Chapter 2: Taking It from the Top

So there I was. Making out with the president's daughter – or rather, that analogy would have applied years and years ago, regardless of whether it had happened or not. All the same, I was in my cozy, little, dark blue, Volkswagen Jetta, traversing the highway at give or take fifty-five miles per hour. In actuality, give or take was such a broad term – because it was completely obvious by the amount of cars I had been passing that I certainly wasn't going fifty-five. It felt more like seventy. Certainly a glance down at the speedometer would solve this dilemma, but I recalled driver's education, which stated that one must keep both eyes on the road at all times. That was me, the perfect driver. My perfect driving record aside for the moment, I decided to be hypocritical and look down at the fancy onboard GPS navigational system. Ah, yes, it still told me I was in Mexico. Perfect. I was exactly where I wanted to be.

Wait, no, Mexico was certainly not my destination, nor was it even in the general proximity of where I wanted to be, much less where I was. Thank Zeus for signs though, as they would be my saving grace on this trip. Unless they happened to procure Zeus' wrath, in which case I was royally screwed. I leaned forward in my seat, staring up into the heavens above, ready for any lightning bolts that may have been sent down. When I saw nothing but blue sky, I could only guess that Hera was doing her civic duty as a wife and keeping Zeus busy. That's my goddess. Now, where was I before Zeus so rudely interrupted me? Oh, right, Mexico. Damn it, I did it again – no, I wasn't even close to Mexico. I was on my way to Cousier City. Yes, you heard me right, the very same place where Henton Corp.'s main office branch, among their other many buildings, just so happened to be located.

It was just a coincidence, that's all. I wasn't going there to kill my family. I mean sure, they just so happened to be the very same Henton family whose wealth and prestige stretched all the way across the globe, but, again, coincidence. By now you're probably wondering how a low-life, ex-government agent, much like myself, who happened to be of relation to the richest family since . . . ever, would even attempt to kill them. Tempting as it was to go on a longwinded rant, I would spare myself the long, senseless and petty drivel. Instead, I decided to steal another glance back down at the GPS – damn, had I travelled fast. I was already in Tokyo. Konichiwa, I guess. Hold on a minute, I couldn't be in Japan. There were far too many . . . no I won't go there. But another piece of evidence that would have proved my deduction to be correct was the simple fact that Cousier City was only fifty miles away now. So unless there was another Cousier City in Japan that I obviously was not aware of, this GPS was a damned, filthy liar. I would have Zeus cast down his righteous fury upon the device. After all, he owed me a favor.

On a totally different pendulum, I decided to muse back on the whole, "Killing my family," business. That did seem rather important, after all. The Henton family – I was obviously not included in this generalization – had created a single widespread monopoly over just about every single general science, manufacturing businesses, and just about everything else under the sun. Really though, what made them so special was their amazing knack for pushing the lines of science, and other various things, even farther. This, of course, led to stunning breakthroughs in medicine and technology like never seen before. All of these breakthroughs were then credited to one family, who just so happened to have a six letter last name. Care to guess which one? If you guessed Gates, you were quite wrong. He's old news folks and -- wait, Gates is five letters. God damn it anyway. I know what you're thinking. So they were a monopoly, yeah, I get it, that doesn't seem like anything worth killing them over, and it certainly wasn't. Hell, their whole business boomed the global economy like no other, mostly due to their seemingly unending need for new employees.

So, if they were such a good thing, why was I killing them again? I guess I should just turn this car around right now, go home, grab myself an ice cold beer and forget about it. Yeah, that sounds great. I think I'll do that. Oh, wait, one tiny little detail slipped my mind. Yes, it was quite the important detail. One big reason for this action was a good friend of mine named . . . Okay, so I forgot his name. It happens, and yes, I admit, maybe he and I weren't good friends, per say, but we were acquainted. Nevertheless, he was the guy who started it all. I was basically using him as an excuse for my own agendas, but hey, he didn't need to know that. To make a long story short, the dark deeds that the Henton Corporation had been doing behind closed doors were finally released to the public. I shouldn't have to explain it. Anyone with a fancy moving picture box had seen it on the news. I guess sometime after all of that happened, Maurice Henton, one of my older siblings who just so happened to be the company spokesman, applied one of the single greatest cover-up schemes in the history of all great cover-up schemes. I sure as hell couldn't tell what he was saying passed his shrill, nails on the chalkboard like voice, but hey, he got Henton Corp. off scot free. I guess that's what matters the most.

It was again time for my routine check up on the wonderful world of satellite navigation. Oh, look, I was just about to arrive in Cousier City. How lovely. Wait just one moment, the damn device was actually right! I couldn't even begin to summarize my shock – well, actually, my shock had caused me to veer a teeny bit off course, but the other cars managed to swerve out of the way, at least. My ears were graciously given the opportunity to enjoy a startling array of honking horns, but they did little to stir my unbending will. Yes, try as they might, the horns and their legions of undead would never stop me on my quest for the grail. Now if only I could find my knave – probably off with the elfin princess again, no doubt. Elves, I swear. It's always sex, sex, sex with them, and never with me, no less.

