Since the events at the hospital, I've been asking myself how I want to die. Preferably, it'd be surrounded by my loved ones when I'm eighty or so after living a full and happy life. I don't think I'm going to have that kind of luck.
I could write about the people dying. Others have done a better job of that. I could write about what's happening to the living. They can do that plenty well, and I've given advice whenever I can. I'll keep giving what I can. I feel the worst about the poor damn kid. Would you all believe that Time Lord's life in our business started when he was 12? I met him when he was 14. Kids can do amazing things if put in the right position. Does that mean I like that I just gave a self-hypnosis exercise to a kid in the hopes that she'll pull it off and have better odds of surviving? Part of why I do what I do is so that no one else ever has to go through the insanity that me and Time Lord went through. I don't think I'm succeeding.
In any case, yesterday I did something I haven't done in a long, long time. I'm a shaman, calling down the spirits of the dead is kind of what I do. Yesterday, I was calling on my guides.
I sat down in the middle of the Location we were staying at. Sorry to be vague, but considering how high the stakes are right now, I don't exactly have a choice in the matter.
This is the part where you find out exactly how insane I might be.
As I meditated in our hiding place, I felt my consciousness enter the Astral Plane. My vision was much clearer after some focus. Usually, I just throw myself out there and do what I need to do as fast as possible. This wasn't about just getting something done though, this was the kind of thing I had to take my time with. THIS required craftsmanship. The astral plane here was unformed and craggy. This was one of the parts of New York that got hit badly during the 2002-2004 conflict. It's like heaven compared to Philadelphia these days. There was plenty of living energy, and there were all kinds of smaller little entities running around. Imagine a thousand little glowing white tadpoles drifting lazily across a gray, shattered landscape. As they floated about, you could feel energy pulsing underneath this landscape. The world was alive. It was beautiful and vital. Everything grows again eventually, and something like what we would call grass was sprouting up everywhere. The tall spirits of trees, green, chaotic, pulsing as the tadpoles floated by, were starting to come into being. At moments like these, I'm glad to be alive. I see what Philadelphia might once again look like in a few years. The world can heal itself.
Sometimes though, you need a cosmic gardener to help plant the seeds. That wasn't what I was doing here today though. I wasn't sure what to expect as I started pushing with my will. Calling on your guides can sometimes be a simple process, and other times it can be a complex shitstorm of yelling, screaming, and dancing around.
I envisioned my body in the physical world, and I paced around it with my astral body. I breathed in, I breathed out. I must have done this for twenty odd minutes. It had been a long time since I'd gotten into this kind of trance.
Why did I always call myself Amalgamation Sage? This was why. My astral form was a short little thing, around five-feet, five inches in height. I took off its robe with a wave of my hand. What it actually looks like, I couldn't tell you. No two people who can see things happening on the astral plane ever see the exact same thing, and while the impressions and ideas they get can be the same, that doesn't mean that they will be the same...anyways, I see myself mechanically. It's like having interwoven scales of steel worked on one side of my left leg, working its way up to my hip in toward my groin (But not touching), back up along my left side up to the side of my face. There were six small, pale blue spheres along this vast portion of my astral form, placed evenly from my foot up until the side of my face. Normally, they remain hidden under my astral form's skin, but now I was bringing them out.
Trying to explain this part of the meditation makes me feel naked and childish. It's like being a 13 year old trying to explain "Anime" to his parents. Look, my line of work is weird, if I'm not insane, alright?
The six little spheres started turning into people around me. They are the reason I'm still alive. Joining them in the circle were the two most awkward people who could join any such circle. One was my deceased Grandmother, who'd taken to showing up when I was meditating deeply following her death. Communicating with deceased family members is the weirdest shit on the planet, especially since you can't prove that it's actually them. This is especially such when Uncle Awesome arrives. Uncle Awesome was not actually my uncle, but he'd been a close friend of the family...and damn it, he WAS my uncle, if not by blood then by right of awesome. He'd passed in his sleep a few years ago, and then he started showing up.
It's weird facing the dead. It's weirder facing the dead when you know them. Especially when you're not willing to decide whether or not it could really be them that you're talking to, because when you do decide you can't sit on the fence anymore about what you are. They were a big reason why I hadn't done this in a long time. I wasn't ready to face them in a way that I could not run from.
The six spirits who lend me their strength and take up a vast portion of space in my soul were no longer little orbs. They were themselves as I had known them. They did not look happy.
Destroyer, Corruption, Legacy, Legend, Wizard, Wolf, Hydra. The six entities that had guided me. Some were me, some would someday be me, some would never be me, and some were what I wish I could be.
Finally, I said, "It's been a long time. Hi Grandma, Hi Uncle Awesome. Welcome to the Impossible."
And suddenly, Uncle Awesome blurted out, "It's time to save the world! Come on, it's been a while. You've got a lot of work to do."
The six sized up the two spirits, and allowed them to pass. I couldn't believe I was doing this.
I sighed, "Okay everyone. We need a plan."
And then we made one
So. You're all probably wondering where I've been since my freak out a few weeks ago. Right. Time to talk about the Hospital.
