26
Oct
09

The All-Night, One-Stop Apocalypse Shop- Conclusion

And now the conclusion to the original Apocalypse Shift story.  You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.  Next week will see the start of a brand new, never-before published story set elsewhere in the Apocalypse Shift universe.

As always, if you would like to see more of Caleb and Gloria then please check out The Apocalypse Shift, currently available at Amazon.

I hope you enjoy.

The All-Night, One-Stop Apocalypse Shop- Conclusion

Hour Eight

“But we don’t have it,” Gloria said.

“And you’re the one who wants to go out there and tell them that?”

“Shit,” she said, running around the counter for her duffel bag.  “We don’t have enough stuff to take them all out.”

Caleb pressed his palms to his temples and scrunched his eyes shut.  This was the second time tonight the vamps had come to the OneStop after the Omega.  Why would they think it was here?

Gloria pulled out the spell book and flipped through it.  Her voice was growing frantic.  “Maybe we can find some sort of transformation spell?  Turn them into toadstools or used condoms or something?”

Caleb ignored Gloria’s chattering and tried to focus.  What was it exactly that the vamps had said earlier?  Something about One-Eyed Bobby saying the thing they wanted would be here tonight.  But that didn’t necessarily mean the item was here yet when the vamps had shown up.

Gloria tossed the spell book aside in disgust and went back to rummaging in the bag.  “Well, god damn it, are you just going to stand there or are you going to help me?  There’s got to be something else we can use against them.”

Bobby was almost always right, so unless he had been deliberately trying to throw the vamps off, and Caleb was sure he was too much of a business man to do something like that, then at some point during the night the Omega had ended up somewhere in the store.  The only delivery tonight had been the doughnuts, and Caleb didn’t think that crullers were likely to be world-destroying mystical artifacts.  There had to be something he was missing, something one of the customers had brought in…

“Shit,” Gloria said as she threw up her hands.  “We’re fucking screwed!  Only a few stakes, not enough holy water.  Why don’t either of us carry knives or swords or something, huh?”

An image popped in Caleb’s head of Athena, completely decked out with her cloak and fake daggers and one somewhat realistic looking sword.

“Oh, hell,” Caleb said.  “Athena!”

“Would you just forget about her for one fucking second!  She’s dead, just like we’re going to be if you don’t help me figure something out!”

“Quick,” Caleb said.  “Did Athena have her sword with her when she left?”

“Huh?  I don’t… I can’t remember.  Why?”

“Gloria,” he said, grabbing her by the shoulders.  “Don’t you remember?  She called it Meg!”

“Yeah, so?”  Then her mouth dropped open as it dawned on her.  “Meg…”

“Omega,” Caleb said, nodding.

“I don’t remember her having it with her when she left the bathroom, now that I think of it.”

Caleb ran to the bathroom door, pulling the key from his pocket as he went.  There, leaning against the wall next to the toilet where Athena had forgotten it, was her broadsword and its scabbard.

Caleb brought it out of the bathroom, took it from the scabbard, and held it up where Gloria could see.  He hadn’t really gotten a good look at it before, but now that he did he didn’t know how he could have mistaken it for false.  The hilt was a gleaming gold color but was much too strong to really be made of actual gold.  The double-edged blade was finely polished and carefully sharpened.  The Greek symbol for omega was etched into the blade near the hilt, and the handle had other markings that appeared to be some sort of writing.  Caleb had seen it before but couldn’t translate it off the top of his head.

“Gloria, there’s a book in my duffle bag on translating ancient language.”  She found the book and joined him on the other side of the counter.  Caleb flipped through the book, trying to find the markings.  “Come on, what is it?  Cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphs, ancient Greek?  None of this is right.”

Gloria glanced over her shoulder at the front door, then at Caleb, then back over her shoulder.  “Come on, come on.  Sounds like the spook squad’s getting restless out there.”

“It’s no use,” Caleb said.  “Whatever this is, it’s not in here.  But I know I’ve seen it somewhere.”

Gloria looked down at the sword, then took it from him and turned it around.  “Uh, try it now.”

Caleb’s cheeks flushed.  It was in English.  He’d been holding it upside down.  “Smartass.”