My monologues were cleverly crafted for the sole purpose of passing time, and that is indeed what they had done. If I continued on with my senseless drivel I most certainly would have passed up the exit I needed to take. Well, that's what my GPS said, and it hadn't once let me down during this trip. It's what got me through Mexico and Japan after all. Okay, it was a completely unreliable piece of equipment, so what? I didn't bother bringing a map – I had to fill the glove compartment with other, much more important, things. Apart from my lack of a decent instrument to tell me exactly where I needed to go, I also noticed a second dilemma sneak up on me. I quickly took that notice, rolled it up into a ball, and tossed it out my window. After all, I certainly didn't need things like that ruining my perfect driving record. It seems that in my carelessness, I had not, in fact, rolled it up into a ball, but in the shape of a boomerang. What reason did I have to believe such a statement? Well, the notice came back and hit me square in the forehead. It then burrowed into the dark depths of my brain before claiming that I was in the passing lane. Although the claim was a bit rash, it was also quite correct, as I was, indeed, passing. The little monkey with the cymbals in my head, that is, my brain, told me that this would be a dilemma.

What could my dilemma possibly be? Well, I'll tell you, o fair question asker. If one is in the passing lane this would imply that I was in the left most lane. Why is that a problem? It's quite simple, really. You see, my exit was over there, on the right most lane, and it was just my luck that there was an influx of cars riding that lane at the moment. What to do? Like any good driver would, I decided that I was going to trust my onboard GPS and get to that exit no matter what. A flick of the wrist and my blinker was on – now they knew I was coming. They really didn't have any excuses if anything just so happened to go wrong, but that wouldn't happen with me behind the wheel. A quick turn of the aforementioned wheel in front of me and viola, I was cutting in between two cars, barely escaping a terrible fender bender and, in another stroke of my own pure genius, narrowly made my exit.

I heard the cars behind me play my victory anthem as I steered my way through the exit. It was quite the classy tune, easily rivaling one of Mozart's compositions, if I do say so myself. I called it, "Honking Horns in G minor." No matter what highway I traversed, the song would always play before I left. Back to the topic at hand, I was finally at my destination. Yes, Cousier City, in all its cheery glory. It was quite the city. Skyscrapers as far as the eye could see – it should be noted that when you're on the city streets, all you can really see are the skyscrapers. It definitely wasn't the city for the claustrophobic. Another thing worth my clever notation would be the murder rate. Yes, yes, in such a big city, the murder rate was bound to be quite high but in actuality, it had been quite the opposite up until a month ago.

Cousier City had been christened one of the safest places to live in the whole, wide world just one month ago. What changed? Well, the murder rate. Weren't you paying attention? Of course you weren't. Astonishingly, the murder rate had tripled in just under a month. That had to have been a world record, and on another wavelength, was that even a world record? If it wasn't, it certainly should have been. Regardless, I had wasted enough time not doing anything to let a little murder rate bother me. After all, what did a bunch of nameless thugs have on me? If one would so allow me the ability to toot my own horn, as it were, I would have told you, but something told me one of my ex-girlfriends was within earshot, and I certainly didn't want to anger one of them. Ah, the fun memories. Past experiences with harpies aside for just one moment, it was about time for me to plug in another destination to my ever faithful companion, Fido. Yes, I named my GPS Fido. It barks whenever I'm going the wrong way, so it's quite fitting. I don't need society's approval on what names I give my electronic devices, damn it. Then it hit me – no not a lightning bolt from Zeus, but one piece of information I had clearly forgotten: the address to Henton Corp.'s main office. God fucking damn it. Err, excuse me, I meant, Zeus fucking damn it.

But back on the topic of Cousier City – did anyone notice that there were no people on the street? Seriously, was that just me? Did they know I was coming? Certainly not; with the name Henton, wherever one goes the red carpet is spread out. Okay, that was an un-truth, but still, this was ridiculous. For a bustling metropolis that harbored the biggest company on the planet, it sure gave me ghost town vibes. Perhaps the time had something to do with it. Again, certainly not, it was the perfect time for clubbing, LAN parties, or orgies in the middle of the street – whatever kids nowadays did. The time I was referring to, of course, being six o'clock. That's PM for all you smartasses that think I'm even close to being up that early in the morning. If I was in my right state of mind, I certainly would've suspected a problem, but the impossible hasn't happened since that one Jewish guy died for everyone's sins. I forget his name. He's in the Koran or something like that though.

Tempting as it were to just take out my on-hand copy of the Koran and start reading, I found it much more beneficial to drive around aimlessly in an attempt to find even the smallest trace of human life. I would then ask the person for directions and if they didn't comply with my demands, I would then have to spank them. So, in other words, I was looking for a very attractive, young female. Although I doubted one existed in the city that Maurice hadn't already gotten his soft, delicate, woman-like fingers on, I still needed those directions. How unfortunate for me, because there wasn't a damn soul walking the streets. I closed my eyes. Yes, even though the car was still moving. I didn't have a thing to worry about, of course. After all, it was as I said, not a soul on the sidewalk.

