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Max glanced up at the second hand on the clock. Trying to will the time to go back instead of inching forward. Time was of the essence here.


Maggie's hand staunched the blood flow from Frank's wound. He had been hit good and now seconds counted. 


Max had counted four of them. All positioned in various places to keep sniping at them. His brain was working in high gear and he was trying to figure out a good survival plan.


"Any sign of Trump yet?" Maggie asked. "If he doesn't get here Frank is good as dead."


"I see that little bastard's tail," Max said; he was using the reflection of a shattered mirror to see where everyone was. He was hoping that those snipers left the cat alone, because after all, a cat was just a cat.


Frank's eyes opened and he coughed. Spitting up some blood. Maggie leaned forward with a damp cloth.

"You guys should have left me," Frank said. "I'm as good as dead."


Maggie slapped Frank across the cheek, and then added, "Once you're feeling much better I am going to kick the shit out of you. You know we never leave a friend behind."

Faux City Police Reports

Police reports
By Chronicle Staff

Police reports for Monday included the following:

* A business owner on Highwater Street went to his store to find it vandalized. The suspects did not take any money or items, but the four mannequins in the front window had bullet holes riddling their bodies.

* A woman was seen assaulting four men. She left the scene before police arrived. All four men are expected to recover in the hospital.

* A man living in an apartment on North Grand Avenue was shot. 

* A man left a restaurant on Daniels Street without paying for his meal.

* A man stole beer from a corner store. He was caught and cited for theft.

* A business owner told police a woman kicked over a display. 

* Two siblings got into an argument. The older child kicked the younger child in the face.

* Three juveniles were throwing rocks from the top of a building on Main Street. Rocks hit two cars. One of the juveniles was cited. 

* A man told police the NSA had planted devices in his head and car to frame him for a crime. He told police that a talking cat threatened him. The man was taken to the hospital for observation.

* There were 97 calls for service.

Awkward as an Eclipse

He had been shot at, thrown from a window of a skyscraper, hit by a train, tumbled down a mountain while battling a cyborg, drugged up and near death, but all of these minor incidents didn't prepare him for the biggest threat of all. 

"Here Max, hold her while I get her bottle," Trish said as she handed him the baby.

Max looked at the child with appalled horror and surprise, holding it at arms' length. For some reason it was a foreign sight, like a solar eclipse to feudal Japan society.

"She won't bite," Trish comforted Max. Before Max could protest and hand the baby back to Trish, she got up and headed to get the baby bag out of the stroller, which was just outside.

Mags was coming back with a couple of coffees in her hands and she let out a slight chuckle to see THE Max Cube at a loss.


Secret Society Part Last

Miranda pirouetted in the spacious, unfurnished living room, pale walls and carpet. Her hair gathered at the base of her neck, a pretty, white summer-dress like gossamer. Open-concept, steps leading up to the kitchen and the corridor leading to the bedrooms. The north wall was glass, overlooking the lush green crowd of conifers that sloped down and away into the ravine. A  New Modern villa, reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright without being derivative. 
"It's gorgeous," Miranda says. Something about it felt fresh. 
"You're gorgeous," Genevieve replied from the landing near the front door where she was inputting the new security codes through a small, imbedded panel. Gen was in black jeans and a navy tank-top. 
Miranda smiled shyly, playfully. "You're a sweetheart, Gen. I'm not the girl for you, though." 


Faux News of the Moment

By Nelson Tad
Winterglen Weekly Staff Writer

WINTERGLEN (AP) - Fred Strictlan still drives his car to and fro, and goes out every Saturday evening for a pint or two down at the local pub.

Not bad for a 99-year-old. 

Winterglen's oldest resident turns 100 on Nov 10 and will celebrate at three parties - one given by his family, one given by neighbours and another at Century Tavern, the pub he frequents. 

He says that he also eats right and has a pint a day, as well as a cigar (or two).

Strictlan drives his own car. He bought his first car for $80. Right now he's lucky if he can fill a gas tank for that price.

As for reaching the 100 mark, Strictlan says it isn't such a novelty. 

"When I was a teen, there was a woman who was 112, and she didn't look a day older than 30," he says. "Her name was Maggie and she had the prettiest red-hair that I have ever seen on a woman. I guess they just raised them like that back then." 

Records show that there was a Marigarnettia Madison who resided in Winterglen, but no mention of her whereabouts or what age she was.

"The funny thing is that I could swear I just saw her in town last week," Strictlan says. "She was standing by the place she used to live looking up at the stars."

A Nice Little Break

They were sitting around in the upper loft area of Good Tomes, Good Tomes . It was a nice little coffee shop, with a baker's dozen sofas and chairs scattered about like a little den and books lining the walls like a library.

It gave the place a feeling of home and it's where Max, Maggie, Suki and Frank sat around when they could. Max's nose was buried in a philosophy book; he was reading Raymond M Smullyan's 'The Tao is Silent'. Maggie was lounging - she wasn't much in a reading mood - while Frank had several newspapers on the coffee table before him. Suki sat there like a bored teenage kid, waiting, so she let out a huge sigh.