“Better than being a dumbass.”  They both looked down at the inscription and read it silently.

He who thrusts this blade into the Earth shall control it.

“And that’s where our Apocalypse comes in,” Caleb said.

“Someone just up and sold this to Athena?  And she never read the inscription?  And where the hell did this thing come from?  None of this makes any sense!”

“Welcome to the OneStop.  Logic does not apply here.”

“Okay, so now what?  What’s the plan?”

“We keep the vamps from getting it.”

“Thank you, oh brilliant military strategist.  Any thought on how?”

“We start by hiding it where no one would think to look.”  He walked down the canned goods aisle and, after making sure the shelf was long enough to actually conceal the sword, hid it behind the dusty cans of Spam.

“And then?”

“Then we take out as many of the vamps as we can.  Don’t even give me that look.  I know we’re outnumbered.  All we need to do is hold them off for about a half hour until the sun rises.  We can do it.”

“Or we can each become a buffet.  There’s no way this is going to work.”

“Well it’s not like you’re a fountain of ideas here.”  He grabbed his duffel bag, this time making sure the zipper was already open.  Gloria did the same and they both went to the door.

“We both stay near the door,” he said, “no matter what happens.  Back door doesn’t open from the outside, so this is the only way in.  If any vamp gets past us you go in after it while I try to hold the door, got it?”

Gloria smiled and nodded.

“What’s so funny?” Caleb asked.

“Whatever happened to the whole ‘this isn’t a game’ thing?”

“What do you mean?”

“That look on your face when you were giving orders.  You’re enjoying this.”  She stepped out the door and Caleb stared flabbergasted after her.

“I am not,” he said, then followed her

*          *          *

The sky had gone from black to deep blue.  Every neighborhood beastie with any sense had already returned to its grave, crypt, or crack house by now.  The thirty or so vamps around the parking lot seemed to be the sole exception.  There were definitely fewer vamps now than there had been a few minutes ago.  Either some had bugged out with the approaching sun or they were hiding nearby.

Gloria saw this at the same time he did.  “The roof,” she whispered out of the side of her mouth, and Caleb nodded.

“And around the sides of the building,” he said.  He slung the duffel bag by its strap over his head and shoulder.  Gloria did the same, and they both pulled out stakes. 

The better-dressed vamp walked out in front of the others.  “You know, you can’t help but hear stories around here,” he said.  “Vampires, ghouls, all manner of monsters whisper about this store like it’s hell.”

“Well,” Caleb said, “I’d have to say that I agree with them.  Especially if they’ve tried the nachos.  That chili can make your ass do the Mambo for a week.”

“I’ve always had to laugh at their stories,” the vamp said.  “The idea that anyone would be afraid of convenience store clerks.  But now that I’ve been keeping my eye on you two all night, well, I just have to laugh even harder.”

“Okay, fine,” Gloria said.  “If you’ve finished with the clichéd super-villain taunting shit can you just skip to the part where you tell us your entire plan before we ruin it and then kill you?”

“There isn’t a plan, really.  My vamps kill you, I take the Omega, I win.”

“Yeah well, you’d need to find it first,” Caleb said.

The vamp shrugged.  “It’s behind the Spam.”

Both Caleb and Gloria’s mouths dropped open.

“The door is made of glass, you dickheads,” the vamp said.  “I saw everything you were doing.”

Gloria turned to Caleb.  “Remind me to kick your ass later.”

“Me?  It’s your screw up just as much as it is mine.”

“You’re the one that always tries to be the fucking brains of the operation!  You treat me like some sort of lackey that always has to do your bidding.”

“Well maybe if you…”  He was interrupted when all the vamps in the parking lot rushed them.  Caleb sidestepped as one dove for him and planted a stake in its back as it passed.  “…if you did your share of the work I might give you some of the credit.”

“Oh, don’t you even start this shit again,” Gloria said as she grabbed a bottle of holy water from Caleb’s bag.  “I’ve got half a mind to just say fuck you and let you take on the Razorblade Smile Squad all by your lonesome.”  She chucked the bottle at the nearest vamps.  The bottle shattered, but other than a few small lacerations from the glass the vamps looked unharmed.

“What the…?  Why didn’t it work?” she asked.

