Feb 13, 2011

July 4th, 2010

Around the ninth century AD, the Chinese discovered how to make gunpowder. Shortly after that, someone packed a charge of gunpowder into a wooden tube, attached it to a stick, and rocketed someone in the crotch from fifty yards away.

I wrote this then, but am finally posting it now because the police finally have stopped asking questions around my neighborhood. On July 3rd, 2010, I went out and spent a few bucks on cheap fireworks, because I didn't have any more of the "good" ones. A crappy plastic rocket, a MLRS system aka brick bristling with little nosecones, (Boldly proclaiming that it would fire one hundred whistling reports) and 288 bottle rockets. Oh, and there's those cherry bombs that they package as "M-1000s," they're good to drop in buckets of water for a little rain shower. I also have some fireworks "augmentation" material, otherwise known as blackpowder and cannon fuse, in addition to a shoulder mounted bottle rocket launcher made out of Monster Energy screw-top cans.

On the fourth, my beginning shots with the launcher mostly blew up in the grass, sending a little curl of smoke skyward after a muffled pop. That's still OK, because every bit of collateral damage my lawn suffers just means less yardwork later.

Bottle rockets can be fired about as accurately as you can train a cat to fetch; it isn't possible and trying just leads to someone getting hurt. Fun for the whole family! I discovered that my stone house, the hill it is on, and the local topology add up to one thing: fireworks I set off will sound at LEAST twice as loud than anyone else, and the echo will go around the whole side of town.

Even the wimpy bottle rockets sound like a shotgun going off. So very cool. The downside is that everyone else tries to compete, and they get aggressive.
The frat guy next door thinks that mortar shells are hand grenades. He's been drinking. He has crappy throwing aim. Something blows up on my roof and I'm pelted by little pieces of shingle. FUCK. That's going to be expensive. I check to make sure that nothing is on fire, then snap back out of first person narrative mode.

The next one just makes it over the tall privacy hedge that I created by totally ignoring anything that grew on the property line, charring one of my yuccas.

I launched a tri-burst of rockets straight at the "Bro" and his "Bros," and someone shrieked like a little girl. The rockets never actually made it to where I wanted them to blow up (directly above their stupid flat billed ball caps) but I made some good tries.

My position was then battered by a volley of screaming shells, and I returned fire with an improvised flashbang, created by shaking some Pyrodex into a popcan and stuffing a crappy cherry bomb into the opening.

That's another two foot wide circle of black dirt that I won't have to bother mowing next week.

I tried to create some cover, but smoke bombs are worthless crap, even the big quarter stick sized cardboard roll only created enough smoke to give myself lung cancer, but not enough to hide in.

My next shot went wild. A dud, it spiraled onto the driveway of the house across the street from me. Jose and his exceptionally large family of questionable immigration status were outside. I felt icy latin daggers being stared in my direction. Ash from earlier explosions fell on my head like snow.

The Bro Army was too inebriated to present a threat, but my new adversary was going to be a challenge. Unsurprisingly, they have a metric ass-load of illegal Mexican fireworks, which were now being turned on ME. They quickly learned that anything that blows up over my yard sounds even louder. Dammit. I had to defend my property!

I swiftly packed the launcher and lit it one handed, aiming over the street. There was an earth shattering KABOOM, except it was two feet away from me. My cheapo lighter went AWOL at this point.

Wait, Glock makes Monster bottles? Yes, the firing chamber can had ruptured.

Fortunately, the hole acted as a cool underside 'porting' which dropped an impressive shower of sparks out the bottom each time I fired subsequent shots.
Using a trail of black powder, I set up a system to ignite my improvised Katyusha made from pipes hammered into the rim of planter dirt along my porch, a morale-boosting salute of cherry bombs AND the properly angled MLRS, while I aimed the Light Anti-Tonk Weapon.

With moments to spare before they lit the fuse on the toddler-sized cardboard tube aimed at my porch, I dropped my zippo onto the powder and pulled the ripcord on my magnesium fire starting device, swinging my LAW up into a firing stance.
Pause for a second. I almost have my energy drink-built launcher shouldered. Jose has the barbecue lighter out, almost touching the half inch thick rope sticking out of his "My Lil' First Weapon of Mass Destruction". We have intense eye contact. Somewhere, a fish hawk screamed in the night.


