Someone had poured glue in my mouth and hit me in the head with a pipe. Stainless steel schedule 80 by the feel of it. My arms felt like they were full of angry bees and my stomach was currently on spin cycle. To top it all off, I was blind – which was bad – although my sense of smell seemed to be just fine.
Normally I would consider that a good thing, but judging from the smell of the fart that ripped out of my butt I wasn’t so sure, since it seemed to indicate that a small woodland animal had decided to take up residence in my colon and then promptly die there. This kind of thing didn’t happen when I was nineteen.
The angel of death approached and extended a fist towards me.
“Here,” Rok said. “Eat these.”
I held out my hand and accepted the offering. Like I was gonna say ‘no’. I took a moment to consider what to do with the half pound of pills, capsules, lozenges and suppositories that I was now holding when Rok placed a glass of water in my other hand. I had almost made the connection of what I was supposed to do when he spoke again.
“Come on, knock ‘em back. They’ll make you feel better.” Rok turned and walked back to the other side of the room.
I glared at him for a moment. I would have figured it out myself eventually. Oh, well. I started to lift the pills to my mouth when he suddenly turned.
“Hey, is there a little white capsule in there?” he asked.
I looked. There was.
“Yeah,” I said.
“Okay. Hey, don’t eat that one okay?”
“It’s a suicide pill. Cyanide. You’d be dead in 15 seconds. Flat.”
“Oh,” I said, plucking the intruder from the rest of the pills. “Good safety tip. Anything else in here that might be a surprise?”
“Nah. Not that I can think of anyway.”
I put the cyanide pill in my pocket for safe keeping. Wouldn’t want the little rascal to accidentally find its way into someplace dangerous, like, say, my stomach. The rest of the pills looked fairly pharmaceutical so I swallowed them one by one and hoped for the best.
When I had finished, Rok was sitting at one of the computer terminals typing frenetically. Or possibly frantically, it was too early to tell. Either something had happened or the deadline for submissions to this month’s Penthouse Forum was almost at hand.
“What’s going on?” I said as I struggled to my feet.
“Bad things. My contact in Japan has identified some local activity from our four legged friend.”
I scratched my head. “He’s in Japan? I thought he was in Europe somewhere.”
“He is in Europe. In Norway? You know, the country right across the border from Japan?” Rok sighed. “Duh.”
Yeah. Okay. This all made sense.
I pulled out a cigarette and fired it up. It was nice for a change to consciously do this, although where I got a gold Zippo with “ZSM” engraved on it I had no idea. I took the last drag and ground the cigarette out on the floor. Time had no relevance here.
“So, Rokko, are you going to fill me in here or what? All that typing you’re doing, there must be some major communication going on.”
“Yeah, just finishing up. Let me print it out for you.” A few more keystrokes and several sheets of paper spewed from the laserjet. Rok picked them up and handed them to me. “See what you make of that,” he said.
I sat back in the heated La-Z-Boy, kicked my shoes off, took a sip from my Martini, and began to enter the mind of my foe.
I’ve enjoyed reading the stories in your magazine for years, but I never thought they were true. Until recently that is. It happened on a Tuesday night several weeks ago. I’m a college freshman, and I was in the dorm working diligently on my chemistry assignment when an insistent knocking on the door interrupted my studies. I opened the door slowly and much to my surprise, two of the hottest looking ladies I have ever seen walked on in, devilish smiles on their faces. Tight jeans and tighter sweaters let me know right away that their bodies were made to please. As it turned out, Tracy and Lori (not their real names, of course) had seen me in class, and decided that they were going to unofficially welcome me to the university. . .
My foe was a pervert. I must have been as well because by this point I was well entrenched in the story and a Boy Scout troop had apparently erected a pup-tent in my pants. I read it to the end, when Bill (not his real name either), Tracy, and Lori lay sweaty and exhausted on the floor. I let out a long, satisfied breath.
“Well. What do you think?” Rok said.
“Not bad. But I don’t think you explained very well when exactly it was that Lori pulled off her sweater.”
Rok blushed and grinned slyly. “Uh,” he said, “sorry. Wrong stuff.” He snatched the papers from me and turned back to the computer. His fingers flew over the keyboard for a few more seconds and the printer spat out a single sheet. “Here, try this.”
By now the Boy Scout troop had broke camp and I was back to business again. I perused the sheet Rok had handed me. It was much shorter and not nearly as sensual as what I had read before, but at least it was applicable to the story. It read:
Roses are red,Violets are blue,
I destroyed all the crops in Asia,
And now I’ll destroy all of the crops in Europe as well.