"What is it, Suki?" Mags asked.

"I'm bored," Suki replied. "I thought you guys did tons of stuff?"

Frank glanced up from the newspaper; he was checking up on some stock options, and he glanced over at Mags.

Mags put down her coffee and winked at Frank.

"Well not exactly, Suki," Mags said in a big sister sort of way. "This is sort of our downtime; we take it any way possible. Because who knows when the next time we'll get a haven such as this."


Morganfokker's Revenge

MAX sitting in the middle of the room, naked. In a yoga position, eyes closed. To his right side is a sealed envelope with MAGS written on it. To his left is a handgun.

You can do it. Come home. End this charade now.

MAGGIE is leaning against Max's door. She looks like she's been crying. 

MAX not moving. Still like the buddha. Brings the gun to his temple.

That's right, my son. End this game and come back home.

We see SUKI and GONER and FRANK sitting at a booth. SUKI is sipping a milkshake, while GONER is mowing down on a chicken fried rice combo. FRANK has a tea sitting in front of him.

Now what do you think is going to happen?

That depends on what Cube does next.

You think he's going to do it?

I truly don't know what he's capable of. 

We got to him before this version of Morganfokker did. Didn't we?

I hope so. I truly hope so.

MAGGIE is standing facing the doorway. The metal door to the apartment has several big dents in it. It looks like she is focusing all her might on the steel door.

Shocking Future

New Boswash, 2046

The nightclub was hot and humid, like a South African jungle before the change. Mags was sitting at a table in the upper tier, sipping on a ice tea and peering down at the crowd. She couldn't hear the pounding mesh of music due to the silence dome, but she could feel the bass on the floor. It made the people down below seem like clockworks jerking around to a unheard melody. 

"There you are," a voice said.

"I'm here like you asked," Mags replied without turning around. She signaled to the hoverbot floating above the crowd that she wanted another drink. It read her signal and headed for the bar.

"You're looking youthful as ever," she said. "What's your secret?"

"I wish I knew, maybe it's a curse," Mags said with a slight laugh. She turned to face the woman who was dressed a red power suit. "Let's cut to the chase. What do you have for me this time, Lucy?"

The Ling Tia Job

Hong Kong, 1973 

The communicator at Maggie’s side beeped. Which caused the other patrons to give her a look. More than being just a foreigner, she was an angelic looking one at that. She politely smiled, reached down and brought the comm to her lips. She held it close to her mouth as she continued walking down the crowded city street, dressed in a rain slicker.

"Give it to me," Mags said.

"That lead that you sent us on. We've got a situation over at the Golden Palace," a man said, his voice worried. "It's something uncanny and scary and it's got the locals spooked."

"I'll be there in a jiffy," Maggie said. She snapped the communicator closed and entered the alleyway. Dropping the rain slicker, revealing a midnight black body suit, she slung the katana over her shoulders and then jumped to a ladder to get to the roof.

A Glitch

Max was the first to recover from the shock; his eyes flickered open like a television set in the morning. The wave had washed over them, knocking them off of their feet. "That hurt."

The four of them were getting to their feet. Looking around to see if they could spot anything different, or familiar.

"No kidding," Maggie adding, dusting herself off. "One would think that we should be able to get used to it."

Max grunted.

"What just happened?" Suki asked in disbelief; this was her first shift.

Intro the Cube, Take 2

MAX, wearing a red t-shirt with a Psycho For Hire logo, runs through an UNDERGROUND PARKING GARAGE. He's being chased by three men).

MAN 1: There he goes, he's rabbiting!

MAN 2: Damn you Cube, just stop!

MAN 1: (pause) Man, this is like deja vu.

MAX glides behind a corner, his mp3 player headphones showing, flings open a door and runs up a flight of stairs. He runs down a hall, gunshots fly. He dives in an elevator as bullets riddle the insides. The doors close. He stands up and straightens his shirt and presses 13. After he presses 13 he hits the stop button. The elevator stops. He hits 13 again and the doors open to a bright light. The sound of techno music fills the elevator.


MAGGIE: You sure it was Big Lo Pi? He's a real scumbag. I hope you didn't lead his thugs here, or else I am going to kick your ass... but I already said that before, didn't I?

MAX gives MAGGIE a wink.

MAGGIE: Oh sweetie, don't tell me that this is just a loop we're caught in? And in seven seconds some hit-men are going to be pouring out of the elevator... again.

MAX: I played the Time Card.

MAGGIE: That was a one-time thing only, for an dire emergency.

MAX just shrugs.

MAGGIE looks towards the elevator, seeing the numbers flashing on the door above the entrance to the nightclub. Her hand reaches underneath the table just as the elevator opens and several dark-suited fully armed men enter the nightclub.

MAGGIE: Well, might as well play this out again.

Time to Kick Some

"You set?" Dex asked.

Max nodded. A cigarette dangled from his lips; he was leaning up against the wall as if posing. A gun hanging at his side and dark sunglasses on. 

