job at the movie theater, earlier that week his girlfriend had left him, and earlier that year both of his parents and his little sister had been instantly killed by a drunk driver in a horrible traffic accident. Mike fingered the cheap handgun he had just bought from a seedy pawnshop through the thin material of his coat. He was surprised that they had sold it to him outright; the law in his state required a three-day waiting period. There was a kind of finality to the act of actually having a gun in his possession. He had expected to have to wait three days for his preferred means of death, days where he would have agonized over his decision, three days in which he might have changed his mind.

There was no going back now, he knew. He had the gun, his heart was clouded with pain, and he had nothing to live for. Mike knew that as soon as he reached his little apartment he was going to end his life.

Looking around him, Mike realized that he hadn't been paying attention to where he was going. He realized that the street he had just turned down was actually a wide alley that ran behind a row of the ancient, run down business that plagued the bad part of town where he lived. It was not the kind of place anyone of reasonable sanity would go unarmed at night. 'Oh, well, ' he thought, 'I guess I'm not sane or unarmed.' He found himself on the verge of a hysterical giggle, but caught himself before it burst out. Straightening his posture, he hurried towards the end of the alley.

Suddenly, Mike's forward movement was stopped by an iron grip closing around his ankle. Looking down, he saw what appeared to be a huge human arm stretched out from a pile of garbage, it's hand tightly gripping his leg. Mike gave an involuntary cry of fright and tried to pull away, but the grip was too strong. He realized that he had the gun, but he was reluctant to use it. He had never used a firearm in his life, and he was the type of man who could not even step on a bug; How could he shoot what was apparently another human being?

He had forgotten his power of speech until the person gripping his leg spoke. It was the voice of a bass guitar, of a noisy diesel engine. "Wha' we got here, eh?" An upper part of the garbage pile that the arm emerged from moved as the words were spoken. Mike suddenly realized that the trash pile was a horrifically ugly man lying on the floor of the alley. The filthy, ragged clothing he wore and the darkness of his skin had confused his mind into thinking him something inanimate. The man clamped down harder on Mike's leg. He gave an involuntary cry of pain.

"Lil' white boy, eh? Gonna cry fer momma, lil' boy?" Suddenly the man was up, his iron grip transferred to Mike's medium length hair. The fire in the man's lopsided eyes, and the reek of alcohol on his breath were terrible, and Mike recoiled from him, pulling back until it felt like his hair would be torn out by the roots. The man chuckled, a harsh disgusting sound, and yanked him back, eliciting another yelp and sending a sickening tearing feeling into Mike's scalp.

"What choo doin' in my alley, boy?" The man shook him a little.

Mike gulped, and tried to speak. "Ho-home, I'm going ho-home." The man shook him harder, and Mike was sure some of his hair was torn out. The top of his head burned.

"Who you callin' a ho?" Shouted his accouter. The man grimaced, and Mike realized that he was probably going to be killed. The irony of a suicidal man fearing death was lost on him; the survival portion of his animal brain was the only part working right then.

"No, no, I wasn't calling you a ho, I'm just trying to go home, please let go of me!" He struggled a little, and the man casually raised his other arm and slapped Mike in the face with a huge hand. It felt like someone had hit him with a skin-covered brick. His nose burned with an intense pain, and began to bleed.

Suddenly the man's hand was in Mike's coat pocket, and he felt the giant pull out his new gun. His enormous accouter studied it in the wan light for a second, and then dropped it. Then he was searching again, this time in the back of Mike's pants. Rather than reaching into his back pocket for his wallet, the man simply ripped the pocket off of his pants, sturdy jeans, and let his prize drop to the pavement. Mike saw the man grin, in what he guessed was satisfaction.

"I guess dats it," the man said. That huge hand lashed out again, and slammed into Mike's abdomen. The breath was driven from his lungs in a singe second, and he felt his body go limp. The man chuckled at his slack jawed expression, and spit into Mike's open mouth. Still struggling for breath, Mike felt himself dragged to the mouth of the ally, and tossed casually onto an empty sidewalk. The pain and lack of oxygen overtook him, and he began to lose consciousness.

The immense man who had just robbed and attacked him looked down into his face, and chuckled. "Don't be forgettin' ol' Dran, now," he said. Mike heard this comment, but later would not remember anything after he was punched. His eyes closed and his body went slack.

After making sure his subject was unconscious, the man-mountain assumed a straighter, almost military posture, and walked back into the alley. He hurried over to where the items he had just stolen were sitting. He squatted over them, pulling a pink metallic tube from one of his coat pockets. He pointed one end of the tube at the gun. A beam of white light shot from the tube, and the gun was suddenly gone. He picked up the wallet and put it into one of his pockets.

Holding the back of his wrist up to his face, the huge man spoke into a faded tattoo, words that were clearly not English. A few seconds later a bright light could be seen from either end of the alley, had anyone been paying attention, and the man who had called himself Dran was gone.

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Reluctant / Science Fiction /