I reread the note again and pondered it thoughtfully. I don’t think you can ponder something any other way, but maybe I’ll try later. I knew one thing for sure: Zodar couldn’t rhyme worth a shit. Other than that, the message was hazy. What was he trying to say? Rok broke my reverie.
“Interesting, isn’t it?”
“Oh yes. Tells us a lot. Like the fact that he’s going to destroy all of the crops in Europe. Of course, we already knew that he was in Europe and we already knew what he was going to be doing while he was there, but if we pretended we didn’t, this would be big.”
“No, not that. You can’t take the rhyme literally, it’s coded. Means nothing as it is.”
“But. . . ,” I said, leading him on.
“But if you take every third consonant and multiply the numerical alphabetical value of each by the square root of today’s day, date, and year and then assign word values based on a coded index which, in this case, is found on page 78 of the March issue of GQ, you get the baseplate data from which you can then extrapolate the other consonants and all of the vowels and find the real message.”
“Ah, yes. So simple.”
“Yeah. He obviously wanted us to crack it or he would’ve made it a little harder.”
“Obviously,” I replied. I looked around for a few moments. “Darn it, would you believe I don’t have my March GQ? I was sure I just had it. Say, Rok, could you . . I mean . . . since you’ve already done the math . . .” I held out the message to Rok. If I hinted any harder I’d break his nose.
“Oh yeah, no sweat.” Rok grabbed the note and scribbled underneath it for a few moments. He handed it back. Of course he handed it back. What the hell else was he going to do with it?
For the third time this morning – which is about three times more often than I prefer in any one month – I began to read:
Good day Mr. Lassiter! And it will always be Mr. Lassiter to me, for I am no friend, nor will I ever be.
At least he was rhyming better.
My mission is a simple one: Revenge! Revenge against those who created me, for creating me to do battle and then pushing me aside once my reason for being no longer existed. Revenge against those for whom my creators had created me to do battle against, for no longer providing my creators with someone to do battle against and thus causing my reason for being too no longer exist and subsequently then giving them reason to push me aside. And revenge against everyone else, for looking like either those who created me or those who I was created to do battle against, just to make sure I don’t miss anybody. Okay, I’ll admit, it’s a tad more complicated than I originally made it out to be, and I apologize if I misled you a little bit.
Nevertheless! That is my mission! Again, in summary for those of you who may still be a little confused: Revenge against the world!
Sincerely,Zodar the Spy Moose, Esq.
P.S. – By the way, I don’t have anything to do with that whole “crop annihilation” thing that’s going on. That’s just some whacked out scheme that Rok and Stinky Pete thought up to get rich. My nefarious goal is a little loftier; I’m taking over Disney World!
P.S.S. – I look forward to crushing you with my mighty antlers.
I lowered the note.
“Strong words,” Rok said.
Rok poured something into his mouth, noticed me looking at him, and held his hand out to me. “Chiclet?”
“No thanks. Bad memories for me there.”
“Suit yourself. I think they’re great.”
“Depends on your past, I guess.”
I straightened my jacket and donned my hat. I love donning my hat. Love it so much I did it again. And then two more times. Getting my instincts back. Felt good.
“Listen, Rok,” I said, “we’ve got a little bit of a problem here.”
“Yeah. Little bit.”
He was now seated at the table, quietly filling a couple dozen shot glasses lined up in front of him with scotch.
“I figured we might. Let me guess. Note tip you off?”
“You could say that.”
“Yeah. In hindsight I guess it probably would have been better not to have included that part about me and Stinky Pete, what with me doing the translating and all.”
He continued filling the shot glasses until all were full. Then sat back and put the bottle on the table and looked at me.
“You know, Dick,” he said, “I wish it didn’t have to be like this. I was just starting to like you.”
“I appreciate that. But it’s a little late for that now.”
“Yeah, I know. That’s why I’m gonna have to ask you to drink these.”
I had a faint idea of what he was planning, but I had absolutely no intention of allowing it to happen.
“And if I say no?” I asked.
“Then I’m gonna have to wrap my biceps around your head and crush your skull.”
Hair of the dog or crushed skull. Intentions be damned. Suddenly, having a drink didn’t seem like such a bad idea after all. Besides, it had to be 5 o’clock somewhere in the world.
I sat down at the table across from Rok, looked him straight in the eye, and drank the first shot.