After all, got to look good. You never know who is watching this, he thought.

"Good," Dex replied, slinging the rucksack onto his shoulder. "Let's rock."

Dex picked up the baseball bat, his pride and joy, his signature weapon, and kicked the door open.

Max glanced back at the rag-tag crew that he had recently teamed up with; a Shaolin monk who was a tiger at one time, a stubborn ninja who killed with silent ease, a street punk with a bible fetish, and a huge street-savvy cop.  

Is this my story that's unfolding? he thought. Or am I just a secondary character to one of them?

Max could see the camera angle on the shot. His mind working in overtime, he was going through an unscripted scene, but since this was only a series of movies he felt as comfortable as James Bond. Because Bond was always back in the next movie. Not always the actors who portrayed Bond, but Bond himself. 

If I am going nuts, I am going to go out in style. 

Dex led the way through the door, bringing that bat down on the head of the first of the Mooks. Max could hear the crack of the Mook's skull.  

They always die easy. Mooks are only extras who don't even know that they are pawns.

Of Spiders and Flies

Max lay on his bed, sheets unfurled about him. He was hot and sweat clung to his body like an LA smog. His arms crossed above his head, staring upwards, watching a house fly crawl across the ceiling. He was thinking that he should get up and get going, but he couldn't remember where he was supposed to get to.

The fan by his bed was steadily blowing the air on him, cooling the body but not the mind. His brain, the size of Venus, was on standby waiting for the switch on the power bar to be turned on.

He watched the fly take off from the ceiling and head elsewhere, when suddenly it got caught in a spider's web. The fly trying to break free, its wings fluttering fast, pulling back, but in its attempt it alerted the web's creator. 

Max watched the drama unfold. The spider crawled from its hiding spot to consume the blood of its victim. The fly sensing danger fluttered faster but it was a futile effort. The web held it fast. The spider began to pick up pace, but before it reached the target it disappeared.

Max, still lying on the bed, had pulled out a gun from behind a pillow. He was holding it skyward; smoke drifted from the barrel as if it had finished a sexual encounter.

"Not today," he said.


When An Angel Cries

New York, 2000 

Wraith perched outside her window, sitting on the edge and looking up at the night sky. Tears streaked down her face as if an angel was painting on a canvas. It was after midnight and she could hear the heartbeat of the city; it meant a lot to her, knowing that the city was alive. 

The wind caressed her like an old lover as her midnight hair danced along the cool summer breeze. She brought a tissue up to dry her grey eyes. She had never seen a soul that was more messed up than Max. She was crying because she had peered into a void of content and had seen the pain that he had gone through, and the pain that was yet to come.

There was a ring. An old fashioned ring. The kind of ringing you hear when watching an old detective movie. 

A rotary phone sat on the ledge beside her; she didn't like cellphones. She felt that it took something away from the character; a portable monster that attached itself to your face and sucked the time away. 

Who really needs them, she thought as she picked up the receiver. Life is too short to be constantly chatting on a phone. 

"Hello," she said. "Yes," she replied. "Okay."

She sat there several more seconds then hung up the phone.

She could hear music from the apartment below her. The young lads below liked to listen to some of the classic alternative music from the 70's; bands like Nectar, King Crimson and Klaatu. Wraith commended them on their taste of music. Which certainly fit the mood she was in.

Heaven is a Cup of Coffee

Pretty George drummed his fingers along the table; he was humming along with the radio tune. It was something old and classic. His cafe latte arrived and was placed before him. He smiled at the waitress, who must have been in her late 50's, and she genuinely smiled back.

Pretty George had a quality about him. The waitress' face went flush and her heartbeat picked up. His eyes locked with hers, showing warmth and tenderness and promising a night of passion so intense that it could melt the butter in 13 states around them.

"You can turn it off now, Pretty," Mags said as she sat in the seat across from him.

Pretty chuckled, and the waitress looked at Mags. And for one instant Mags saw that the woman was intent on doing her harm, but that passed like a shadow from a small cloud. Mags shook her head and smiled; Pretty had that certain charm about him. Potent, but too gentle to be creepy.

"Hello Maggie Mae," Pretty said.

"Let's cut to the chase, Pretty," Mags said. "Did you get the stuff?"

Pretty feigned disgust. "After all these years do you think I don't know what I am doing?"

"Of course not," Mags said. "Just that it was an unusual request, is all."

"That's nothing unusual; it was easier than getting the sweat of Elvis in a vial," Pretty said. He toed the bag underneath the table so that it brushed Mags' leg. And she nodded.

Mags flashed him a smile and asked, "Sweat of Elvis?"

"It's a long story," said Pretty as he brought his latte to his lips. Before tasting what the aroma promised to be heaven, he added with a slight wink, "I shall tell you some morning when you finally discard that lugnut of a wingnut of yours."

Intro the Cube


MAX, wearing a yellow t-shirt with a Sunnydale High logo, runs through an underground parking garage. He's being chased by three men.