“You grabbed the Buddhist holy water.”

“Buddhist?”  She planted a stake into a vampire’s eye.  “Who the fuck ever heard of a Buddhist vampire?”

“Fuck you.  I’ve run into them before.”  Caleb staked a vamp moving towards him, then whirled and took out one going for Gloria.

“You dickhead!  I totally had that one.  And I don’t believe you.”  She grabbed another bottle from Caleb’s bag, this time stopping long enough to check the label, then threw it at a small group of vamps.  It busted on one’s chest and misted the others.  They all immediately started to smolder and howl in pain.

“Stop using all my damn holy water!  And you did not have that vamp, he was about to bite you.  And you don’t believe me on what?”  About ten vamps dropped down from overhead and several more rushed from around the corner.  Caleb and Gloria instinctively turned back to back to face them all at once.

“Oh, so now you’re hogging the holy water?  I did too have that vamp, you’re just trying to hog all the glory.  And I mean Buddhist vamps.  They just plain don’t exist.”  Gloria’s stake splintered as she shoved it into the nearest vamp.  She ducked the fist of another long enough to spin, take a stake form Caleb’s bag, and then go back to fighting.

“God damn it, now you’re stealing my stakes, too!  And they do too exist.  That holy water has saved my life on several occasions.  And what do you mean, hog the glory?  There’s no glory here.”

“Great, so now you’re going to sit there and fight me about…”  Gloria shoved a stake into one more vampire, and then the parking lot was empty.  “Wait.  What was it we were fighting about?”

Caleb let out a breath he hadn’t even realized he’d been holding and surveyed the parking lot.  “Beats me.  You lost me somewhere back at Buddhist glory pigs.  I was just still arguing out of reflex.  That can’t be all of them, can it?  Seems like they should have put up more of a fight.”

Gloria turned and looked at the door.  Their plan to stay by the door had lasted all of two seconds into the fight.  They were now a good ten feet away form it, but Caleb could see no movement from inside.  “I’ve got a better question,” Gloria said.  “Why didn’t any of them try to go in after the sword?”

Caleb set his duffel bag down, opened the door, and knelt to get a closer look at the floor.  One of the vamps had tried to go in after it.  A thin dusting of ash covered the threshold and tattered clothing lay in a heap.  “Weird,” Caleb said.  “It’s just like before.  I don’t get it.”

Gloria shook her head as she glared at the discarded clothes strewn around the parking lot.  “Shit.  We need to clean all this up before the boss gets here.”  She stepped over to the nearest pile and started to pick it up, then paused as she examined a dingy shirt.  “Hey, Caleb.  You killed the head vamp, right?”

Caleb had been on his way to grab a broom, then stopped and looked back out the door at her.  “I thought you did.”

“I thought you did,” Gloria said.  They both paused long enough for their eyes to grow wide.  There was a blur of movement from above Gloria as the head vamp dropped from the roof.  Caleb couldn’t help but stand in horror as the vamp’s arm shot around her neck and squeezed her to his body.  He was sure the vamp would rip her head clean off, but once the vamp had her he stopped.

“I’ve always wanted to do this,” the vamp said.  “The whole damsel-in-distress thing.  There’s just something about the classic villain ploys that never get old.  Probably because the heroes are too stupid to watch for them.”  The vamp looked at Gloria and seemed confused when he didn’t see the fear he had expected.  To Caleb it looked more like she was annoyed.

“Don’t hurt her,” Caleb said.

“I bet you’re really enjoying this right now,” Gloria said.  “Get to act the hero, save the girl.  So typical of you.”

“Wait a second, are calling me a chauvinist?”

“Just calling it like I see it.”

“Hey, I’m not the one holding you hostage here!  Why am I the chauvinist while he gets off scott free?”

“Because he’s the villain.  He’s supposed to be a dick.  But you’re the one sitting over there having fun.”

“I am not!”

“Just shut the hell up, both of you,” the vamp said.  “Jesus, do you two act like this every time you try to save the world?  It’s a wonder the planet hasn’t been reduced to rubble by now.”  The vamp sighed, used the hand not holding Gloria’s neck to smooth his hair, and seemed to regain his composure.  “Alright, now that you two idiots have that out of your systems, I hope, I think you already know what I’m going to say.  If you don’t want me to kill the girl then you better give me the Omega.”

