Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Story Virus Is Weak But Persistent

As you can see from my Story Virus v3 Memorial, the virus is not thriving at this point, but it's not quite dead, either.

Alas, I have been infected with it yet again. Here's the strain I was hit with.

The bus was more crowded than usual. It was bitterly cold outside, and I hadn't prepared for it. I noticed that a fair number of the riders were dressed curiously. As I glanced around, I stretched my feet and kicked up against a large, heavy cardboard box laying under the seat in front of me. (Splotchy)

Its owner, a fat shifty-looking hillbilly, slouched uncomfortably under the weight of his Bulgarian army surplus wool coat and cap. I could tell he wasn't cut out for this weather. He jerked around, almost spastic, when he felt the box tap against his feet. He gulped and stared at me bug-eyed, one obscene rivulet of sweat running down his temple, down along his jaw, finally disappearing somewhere between his second chin and the fake fur collar of his coat.

Right away, and for no good reason, he pissed me off.

He would not stop staring at me. I could hear his wheezing breath. I could smell every stinking minute of his sputtering life. My muscles tensed.

We were a little isolated from the rest of the riders. I looked around. Apart from a couple greasy-looking hippies stealing glances in my direction, everyone was in their own dazed world. Another rivulet of sweat began the long journey down the hillbilly's fat face. He licked his lips.

Enough was enough. I shot my arm up and popped him right between the eyes, snapping his head back. He slumped forward. I felt my anger slowly recede. I reached over him, took the cap off his head and placed it on my own. It smelled like a slaughterhouse, but it would keep me warm.

In the corner of my eye, I noticed the hippies making their way over to me. The man, wearing a dirty poncho and sporting a handlebar mustache, sat down in my seat. I reflexively scooted over to not have him in my lap. The girl, a smallish brunette wearing heavy black eyeliner and a shapeless green coat, sat behind me.

"You see, Snow?" the man said. "I knew he was the one. Did you see that jab?"

"Whatever," Snow said.

"That was great, man. Snow thought the guy in front of you was the one."

He must have spotted confusion in my eyes. "We saw the box, but we didn't know if it was yours." The man smiled broadly. "I'm Rain. You're Leaf, right?"

I looked at him more closely. He was wearing a shoulder holster under his poncho. He had deep green eyes that were sharp and serious. The smile left his face as abruptly as it had appeared. "You better get the box ready."

I looked him deep in the eyes. There was something familiar there. Something from...

It hit me.


"What you talkin' about, punk?"

"You' Dad. I've seen the pictures."

"The pictures. WHAT pictures?"

"the pictures of you and my Mom, Sally Swinton."

"Sally! I remember Sally. She was a good one, she was. Whatever happened with her?"
(Roger Owen Green)

I didn't need to tell him. It was none of his business. "She's in a Cryo Lab in Encino." Shit.

Rain's jaw dropped. "Wait, she's a scientist?"

"No, she has an inoperable tumor. She had herself cryogenically frozen until a cure is found."

"Sally's a POPSICLE?"

Snow chuckled and slapped me on the back. "Far out, man."

I felt anger ripple through me again. I spoke softly through clenched teeth, "She is not a popsicle. She's my mother."

The bus stopped. A few riders stepped off.

Rain grabbed the box and jumped out the rear door. When he popped back on his hands were empty. He stared intently out the window as the bus pulled away from the curb and made its way down the block. He turned to me. "How long are they gonna keep her frozen?"

"As long as it takes," I grumbled.

"That's gotta take a lot of money. Is she loaded?"

I didn't like where this conversation was headed. "She does okay."

Rain stroked his chin for a few moments. "Are you loaded?"


Rain's smile returned. "I wanna see her."

Suddenly, the bus shuddered. Several side windows cracked. My forehead smacked against the seat in front of me as we screeched to a halt. The remaining riders bolted outside, except for the hillbilly, who was still slumped in the same position, sweating and wheezing. Rain and Snow didn't move. I looked down the street and saw the plume of a fireball.

Rain giggled. "Hey, no sense in letting the box go to waste, right? Let's go see your mom." (Splotchy)

Who can I tag? Who can I tag?

I don't know that the following people will have the time or inclination to continue the virus, so I am tagging a shitpile of them.

Johnny Yen
Jim Woodring
Warren Ellis
Eugene Mirman
Tenacious S
Harvey Pekar

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