MAN 1: There he goes, he's rabbiting!

MAN 2: Damn you Cube, just stop! 

MAX glides behind a corner, his ipod headphones showing, flings open a door and runs up a flight of stairs. He runs down a hall, gunshots fly. He dives in an elevator as bullets riddle the insides. The doors close. He stands up and straightens his shirt and presses 13. After he presses 13 he hits the stop button. The elevator stops. He then hits 13 again. The doors open to a bright light. The sound of techno music fills the elevator.


MAGGIE: You sure it was Big Lo Pi? He's a real scumbag. I hope you didn't lead his thugs here, or else I am going to kick your ass.

MAX gives MAGGIE a wink.

MAGGIE: Oh sweetie, don't tell me that you did.

MAGGIE looks towards the elevator, seeing the numbers flashing on the door above the entrance to the nightclub. Her hand reaches underneath the table as the elevator opens and several dark-suited, fully armed men enter the club.

MAGGIE: You're a real bastard. That's why I love you so much.

Thunder Mourning

Lightning erupted, followed instantly by the crash of thunder. The storm was right over top of them. Maggie sat at the kitchen table, a cup of coffee sitting before her offering an inviting aroma.

Max was pacing across the floor. Walking to and from the window. His face as stoic as a statue. Maggie knew what it was, though; she had only seen him do this once before. She opened her mouth to say an apology.

"It's not your fault and you know it," Max said. 

Max was in mourning; he had grown attached to Suki. She was like a kid sister to him. She was killed trying to protect an injured Maggie.

Faux News

Police Investigate Weird Accident Shooting
by Hank Markins

BLUDRAVEN, NY. (AP) - When police arrived at a West End neighbourhood to investigate a possible homicide, they found a car wreck with what looked like brain matter and blood on the front seat, dashboard and windows - but no sign of the victim.

Police began searching around the vehicle and discovered several gun shells scattered about. Police began knocking on doors and a lot of the neighbourhood claimed to have seen or heard nothing, except for Lunden Kallen.

Kallen was watching television when she heard a commotion and peered out of her window to see what was happening.

"First of all, there was this flash of light and yelling and screaming," said Kallen, an eyewitness to the event. "There was the fellow who stood on the hood of the car firing round after round at this huge man behind the wheel."

Kallen went on to say, "The car swerved off the road and into the tree sending the guy on the hood onto the lawn there. And the driver of the vehicle got out and was walking towards the man on the lawn."

She describes the driver to be over six feet tall and wearing some kind of gorilla suit, with what looked like a diver's helmet on.

Kallen doesn't know what happened next, since she was scared. She did notice that the man in the gorilla suit seemed to be unaffected by the severe wounds that he suffered.

Police are trying to locate the victim in the gorilla suit, and a caucasian male in torn jeans and a yellow t-shirt with the words Control Freak. If you happen to see them or have any information, phone Bludraven PD.

A Moment Before We Begin

"You knew?" Max asked. He looked at Maggie with a cocked eyebrow. He had unzipped a sling-bag and took out some clips.

"I know," Maggie replied. She checked the clip in her gun and slapped it back inside the weapon, then holstered the firearm.

"You do?" Max asked. He was in the process of laying 13 clips on the table.

"That I do," she said with a smile. She removed her jacket and dropped it to the floor, took her katana and slung it over her shoulder.

"But how?" Max questioned. He began placing the clips into the webbing.

"Call it a hunch," she replied as she drew the blade. "We can talk about this later. Right now I think we have company."

"Sure, change the subject!" he said mockingly. "After this is done though, we are going to have to have a serious little chat."

Maggie blew him a kiss then walked to the door. Outside the sound of metal feet could be heard.

Max gave Maggie a wink and then added. "Let's do it."

The Big Black Night

It was a dark and stormy night... 

A dim light shone in a small room. It offered a balance to the glow of the neon sign just outside the window. Painted on the window was Cube Investigations with the tagline "We Have the Time to Solve The Crime On Your Dime".

Max Cube sat behind a desk, his feet up and his arms stretched back behind his head. A cigarette dangled from his lips; smoke drifted hazily towards the ceiling. He tried not to think since, for some reason, his thoughts were broadcast out loud to no one in particular. And, for some reason, the same or another, everything was black & white.

The music from the radio was loud enough to drown out some of the noise coming from street level, but not quite all of it. Max loved the sound of the traffic below his office. He chuckled to himself. Being a paranormal investigator was a good life.

The phone rang. Max let it ring three times before picking it up. 

"Yo," was all that he said.

"Mr Cube?" a voice inquired.

"The one and only," he lied.

"Good." The voice sounded reassured. "I was wondering if I could ask you a question?"

"It's going to cost you," Max said. He leaned forward and butted out the cigarette. He reached for the bottom drawer of the desk and pulled out a bottle of Jack Daniels and a glass. He poured himself a drink.

"How much?" the voice asked.

"Well, that depends on how severe the question is."