Caleb felt for his duffel bag, then remembered it was sitting on the concrete next to Gloria and the vamp.  He couldn’t just give up the sword, but he didn’t have anything with which to save Gloria, either.  As soon as he thought this he had to resist the urge to smack himself in the forehead.  Of course he still had a weapon.

“Fine.  You want the sword…”  He went back to the Spam and pulled out the sword, holding it in a fighting stance.  He whirled to where the vamp could see him and was confused for a moment when the vamp smiled.  Gloria looked down at the ash just inside the door.

“No, don’t!” she screamed, but he was already finishing his sentence.

“…then come in and get it.”

With his smile growing, the vamp tossed Gloria aside and stepped through the door.  Gloria, rubbing her throat, struggled to stand from the concrete where she’d landed.

“You idiot,” she said.  “He couldn’t come in!  A vamp can’t enter a home unless he’s invited.”

Caleb frowned.  “But… this isn’t a home.  It’s a public place.”

“And how much time do you actually spend here?” the vamp asked.  “Eight hours a day?  Maybe sometimes as much as twelve?  Like it or not, this is just as much your home as the place where you actually live.”  He stepped over the dusted vamp, over Darla’s body, and towards Caleb.  “Not much for housekeeping, are you?  It’s amazing that a pig sty like this is still in business.”

Caleb raised the sword a little higher as the vamp came closer.  “Go ahead and talk shit all you want.  I’m still the one with the sword.”

The vamp slapped the sword from Caleb’s hands.  It slid across the floor and came to a rest next to the magazine rack.  The vamp smiled and cocked his head at Caleb.

“Uh… crap,” Caleb said.

The vamp leapt at him and Caleb tried to back away, but the vamp crashed against him before he could get far.  Caleb fell to his back with the vamp kneeling on his chest.  “You know what’s going to be even better than ruling the entire world?  Having every undead creature on the face of the planet bow down to me?  Feasting off humans like a buffet?  It’s the respect.  It’s the look they will give me when they find out I’m the one who killed the Butcher of 13th and Pearl.”

Caleb fought the vamp’s weight for enough breath to speak.  “Who the hell is that?”

The vamp blinked.  “It’s you.”

“Really?  They call me that?”

The vamp rolled his eyes, then bent, mouth open, for Caleb’s neck.  If he saw Caleb’s eyes flick in the direction of the door he made nothing of it.

“Wait,” Caleb said.  “Just hold on, please.  At least tell me what religion you are.”

The vamp cocked his head quizzically.  “None.  I’ve always been an atheist.  Why?”

“Oh fuck.”  Caleb jerked himself out from under the vamp just as a bottle of holy water smashed against the vamp’s head.  Instantly the skin on his face started to hiss and bubble.  The vamp turned to see Gloria before him, Caleb’s duffel bag over her shoulder and the Omega in her hands.

“This is where I’m supposed to have some clever quip,” Gloria said.  With one swipe the Omega sheered the vamp’s head from his body, which sailed through the air and turned to dust before it hit the floor.  “But I am way too tired for that shit right now.”

Gloria set the sword on the counter and helped Caleb to his feet.  “Now you really can’t say that I’ve never saved your life.”

Caleb dusted the remains of the vamp off his uniform.  “You didn’t save jack.  I so could have taken him.”  He smiled as Gloria reared back like she was about to hit him.  “Kidding.  I was almost a blood bank.  Thank you.”

“That’s all I wanted.”

Caleb scratched his head and looked away for a moment, then looked at her with a single raised eyebrow.  “You know, this is the part where the hero and heroine traditionally kiss.”

Gloria smiled coyly and stepped closer.  With their bodies less than an inch apart, Gloria spoke into his ear.  “I probably should have told you this a long time ago…”  Her voice dropped to a whisper.  “…but your breath is really bad. It would be like kissing a dead raccoon.”  As Caleb stared at her with his mouth open she turned away, and only then did they realize Big Maggie, the boss, was standing in the doorway.