The ambulances had rolled everyone to (Hospital) in Buffalo. I'm not going to name which one, for the same reasons as usual. As I wrote last time, I followed them to the hospital in my car. Now it was just a matter of going into the emergency room and picking up Weaver, Spinner, and Cutter. I had to start with Weaver, because she was the only one who I knew for sure had met me. Missing about 20 hours from my memory about the last few weeks was a serious problem.
So I parked, got out of my car, and immediately got back into my car. A pair of black sedans had pulled up a few yards away, and there was Mastermind getting out with four rather imposing men in suits. I pulled out my phone and pretended I was checking my text messages. As they walked toward the hospital entrance, I realized I'd have to come up with a new plan. This was a hospital, I wasn't going to be able to bring in any of my crazy weapons. If these goons had any kind of credentials, they might be able to steal the three damn newbies right out from under me.
Amalgamation Sage didn't have the means to stop these sons of bitches. Fortunately, I knew someone who did. I haven't discussed totems in a while. Even then, I only discussed them briefly. Basically, imagine the essence of something. The essence of say, a Sage, would be an incredible intellect matched with the wisdom to make use of it. The essence of a soldier would be discipline, proficiency with a variety of weapons, and knowing when and how to use them. In theory, when using a totem you are creating a means of accessing the essence of something you need. If you have the totem of a bear, you might be trying to call on that bear's mighty strength and endurance. That kind of thing. That said, my totems tend to be more specialized.
So I popped open my trunk. I pulled out my Tilley T4 hat, which was as close an approximation I could come up with to the one Hunter S. Thompson wore. Then I matched it with a Hawaiian shirt and a pair of ridiculous looking sunglasses. This was the totem of the Gonzo Journalist. Amalgamation Sage was gone, replaced by the only person crazy enough to pull off a stunt like this.
I walked into the hospital entrance. The goons had a head start on me, but I had something on my side that they could never hope to match: Complete Insanity. Not the diluted, self-conscious madness that I live by. This was a completely unfettered, unmatched disregard for all the rules of society matched with a willingness to improvise to infinity and beyond. It also had other aspects that I can't quite explain. For one reason or another, the Gonzo Journalist becomes anonymous through being completely unique. You put on a show so big damn inexplicable, that someone doesn't actually see you. They only remember the Journalist. It's like perfect stealth through excessive showmanship. And somehow, there's always a narcotic substance available to the Journalist...I can't explain it.
I caught sight of one of the goons rounding the corner as I entered, and flapped my wallet toward the duty nurse as though I was some kind of officer of the law.
I said, "Agent Raoul Duke. On business, lady."
Tailing the goons, I had to ask myself: how was I going to take on a squad of goons and Mastermind? And then it hit me. I pulled my digital camera from my side pocket, and closed the distance between us.
I shouted, "Howdy sir! Raoul Duke for the New York Post! I'd like to ask about what happened at Club (Suspect) tonight!"
Mastermind didn't even turn to look at me. He snapped his fingers and two of the goons split off to deal with me. I put my camera back in my pocket, waved at them, and they grabbed me by either arm and started dragging me away. I let them. They opened a Janitor's closet, and we all know what they wanted to do next. They were going to toss me in and beat the shit out of me. Except that, you know, that year of martial arts training and continued study was coming in really handy. You see, the great thing about basic Karate blocks? They also let you twist out of just about anybody's grip. Even Mr. Universe has trouble holding on if you do it right.
Of course, it didn't end there, so when one of their fists comes up and I twist my arm the other way in another Karate block, his buddy got this expression that said, "What did we just get involved in?"
Now, there are a lot of people who tell you that Karate sucks. They are people who've been watching Sport Karate and Shotokan Karate. Both of those styles take out all of the really great things about Karate, focusing on its punches and kicks and blocks and nothing else. Now, Okinawan Karate, which is what I've picked up, has fantastic grabs and throws built into its blocks that give it some really mean close-quarters fighting capability. So when my block turned into a grab that pulled the first goon into my other fist in a perfect knockout punch? He sure as hell didn't see that one coming. Because you rarely see Okinawan Karate these days.
His buddy charged forward, and I could see in his eyes that he was starting to recalculate his odds. Then again, about two seconds had passed since I had twisted out of their grips, and the "maybe I should do something else" thought hadn't had time to occur to him. His fist was moving forward, and I blocked, pulling him in with the block in the Okinawan style and giving him an identical punch to the jaw to end it.
I dumped them both in the janitor's closet they were going to dump me in. I checked the bodies. They both had pretty nasty looking handguns. No big deal. I closed the door behind them, and hurried to try and catch up to Mastermind.
If you've ever been in a hospital before, you know what it looks like. Sterile corridors, health advisories on the walls regarding washing your hands and flu season, and nurses and patients walking around doing whatever it was they were doing. Of course, there was also me running through in the loudest clothes possible, muttering "Can't stop here, this is bat country!"
