Note: This tale takes place in the Autumn of 2014, several years before planet Earth was invaded and ultimately destroyed by Nazi Dolphins during the events of Shark Horse Part 23: Shark To The Great Beyond.
I met Álvaro Gutiérrez in jail. For four hours, he was my best friend.
My name is Larry Glenfiddich, and I had spent over a year littering the streets of America with an ever-lengthening trail of golden, fuzzy corpses; and I had no intention of slowing down. At least not till I’d bathed in the blood of every goddamn hamster, ferret, weasel, rat, stoat and fucking vole on this whole foregone planet. By God’s saggy tits, I would not relent until I had pissed blood on the shattered carcass of their wicked master, Jon Hammster himself.
That was the plan, anyway. Ending up in jail wasn’t part of it, although retrospectively, I shouldn’t have been so surprised about that. I was in Las Vegas when Jon Hammster murdered my family. Before that happened, I’d thought despair was losing a big hand; getting rejected by a gorgeous bird; getting stuck in traffic. But when my entire home city was casually swept off the map by a fucking domesticated rodent, it felt like my soul had been ripped out through my dick with a burning, barbed hook; that was true despair. When I heard the news that Stoke-On-Trent had burned… that my daughter Lily – who had only moments before been a smiling, laughing, beautiful human being, full of hopes and dreams and fears – was now only so much irradiated dust sweeping across the English countryside giving sheep farmers cancer…
But I had to put those thoughts out of my head. I couldn’t think of Lily. Her big front teeth and her bigger heart… NO! If I dwelt on my sadness, it would destroy me. And I couldn’t let it do that. Not yet. For now, I had to focus on my hatred for Jon Hammster. Hone it. Do everything within my power to destroy the furry little bastard. When he was dead… when I was sure what happened to me would never happen to anyone again… then I could put a pistol in my mouth and go to see Lily again.
With this in mind, I permitted myself exactly four seconds of mourning, and then my campaign of vengeance began in earnest. The first thing I had to do was learn whatever I could about my enemy. Try to predict his moves. It wasn’t easy – his attacks seemed random and the media was always reluctant to release details about his crimes – but eventually, I began to see patterns. Patterns even the authorities hadn’t found. The authorities in America are such shite. They waste all their time shooting black people and depending on their fucking mutant superheroes to solve their problems. They were never going to find Jon Hammster’s pattern. But, little by little, I was uncovering it.
It seemed as though every fucking hamster, rat, vole and other scuzzy, fuzzy vermin on the planet was in on it with Jon Hammster. And they had formed cells, scattered all over the world, hidden in cities and towns everywhere. I knew that any one of them could be guarding the monster himself, but I doubted I’d be lucky enough to come across him without some very serious detective work. Instead, I stocked up on guns, knives, chains, bricks, bats and all manner of chemicals to improvise enough weapons to put an end to every cell I found.
I must have blown up fifty nests of the pestilent terrorists over the next six or seven months. I’d find out where they were hiding – usually in some abandoned building somewhere – usually by tracking hamster sightings or by following a mouse that seemed a little to cocksure in a town full of cats. When I located the den of the murderous little critters, I’d creep up to it under cover of night and attach my makeshift bombs to it. Then I’d throw a Molotov cocktail in through the window for good measure and back the fuck up. As I watched the flaming critters skitter out in a panic, I’d always make sure to get close enough to my inferno of justice for them to see my grizzled British face. They needed to know that LARRY GLENFIDDICH was the one erasing their vile kind from the world of man. When I was satisfied that they knew this, I’d take another step back and set off the bombs. On occasion, I’d even permit myself a smile as hundreds of conflagrant little bodies were blasted heavenward, smoke trailing behind them like a thousand verminous rockets.
The media caught onto what I was doing. They didn’t know it was me, of course, but they were aware that a person or persons was waging a guerrilla campaign against the monstrous house pets. Some hailed me as a brave hero, standing up against terror when the authorities were too weak to do so. Others said I was a dangerous madman, antagonizing an enemy who had unfettered access to fully functioning nuclear weapons. Perhaps the latter was true, but even if it were so, I was no longer in the fuck-giving business. I continued my campaign unabated, refusing to be weighed down by pseudo-philosophical flimflam.
After some months of this, there came a lull in Jon Hammster’s hitherto relentless campaign of nuclear terror. There was, for an all-too-brief few weeks, no sign of the psychopathic rodent or his murderous brethren. Some of the humans of the world even dared to hope that his threat had ended. That perhaps “The Great Exterminator,” as I had become known, had succeeded in killing Jon Hammster with one of his raids.
I never dared to hope.
Sure enough, by March, it was sadly confirmed that Jon Hammster was very much alive, and just as madly unhinged as ever he’d been. His attacks had hitherto been carried out on relatively small towns and villages, but on that grave and gloomy day he’d launched a nuclear attack directly at George Clooney’s mansion, horribly murdering all of Los Angeles in the process. I tried once again to keep my emotions in check, as I’d done successfully up until now, but the burden of guilt was too heavy upon me. Nearly four million lives ended in a moment, and it was my fault. If only I’d found him first. I was The Exterminator but I could do nothing to stop him, and a major city had become a giant glassy tomb as a result of my failure.
After that moment, I began drinking uncontrollably, slugging cheap bourbon at absolutely any opportunity. I had no money left, so I would steal it from convenience stores whenever available. I would stagger, drunken and unwashed, everywhere I went. The despair that I’d given four seconds to before was threatening to return to me and stay for eternity.
I was losing sight of my goal. Jon Hammster, the diabolical scourge of the primate world, was going to win. I was going to die in a ditch somewhere, and there would be no one left to stop him from annihilating the human race. It was at this moment, my lowest, that I met Álvaro Gutiérrez.
I’d woken up on the floor of the Orange County Jail. I remembered very little of what had brought me here, other than the fact that I’d been driving, plastered, for days in a car loaded with guns and improvised munitions.
“Hey, white boy,” was the first sound I heard as I came out of my alcoholic funk, “I know who you are.”
I looked up. Standing over me was a Mexican mountain of a man, my age or older, with gang tattoos girding every visible inch of his muscular flesh. The man was sufficiently intimidating that I worried my death would come not at the paws of a hamster but at the whim of some random forty-year old gangbanger in a jail cell in the fucking OC. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but I found myself very surprised when, rather than killing me, he’d extended a hand to help me up.
“I’m Álvaro Gutiérrez,” the massive man told me.
“Larry,” I said weakly, “Where am I?”
Álvaro smiled, “You have a good night last night, Holmes? You’re in Orange County Jail, in Santa Ana, California. I gotta say, this place don’t get very busy anymore. Not with… him patrolling the streets.”
“Him?” I asked, then I remembered Álvaro’s introduction, “Wait? You said you knew who I was?”
“Of course,” said Álvaro, “You’re The Great Exterminator. I know why you’re here.”
“Sure I do. The pigs said they picked you up driving through Rancho Santa Margarita, shitfaced, with a Volvo full of guns and bombs. I got to thinking, what would some limey white boy be doing strapped like that? In Rancho fucking Santa Margarita? But it didn’t take me long. You’re looking for him.”
“Him?” I asked, “Who is him?”
Álvaro looked a little surprised, “Hey, don’t fuck with me, Holmes. You ain’t gotta hide who you are. I ain’t no snitch, and I think what you’re doing is great. So, you can tell me… You came to Southern California to find Shark Horse, right?”
Shark Horse? I recalled seeing stories about him in the news, but… I’d never believed them.
“No,” I said, “I’m not here for him.”
“Then what the fuck you doin’ here?”
In my addled state, it took me a moment to recollect exactly why I had driven all the way to Orange County. Was I searching out a nest of hamsters? Was it to pay my respects by the corpse of Los Angeles? No…
“Stephenie Meyer is doing a book signing in Rancho Santa Margarita,” I said.
“Who the fuck is Stephenie Meyer?” Álvaro demanded, seemingly annoyed by my answer, “Why do you need a truck full of guns for a goddamn book signing? You tellin’ me you ain’t the Great Exterminator?”
I hesitated for a moment. This man could kill me yet.
“Stephanie Meyer is the author of the Twilight book series,” was all I said.
I paused for a long, long moment.
“No,” I said.
“Then why the fuck you going to the Twilight bitch’s book signing?”
“I’m not going for her. I’m going to find someone else whom I know will be there. How long have you been in this jail, Álvaro?”
“A month,” said Álvaro, “Ain’t no one comin’ to get me here. My gang – they all dead. My daughter’s all I got left. And I sure as shit ain’t makin’ her come get me. She sick. Real sick.”
“Your gang is all dead?”
“We were tryin’ to move some product, when he came and killed them.”
“Yeah,” Álvaro said, looking a little more upbeat to be telling this story than I expected, “I ain’t never seen nothin’ like it. He moved like a hurricane, from one man to the next, rippin’ them apart as he went along. When he came towards me, I threw down my gun and yelled, ‘I got a daughter! She sick! Please don’t kill me!’ Well, he stopped, and goddamn if he ain’t a fucking half-shark, half-horse – not fucking with ya at all, that’s exactly what he is. And then he talks to me in that deep ol’ voice he’s got, and he’s like, ‘If you promise never to sell drugs again, and to turn your life around, I won’t kill you. For your daughter’s sake. But you’re still going to jail.'”
“Holy shit,” I said, not sure if I believed any of it but not willing to argue.
“God’s truth,”Álvaro said, “That’s why not too many people come to this jail anymore. Usually, they die before they can.”
“Well,” I said.
“Yeah. That’s why I thought you was comin’ here for Shark Horse. I thought you was gonna get him to help you kill Jon Hammster.”
“You know what I do, then?” I asked.
“The Great Exterminator, Holmes, everybody fuckin’ know,” said Álvaro, “You a hero, hombre.”
“No,” I said, “I’m not. I don’t think I can do it. I can’t stop him.”
Álvaro seized my jacket and threw me against the bars of the cell, a loud banging noise reverberating about the building as he did so.
“The hell you can’t,” he said, bringing his face within an inch of mine, “That motherfucker’s the reason my daughter’s sick. She sick from the radiation. From when he bombed LA. Lotta people are. That’s why I needed money so bad. That’s why I went back to the gang. That’s why I’m in here. You know how to find those bastards. You damn sure gonna kill that Hammster bastard.”
I nodded, and he slowly let me go.
“I should tell you why I came for the book signing. You see, Stephenie Meyer is an awful, terrible writer.”
Álvaro smiled, “Shit, don’t let my daughter hear you say that.”
“It’s an objective truth,” I said, “And, her being at the book signing, here in Southern California… Well, it’s my best chance. I’m looking for the one being who survived the nuclear strike on Los Angeles. The one who has just as much reason to hate Jon Hammster as the two of us do. And I don’t believe he can resist coming to that book signing to tea-bag Stephenie Meyer to death. I’m here to enlist the help of… Conotocaurious.”
Álvaro’s eyes widened.
“Holy shit, Holmes. Holy fuckin’ shit. I knew you was crazy, but Hell’s Bell’s, white boy, you batshit,” he said, laughing, “Shit, if you can get that bastard on your side, and Shark Horse, Jon Hammster be fucked.”
“Don’t underestimate him,” I said, “He’s a clever motherfucker.”
“Shit, you got this, dawg,” Álvaro said grinning, “Hey, before that raccoon kills the Twilight bitch, could you get me an autograph? For my daughter, she’d be real happy.”
I smiled. “Sure, Álvaro.”
“I owe you a drink, bro,” Álvaro said, “What you drink?”
“Jim Beam,” I said.
“Fuck that shit,” he said, “Tequila!”
I grinned, “I’ll always be a Beam man.”
“Fine, you get that autograph, I’ll drink whatever pathetic shit you want,” said Álvaro, “But you gotta try-”
Álvaro was cut off by a cacophanous sound that seemed to come from everywhere. Then the lights flickered and went out.
“What the fuck’s happening?” Álvaro shouted, “Hey, guards, where the fuck you at?”
Another explosion. Dust was now filling the largely vacant jail, and through it, there stepped a guard. In one trembling hand, he held a key. In the other, a gun. He pointed it at us.
“D-D-Don’t move, either of y-y-you,” he said, his whole body shaking as he did so. He was covered in a layer of glistening sweat.
“L-L-Lawrence G-G-Glenfiddich,” he stuttered, “The G-G-Great Exterminator.”
I didn’t say anything. Fifth Amendment and all that. Now the guard was unlocking the door, still shaking. He threw it wide open, leaving Álvaro and I standing inside the cell dumbfounded.
“I did what you asked!” the guard shouted, “Let me go?”
From underneath the guard’s cap, there came a little, squeaky voice.
“I did promise you freedom, but I have a task for you yet,” the voice said. I recognized it. The voice that had been so often in the news. The one I’d studied so often. A chill, like nothing I’d ever experienced before, filled my body, freezing the very marrow of my bones. And then, from under the hat, there poked a small pair of paws. Then a nose. And finally, from the top of the guard’s flabby head, a little white body wriggled out, climbing downward and standing on the guard’s quaking shoulder.
It was him.
The monster himself.
Jon Hammster. In the flesh.
“I have followed your exploits in the news, Mr. Glenfiddich,” he said, “Your campaign to kill me has been an impressive one.”
I was filled, in an instant, with an apoplectic rage. I attempted to lunge, but Jon Hammster gestured to the guard on whose shoulder he stood. Immediately, the guard fired a warning shot which whizzed by me to embed itself in the brick wall behind us. I froze once again.
“Impressive,” the hamster said, “But ultimately futile. Did you think I would allow you to attack my followers with impunity forever? Did you seriously think there would never be retaliation? You have seriously underestimated us. We are everywhere. We can strike anywhere. At any time. I only let you live this long, Lawrence Glenfiddich, because you fascinated me. In you, I see myself.”
“FUCK YOU!” I found myself shouting, “FUCK YOU, JON HAMMSTER! I SWEAR TO CHRIST I WILL FUCKING KILL EVERY ONE OF YOUR KIND ON THE GOD DAMN PLANET!”
Jon Hammster smiled. His next words cut me deeper than I ever would have thought possible.
“You would have made a good hamster.”
Once again, I was frozen. I could not move. I was paralyzed by a deluge of every emotion I’d fought up until now. Sadness. Despair. Fear. Shame. Guilt. RAGE. HATE.
“I wanted to look you in the eyes. Just once, before I killed you. Goodbye, Larry Glenfiddich.”
With that, the hamster scurried off the guard’s shoulder, down his leg, and to the cold stone floor of the county jail. The hapless guard turned down to look at the psychotic rodent.
“You said you’d let me go,” the guard pleaded.
“I said you will be free,” Jon Hammster said, “And so shall you be.”
“NO!” the guard bellowed, pointing his gun downward. It was too late, however; Jon Hammster had disappeared into the shadows once again. Throwing the gun down, the guard was now ripping his uniform open; underneath his shirt, there was some kind of device. And it was beeping.
A peal of artificial thunder ripped through the air inside the cramped jail cell; there was a searing flash of light, and then… blackness.
I came to within a few moments. I was lying on my back in the darkened, ruined cell. The guard had been blown into bloody bits, scattered all about the room. I was feeling my body for injuries when I saw the shattered wreck of Álvaro Gutiérrez, the man who was briefly my best friend, lying next to me. His body had been torn to shreds by the nails, broken glass, and ball bearings of Jon Hammster’s improvised bomb. He had dove to cover my body when the bomb went off, taking the full force of the blast into his massive body. It was obvious he was bleeding out very quickly.
“D-d-dyin’ for a white b-b-boy,” he said very weakly, “H-h-how bout that?”
“You’re not dying, Álvaro,” I said, “We’ll get you to a hospital…”
“Sh-shut up, L-Larry,” Álvaro said, “That hamster’s bomb blew my d-dick off. I wouldn’t wanna live, even if I c-could. B-but you gotta get the bastard for me. And for my d-d-daughter.”
“Yes,” I promised, “Whatever it takes. I promise your daughter will grow up in a world without these fucking hamsters. I will find Conotocaurious, and I’ll make him help me-”
“S-Shark Horse, too,” said Álvaro, “You need them both if you’re gonna win. F-f-find Shark Horse.”
“Yes,” I said, “I will.”
With that, my best friend died.
Jon Hammster! Your attempt to kill me failed! And now I know where you are! You are in Orange County, California!
I will take down your rodent organization and, before the end…
I will piss on your fuzzy little corpse!