The Eight Slugs

New Mexico, 1877

Two horsemen approached, their horses tired and worn out from a long hard run. Now they were taking it easy; if they were to go any faster they would surely perish.

A young fellow was holding the reins of the other horse, leading it along while the rider of that horse was slumped over the saddle, trying to stay on.

"Hold on, Maggie," the fellow said. "Just a little further. There's a medicine man who will take care of you. He fixed me up real good."

Maggie was leaning forward on the horse, holding on with much difficulty. She had lost a lot of blood on the trail and she felt that this would be it for her. She didn't acknowledge her companion because that would take too much effort.

She wasn't doing too well, with 8 slugs in her body. She felt like giving up but her spirit was much too strong.

"We're there," the man said.

"I hope this fellow is a good as you say, Bill Bonney," Maggie whispered.


Secret Society Part Four

The beige concrete block of elite condos looked like nothing grown, something that landed here, whole and finished, anchoring the surrounding buildings and the warm mid-afternoon street in a present that would only ever welcome the past. A blind watchtower overseeing the construction of an irrefutable history.
In the car parked opposite, Brae, in a dark suit and tie, and Simon, combat pants and a 'Home' logo shirt, his head shaved, finished assembling the components of what Simon conceptualized as the latest in demolition technology. The digital camera linked to the laptop, remote access to the net. Brae, on the driver's side, began shooting the irregular stream of people entering and exiting the building. Simon uploaded the images to the website where specialist artists and researchers they had never met - or perhaps they had - would make the modifications, add commentary and revelations, before casting them out into the ocean of data. A slow-motion global explosion, erosion.
"Hey, did you hear the latest from Infoborous?" Simon asked, finger tapping keys and tickling the mousepad.

A Scripted Encounter

A GANGBANGER shoves a knife against the throat of a battered MAX. Using MAX as a human shield.

(Yelling out)
He's as good as DEAD.

(remaining cool)
You really don't want to piss her off. 

ANGLE ON MAGGIE IN THE SHADOWS as she lines up the shot, finger poised on the trigger.

I mean it. I swear I'll kill him. 

(shaking head, whispering)
That was the wrong thing to say.


Faux News

Here Be A Spider
by Onina Porte

BERLIN (Rueters) - A German woman is lucky to be alive after her car crashed head on into a rockcut, police in the western town of Richlor said. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.

The 24-year-old woman was screaming and held a death grip on her steering while a rescue crew tried to get her out. The car was totally destroyed but the woman escaped with only slight injuries.

"She was screaming about a giant spider that crawled across the road," said a witness who refused to be identified. "Later on when she was calmed down she wanted to thank the man in an orange t-shirt who saved her from the spider."

"I guess he came in from the other side of the road, guns blazing," said the witness. "Though, I don't see any sign of a giant spider but it looks like this area was a war zone."

Force of Nature

"Are you getting this?" the reporter asked his camera man. Both men were in the news van. The rain pelted the windshield, making it difficult to see.

"I'm trying but it's hard to focus," the camera man replied. He pointed the portable towards the dock.

The view was of a woman standing on the edge of a dock, her arms outstretched, and it looked like she was holding a sword of some kind. Apparently yelling at the incoming storm. 

"What is she..." the reporter said to no one in particular. "Is she nuts?"

"You leave her alone YOU BITCH!" Maggie yelled to the approaching storm. She stood her ground as the winds screamed at her to run for cover. She raised the katana and the storm descended upon her.

Faux News

Hollywood Actor found
By Hugh Benhad, Associated Press Writer 

LOS ANGELES - The nearly two month search for an Academy Award winning actor ended Friday after a Malibu resident was awakened by the sound of gunfire. 

Tom Klick was awakened early Friday morning when gunfire erupted on the beach behind his ocean-side home.

"I called 911 since I knew there was no movie being shot at our location," said Klick. "After I did that, I took a look out back down to the beach and saw the Stark with a red haired woman battling some 'critters' on the shore."

Klick knew it was the missing Evans Stark since he is a fan of the actor, and thought they were filming a scene down by the sea. The resident said he didn't see any cameras but the action on the beach looked like some kung fu movie.

Just before the police arrived, there was a huge sound like a wet sack being torn apart and then a flash of a bluish-white light, then all fell silent, said Klick.

Police arrived shortly after and discovered Stark lying 40 feet from shore. 

Police said that there was no evidence anyone was actually pursuing the actor, who has worked on such films as "Fisticuffs" and "Cube's Seven".

Stark was taken into custody because he was deemed mentally incompetent and possibly dangerous to himself, said a police spokesperson. 

Stark was questioned by medical and mental health workers and taken to a hospital to make sure that he was in good physical health. He was to be transferred to another hospital for observation.

Police are trying to locate the red-haired woman.

On Max's Fridge

A hand drawn cartoon for Max, scribbled by Maggie. Max has put it on his fridge.... 

The grim reaper is at home watching TV when the doorbell rings. He opens the door and Max Cube is standing there in a neon yellow t-shirt, a pistol in each hand. 

"Sorry," says Max. "Your number's up."