This was the point. Everything about what I was wearing was designed to make me nice and visible. The Gonzo Journalist doesn't just observe the insanity, he IS the insanity. I found myself pulling out a cigarette right in front of a nurse as I rapidly approached where Mastermind and his goons were. (Where the hell did I get cigarettes?) As she stared at me confusedly, I flashed my wallet again and said:
"It's okay. I have a permit. Fine work you're doing here ma'am."
I caught sight of Mastermind walking into a room with his two bodyguards. Oh this was going to be magnificent. It lit up the cigarette. (Where the hell did I get a lighter?) I took a long drag of it as I pressed my back against the wall right by the door that Mastermind had gone through. The nurse was staring at me like I was a train wreck: terrible, awful, but she couldn't look away.
Whether totems are just a psychological construct that releases your inhibitions and merely let you have the confidence to do something crazy, or the actual manifestations of powerful spiritual archetypes, there's no doubting that they're a flying fuckton of fun.
I heard Mastermind say, "It was all very clever, Ms. (Weaver), but it all ends here. You had one man attack my people on the dance floor as the other set fire to the back room. Two different people informed the fire department of a mess, and my people just didn't have time to retrieve you. Needless to say, I know this is a trap. The only reason an organization capable of performing such a convoluted and insane scheme would leave you in the open like this would be if it were a trap. I have teams stationed all around the hospital. I'll know who is behind all of this, and I'll know it now."
At the time, that monologue made no sense. After all, there was only one of me, and I was making this shit up as I went along. With what I know now, it makes a whole lot of sense.
I peeked around the corner, and Weaver saw me in the doorway. She couldn't hide her cheeky little smile, and suddenly I've got Mastermind and both bodyguards staring at me. But I didn't care about such things. I was the Gonzo journalist. I proudly walked into the room, blew cigarette smoke into Mastermind's face, and walked past him and his bodyguards over to the window. As I passed the two other beds, I saw Spinner and Cutter staring at me like I was insane.
I stared out the window, and said, "Fine night for a Massacre, wouldn't you say?"
Everyone stared. The bodyguards drew their guns. I crumpled my cigarette and put it in my Hawaiian Shirt Pocket.
I pantomimed a gun with my hand and pointed at them in response. They flinched. I knew I had them, it was time for a show. Especially since at that exact moment, hospital security, alerted that someone was smoking in a patient's room by a horrified nurse, spotted two armed men pointing guns at some asshole in a Hawaiian shirt: AKA: Me. The hospital staff started running the minute they heard the word "Gun!" Shouted by security, and noises of surprise and shock could be heard all around the ward.
There is only one reason that we did not end up on the 10 o'clock news in a story about a vicious gun battle, and that would be complete insanity. I wasn't paying attention to the standoff, I had pulled back the curtain and started pulling Spinner, Weaver, and Cutter from their beds. They'd been properly treated for tear gas exposure. They were weak, but more than able to move around. I tried the windows. I found out later that all windows in hospitals are sealed.
Weaver hissed, "(Amalgamation Sage)...you're completely insane!"
I grunted, "Damn it woman, I'll refer you to my attorney. We'll hit the graveyard later. Right now, we've got work to do."
Cutter was a young bastard, and he whispered, "Wait, THIS is (Amalgamation Sage)? This is the badass who can match (Time Lord)? He's this guy?"
Spinner was smart. Spinner was just watching.
I grunted, "Damn kids. Let me show you how you deal with The Man."
The Gonzo Journalist does not fear guns. Only bullets. I herded the three to the doorway where the confrontation was occurring, and shoved my people INTO Mastermind and his Bodyguards, who were busy arguing loudly with hospital security. I made a judgment call: Mastermind's crew was trying not to draw attention, so they weren't going to start shooting up a hospital if they could help it. In the ensuing dog pile, hospital security members dived on the bodyguards, trying to take the guns out of equation. No shots were fired. With that, I pulled the three out of the mess as best I could and we started running. Mastermind was shouting about how he was an undercover FBI agent the whole time, but we didn't care. I hit a fire alarm on our way out, just to really make things more confusing. I'll tell you this much: from what I could tell, we left one hell of a brawl behind us.
We made it out, Cutter screaming about how I could have gotten us all killed the entire time.
As we shot out of the parking lot like a bat out of hell, I think I saw a certain blank-faced gentleman who was entirely too tall. I couldn't tell you either way. It was all a blur. I puked after I discarded my outfit for the totem. Suddenly realizing exactly how insane everything was had a rather immediate effect on my digestion.
Weaver told me afterward that at the club, she had watched me walk back into the offices, AND onto the dance floor. She was very confused about it. I'm not. I've been dimensionally clusterfucked, and I blame Time Lord. No evidence that what happened at the hospital can be found in any news reports I know of. I am not with Weaver, Cutter, and Spinner at the moment. It's all part of the plan.
I intend to kill Mastermind in the next few weeks. Considering how against killing people I am, you all deserve an explanation as to why. You also deserve to know who these people are. I'm working on that.
This shit has gotten insane. I'm doing my best to stay out of sight. I'm well and truly on the run. Oh, and Mastermind? If you read this, I want you to know that I intend to make this hurt.