Everything worked perfectly. The katyusha bottle rockets sputtered into the air and illuminated the night above my target, while the non-stop squealing launches and explosions from the MLRS - worth every penny of the 5.49 even though the shots were more widespread than Herpes - demoralized the enemy, even as he lit the fuse on his own Uber Fuehrwork. In the final seconds before needing to dive into the bushes for cover, my LAW ignited and gracefully arced over the street, airbursting five feet above the hood of a passing cop cap.

The officer at the wheel locked the brakes and slid sideways, ending with the wheels kissing the curb in front of Jose and, thank god, facing away from me.
The world slowed down. I grabbed my LAW and box of goodies and dove off my porch into the boxwoods. The MLRS still was going, probably with a good fifty ear-splitting shrieks and pops to go.

Jose turned away and threw his arms up in front of his face, saying something that probably translated to "Oh shit, oh SHIT, fire in the hole!" moments before a pillar of white fire erupted in front of him. It was so bright, I saw lens flare. Flaming balls flew out, directly at the officer's car. One of them hit the windshield and went vertical, spitting and fizzing like Hillary Clinton being confronted with a cross and garlic.

The cop threw their car in reverse and went nowhere in spectacular fashion, smoke streaming from the tires. The siren blooped on and started to wail, then was drowned out by what can only be described as a pyrotechnical roar. Jose started to run. I proned out under a bush and considered tactically wetting myself. There were more sirens from different directions and a tree was now on fire with a flaming ball dripping out of it. Patches of flame dotted Jose's yard and there was something smoldering in the street, then more explosions.

The frat boys next door were cheering enthusiastically. I stumbled through my lawn, popped my collar, stole a visor from a passed out "Bro" and put it on upside down+backwards, and blended in as hard as I could. I don't like X-Box Halo or those "really, really funny" Chuck Norris gags, so it was a tense time. I found their stash of fireworks and stole all of the large ones which might damage my house. Don't worry, I didn't take them off their property. I left them safely concealed in at least five different "aftermarket mufflers" on ugly ricer cars and one (domesti-riced) mustang. I then stealthily evacced into my back yard.

Eventually, the cops went away. I don't know where Jose is, but nothing is on fire anymore, I'm out of fireworks except for a few dozen bottle rockets. My thumb hurts where it got repeatedly scorched. The cop was female, possibly hot. Further updates to follow.

(There were no further updates except our street got triple the usual police patrols for a solid month. I still have the Monster can rocket launcher. The End- maybe.)

Feb 6, 2011

Imagine that a pair of your underwear just walked across your bedroom floor, bowed toward you, and said “hello” while you were completely sober. Imagine shaking that off, only to have various other weird shit happen on subsequent days. Then imagine going around to look for the explanation of your hallucinations; only to find that stories of walking, bowing, friendly underpants had been well documented and decidedly fictional bedtime stories for generations and you’d just never heard of it. There your underwear are anyway... looking at you like you’re a simpleminded retard for not being able to accept the concept that they’re sentient.

It’s kind of like that.

Trying to push a singular experience into a form for people with no context for it is difficult. I’d imagine most people here don’t have the type of background I do and wouldn’t understand some of it even if explained.

I can’t think of them being particularly exciting as simple accounts, sadly. The hyped up legend stuff reads so much better. Not being there takes a hell of a lot of punch out of things; much like watching video of 9/11 fails to compare with having run for your life from the debris near ground zero.

Here is a true story of what happened to me, recounted exactly as I tell it, which isn't often.

It's 2007, and a few friends and I are getting ready for a trip to the country for some late night shooting. We're upstairs at my family's old house, it was built in the late '40s by an insane dentist, but that's a story for another time.

We're upstairs, looking for targets in my closet when we first hear it beneath us: thump, thumpa-thumpa-thump. THUMP.

Sounds like a heavy cat knocking something over, followed by the unmistakeable sound of someone walking. The floor downstairs isn't creaky, so it's not so much the sound but the feel of a heavy tread that reaches us.

Another thump, creak, shuffle.

Here's the problem, I have a cat and the furry asshole is asleep on a chair. We're all very aware of where the cat is because one of my buddies is allergic and not afraid to bitch about it.

Now we know it's not the cat, and it's not one of us. I've had possums in this house before, except possums don't make the sound of someone pacing around on two feet. We're trying to move as soft as possible and I lay my ear to the floor, as if the sounds weren't loud enough. I've also had problems with people trying to break in when I'm out of town.

More thumps and the sound of someone walking in a straight line and stopping.

Definitely someone walking around down there. Maybe a crazy hobo broke in, or a methhead, or someone trying to rob my house because they think it must have hidden riches stashed away. Can't be cops, cops would be up in our faces already.

We decide that it's some luckless dipshit thinking he's going to rob my family's house, and we grin about how unfortunate it is that he picked the time that I'm there, and that my friends are with me. We're pretty well armed and we've got a bad attitude.

Then there's the old familiar adrenaline rush while we sort out what guns we're carrying, between all of us we have enough to stage a category two insurgency, and walk downstairs. Not running, but quick. If you've ever spent any time trying to make people pay, you'll notice that they run like chickenshits. Catch a guy breaking into your garage? As long as you have anything more imposing than a can opener, the odds are good he's going to run away. Trespassers spotlighting deer on your grandpa's land? They'll set a landspeed record bugging out and away. I'm only going into detail on this because most people don't realize how difficult laying a righteous beat down on an intruder is, not because of the confrontation but because of their cowardice.

Now, maybe I'm just a supremely scary guy (I'm not, only moderately scary), and maybe it's that I've never gone looking for trouble without being properly armed, but I've always noticed that if you go spoiling for a confrontation, and if you're not fucking it up by being weaker than the people you're trying to catch, you'd better be prepared to work to catch them because they're going to try to escape. Then you have to chase them, and that's work.

The point that I'm blundering all over the place to make here is that we're being sneaky, because that is critical to our goals.

I'm in front since I know the house, I've got a police surplus vest and a Glock 19 with a light mounted + one of my totally badass 33 rounders, and it doesn't do a thing to make me feel better about not being able to find anyone. We clear the house, we can't find any open or unlocked doors or windows. Now, going around a house in the dark looking for an intruder gets a lot of people shot, but we know the laws of averages, and one guy isn't going to take all of us down, especially if all he's doing is walking around in one room.

We get to the room under my bedroom, the source of the sounds or so we think, and the footsteps are still happening as we walk into it, except they're back a bit in this bathroom which is still kinda under where we were. A minute earlier we heard stuff get crashed over onto the floor, but nothing is moved or out of place. Not a damn thing.

Meanwhile, someone is still walking around the bathroom, and we can all hear it.

That bathroom has a wicked chokepoint, and we're standing outside the door, listening to someone walk around inside.

I tell him to come out with his fucking hands up if he doesn't want to get shot to death.

No response. Still the sound of a guy, a pretty damn big guy, walking around. I can feel the footstep vibrations through the floor, and so can my friends.

I talk big a few more times about how he's going to get shot, how this is giving me flashbacks to vietnam and making me feel like gutting some VC (derp but it sounded intimidating at the time), and it doesn't really do much for our morale. Hell, if my words made the guy stop walking, at least I'd feel connected with the situation. It's creepier that he doesn't stop whatever he's doing at all.

Well, fuck it, I've got decent gear for the job and I'm not gonna live forever, so I kick the fuck out of the door and storm inside.

Did I mention that the wall of the bathroom you see once you open the door is all mirrors? Yeah. Awesome. There's also a shelf to your left once you pass the doorway, with a marble counter, between the entrance area and the tub. It's a pretty good cover spot. It's where I'd hide to whack someone as they charged in.

Nothing's hiding there. No one is in the bathroom except us and our machinegun heartrates. No one. Not a fucking soul. There's no supernatural ice coldness, no more weird sounds. The only weird feeling is that feeling you get when you realized you just had something extremely strange happen and it didn't vanish the second you thought about it. Creepy shit that keeps happening once you're thinking about it is extremely rare and extremely unsettling.

We look for a minute, and we go back upstairs. Not ten minutes later, we hear the walking again. Goddamnit.

The noises kept happening at night, on and off, the whole time we stayed there. We never found anyone or anything responsible, although the 'footsteps in the bathroom while we stand outside it' thing never happened again.

I moved back to the house after what's left of my family moved out of state, and my current bedroom is above the bathroom and rooms that had the noises, just like before.

I still hear/feel the walking sometimes, but it's always confined to those rooms, and it never happens when I'm in them, so I don't really care anymore. The ability of the mind to normalize a weird situation never fails to amaze me.

Feb 5, 2011

Since cloning mammoths is in the news again..

1. Clone Mammoth.

2. Shave Mammoth with handy Shick 5 blade. Stay still, you goddamn Mammoth.

3. Put shaved Mammoth in enclosure with African Elephants at zoo.

4. Hide evidence of genetic manipulation in plain sight.

5. Breed Mammoths.

6. Yell "Unleash THE MAMMOTHS."

7. Profit.