Okay, here we go. Not sure of the schedule yet, but trying to get back into the flow.
Preface from Mooderino
I am not by nature a fearless person. I’m not spunky. I like to keep my spunk bottled up and locked away (which prevents a lot of those awkward questions like: ‘Is that a bottle of spunk?’ and ‘Why the fuck do you have a bottle of spunk?’).
My plan had been to back away slowly from the laboratory of horrors that I’d discovered under Warlon House. It was a good plan. A plan I could fully endorse. When it came to dealing with rich evil monsters, I had found that the best course of action was the three Rs — Retreat, Regroup, Run the fuck away.
Obviously, I am not a coward. I think my record of ill-thought-out plans and rescue attempts has more than proven my ability to be a stupid dumb-fuck when necessary. But experience had taught me not to swing in on a chandelier, all swashes buckling.
So why was I suddenly jumping out of a perfectly safe and secure air vent in a flamboyant waterproof poncho?
Kids these days can slaughter hundreds of nazi zombers on the old viddy box and then Clockwork Drone those dastardly Yemenese shepherds who have been making the world such a terrible place lately. Doesn’t even bolshy their heart rates.
I’d been through a similar readjustment, turned from a weak, pathetic loser who would burst into tears at the sight of a dead body, into a weak pathetic loser who barely noticed someone spewing crimson from their nether regions.
Blood and guts and death and destruction. It wasn’t the red light it once was. The slasher movie set dressing meant nothing to me. What I was interested in was the purple glowing baby.
The kid reeked of magic, hot and fresh out of the oven. All I had to do was find a way to nick some of it, and I would be back in the game.
The most important part of my decision to mount a rescue attempt, though, came down to the robots.
Sure, sci-fi movies always portray robots as the deadliest enemy, armour-plated and unblinking. They hate humans for our lack of logic and refusal to grant people the right to repair their iPhones, but I can guarantee you this: people are a lot worse when it comes to showing a little humanity.
Yes, the military will eventually have killer androids that will mow down swathes of innocents without hesitation and, more importantly, without demanding costly PTSD therapy, but robots have an inherent flaw in their design.
Unlike the robots you see in movies that last forever on one charge and can connect to any port or plug, real robots are limited in how many different things they can do. In fact, the upper limit is one.
Underwater robots can go deep underwater. Space exploration robots can collect moon rocks. Car-door-welding robots can weld car doors. Left side. Front only.
Movies always make the same two mistakes about futuristic tech. First, how often it would break down (all the fucking time), and two, how many different things it can do.
You might say, but what about my phone, it can do loads of shit. No, it can’t. It can do loads of different shit you have no use for, but you try to get it to do all the stuff that requires real processing power at the same time and then see if it still has enough battery power left to make a phone call.
Even opening a bunch of tabs on your internet browser will crash your cutting edge computer that can play AAA games on ultra settings.
It isn’t quality that’s the problem, it’s quantity. The more you give your microchip to do, the faster it will kill your battery, the more heat it will put out, the slower it will get and the quicker it will freeze up and crash.
My point is that these robots were maternity-bots. They looked like they’d been very well prepped for the job of delivering whatever monstrosity Mandy had just given birth to, but that also meant they would pretty much suck at any other task.
I slithered out of the air vent and landed on the sticky floor of the Frankenstein Memorial maternity ward with a slight splash.
The robots had existed with their prize and I couldn’t see any cameras. I remained flattened against the wall just to check I wasn’t missing anything. Mandy was flat on her back on the gurney and not moving. She was hooked up to a bunch of wires and machines which were blinking coloured lights like a fifteen-year-old’s self-built desktop PC (does anyone actually like RGB lights?) so presumably she was still alive. I didn’t really have the time to help her right now, but after I sucked the mojo out of her baby, I’d come back and sort her out with my healing powers. She wasn’t in any danger. Probably.
There was a door the robots had disappeared through and I started to creep towards it, keeping low and listening for any signs of company.
“Where are you going?” said Raffo, his head sticking out of the vent, making it look like he’d been stuffed and mounted by the Fat Nerd Hunting Society.
“It’s fine, I’m just going to follow the robots.”
“But you need her blood.” He stuck his arm out of the vent with an arrow held in his fat fist.
I had told him we were here to get some of Mandy’s blood, which was an essential ingredient when it came to killing demons. He was very keen on killing demons because of his religious beliefs and that was fine by me. Stupid fuckers are much easier to convince if they think you believe the same stupid shit as them.
“Yep, yep,” I said, taking the arrow from him. I still needed his assistance so the charade had to continue. “I’ll just dip this in her…” I moved towards Mandy, her legs splayed and her ragged vag presenting like a very bloody inkwell.
A Roomba scuttled out of the way as it mopped up red gunk off the blood-drenched floor. It didn’t look like it approved of my intentions.
“It’s hard to believe they would leave this palace unsupervised,” said Raffo, doing his best Statler and Waldorf from the balcony.
In a movie, certainly not. There’d be cameras slowly scanning from side to side; soldiers guarding every entrance; patrols checking and rechecking every possibility of an incursion.
But this wasn’t a movie, it was real life. And real life is paid for by cheap bastards who cut corners and hire incompetents. I was willing to bet my life on it. I had numerous times before and I had never been disappointed. Or I had always been disappointed, depending on how you look at it.
A woman who had just given birth left alone in precarious condition might seem vicious and heartless to the extreme. Even if she was an enemy or an evil demon, you would think she’d be treated with some modicum of decency.