"Oh mighty Zeus, may you use your godly powers to make Fido work," perhaps I had caught Zeus during one of his sexual romps. He did that quite often, so it was no surprise to me that Fido was telling me I was approximately two miles under the ocean. I bet the Henton GPS devices never did this. Boycotting my family's products wasn't helping me as much as I thought it would. If it wasn't bad enough, my car was almost out of gas. I swear, you look away from the gas gauge for five seconds, err, five hours, and this happens. Newer Volkswagen models were notoriously good at saving gas, and even more notorious for alerting you when you were nearly out said gas. I couldn't very well complain, but I was for damn sure going to try! Did I mention there were no people in this damn city?! I did? Well, there aren't any people in this Zeus forsaken city! Nothing seemed to be going my way today, and I had the slightest notion that it was going to continue that way. I let out a few hundred or so curses that this city rightfully deserved as I turned onto another one way street. Again, deserted, just like everything else. What in the flying, blue, Catholic hell was going on? My ex-government instincts kicked in and told me nothing good. Those were useful, but nagging, like one of my ex-harpies. Err, ex-girlfriends, rather.

As if I didn't have enough problems to worry about, it seemed my nonexistent Nordic ancestors decided to play a little prank on me. They weren't the joking type, of that I was certain, but still, their whimsicality was beyond recognition. These Nordic ancestors that I did not have saw fit to place an attractive young lady in the middle of the street. My Jetta's headlights made sure that the shadows which veiled her pretty features would be rendered null. My headlights also brought me to another very crucial realization – this woman was far too close for me to just slam on my brakes and not hit her. What I mean is, she was about to become intimately acquainted with my front bumper. My feet wouldn't allow such an event to happen, no sir. They quickly jumped into action, slamming on the brakes faster than lightning struck a tree, but, as I had mentioned before, that wouldn't be enough.

I stared somewhat blankly at the girl's pale face and she too stared back. I wasn't so attentive as to take a proverbial brain picture, but I did know she was pretty. That was all that really mattered, in essence. It was then that I reacted purely on instinct yet again and turned the wheel hard to the right. My Jetta responded quite well to the sudden shift in direction, and moved right off of the road and onto the sidewalk – the only thing hindering a perfect transition being the elevation of the sidewalk, but a little bump never hurt anyone. I took a quick second to analyze just what kind of scenery I had missed when I wasn't paying attention to where I was going. Ah, yes, I barely missed turning a bus stop into wreckage. Lucky me. Those damn instincts of mine told me I was forgetting about someone. Oh! Yes! The girl! She was very important. I quickly turned my head, trying to catch a glimpse of her. Maybe, just maybe, she was still frozen in time in the middle of the street, like a complete moron.

Of course, I wasn't that lucky. The damned woman had already disappeared, and before I could chew her head of with my verbal insults, even. Today just wasn't my day. With a long and dreaded sigh, I flipped the car into reverse and backed out into the street – illegally I should remind you, but so was parking on the sidewalk. Really, I was quite screwed no matter what I did. Well, that would have been the case had this town not been completely without populace. Maybe the murder rate was higher than I thought, and I hadn't even checked the suicide rate. Perhaps the entire city committed ritualistic genocide. Yes, that was the only answer that made sense. Without any employees, the Henton Corporation would most certainly lose money, and without money, they wouldn't be able to purchase food. Thusly, without food, they would die out in no time, so, in essence, I was out of the job. It was unfortunate that so many innocent lives had to be lost, but I certainly wasn't about to be bothered by it. Then again, just where did that leave the woman I had almost turned into road mush? Maybe she chickened out on the ritualistic suicide and she was being chased by the patriarchs. Take a gander at that little slice of sound reasoning, ladies and gentlemen. So sound, in fact, that I had completely forgotten my car's lack of fuel. Zeus was being quite the bastard today, and considering how much of a prick he was on his normal day, that was a very bold statement to make. Perhaps Hera wasn't quite the civic wife I had predicted her to be.

Another idea struck me violently across the mouth, like they always did. I swallowed the tears that had swelled up from the pain, and mused over the idea, making sure to keep my foot lightly pressed on the gas pedal as I did. Typically, I would have thought about something completely idiotic and random, but in this case I was being serious. One girl in the middle of the street, a pallor complexion. . . I replayed the scene again in my mind. Yes, pallor complexion, sweat stained auburn hair, and tight leather pants. Seriously! That wasn't my wickedly perverted imagination at work! She had really been wearing leather pants! At the same time though, I wondered just what she had been running from. Perhaps it was your everyday rapist or murderer. The risen murder rate would testify to that. Ah well, wasn't my problem. I assumed it was far too late to do anything anyway – but, at the same time, if it actually was a rapist or a murder, one would think she would have asked me for help. After all, I wasn't the least bit shady.

Again, my eyes drew away from the road in front of them and down to me. My black T-shirt hugging my torso rather tightly and my faded blue jeans were loosely fit over my legs. These jeans were rather thin along the ankles – this fact alone made it rather difficult to slide them over my black boots, but naturally I prevailed. You're probably wondering why I was wearing such simple clothing on this potential assassination "mission." Well, I could very well have worn something else, but keeping it simple was the way to go. No, really. Denim was quite the durable fabric and as long as they weren't skin tight, they were perfect for allowing your skin to breathe. T-shirts were a different story. If they hugged your torso you had a much easier time fitting Kevlar, among other things, over it. That was a very crucial detail in this scenario, plus with the right fabrics you could have the shirt as tight as you wanted and your skin could still breathe just fine. Amazing, isn't it?

I shouldn't have to explain the boots. After all, they were quintessential to not only keeping my feet dry, but also for resisting blood stains. That last fact alone made them worth the money the government paid for them all those years ago. Maybe it hadn't been that long. Really, I needed a calendar or a Blackberry or something. I have the single worst concept of time since . . . God. Furthermore, with a Blackberry, I wouldn't have to drive aimlessly around a city looking for a building that probably stood out like a sore thumb. Okay, maybe not like a sore thumb, but the Henton family was infamous for their flashy logos all over everything. I could only assume the damn corporation's main building would be covered in their logo. A very stylized letter H positioned just perfectly in front of two folded angel's wings. Yeah, I can't make this shit up, that's really their logo.

Another thing – I had been driving for God knows how long and I still haven't caught the slightest glimpse of humanity. If that wasn't bad enough, my Jetta was finally aware of its distinct lack of fuel, and decided to start whining like a two year old child. I certainly couldn't smack the car and tell it to shut the hell up. I mean, I could very well get away with it with enough booze and some ingenuity, but prison life just wasn't for me. While I was typically one to avoid the clichés of life, and to ignore the stereotypical side of things, one could only imagine the grin that emanated from my face as I noticed one of 7-Eleven's many stores just down the street. Maybe those Greek gods I worshiped weren't so bad after all. Still, it was everything I could do to smother my beaming smile – this was a serious moment after all.

I recited just what I was planning over and over in my head. Go in; ask for directions to the nearest gas station, and directions to Henton Corp.'s main building, then I leave without even thinking about buying a slurpee. I decided to park on the side of the sidewalk, directly under a street light, but certainly nowhere near any fire hydrants. Then again, deserted town, I don't think anyone would've notice anyway. Nevertheless, I wasn't about to press my luck. I took an extra couple second after parking to determine whether or not I had my wallet – and indeed I did. What? I wasn't buying a slurpee, but I might need to buy . . . other conventional items for my thirst. Yeah, that was a good enough excuse. I was an expert at convincing myself to do things I shouldn't do. I certainly wasn't allowed the luxury of having two figurative representations of my conscious standing on my shoulder telling me what to do. Therefore, I improvised.

Ah, shit, just when I was about to get out of the car – I almost forgot to take off my shoulder holster. Yeah, I was wearing one of those lovely things. I was far too lazy to take the damn thing off now, so I would, again convince myself to do something that 7-Eleven most likely considered quite illegal. Did I happen to mention the back seat of my Jetta was filled with various tools and utensils that would come in handy for what I was doing? I'd have to go into more detail later, but all of the items were mostly hidden under articles of clothing that I hadn't the slightest impulse to wear. Well, except this one time. I reached into the backseat, picked up one of my old high school favorites – a really badass looking black leather jacket – and decided that it would be perfect for covering my little shoulder strap holster. Okay, with my leather jacket now in hand, I could very well exit the car, then I'd throw the jacket on before I enter the 7-Eleven. Yes. It was another one of my many ingenious plans. As with my other brilliant strokes of genius, I followed this one to the T.

Step one, get out of the car; check. I could already hear my Jetta whimpering as I left it all alone, the poor thing. I'd return soon, but before then, I had put on my jacket. Ah yes, it was quite the piece of clothing. Sleeves with silver buckles on them like no other and matching silver clip-buttons on the front; really, the only thing I truly accomplished by wearing this was feeling far older than I should have felt. Regardless, it served the purpose of covering my legal firearm that I was carrying illegally. Oxymoronic? Why yes, yes it was. Were it not for the distinct lack of sunlight, I might've been half tempted to put on my old aviator shades – then the nostalgia over my jacket would be complete.

For one of the few times in my life, I really did feel like a relative of the ever-prestigious Henton family. It didn't feel half bad to have doors part for you as you walked somewhere. Perhaps I would consider taking over the company after I killed the bastards. Aside from running it into the ground due to my complete lack of any business ideology, the company would probably try to kill me back. I'd muse over it later. For now, I was much more focused on my slurpee – err, directions I mean. Well, that would have been the case had there been an employee at the counter. I began to wonder whether or not the whole town had come together just to piss me off. Cause they were doing a damn good job. If I were drunk, I would've drawn my little firearm and maybe blasted a few holes in the wall to alleviate my anger, but, alas, I was the epitome of sobriety.

First and foremost, the thought of doing my civic duty as a human being and investigating just why there wasn't a soul in this little convenience store crossed my mind. As it crossed the freeway known as my mind, I made damn sure the thought itself was violently run over by a series of school buses and eighteen-wheel semi-trucks. I did feel slight amounts of regret for my actions, however, and decided to hold a very illustrious funeral for the idea and all it came to represent. Other words and idioms attended the funeral, and it was obviously up to me to say kind things on the idea's behalf. I felt just a tiny bit of sadness over the loss of the idea, and decided to honor its memory by carrying it out.

What the hell was I talking about? Oh, yeah, investigate the reason why there wasn't the slightest bit of life in this place, or make myself a slurpee. How often does one get the opportunity to get a free slurpee? I mean, unless your significant other happened to work at 7-Eleven or something, you were pretty much forced to pay for such an orgasmic drink. At the same time, the employees at these kinds of stores always had a knack for making the drinks, and I certainly hadn't worked at one of these stores before. There had to be a point in all of my senseless drivel, so I decided to spare myself my own conversation . . . with myself and wade through all my bullshit, just this once. Aha! Eureka, I found the point I was looking for: find the employee, get a delicious slurpee. Don't find the employee, get a potentially terrible slurpee. Granted I had the supplies to practice my slurpee making, but at the same time, I was far too impatient and lazy.

It was settled. I would find the employee, and then he'd be so grateful that he would just have to make me a slurpee at no charge. Man, I was filled to the brim with only the greatest ideas to ever grace mankind. My expert deduction skills in hand, I formulated only the greatest idea of where the employees might have gone. Notice, how there might have been one male and one female employee, and the unresolved sexual tension finally gets . . . resolved. It was a great premise for a movie. Certainly not a family film of course. I would have to catch them in the act and be the adult of the situation. Another reason to get a Blackberry popped into my head, but my thoughts are private, damn it.

It was then that I moved into the back of the convenience store, right next to the beer and sodas, ready to enter the "employees only" section of the store. I took a deep breath to prepare myself for what abominations against Zeus I might have seen – of course, I realized Zeus was a total pervert, and decided to just go in there without any expectations at all. As if to spite me in my own diadem, I could hear the automatic doors, completely on the other side of the store, swish open. I rolled my eyes – this was what I get for calling Zeus a pervert.

"Help me! Please! Someone!" shrieks of terror? In my 7-Eleven? I wouldn't allow it! I quickly moved into action, retrieving my very own Glock 17 from its holster. It was quite the exceptional pistol, if I may say. Not without mentioning that it was black, ergonomic, and just plain spiffy. I would have to rant more about it after I rescued the damsel in distress. I turned the corner at the chip aisle, noticing the top of someone's head just barely peaking over the apex. Quite the fancy word for peak, but it was all the same to me.

I wasn't around the corner but maybe a millisecond before I had two arms tightly wrapped around my waist and a sobbing face buried into my chest. Just what the hell was going on? Furthermore, who remembered when I said damsel? This woman certainly wasn't a damsel, per say. More like, a vixen. That seemed aptly more appropriate, given this woman's looks. She had quite the shiny, straight auburn hair, despite the fact that most of it was damp and clinging to her face, as well as her neck. Just my luck, she was wearing an extremely low cut white T-shirt, covered in various markings that were possibly of tribal descent, but I really had no clue. I attempted to pull the woman away from my shirt, as it was far from waterproof, but she continued to cling as tight as possible.

"Hey!" my voice echoed throughout the store and it rightfully demanded this woman's attention. She just continued to cry into my chest however. Yeah, I had that effect on women. "If you want my help, get your face out of my shirt and tell me what the problem is." See? I was great with women. That was all it took for her to slowly pull away from me, take a few deep, cleansing breaths, and then she began to panic again. Somehow I managed to keep a firm grip on this woman's right arm; I certainly didn't want her running amuck.

It took a few seconds, but at least she seemed a little bit calmer. Not much, but I was still thankful all the same. Copious amounts of black make up had been smeared up and down her face – it wasn't a very attractive look, but to each one's own, I always say. This woman gulped down a few more tears and heartfelt sobs before she finally seemed to regain some of her composure. Maybe she never had any composure in the first place. Perhaps I was just a miracle worker. That had to be it. In essence, if my curiosity hadn't been peaked before, it most certainly was now – all it took was a quick gaze at her tight, leather pants. Well, my curiosity was just one thing that was peaking at the moment, but never mind that, there's more important business to attend to.

"You –," She took a few prolonged seconds to catch her breath amidst her strained sobs. "You have to help me. There's these . . . things chasing me and – and I – you just need to help me!"

Her descriptive and analytical skills were on par with Sherlock Holmes himself. In fact, I was willing to bet all of my worldly possessions that she was, in fact, a detective. The low cut shirt, the dangling earrings, the tight leather pants, all of these pointed to her being a detective of the highest regard. Well, that, or maybe a prostitute. I wasn't the type to discriminate. After all, damsels – err, excuse me, vixens in distress were vixens in distress. I was just about to ask her, sarcastically I might add, if she could go into more detail, but I guess I wouldn't have to.

My ears were quick to remember an all too familiar sound that, ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, meant something bad. In this case, the sound definitely meant something bad – the glass windows in front of this 7-Eleven had shattered. Why? Hell if I knew, but it couldn't mean anything delightful, like a unicorn crashing into the place and granting us all magical powers. How cool would that have been though? On second thought, unicorns were usually pink, or at least their magic was. Pink wasn't my color. This is the worst idea I've had all day, and now of all times, too. Can't be perfect all the time I suppose.

Now, normally, I would've pointed out the oxymoron in there, but my eyes quickly darted to my immediate left. Motion, along with a soft pitter-patter of footsteps could be heard all across the store. This was a 7-Eleven for Zeus' sake and I couldn't even see the damn front door. As if it wasn't bad enough, the lovely woman started clinging to me again – could she be any more useless and stereotypical? No, she wasn't blond. My mistake. That was the cue for things to get worse. Things always had to get worse; it was the general rule of evolution, right? No? Fine, fine, I'll be nice.

I completely and totally take that last statement back. The scratching of nails against the tiled floor stopped directly behind me. With this damned woman in tow, I spun around to my right, the Glock 17 in my left hand falling upon a creature, distinctly of inhuman origin, and that was being nice about it. I stared at it for only half a second, but that was ample time to gather in its features. An elongated face, much thinner than any human's could ever have been; which obviously told me the creature lacked a brain. Its skin, if I could even call it that, was a patchy gray color, with obvious parts where the skin had been completely torn off. The facial features were the most disgusting, by far. Its jaw was practically unhinged, leaving the mouth open where the bottom teeth seemed to curve outward – and if that wasn't bad enough, its eyes were a milky shade of white, but yet had various coatings of black spots on them. The nose was practically nonexistent, and the only way I noticed it was able to breathe was by using the two slits in on the side of the mouth.

I didn't hesitate – I fired at the monster, pumping the trigger three times. The woman clung on even tighter with each shot, flinching upon every "pop" that the gun made. Two of the three bullets had lodged themselves into the monster's torso, but all it did in response was let out a shriek that would probably break the front windows – if they weren't already broken, that is. I quickly readjusted my aim, but was far too slow. The monster rocked itself backwards on its hind legs, that instantly alerted me to what came next.

"Down," I ordered, but I guess my voice wasn't deep or loud enough for the auburn haired beauty to comprehend just what I was saying – in fact, the only thing she did do was stare at me and whimper. I wasn't about to let her bring me down – no, quite the opposite. I was the one that took her down. I slipped my right hand in between her arm and her waist, and then brought her onto the tiled flooring, right with me. Just as I had predicted, the abomination onto nature flew right overhead, and I managed to pump four more shots into it. I hadn't counted on the fact that this . . . thing, whatever it was, had blood, but nevertheless, it did have blood, and it bled right over me. I ignored the red tinted liquid staining me and my clothing, and forced myself back to a standing position as fast as I could.

Shit. As if thing's couldn't get worse, I heard even more feet scratching against the tiling. I decided to do some math – four plus three equals seven. Seventeen minus seven equals ten. I had ten more shots, and God knows how many more creatures in my spectrum. The monster in front of me let out a territorial hiss, before disappearing behind the aisle. Not too bright, but with a skinny head like that, I guess there really wasn't any room for a brain. I quickly sidestepped to the left, where the creature had run off to, and slammed my shoulder into the shelving unit. This, of course, brought upon a domino like chain reaction, causing the shelf to topple over. 7-Elevens never nailed down their stuff. I heard a squeal, similar to a pig squeal, but I wasn't about the make the comparison.

As if in complete sync to the cry, two more of the very same creatures appeared within my peripheral vision. I quickly slowed my breathing to an almost unmoving crawl then aimed down the sights of my firearm. It took barely half a second before I had lined up the sights with one of the two monsters' head before squeezing the trigger twice. The nine millimeter, hollow point bullets I loved so much managed to lodge themselves into their target – the monster fell backwards, with two gaping wounds in its forehead, with a rather anticlimactic "thud." I ignored the cries of the ghoul that rested underneath the upturned shelving placement the best way I knew how: by planting my foot on the damn thing. Again, I continued to ignore the squealing as I transfixed my aim towards the other monster – much to my surprise, it had disappeared.

No, not quite. More like, it decided to fasten itself to the ceiling – yeah, like that would've been my first place to look. Again I found myself adjusting my aim, but this time I was too slow. The monster, somehow, pounced from the ceiling, ramming right into me and sending me into the shelf I had so rightfully tried to press down. Thankfully, as I mentioned before, these creatures completely lacked brains, and it was painfully obvious by this point. The sharp, curved, elongated claws that this thing had on its stubby hands were pinning down my right arm, not my left. For once in my thirty-three years of living, I was actually thankful to be left handed. I would express my thankfulness in the only proper way I knew how: by shooting this damn thing in the head – and that's exactly what I did.

Three times, to be exact; I noticed the blood spray across the aisle way, barely missing the incredibly voluptuous, but incredibly useless vixen in distress, but in her condition, I doubt she would've cared all that much anyway. I rolled my eyes, but that certainly wasn't justified. To me, these were just things to shoot, nothing all that scary about them, really. Aside from the ear piercing shrieks, the unhinging jaws, and the completely freaky eyes, not without giving an honorable mention to the elongated claws – yeah, nothing scary at all. I brushed myself off, which resulted in blood smears stretching across my shirt. Hey, killing things was a messy business, despite what most Hollywood movies said to the contrary. I pressed up against the upturned shelf, which reminded me of the beast underneath it – how could I have forgotten?

Again, my surprise knew no bounds – the shelf I had been pressed up against suddenly lifted into the air and me with it. The room seemed to spin, but I knew rooms didn't do that, unless it was a fun house, so I was obviously the only one doing the spinning. I landed in a heap, amidst various candy bars and other things – a packet of skittles hit landed on my face as I lay on the cold, tile flooring. I would have loved to just lay here, rip open the bag of skittles, and enjoy, but alas, I had a job to do. Wait, no I didn't; screw the job, I was eating these.

"Hey! Where the hell did you go?!" yeah, screw my feast, I forgot about madam useless. With an overly audible groan, I lifted myself back onto my feet again, ignored the seemingly endless amount of candy that was for my taking, and moved back into the next aisle over. Why the hell I went around, I'll never know – it's not like the damn shelves were very big. God damn was I pissed off. I decided to take out my self righteous anger on the damn thing that was attacking my voluptuous woman in distress. I nearly spun into position as I entered the aisle way, but that would have wasted time – instead, I found myself walking forward in an almost rushed manner, taking careful shots at the abomination. One of my four shots went wild, the other two landed in the damn thing's torso, but the last one hit perfectly in the right eye. I heard the noise akin to a pig squeal yet again, but as I had done so many times before, I ignored it.

Ignoring it did wonders for my aim – I fired off my final shot, the lovely hollow point bullet hitting its mark right in the creature's forehead. Essentially, that was the money shot, and damn good timing too. It took a second, but I exited the magazine from my Glock and grabbed one of my two spares from my shoulder holster, then to end up the process, I jammed the spare into the Glock. I made sure to load a round into the chamber, and then moved forward. Tactically, might I add. That is, I slid one foot forward, then followed with my back foot, while keeping my gun trained on the corpse of whatever the hell that thing was.

"You okay?" I asked my vixen, even though she had no visible signs of injury. I could only assume that her psyche was all but destroyed – mine wasn't doing so well either. In response, she took a few panicked looks around, but I ignored her panic, keeping my eyes completely focused on the dead whatever it was.

"What the fuck do you think?!" her tone sure did change quickly, and here I thought she had the voice of an angel.

"Just thought I'd ask; I certainly don't want a useless dead girl when I could have a minimally useful live girl," wasn't so much funny as it was mean. I considered it safe enough to return my Glock to its rightful holster.

"Fuck you," quite the educated response. If I had any reasoning at all, I'd take that as an insult, but I had just killed three ghouls – monsters – whatever the hell they were, I killed them. I obviously wasn't about to worry about the consequences. Monsters, ghost towns, and who knows what this woman did – I would have to laugh at that later. I took a few deep breaths, and then began to walk back to my car. Oh, almost forgot. Perhaps this damn vixen's usefulness would actually be . . . useful.

"Hey," I caught her attention rather quickly this time, "you wouldn't happen to know where the Henton Corporation's main office is, do you?" She shot back a quizzical gaze, which I responded to by sympathetically looking up at the ceiling. I wondered just what I had done to deserve this – perhaps this woman's psyche had been broken so much that she forgot the English language.

"Of course I know where it is. Everyone in this city does," her know-it-all tone struck me on a sour note – she was lucky I didn't hit women.

"Everyone seems to have disappeared, and you seem to be quite . . . fond of people," maybe I shouldn't have said that.

"What the fuck's that supposed to mean?!" yeah, definitely shouldn't have said that. Miss know-it-all quickly rose from her fetal position – which inadvertently resulted in showing me her pretty, pink G-string – and walked over towards me. No, never mind what I just said, she was walking passed me. How was she ever going to get an answer to her question if she wasn't here? I decided to follow her. After all, I couldn't let her leave without getting an answer.

"Hey! Don't leave! I need directions! I'm all alone in this cold, cruel world!" none of my pleas seemed to be reaching her. Maybe she had her eardrums turned off. "Hey! Your G-string's showing!"

You're probably wondering what response I got for that one. Well, it's quite simple. As she was waking away – her butt swaying with every step – she lifted up her hand and, naturally, gave me the middle finger. I was crushed.

"How do you expect to run from monsters when you have string up your butt?" see, that got her. Surely she was thinking rationally now. Indeed she was, and she was walking back towards me, albeit reluctantly. I could tell she was still a teensy bit flustered, but she'd warm up to me.

"Okay, you need directions?" her tone was quite innocent now – if I was anything but a stalwart character, I would've used this to my advantage.

"Yeah, and in return, you can take my Jetta and get out of here. That sounds like a pretty good deal," I was willing to give away my car to a woman I just met. If I had a father, he wouldn't be proud, that's for sure.

". . . You're the guy that almost hit me earlier," I had no idea what she was talking about, but for the sake of my damned directions, I would play along.

"Terribly sorry about that," I think I adopted a British accent somewhere in between deciding to lie about lying, and then actually carrying out my lie, or . . . lack thereof, as it were.

"Look, whatever," music to my ears – I didn't want a lawsuit on my hands.

"I'll take you to the car, get my stuff while you tell me directions, and then we can part ways and never see each other again. Sound good?" I was probably making a deal with the devil, but everyone knew that was me, so I was okay. My only response was a nervous nod, but at least she wasn't going all catatonic on me. That was the most important part. I lead my innocent – well, maybe not – victim of circumstance back around to the side of the 7-Eleven. As I walked, I was bombarded with memories of all the good times my Jetta and I had shared.

Like when we went to Japan, Mexico, and best of all, two miles under the ocean. Okay, so we didn't have great memories together, so what? I was sentimental God damn it. My full-fledged sentimentality suddenly corroded into nothingness as I beheld the sight in front of me. My dark blue Volkswagen Jetta had been overturned and almost completely ransacked. Literally, pieces and parts strewn across the road, and my lack of a passenger side door didn't help matters much either.

I took off into a sprint towards my companion, but I resisted the ever annoying urge to scream out a long and overstressed "No!" Upon further investigation, I noticed that my car really was fucked. It wasn't the fact that engine was in the middle of the street – okay, maybe that was one of the many problems, but there were more important things to worry about. What could be more important that the engine? Well, the items in the back seat of the car were far more important, for instance. I skidded to a stop beside the driver's side rear door and forced the slightly bent thing open. In a hustle, I practically dove in, head first, and began wading through the clothes I hadn't worn since junior year in high school. Thankfully, all of my extra nine millimeter ammo magazines were still in tact, my Kevlar vest was obviously still wearable, and ammo vest was perfectly fine.

It had taken me this long to realize that I had placed all of these in almost plain sight, and I had been wearing a shoulder holster, with a loaded gun for this whole entire trip. Had I been pulled over for even the smallest reason, I would have been royally fucked – like one of Zeus' many, many sexual partners. I crawled back out of the upturned car with my items close behind me – I slipped off my retro leather jacket before I slid the Kevlar vest over my shoulders, making extra sure it wasn't one of those fake bulletproof vests. A word of advice, never wear one of those in a shoot out. Trust me.

I rambled on and on about various pieces of advice I had collaborated over the years while I slipped the belt around my waist. I fixed some of my spare magazines onto the belt itself, as well as my shoulder holster. Now I was all set – and I looked quite dashing too. Bruce Willis, eat your heart out. Actually, someone eating their heart out would be quite grotesque – instead, maybe he should just retire. Now there's an idea.

"What now?" I had completely forgotten about my useless, female companion – but at the same time, I had lost my bargaining chip. Well, one of them anyway.

"Simple. You give me directions, and I'll be on my way. You get my car, as we agreed," remember kids, grammar is the devil's play thing.

"How the hell am I supposed to get out of here with that wrecked piece of shit?!" I could tell by her tone she was pissed – also, fun fact, I could tell by her hard nipples that she was cold.

"I'm not responsible for what you do with your car," she certainly was getting redder and redder in the face as this conversation waged on.

"The deal's off. I'm not giving you directions," oh my poor, poor vixen. Now isn't the time for irrational thoughts! I would have to show her the proper way of thinking – my way of thinking, that is.

"Well, that's fine; I have a pistol and some ammo. I'll be just fine. You? Well, I don't think those adorable creatures want sexual favors," I noticed another sudden change in her complexion; she went from a deep shade of red to an off white coloring. Now was about the time where she stubbornly argued on about some other minimalistic fact that I didn't care about.

"Well, if I gave you directions, would you . . ." I smelled hesitation, and, oddly enough, beef jerky. Damn, I was hungry. I attempted to motion her onward, to finish her statement, but I had no such luck.

"You can play tag-along. It's not like I expect you to fend for yourself out here," I was a saint, plain and simple. Hell, I didn't even want to bring her along, but, alas, I was far too amazing for my own good sometimes. It was amidst my ego trip that I noticed a twinkle in those pretty green eyes of hers, and the color that slowly returned to her slender face.

"Should I . . . lead the way?" I semi-reluctantly nodded, but I would side-track her back into the 7-Eleven for some food and something to drink. After all, killing ghoulies was thirsty work. Maybe I'd get lucky, and she'd take some chex mix with us, and right as we got to the Henton Corporation's front door, she'd choke to death. Well, only one to find out, I guess.