J u n e   2 0 0 1

Guest Writer

Part Five: Face to face all over the place
by Jess Gulbranson

In Part 1, Mel lost his motel in a poker game; he met a man who claimed to be an alien in Part 2; in Part 3, he found himself in alien surroundings; and in Part 4, Mel befriended some strange beings looking for trouble in an out-of-this-world bar ...

Part Five: Face to face all over the place
Following Mel's lead, the dogmen drew knives from their tunics -- huge blades with strangely back-curved handles to accommodate their paw-hands. The dogmen appeared to be knife-wielding experts.

Much like an earthly barfight, it erupted full force from a moment of relative calm after the initial blow. It was a far greater spectacle when it did erupt, however, as alien weapons of incredible power were brought into play alongside the fisticuffs of various non-human forms. Lances of light burst across the room, vaporizing hapless targets, but not even marring the room or its furnishings. Beings fought with oddly shaped arms, legs and other limbs. Some grew new appendages solely for the purpose of knocking the crap out of others.

Mel, Ramon and the rest of the dogmen hunched down behind tables to avoid the crossfire. Ramon shook his knife in the direction of some "Gray Hand" vampires, who were fighting with fang and fist, taking a nip of the red stuff when they could.

"Bloodsuckers!" said Ramon. "I would kick their asses directly if I could get through the crossfire!" Mel noticed that he looked genuinely sad at the obstacle.

"De nada," sighed Ramon. He motioned and Mel and his new comrades made their way to a dark hallway where there was no fighting. One of the dogmen dragged a table over and produced a glowing disk. He placed it on the tabletop and began spinning it on its edge, making tiny nudges to adjust its speed.

Ramon turned to Mel: "The device will take us where we want to go. Just be a minute. Make sure you stand within three meters."

Mel nodded, then turned as he felt a twinge of danger.

Mel spun about to face a hideous being, a round bulb of a creature with spindly legs and a flat head that reminded him of a stingray. It hissed and clacked its claws, which were covered in armor like the shell of an insect. Mel's stomach did a flip-flop and he brought his toy-like zapper to bear -- just in time for the creature's pounce.

His shot caught the creature in mid flight. There was no report, or any sound at all, when he pulled the trigger. But the thing's abdomen exploded violently, scattering legs in all directions and dropping the flat head at Mel's feet.

Ramon turned at the gruesome splattering sound, and uttered a short bark of amazement. "You'd better hide that, diblillo. If it's even rumored that you have one, everyone will be after your ass to steal or destroy the zapper."

Mel looked down at the unassuming red pistol. "It doesn't seem that bad, Ramon."

"It is, diblillo. Blows a hole through anything. Anything."

Mel tucked the zapper back in the pocket of his red sweatshirt, thankful for the little plastic trigger guard that would keep the weapon from being accidentally fired.

"Diego could tell you more about it," said Ramon, pointing to the dogman who was spinning the glowing disc. "Maybe later."

Mel heard a high-pitched whine, and Diego, kneeling by the table, began to spin the disc more swiftly. The whine grew louder, and Ramon motioned to Mel and the dogmen to come closer. Before Mel could take a step, he was struck from the side.

Another of the rust-colored humanoids was pushing him forward and roaring as though Mel was a tackling dummy -- forcing Mel down the corridor. The humanoid's charge was so violent that Mel didn't have time to set his feet and stop.

Over a russet shoulder he could see the dogmen and their disc, surrounded by a sort of crackling energy, almost like mood lightning. He knew he had to get within three meters. Mel leaned down and forced the humanoid backwards, both of them roaring now. Ramon gestured frantically, and Mel was almost there when he saw the dogmen disappear in a bright flash. He wasn't close enough.
But the device wasn't done. Thin bolts snaked out and touched the humanoid. He faded too, but screaming and clutching his heart. The same happened to Mel -- the bolts zapped him -- causing wild heart palpitations. He doubled over in pain, and when he looked up again, he was standing in front of his old Motor Gotel.

Jesus, thought Mel, maybe it was a weird dream. He looked up at the Gotel's sign and did a double take. It read: "DIMPE'S MOTOR GOTEL." He rushed into the office.

There at the counter was the pig-eyed alien blackmailer, Dimpe.

"What the fuck are you doing in my Gotel?" Mel implored, as Dimpe let out a surprised whimper and jumped out the back door without a word.

"Come back here, you fat fuck!" Mel jumped over the counter and out the door. The rear gate was swinging open, and, when Mel ran through it, Dimpe was nowhere to be seen. "Fine. But I know where you live, you bandejo!"

Confused, Mel began to walk to the train yard.

He arrived at the boxcar shortly. No one was around, but when Mel neared the steps someone stepped out of the car. It was the mustachioed old man Mel had seen at his first visit with Dimpe.

"Hey, pops! Where's Dimpe?" Mel asked.

The old man looked perplexed, swinging his cane indecisively. "Excuse me," he uttered, and attempted to brush past Mel.

Mel grabbed the old man by his free arm. "You stay right here and answer my questions or I'll kick your ass good, old or young."

"Not in this world you won't." Mel blinked at the man's strange statement, and in that instant the cane connected with his head. Crumpled on the ground, head spinning, Mel tried to get up and pursue.

"You old fart, I'll …" The old man spun with extraordinary speed and swept Mel's feet out from under him, cracking him on the head again on the way down. When at last Mel could rise, the old man was gone.

"What is it," Mel said aloud, "with people these days?"

Once inside the train car, he listened for signs of life. Nothing. Then he opened the latch of the concealed door and burst in like he had seen on a million cop shows.

Someone was standing at the filing cabinet, facing away from Mel. It wasn't Dimpe. The man was tall, wearing jeans and Wellington boots just like Mel's. He was even wearing a sweatshirt, colored a bright green. The head was topped with unnaturally yellow hair.

"Is this some kind of a joke? Where's that joto, Dimpe?"

The man turned, and when Mel saw a face identical to his own, he knew that it was no joke -- and no dream.

"Who the hell are you?" asked the yellow-haired green-sweatshirted man. And for once, Mel could say that he honestly didn't know the answer.

Find out more about Mel in our archives.

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