This was not a movie. This wasn’t even direct to streaming.
In real life, people who you will never see get treated with the care and respect you would expect to be handed out by people who know their actions will never be scrutinised.
I could see Mandy’s chest going up and down (I was only looking at her chest for medical reasons, it’s your own dirty minds you should be concerned about) and her hands twitched. They were cuffed to the guardrails on the bed.
She was in a bad state and likely to die from blood loss if something wasn’t done, but I wasn’t too worried. Partly because I’m not someone who sees death as some terrible fate that should be met with screaming and wailing and gnashing of teeth. But mostly because my healing skills would fix her up in a jiffy.
I approached at an angle so I wouldn’t be directly looking into the abyss. Nietsche said it was a bad idea and when has following German’s ideology ever led anyone astray?
Most of her blood had either already dried up or been mopped up. As I looked for a pool to dip my arrowhead into (not a euphemism) Mandy moaned and her eyes flickered a bit.
Then her hand shot out, the chains only restricting her movements a little, and grabbed my wrist. Her eyes were wide open now and her head rose.
“Colin?” She burst into manic laughter. It was disturbing.
“Mandy, are you alright?” It would have been rude not to ask, although I was more concerned with trying to get my hand free. I chafe easily. Her grip was unnaturally strong.
She looked back at me blinking rapidly. “It is you. You selfish prick. My baby. Save him. I beg you...” Another peal of laughter bubbled out of her. “Drugs,” she spluttered. Typical West London girl. Always trying to score without paying for it. “They used special drugs. I feel… wonderful.” More laughter. Then her eyes rolled up and she passed out. Machines beeped and lights flashed.
She was off her head but at least she wasn’t aware of her condition. If she’d known how greasy her hair was, she’d have had a fit.
At least she had let go of my hand.
“That’s great,” I muttered. “Happy for you. Try to save me some next time.”
Cheng had wanted me to save Mandy and Mandy wanted me to save the baby. At this rate, the baby would want me to save its Teddy and I’d never get what I wanted.
I quickly dabbed at some blood dripping off the bed and headed for the door. I wasn’t going to do much damage with a stain on a stick but I was pretty confident in myself, even without magic. That might sound strange considering I no longer had any special abilities and I was back home where I was at a severe disadvantage compared to just about everyone, but I wasn’t the same person I’d been before I’d left.
Sure, my opponents might have more money or better lawyers. They might be able to ruin my prospects and avoid responsibilities, consequences and taxes, but the question was what would they do if they came face to face with an ogre?
“Kill her,” Raffo insisted.
I looked up at him. “Why?”
“She’s a demon. You have her blood. End it.”
“She isn’t a demon, she’s just married to one,” I pointed out.
“She joined in union with a denizen of hell,” said Raffo.
“I think you're overstating her wedding vows. Marriage is just a contract for the mutual use of sexual organs. It isn’t the adoption of an ideology. You know, you aren’t being very Christian right now. Love thy enemy, remember?”
“What makes you think I am a Christian?” said Raffo, looking slightly horrified by the accusation.
“You’re not? But all the religious stuff you were spouting…”
“I am a Utilitarian.”
I had to think about it for a second before realising I had no idea what that was.
“You don’t follow Jesus Christ?”
“No. I follow the work of John Stuart Mill. Utilitarianism is the only true church of England.”
“Wasn’t he Scottish?” I asked.
“No, he was English. But it is also the only true church of Scotland,” said Raffo.
I was about to ask him some further questions, like, ‘What the fuck are you talking about, you malingering nonce,’ but the doors suddenly opened.
I did a quick turnabout, ducked down behind the bed and watched from through the legs as a robot came trundling in. It was just one, probably sent to check on Mandy, make sure she was enjoying her trip.
Now that I was closer, I could see there was indeed a camera lens on the head of the robot, giving it a friendly Johnny 5 look. It raised its one arm and snapped its not so friendly claw at Mandy’s exposed snatch.
It went straight in, no foreplay, no fingering as a warm-up. Boom, in, thwip, out. A fat pile of flesh gushed out with a squelch. It wasn’t a second child as I first thought, it was the placenta. And it was glowing purple.
Here was my chance. Forget the baby, this was my ticket to the magic buffet. People ate placenta. I could eat this one and Colin the Grey could be reborn as Colin the Off-White.
I realise it sounds disgusting but I’d eaten some pretty disgusting things in my time. Roasted rat. Fish that scream. KFC. I was hardly in a position to turn my nose up at a little afterbirth.
The robot turned around and headed back towards the exit. I made my way around the bed on all fours and fell in behind. It either didn’t notice me or ignored my presence.
The robot didn’t turn around, alerted by the sound of me following. It was a robot and it didn’t notice suspicious things, not unless it had been programmed to. Why would it?
It also wouldn’t try to appreciate classical music or understand love, so in that regard, it was about the same level as a chav but still a long way from being human.
Raffo decided to clamber out of the vent at this moment, slipping out backwards so his giant arse wiggled ominously before he landed with a crunch on top of the Roomba.
“Oh,” he said, sounding guilty.
The doors slid open and we followed the robot into the corridor. I needed to figure out a way to grab the placenta without it being noticed, and then I needed to find a kitchenette with a cooker and a skillet. Maybe some salt and pepper.
One chapter ahead on Patreon for now.Afterword from Mooderino