Time for a Cool Change

In a dark room, red LED lights turned from 5:54 to 5:55 and that's when the alarm chimed on. The buzzing stirred the figure on the bed.

Max's head hurt; he awoke with the feeling of a million needles poking his brain trying to get the proper response. He felt different. He felt reborn. The sensation of going from one environment to another, like opening a door in a stagnant room to let the country breeze blow through.

A shift must have occurred last night, he thought. He swung his legs out of bed and they felt awkward for a moment. After each shift there were some residual side effects, and he could never get used to them. He stood up, his legs buckled and he caught the dresser to steady himself. That's when he when he noticed that he had breasts.

"Now this is new," he muttered and glanced into the dresser mirror to see a feminine form looking back at him.

Faux News

Mysterious Woman Found
Posted: 3:33am EDT August 16, 2007

Salem, NY --- A woman was found alongside a park in the woods. No one knows the identity of this mysterious person or where she came from. They presume she might have fallen from an airplane. Police are checking into the matter.

The woman remains in a coma. There is suspicion that foul play was involved in her injuries. Several handguns were found in her possession, as well as an ancient Japanese sword said to be over 500 years old.

The woman was found fully-clothed, wearing capri pants and sneakers and a bright yellow Happy Face t-shirt, shortly before 7:30 Monday morning by two teens who were on their way to school.

Doctors said that she is suffering from several "unnatural injuries" but would not go into detail.


The Uniform

Max strolled through his apartment, naked. As he walked past the table he picked up the cellphone. Beads of water still clung to his body. His thumb danced over the numbers and he brought it up to his ear, continuing to walk to his bedroom. He tossed the towel that was draped over his shoulder onto the hamper. 

Come on, he thought. Pick up already. 

He let the phone ring as he surveyed his closet. He had several t-shirts pressed and hanging from hangers. He selected the neon orange t-shirt with the word DANGER in bold black letters across the chest. He went to the drawer and pulled out boxers and some wool socks. On the floor were a pair of canvas pants with tons of pockets. There was no answer.

"Damnation," he muttered as he turned off the phone. Then he dressed in his uniform of the day.

Music Soothes Thy Savage Beasts

"We're going to have a whack of trouble in a few short seconds if you don't hurry up," Max said nonchalantly. He was leaning up against a water cooler. Sipping the cool liquid from a plastic cup.

Maggie's fingers were on the tumbler; she was turning the dial with elegant ease. Her eyes closed and her head cocked to one side as if listening to what her fingers were trying to tell her.

Max figured that someone had tripped the silent alarm; he was pretty sure that it wasn't him or Mags that did so. Maybe it was that security guard that had been watching a western on a laptop, when Max had walked up beside him and asked him if it was any good. The security guard had looked startled and Max had cold-cocked him. Max was thinking now, maybe he should have killed him.

"Anytime now," Max said. He crumpled up the plastic cup.

"Just keep your panties on," Mags said. "I'm just about there."

And like magic the lock clicked into place and Maggie turned the handle to open the door. She smiled like a cat in a room full of canaries as she peered inside and found what she was looking for. And old 45 record.

Faux News

Nun Questioned In Triple Slaying 
By Ksen Daniels

HOLYTREE (Reuters) - Sister Margaret Mary, a 77-year-old nun, is being held for questioning in the deaths of three people. 

The sister is apparently the sole survivor of a fight that had taken place in a church, in which a priest and two men were slain. 

"An angel from heaven arrived and saved me," Sister Margaret Mary, dressed in a black habit and veil, said.

"These three 'demons' had entered the church to be destructive, but a lovely red-haired angel came crashing down from the heavens, with a sword of light by her side, to banish the demons," she had told the press.

Police refused to comment on the situation, stating that it is still under investigation.

Gunfire Choir

The gun spoke for him. 

He guessed that the recipient of the bullet didn't like his response. But it still made Max feel good. He was having one hell of a bad week, and this day put the capper on it. He needed a release and he had found it. 

There was a thud in the distance. 

"Okay boys, let him have it!" a voice shouted, and then followed that with a hail of bullets. 

Max was resting against the wall, cigarette dangling from his lips. The sound of bullets bouncing off concrete, marble, plaster, metal was beautiful music to him. Soothing the savage beast.

Method Acting

They stood there looking at him. Eyes wide and full of terror, mouths dropped open as if to make primal screams. The sound of the gun going off was enough to make anyone do a double take. The culprit who had come in and fired the shot was long gone.

Max shook his head and couldn't believe what had just happened. He really wasn't expecting to get shot at all today, and had been off his guard. The group of teenagers stood there in shock, watching blood pour from the chest wound. They had never seen anyone get shot.

Max dropped to his knees. He felt a little discomfort. It felt like his chest was on fire, the bullet seemed lodged to the left of his heart. He knew that it was a fatal shot and he didn't have much time left. 

"You okay, Mr Cube?" one of the kids asked. Max didn't know which one but the voice was vaguely familiar.

