Name: Kevin Long
Project: Quake 4
I push open the weathered door to the coffee shop, a tinkling bell above the door
announcing my entrance. The painted name, peeling and faded, on the door's unwashed glass
proclaims that this is Joe's Coffee Emporium. Some emporium. Upon the walls, once painted
white but now yellowed with nicotine, are cheaply framed prints of faraway places faded by
the years in direct sunlight. The floor's badly in need of a good mopping. The scuffed
checker-board linoleum looks to have accumulated fifty years worth of disgusting crud and
dried urine. In fact, my shoes make a sickening sucking-squishing sound with every step I
take towards the counter. If I didn't need a cup of joe so badly I'd high-tail it outta
I gingerly take a seat at the counter upon a rickety stool uplholstered in red
vinyl. Two seats down from me is a ratty-looking bum passed out with his head lying in a
plate of half-eaten eggs and hash browns. He obivously hasn't bathed in weeks since I can
smell his pungnent aroma from here. To bring the point home, a roach scurries out of his
sleeve takes a look around, forms an opinion of the dingy shop, and returns to the darkness
of its host's sleeve. The bum is the only other patron besides me.
I call out for some service and an elderly woman shuffles from the kitchen area
asking, "What's yer pleasure, mister?" Like the bum two seats down, she, too, looks like she
could use a good scrubbing and hosin' down. Her nametag says her name is Trixie.
"Cup of black coffee for me. Get my pal there whatever he wants, too", I say
jutting a thumb in the direction of the comatose bum.
Drawing my coffee she remarks, "Think he's already got himself want he wants most...
an egg and hashbrown pillow", and cackles a high-pitched gale of laughter that turns into a
phlegm-spewing coughing jag. When her coughing finally subsides, she noisily clears the back
of her throat and spits a big honker onto the floor behind the counter. "That'll be two-
bits", the old hag demands as she sets my coffee before me. I rummage through my pants
pocket and throw a quarter and a dime onto the counter. "Keep the change, sweetheart".
She scoops up the coins, rings it up on an ancient cash register, dumps the change into the
drawer and slams it shut with a reverberating thud. Trixie then proceeds to wipe down the
counter with a rag that's even dirtier than the floor.
While I'm sipping my coffee, which is surprisingly good, I decide to rummage
through the good-looker's purse. Perhaps I can get her address from her license and return
her belongings. To be frank, my motives for doing so are not purely of the good-samaritain
variety. I find her wallet, open it, and pull out her license from a little pocket with a
clear plastic window. God...this woman's so drop dead gorgeous even her license photo looks
like a Playboy gatefold. Like most people, mine resembles an unshaven troglodyte thats been
beaten by a bevy of ugly sticks. Her address is on 43rd. Not far from here. I return her
license back into its clear plastic pocket and open the sleeve where her paper money should
be. Jesus....there must be over twenty G's here! All in thousand dollar bills! Wow...
beautiful and rich. I just struck oil, ladies and gentlemen.
I close up her wallet and slip it into my coat pocket. I'm not stealin' it, mind
you, just making sure that much money and her address stays close to me. I resume my
invasion of her privacy and come across an old wooden box about the size of my hand at the
bottom of her purse. The top of the box is intricately craved with little skeletons
intertwined in an orgy of death. Interesting. I pull at the top to open it and the lid comes
free with a hiss of escaping air. What the hell! Inside the box, resting on red velvet, is
a mummified hand holding an ornate key carved from bone. Gold in elaborate designs is
inlaid throughout the length of the key. When I try to remove the key from the grisly hand
it doesn't budge. Behind me, the bell above the door announces another patron to Joe's fine
While I'm intently studying the key someone sits between me and the bum. God...this
guy smells even worse than the bum. I look at my new neighbor and I'm mildly surprised to
see that every inch of him is completely covered with dirty black cloth, even his hands
and face. The only openings in his shroud are two eye slits. If he had a sickle I'd swear
he was the grim reaper.
I'm about to move down a couple of seats to escape the stench when the "Reaper"
croaks in a voice from beyond the grave, "The key. Give it to me", and grabs my wrist
holding the box with its treasure. I try to snatch my hand back, but his grip is like a
steel vice. I think I hear a slight cracking noise emitting from my wrist and the shooting
pain confirms my first impression. Trying to not let on that he's starting to hurt me, I
boldly state, "Get your own key, Elephant Man".
"It is my key", rasps the "Reaper", and snatches the box out of my hand before I
can even react. Once he has the box, he's up and heading for the door. God, this guy moves
like greased lightning! Before I'm even off my stool, he's out the door.
I crash through the coffee shop door and just catch a glimpse of a black shroud
rounding the corner into the alleyway next to Joe's. I sprint around the corner and almost
run headlong into the "Reaper". He's bent over the box, staring into its interior which is
glowing an other-worldly green. I try to sieze the box back, but the "Reaper" backhands me
across the face sending me flying into a pile of trash bags. Damn, that hurt! I jump up and
leap at big n' ugly. I mean to slug the guy in the kisser, but end up missing when he
ducks. My errant fist catches on some of the fabric of his hood and yanks it from his head.
The "Reaper" looks up at me with eyes smouldering rage. I'm totally stunned and stammer,
"You! It can't be you. Not you...."
Check out Bobby Duncanson's Plan File for the next exciting chapter....
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