The Butcher’s tale
Johnny C. Vid is a man at the end of his rope, a burnout running from the horrors of his past in the shadow of gleaming high-rises and neon signs in the sprawling metropolis of the Heap. A false-life junkie, Johnny scrounges for shards of memories, living stolen snippets of other people’s lives through Vicarious Reality to avoid facing his past. As Johnny chases his next fix, he crosses paths with a nightmare creature of blood, gristle, and crimson iron. Now, Johnny must run not only from his past, but also from the brutal attentions of a deranged serial killer.
Desperate to end the pig-masked psychopath, Johnny makes a deal with the devil, begging the aid of a Triad crime boss, who just so happens to be an old fan of his. In his obsession for revenge, Johnny uncovers a conspiracy stranger and deadlier than anything he could imagine. Johnny C. Vid will brave the darkest pits of the Heap and deadly games of Court intrigue among the stars in The Butcher’s Tale.
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an excerpt from The Butcher’s Tale
Johnny hissed in pain and shook out his hands after scraping them on some rusted-out sheet of metal.
Great. Getting the shakes. Johnny stared at his jittering hands in morbid fascination. Thought that happened to other people. To junkies and burnouts.
He tried to imagine how it had come to this. From respected vid-man and finest shock-jockey in the business to grubbing through trash for a fix.
Face it, J.C. You’ve hit rock bottom. Maybe I’m better off dead.
While Johnny imitated a neo-postmodern Hamlet, an ominous thump and scrape of metal on metal resounded from around the corner of piled debris. A half-life of instincts honed in the slums of the Heap kicked in. Without thinking, the former shock-jock scrambled his bony ass to cover before peeking out from his impromptu haven.
Huh. Like that spy VR bit a few weeks back. Wish I had that tux. Before Johnny’s mind became too lost in hazy snippets of stolen memories, something shambled into view.
Something the size of a small mountain. Vaguely man-shaped, but too big and too uneven. It moved with a limp, thumping ungracefully along. Muscles swelled with stimm glands, hypersteroid, and other chemical and cybernetic implants designed to push the human musculature beyond its limits. The thing was as bulky as an Auggie, those artificially augmented heavy laborers and warriors ubiquitous throughout Dynasty worlds, but somehow fundamentally wrong. Like something half put together and then abandoned. The shuffling creature had none of the sleek lethality of the gene-engineered Corps Hunters or the Ruinous Hand, the Empress’ trained lunatics. Calling such a thing an Auggie was like calling a mountain of concrete, rebar, and glass a house. This beast was a lump of unfinished muscle, gristle, and fat. Johnny didn’t know what it was, but it wasn’t an Auggie.
A thick black apron stretched over worker’s coveralls, both straining to keep its bulk contained. Cruel instruments hung on the coveralls. A wrench sat in one pocket, red tinted surgeon’s blade in another. Hammers, saws, and other wicked things. All tools found in hell’s kingdom.
Pride of place went to thick loops of chains wrapped around its wrist, ending in a vicious looking hook. It was the kind used by meat-tenders, thick enough to hang whole carcasses of slaughtered beast. Though as befouled as anything else on the shuffling monster, the hook seemed almost pristine, its red stains seemed like marks of pride rather than neglect.
The thing scanned the area, face hidden behind a stained pig mask. Its rictus caricature of a grinning hog reminded Johnny of Smiler. Both grins were false and cruel. Rough cord-marked sutures wound haphazardly across the mask, barbed wire stitching holding the rotten material together. A large wet sack hung about the monster’s shoulders, flies buzzing in and out of it.
It looked like a nightmare birthed from the Boneyard itself.
About then, Johnny decided he wanted to live.
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