She looked at Caleb and Gloria, then at the empty piles of dusty clothes, then at Darla’s dead body, then at the un-mopped floor.  Out of everything, her gaze stayed on the dirty floor the longest.  Then, with much apparent effort, she looked back at Caleb and Gloria.

“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t fire you both.”

Caleb almost said Because we just saved the world, but he didn’t think she would buy it.

Overtime

When Caleb stopped to think about it, it made perfect sense.  At the darkest part of the night the police special squad would be the busiest.  They wouldn’t be quick until the sun had started to rise and all the beasties had gone under for the day.  The law would be under pressure to clean up the few messes left before the rest of the world woke and realized life wasn’t as rational as it should be.  The cleanup crew had all the dead bodies gone with only minutes to spare before the sun peaked over the horizon.

Trying to get the boss to accept what had happened took much longer.  Figuring there was no cover story they could concoct that would be convincing enough, Caleb and Gloria, along with the help of the special squad’s on-call counselor, had simply told her the truth.  There was no telling how long it would take for her to accept what happened at her store when she wasn’t around, but at least it didn’t appear they would be fired.

That, however, did not mean that the mess was excused.  They spent the next hour getting rid of the dusty clothing and trying to clean the floor without the benefit of a mop.  Finally the boss just said the first shift would have to take care of it later when they got a new mop.  Both Caleb and Gloria stuck around long enough to see the expressions on the faces of the first-shifters when they saw the new chasm in the back room, then left.

Once they were outside, they both stopped in the parking lot to bask in the early-morning sunlight.  “You know,” Caleb said.  “All in all it was a pretty quiet night.”

“Almost to the point of being boring,” Gloria said.  “At least there weren’t any sort of flying lizards.  Once they get into the bathroom you can’t get them out.”

“I’ve got to remember to rip One-Eyed Bobby a new one tonight for helping the vamps.”

“Don’t be too hard on him.  His predictions were spot on.”

“Fine.  After I’m finished pounding his ass I’ll make sure to leave him a tip.”

Gloria started to walk in the direction of 13th Street, then turned back.  “I almost forgot to ask you.  That bottle I smashed against the lead vamp.  It was marked ‘Atheist Holy Water.’  Atheist holy water?”

“Hydrochloric acid.”

“Ah.”  She nodded and started to leave again.  Caleb cleared his throat and she stopped to look back at him.

“So, uh, are you really quitting?” he asked.

Gloria bit her lip.  “I’m not sure yet.  If you come in tonight and I’m not here, then I guess the answer is yes.”

“’Cuz you know you were a big help.”

Gloria smiled.  “Dost mine ears deceiveth me?  I thought I just heard a compliment.”

“Yeah, well, I’d appreciate it if you don’t let that get around.”

“You realize my number’s listed, right?  Even if I don’t come in, you’ve got a comrade in arms just a phone call away.”

“Does that mean we can get together sometime for a drink?”

Gloria grimaced.  “You know, for a second there I was almost beginning to tolerate you.”  She adjusted her duffel bag on her shoulder, then disappeared down 13th Street.

Caleb made one last check of his own duffel bag, then slung it over one shoulder and the Omega’s scabbard over the other.  He had the perfect place to hang it at home in his bathroom with all his other world-destroying artifacts.  Whistling tunelessly, Caleb started down Pearl Street.

(c) 2007 Derek J. Goodman

Advertisements

4 Responses to “The All-Night, One-Stop Apocalypse Shop- Conclusion”


  1. October 26, 2009 at 8:32 am

    Dude, I love it. I cannot wait for the new stuff. I am soo dying to read the book too now. I am seriously going to slaughter vic where he stands if he doesn’t give it to me so i can read it.

  2. 2 floridapossum
    October 28, 2009 at 1:50 am

    My book came today, can’t wait to tear into it!

  3. 3 azurae
    February 11, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Alright, you’ve twisted my arm… Just finished this little 3 part and now I gotta pick up your book… even if it does mean I have to order it from Amazon. 😛 I read a lot and this feels fresh, fun and has sarky humor! Reminds me a tad of A. Lee Martinez, but you’re definitely making me feel like you’ll be a breath of fresh air compared to the bajillion urban fantasies that have recently been saturating the market!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: