Reviews for A Joyful Heart
Mislav chapter 1 . 4/29
A great continuation to the first story. Very intense and interesting. Thank you for writing this. Nice summation and references to the first story (such as the mention of Matthew's grandfather's gun). I appreciated some more insight into Matthew's family too. I liked the way you captured Matthew's train of thought when he first noticed the van following him. He must have been terrified. Those mutant dogs were especially disturbing, and gross. And, yes, pitiful. You did a good job describing them, pretty gruesome. And kind of like something you would find in a Lovecraft story. I didn't expect them to disintegrate after being shot though. The new weapons were pretty cool, especially the Crucifier. I also like the way Jada flirts with Matthew. She's a fox. Interesting angle with the cybersecurity. It makes sense that the cult would exploit its vulnerabilities. The Vet's house-the laboratory in particular-sounded especially disturbing and disgusting. I'm glad Matthew and Jada took him out. The final battle was especially intense and action-packed. I liked how the story ended with them abandoning their current lives and going on a run, paving the way for their future adventures. And now they are completely willing to kill their enemies. Good thing they found an ally in Kendo. I wonder where will they go next; first. Good touch with the final line being a Bible proverb, which also inspired the title. I think it could also refer to the love between Matthew and Jada. My favorite parts were: "The device was a small tank of compressed air, a supplemental scuba diver's tank, connected to a pneumatic nailgun. It discharged 18-gauge brad nails like a machinegun, since I'd removed the safety and modified the trigger. It was more ergonomic than it appeared, since I'd added a lighter piston in the interior and re-weighted the grips. Jada would be able to hold it in one hand with little extra effort, and use her reproduction British 1796 Pattern Infantry Officer's blade in her other hand if she wanted. I'd considered making a submachinegun, but I wanted something quieter and able to hold more ammunition.

Her blade was dangerous enough. Inside the handle was a carbon dioxide powerlet, which fed through a narrow channel in the blade to inflate the guts of anyone it punctured. I added a reinforced button to prevent compressed gas leakage. This way, it could be used multiple times before changing the gas cartridge. The last time Jada used it, the entire cartridge was used, and the results were very, very messy. Now, it had a suitably agonizing longer-ranged companion."

And

"The more immediate concern was the slavering abomination before me. I fell back while Jada flanked it around the base of the stairs. As I drew my HDM, I recognized something about it. The uncanny way it shambled on the ground. The geometry of the torso. The legs as long as my own. This thing, this Chimera, was human and animal parts. The legs were from two separate people, and the torso that served as the thing's body was also human. The jaws of a Doberman snapped at my hands, but I moved back, trying to draw its attention from Jada.

I heard Crucifer unleash a torrent of tormenting flechettes. The nails did nothing but irritate it, despite lines of blood and bile that leaked on the floor. I fired the HDM with all the precision I could muster, which was not much. My rounds traced a line across the closest head, and I clustered those shots on the forehead of the nearest, slavering head. Its eye partially tumbled out of its socket, and its partially decomposed tongue fell out its mouth. Despite this minor victory, the Vet felt emboldened once more.

I saw Jada curse as the beast grasped her forearm, causing her to drop the Crucifer. The sword in her other hand did not sever the offending beast's head, though. A metallic reverberation sounded as a dart impaled itself into the nearby wall. I raised my pistol to take a shot at the Vet before he could reload, but he vanished behind cover before I could shoot. The slide locked back, and I was out of ammo. I drew my empty shotgun and charged into the fray. A construction worker is never unarmed.

I made Barbara's pistol grip with a metal butt-cap, like old flintlock pistols used to. I smashed the knee of the nearest human leg, and the decomposing joint cracked like a rotten log. The ungodly abomination shrieked like a banshee, hissing and recoiling in pain. I grabbed another of the legs as it reared up, and pressed it against the wall. I saw a reassuring shape out of the corner of my vision: the glint of Jada's blade.

I saw her sword slice through the air like a righteous, reaping scythe. I felt the beast struggling against me, trying to leverage itself out from my pin. I pressed into it like a furious wrestler, trying to avoid succumbing to that flurry of hot limbs. Grappling was like sex, because you got to know your partner's body, how it moved, and the fluids inside. Like sex, the encounter ended with a messy penetration. Jada's blade bisected the thing's torso, making it rigid for a final time. The body went limp after that, but the Vet was not done.

The Vet emerged once more with his dart pistol, his beady eyes trained on us. He stood at the top of the stairs, a distance I could not hope to close before he shot. I was out of ammo, but I feared he'd shoot Jada. I wanted to use my bulk and athleticism to my advantage. If I charged up the stairs, he'd focus on me, instead of Jada. My arms began to glow, and I felt an adrenaline rush. I trusted in my otherworldly benefactor. I trusted in myself. I trusted in Jada. I trusted in physics.

All that trust was rewarded. My tunnel vision closed in on the Vet, as I charged up those stairs with the celerity of a cavalry steed up a precarious peak. I clutched Barbara in hand, preparing to cave his skull in with the weapon. I saw him train the pistol at me, but he never pulled the trigger. Instead, he clutched the red stain that appeared on his chest, he dropped the pistol, and he staggered backwards. He was dead when I reached the summit of the stairs. I looked behind me, and I saw Jada holding her smoking Walther.

That's one more reason I love her."

And good foreshadowing-and character moment-with: "Here I was, a lonely soul in a doomed world."

Keep up the great work. I had great fun reading this. Looking forward to reading more about their adventures, and your other stories.