"Yeah," Max said. He tried to get up but it felt like gravity was his enemy at the moment. He saw one of the girls reach for her cellphone. "No calls, please. I'm alright. Let this scene play out."

He got to a chair and pulled himself up into the seat. Ketchup. Ketchup. Ketchup, he whispered to himself. He fumbled into his vest pocket for a pack of smokes and it dropped from his hands.


He reached for the pack on the floor but Kara picked it up and handed him one. He brought the cigarette sluggishly to his mouth and then fished a book of matches from out of his pants pocket, an old faded book with once golden letters declaring a place long forgotten. He flipped it open. He knew he didn't have much time left. There were two matches remaining, and he took one. 

He struck the match a few times until it lit and then he brought it up to the smoke that dangled from his lips. It took great effort and strength to do so. He sucked in the flavour of the cigarette and he closed his eyes. And he smelled ketchup. The kids were crowding around now.

"And that's what we call acting," Max said. His eyes opened and he stood up. 

"Wha...?" There was several gasps. They were stunned to find out that this was all part of the class.

Max opened up his shirt to remove a baggie that was once filled with ketchup. And he smiled.

Mobile Hospital

His brain was on fire with the intensity of a thousand stars going supernova. The pain was so fierce he thought that death would be a welcome relief. Max was shouting incoherently at those around him, his words making no sense to the closed minded.

"He's going into cardiac arrest. He's dying," a medic shouted. "He should be taken to a hospital!"

Morganfokker turned his head and glared at the medic. "I have my orders. It's all part of Project: Legacy."

"But... But he's turning blue from lack of oxygen. His BP's dropped below the scale. It's a miracle that he's still alive," the medic said. He was just a field surgeon with no experience at all in psychology. He really didn't know what he was doing here, but it was his orders.

Morganfokker growled. He got up from the desk and went to the cubicle. Max was rolling around on the bed, his body convulsing against the restraints. Morganfokker shoved the medic aside and reached for a silver case. He took out a needle filled with a strange liquid.

"What is that?" the medic asked.

Morganfokker didn't answer; he administered the serum into Max's neck. And Max dropped like a sheet, his eyes rolled back and he went still. Splayed on the table like beef on a butcher's block. Morganfokker smiled.

The Conversationalist

After a long puff, Max butted out the cigarette in the clean ashtray. He sat there at the table, looking at the man sitting across from him. The man was cold and efficient, like an automaton, hands clasped on the table before him.

"So Mr. Cube, what else do you have to say?" the automaton asked.

Max drummed his fingers on the oak table; he could feel that it was real wood and he liked the touch of it. He reached over to the pack of cigarettes to his left, which caused Mr. Automaton to frown more. "Smoking does kill you," it said.

"I know," Max said. "Same with crossing the street."

Number One Hit

Max got out of the car, which wasn't unusual in itself. But this car in particular was going at 79mph at the time. That was no concern to him. What concerned him the most was the fact that there was an explosive device in that car that was about to go off at any second.

He had jumped from the car onto a moving flatbed trailer, scanning the 3 feet distance between the car and the trailer, like a skater doing an axle. He landed and turned to see the car he had been in explode with the intensity of a sun going nova. He shielded his eyes.

"Damn," he said as he realized he left his ipod on the seat.

Drifting Away

It happened to be a beautiful day in the city. Max was sitting on a bench by a fountain, watching the world slowly go by. For the past few days he had been troubled by recent events and just wanted to take some time to adjust.

Skateboarders zipped by, as well as cyclists. Mothers walking their kids. A young girl skipped by with a bubble wand, releasing several into the air.

A bubble drifted pass his line of sight, breaking him out of his current thoughts. The bubble danced in the wind momentarily in front of him, just enough to get his attention before it moved on. Max looked at the bubble and thought of it as it's own tiny universe.

Looking at the bubble as it drifted away, he imagined several universes inside that bubble, billions of stars and the possibility of life in there. The bubble drifted out from his line of sight and Max smiled. 

At any moment he could have been a vengeful god and destroyed that universe. But then he thought that it deserved it's natural course of action, just like this reality.

Where Do I Begin?

The subway pulled up to the platform and Maggie stepped on. She took a seat away from the others and slipped on the earphones. Delirium was just starting, 'Innocente', and that song brought a smile to her face.

Maggie let the music flow through her, the ipod doing it's duty and making the world her movie. She now knew Max's fascination with music; if you lived your life like a movie, have one killer soundtrack.

The city flowed by like a river after the rain, and she closed her eyes. The past couple of days were a blur, which was literally true, since several reality shifts had occurred and really caught her off guard. One minute you're at a nightclub dancing to the music, the next second your in the middle of zombies who want to tear at your flesh. Though, Maggie thought, that wasn't necessarily much of a difference.

"Penny for your thoughts," the gentlemen said, breaking Maggie from her daydream. She looked at the fellow and smiled. He had gotten on at the last stop and took the seat right across from her. He wore dark sunglasses and Maggie couldn't read his eyes, which meant one of two things.

"Must of been a nice thought," the gentlemen added.

"It was," she lied.

Tea, Sir

"Konnichi wa," the man behind the counter said. He looked toward the door to the shop when the chimes jingled. He saw a young man strolling in and walking through the tables up to the counter.

"Are you The Guardian?" Max decided to be direct. He was tired and had gone through hell and he wasn't in the mood for any games. He fished out a bent coin from his pocket and tossed it on the counter.

The old man nodded and pointed to the counter stool. Max took a seat and a cup of herbal tea was placed before him. The tea's aroma was tantalizing and very tempting.

"How can I help the young dragon?" the old man asked. 

Max took a long sip from his tea and savored the taste. "I was told that there was a young woman in here about three weeks back. She had a cat and a cheerleader with her.".

"Yes," The Guardian said. He placed down the sharp knife and walked over towards Max. "A very fiery one at that."

Max glanced around the tiny shop and then back at the old man. "Not too bad at all. I see that it didn't take too long for the repairs."

The old man chuckled a little and then he waved to Max to join him behind the counter. "I presume that you want to meet up with your friends."

It was Max's turn to nod. "But it can wait til after this tea."

Figure of Speech

Max reached for the canteen, unscrewed the cap and took a long pull. He wiped his brow with the sleeve of his shirt and then handed the canteen to the kid. Suki waved her hand; she wasn't too thirsty.

"You better take some of this," he told her. He glanced behind them to see if anyone had been following. "Who knows when the next time we'll get an opportunity like this."

She took the canteen and took a tiny sip and then handed it back to Max. He put the cap back onto it and then tossed it into the jeep. He took out a pistol and showed it to the girl.

"You know how to use this?" he asked her. "In the next few hours we are going to be in a whack of trouble."

Suki nodded yes. Max checked to see if it was loaded and saw that it was.

"You don't talk much," said Max as he handed her the gun. As soon as she held the weapon in her hands she seemed like an old vet.

"Talking is just a waste of energy," Suki answered. "My grandfather says energy is useful bottled up and when the time comes to use it, you use it."

"Well, what do you know," Max said with a chuckle. Suki hadn't really said much at all since he had rescued her from a group of Tongs. "She really knows how to say a word."

Suki smiled.


A Musical Interlude

The Firefly was a small piano bar located beneath a popular restaurant. It was never truly filled but it was rarely ever empty. A nice place to sit back and enjoy a quiet night.

There was a dozen people in the room when Max and Maggie arrived. Strolling in through the doors, dressed to the nines, looking like they were having a night on the town.

"This is the place," Max said as he removed Maggie's wrap.

Maggie took in the atmosphere of the small bar; it reminded her of an airport lounge, a sense of the transitory, but classier. "This is quite nice."

"Get used to it," Max said as he grabbed a package of matches from a basket. It had golden writing on it declaring the name of the lounge. "It's yours."

Maggie looked at him to see if this was a joke or not. Max just winked at her and smiled. Then he wandered over to the piano, took a seat and began to play a very familiar song.

Maggie leaned on the piano and looked at Max. "Thank you," she said and then struck into a song. Her voice was sultry and full of life and made everyone in the room smile.

Out of the Frying Pan

"I'm running out of ammo. You know I hate it when I run out of ammo," Maggie told Max. She was leaning against the wall with a machine gun in hand. She had been hit a few times by stray bullets, but she felt fine since they were only flesh wounds. "Why do we get stuck in situations like this?"

Max shrugged and checked his guns and clips. He stood up and leaned against the wall, inching his way to the doorway. Max turned his head at her and winked. He raised his guns and did a quick glance out the door. He got several rounds of fire in return.

"How many do you think are out there?" he asked. 

"Well, given the hail of bullets," Maggie stated, "I think about 50."

"I like them odds," Max replied after a few moments of silence. "Those bastards don't know who they are messing with."

Maggie gave out a little chuckle and then added, "So are we going to do this like Butch and Sundance?"


The night was humid; with the window open there wasn't much of a breeze blowing through the little apartment. Max walked over to the fan that was blowing and shut it off. 

Max stood in the room, arms akimbo. He had just finished working out and he was covered and sweat and stink. As one black fly landed on him, he glanced at it and nodded. He waited and then a few more came and landed on his body.

Max didn't move at all. He stood statuesque as more and more flies buzzed about his apartment, attracted by the scent.

He was covered in thousands upon thousands of black flies, crawling over his body like maggots on a piece of meat. He stood there and could feel them all, millions of tiny feet crawling over his body. 

His breathing was slow and controlled and his movement was practically non-existent. He was covered with a living blanket of insects, and he felt more in control.  

We need you.

It sounded like thousands upon thousands of tiny voices crying out. And it startled Max for a few seconds; was he finally over that edge? 

You need us.

The cellphone chimed. And when he moved, all the insects took flight, leaving an empty space. There was no sign of Max anywhere, as if he had become part of the insects that covered him.

The cellphone chimed again.

Max's eyes flickered open. He was laying on his bed and he reached for the phone.