ABOUT THE AUTHOR
“… I remember the times we spent there… When it was still good for all of us,” Rain said. Her eyes teared up; she shifted the baby and looked at Michael…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
“… I remember the times we spent there… When it was still good for all of us,” Rain said. Her eyes teared up; she shifted the baby and looked at Michael…
When I have time to spend I like messing around with 3D creations, game making stuff. I think I have tried most of the contenders and it comes down to what you like in most cases. I say that because many of us just want to have some fun and never intend to publish a video game. This page is not meant to be definitive in any way except as it pertains to my own experience.
Game Makers: 3D RAD
There are dozens of Game Makers out there, but I have seen nothing at all that allows you to build, distribute, play, and comes with pre-made game modules you can both learn from and customize to suit your needs like 3D RAD. I know, Unity, Unreal and the list goes on and on. Yes, they do have game creation systems, but they do not allow you to publish unless or until you purchase an expensive license. So you can go ahead and create something, but unless you intend to pony up some cash you can not publish or share it.
3D RAD allows you to use it to create games and you can do whatever you wish with those games. Publish, sell, share, it’s your choice. It also comes with dozens of game examples that work. It is easy, with a little work, to customize those games, add your own 3D models, skins, pieces and make something fun and maybe even profitable. It is also completely free.
Game Examples and Abilities include:
First Person Shooter
For me the choice was clear over 10 years ago when I actually purchased 3D Rad. It is now completely free.
While this is great, there are some things that cause people to stumble. First, learning a system, any system, even if it has projects and pre-sets to show you how to do it is difficult. It is time consuming. I have found myself investing mass amounts of time in other game creators to learn them only to find that, in the end, I need a license, or I have to pay for content to use, something along those lines. 3D RAD has been free for quite some time. I know of no plans to take it back to a retail product. So, you shouldn’t get surprised down the line somewhere and find it suddenly has to be purchased, or you need to pay for a license to continue using it. So the time you invest is worthwhile in that respect.
3D RAD: http://3drad.org/downloads
3D RAD uses the direct X file format for the 3D models it uses. There is no modeler that was purpose built to model in the Direct X format. Yes, I have seen a few that claim to be able to do it, but I have tried them and they don’t get the job done, they are buggy, or they are works in progress. If I ever see one that actually works and has the features you need in a modeling program I’ll list here. And that doesn’t mean it has to be free. Some things I will list here are not free.
So, there are no Direct X specific modelers. However, there are Modelers that can do the job. You can go right to the top and spend the money for a top of the line modeler, or you can search the internet and risk contaminated files to try to find something that will do the job. Or you can do what I do, search for open source projects that work.
Why Open Source? I use Open Source modelers because I don’t have to worry about virus infection if I download them directly from Source Forge, GitHub or the projects own website. That might seem excessively cautious but after getting infected files several times I just don’t try anything else. And some of those infections were serious enough to make me completely shut down, wipe the drive and reformat completely. Even the low infection stuff copies files to your browser or hard drive and then you have to spend time deleting them, if you can. Oh, and they offer, of course, to sell you some virus software that helpfully can take care of this adware infection. Why put yourself through it? Well, because, like me, you’re cheap and you still want to play. So, go the open source route. Find a something that works, download it and you’re set.
3D RAD does not include a module to skin or UV models.
It used to be easier, in the old days, before 3D RAD went to Direct X models, to skin or UV wrap or UV Unwrap models. It used 3DS models and it had a module built in, small, but effective, that allowed you to do that. Simple, but it worked great. Not any longer. Now you have to find a program that will do that. It also has to be a program that can work with various model formats you might be using, and one that has the ability to save to the Direct X format.
In the old days I used a freeware program called Lithunwrap. Google it, you’ll find it. I won’t link to it because it is not supported by the author any longer. It is also one of those files you’ll find on those sites with spy or adware, or those helpful download managers that also add spyware and ad bars without your permission. You may find it on a site that is free of that garbage. If so, grab it. It’s invaluable as a demonstrative tool.
So, I looked at the shortcomings and then decided that I like it well enough to find some work-arounds to help me to use it.
A Modeler was the first thing I needed.
OPEN FX: http://www.openfx.org/
Open FX is an open source modeler that was abandoned several years ago and then bought back. It has its quirks, but over all it is a solid modeler and very easy to learn and use.
It imports Direct X, 3DS, OBJ, LWO, DFX, and DAE. It does not export Direct X. You might ask, well, how does that help me to get Direct X into 3D RAD?
It exports DXF and 3DS both of which can then be faithfully converted to the Direct X format and used in 3D RAD. I know, I have used it exactly that way.
After a modeler I needed a way to get my model format of choice, 3DS, into the Direct X format.
ULTIMATE UNWRAP: http://www.unwrap3d.com/u3d/index.aspx
Ultimate Unwrap is written by the same man who authored Lithunwrap, so he knows what he is up to. It is not free, but there is a free demo you can download and test to see that it does what it says it will. Ultimate Unwrap is a beautiful piece of software and worth the cost of purchase. It can be used for many game systems and the website has dozens of plugin filters for various formats to import and or export.
It does faithful translations of 3D Models. Open your 3DS formatted or DXF formatted model and save it to Direct X or whatever format you need. It’s that simple. It is lightweight, small footprint and it does every single thing it claims it can do and it does them very well. It has some modeling features as well that can save you hours of time when you are setting up a model to use in a game. Sometimes it is worth paying for software when it is this good.
You can find hundreds thousands of models on the web that you can use. Some are royalty free, some are not. Many need a lot of work if you intend to use them in a video game where the poly count can be your enemy. You need something that looks good, but has a low impact size wise. Most model downloads are not going to fit that bill. You will find yourself spending hours upon hours on the simplest model trying to reduce the size, or change it to what you need.
The best thing to do is look at the models that are in 3D RAD already. Go ahead and open them in Ultimate Unwrap, save them to 3DS files and then open them in Open FX. Take a look at how they were constructed. In most cases you will see that most of the perceived detail comes from rendering, not the model itself. Once you realize that, and see how simplistic the models that are used in video games actually are you will realize it is worth your time to make your own simplistic models. But, go ahead, download that truck or car and have some fun with it. I did, and it taught me that I would rather build my own most of the time. Take a look at the tutorials for 3D RAD and for Open FX and Ultimate Unwrap. Learn those tools and you’ll be making what you want to make pretty quickly.
I like TurboSquid because it requires membership. Not a big deal, costs nothing, but it allows them to know you and you them. I don’t have to worry about contaminated files. They have free downloads, and they also have content you can purchase pretty cheaply and download and use in your creations.
Okay, none of these places paid me to link them. No kickbacks or click-throughs either. Just stuff that works for me and should work for you. If you find anything on this page that is not as I said, or that has changed, please let me know about it. In the meantime enjoy 3D Game Building!
I hope this helped. If you have something of use you would like to list drop me a line at email@example.com and if it’s good I’ll list it.
I am here in this farm house that Lana and I found a few weeks back. By myself. Lana is gone. I sat down here to write this story out before I am gone too. Maybe that sounds melodramatic, but it isn’t. I know exactly what my situation is.
We have been to Manhattan, outside of it, you can’t go in any longer, and we came from Los Angeles, so we know: It’s all gone, destroyed, there’s nothing left.
The moon rode high in the sky. Moonlight gleamed from bits of gravel in the dirt road that lead into the barn. Silence held, and then a scraping came from the ground, muffled, deep.
At the edge of the woods, eyes flashed dully in the over-bright moonlight. Shapes shifted among the trees and then emerged from the shadows onto the gravel roadway. One dragged a leg as he walked, clothes already rotted and hanging in tatters. A second seemed almost untouched, a young woman, maybe a little too pale in the wash of moonlight. She walked as easily as any woman, stepping lightly as she went. The third and fourth moved slower, purposefully, as they made their way to the freshly turned soil. They stopped beside the grave, and silence once again took the night, no sounds of breathing, no puffs of steam on the cold night air.
“Do you think…?” The young woman asked in a whisper.
“Shut up,” the one with the dragging leg rasped. His words were almost unintelligible. His vocal cords rotted and stringy, no air in his lungs to move his words. The noises came once again from the earth and the four fell silent… waiting…
A hand broke through into the moonlight. A few minutes later a young woman’s head pushed up, and then she levered her arms upward and began to strain to pull herself up and out of the hole. She noticed the four and stopped, her pale skin nearly translucent, her black hair tangled and matted against her face and neck. Her lips parted, a question seeming to ride on them.
“It’s okay,” the young woman whispered, “it’s okay.” She and one of the older ones moved forward, fell to their knees and began to scoop the dirt away from her with their hands.
“It’ll be okay,” the young woman mumbled in agreement through her too cold lips.
“It will… It will,” the other woman repeated.
I got up a second ago just to move around. The silence is killing me. How can it be so quiet? I made the circuit, nothing. The whiskey is gone and no effect left from it either. Maybe my body just can’t respond to it any longer. Maybe there is nothing left that can shock it. I don’t know. I DON’T KNOW!
Sorry… I should just say to hell with writing this out. I mean it’s like some sort of penance, isn’t it? Feels like it is. I hate it, but it is so real in my head, and I don’t really know that it can’t help someone else if it’s down on paper… Maybe it can, maybe it can’t. Where was I at… Arizona…
I remember that night in Arizona… I thought Lana was dead…
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Apocalypse follows survivors of a worldwide catastrophe.
A meteorite that was supposed to miss the earth completely, hits and becomes the cap to a series of events that destroy the world as we know it. Police, fire, politicians, military, governments: All gone. Hopes, dreams, tomorrows: All buried in a desperate struggle to survive. From L.A. To Manhattan the cities, governments have toppled and lawlessness is the rule. The dead lay in the streets while gangs fight for control of what is left. Small groups band together for safety and begin to leave the ravaged cities behind in search of a future that can once again hold promise.
Los Angeles: Billy and Beth start out with a small group and wind up on their own as they make their way across America trying to find others and safety.
Manhattan: Adam leaves the safety of his apartment to find his way out of the dying Manhattan, gathering others as he makes his way.
Old Towne New York: Conner is alone for the first few weeks, but then he finds Katie and a reason to live again. They set out to survive and find much more than survival.
Watertown New York: Mike Collins goes to sleep thinking about his first vacation in many years that he will start in the morning. He awakens to destruction.
The Earth’s Survivors series of books follow the people that survive and set out to rebuild their lives. At first hoping only to make it day by day, but ultimately looking to the future and rebuilding a society where fear does not rule…
This is the original series that has found new life and new writers to take the story to completion.
An effort to bring back the original series. The books that were published and the books that were not published.
Book One: The Original Survivors: From Ashes.
Candace March 2nd: This is not a diary. I have never kept a diary. They say, never say never, but I doubt I will. I have never been this scared. The whole world is messed up. Is it ending? I don’t know, but it seems like it’s ending here. Earthquakes, explosions. I’ve seen no Police, Fire or emergency people all day. It’s nearly night. I think that’s a bad sign. I have the Nine Millimeter that used to be my Father’s. I’ve got extra ammo too. I’m staying inside. Candace March 3rd: I lost this yesterday; my little notebook. I left it by the window so I could see to write, but I swear it wasn’t there when I went to get it; then I found it again later on by the window right where I left it. Maybe I’m losing it. There are no Police, no Firemen, phones, electric. The real world is falling apart. Two days and nothing that I thought I knew is still here. Do you see? The whole world has changed. I got my guitar out and played it today. I played for almost three hours. I played my stuff. I played some blues. Usually blues will bring me out of blues, but it didn’t work. It sounded so loud, so out of place, so… I don’t know. I just stopped and put it away. Candace March 4th: I’m going out. I have to see, if I don’t come back. Well… What good is writing this? Candace March 5th: The whole city has fallen apart. I spent most of yesterday trying to see how bad this is. I finally realized it’s bad beyond my being able to fix it. It’s bad as in there is no authority. It’s bad as in there is no Jimmy V. I hear gunshots at night, all night. And screams. There are still tremors. If I had to guess, I would say it’s the end of the civilized world, unless things are better somewhere else. I have to believe that. Power, structure, it’s all gone. I mean it’s really all gone. This city is torn up. There are huge areas that are ruined. Gulleys, ravines, missing streets, damaged bridges. The damage costs have to be in the billions… And that’s just here. There’s me and my little notebook I’m writing in, and my nine millimeter. I’ve got nothing else for company right now. I’ve got water, some peanuts and crackers. How long can this go on? What then? Candace March 6th: I’ve decided to leave. I can’t stay here. There was a tremor last night, and not one of the really bad ones, but even so I was sure the house would come down on me. It didn’t. Maybe though, that is a sign, I told myself. And scared or not, I have to go. I have to. I can’t stay here. Maybe tomorrow. Candace March 7th: The streets are a mess. I’ve spent too much of the last week hiding inside my apartment. Most of my friends, and that’s a joke, I didn’t have anyone I could actually call a friend. I believed someone would show up and tell me what to do. But no one did. I saw a few people wander by yesterday, probably looking for other people, but I stayed inside. I don’t know why, what all my reasons were. A lot of fear; I think. There have been earthquakes. The house is damaged. I went outside today and really looked at it. It is off the foundation and leaning. I should have gotten out of it the other night when I knew it was bad. It’s just dumb luck it hasn’t fallen in on me and killed me. It doesn’t matter now though. I met a few others today, and I’m leaving with them. I don’t know if I’ll stay with them. I really don’t know what to expect from life anymore. I’m taking this and my gun with me. Writing this made me feel alive. I don’t know how better to say it. I’ll write more here, I think. I just don’t know when; or where I’ll be.
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Book Two: The Original Survivors: On The Road.
He had been going up the hill? Going down the hill? He couldn’t remember. The… the attack had come. The attack had come and he was… must have been wounded… gravely wounded. And if he didn’t breathe soon, it would turn into something even worse. He had to breathe. He had to breathe soon or… She stepped into his line of sight. The bones in her face were close to the surface, pushing at the taut skin there. Her skin was greenish-gray, or maybe it was a trick of the moonlight. Her silvered eyes held his own. Her long black hair was a tangled ruin. The skin of the rest of her body was pale white: Unbelievably white. So white, translucent, that he could see the spidery trails of purple-blue capillaries, veins rising and touching the surface of her skin and then plunging deep into her body, under the skin and muscle… pulsing… seeming to be alive, although she seemed as dead as anything dead that he had ever seen. As a kid, he had happened into a vacant lot one morning on the way to school. He had seen something over in the weeds that ran along the fence line of the lot next door. There he had looked down upon the body of a bum who had either died during one of the recent cold nights or had been murdered and dumped there. His face had looked like this one before him. Gray, too pale, the bone structure too close to the surface: The skin looking more like wax than skin. Just like this… this… whatever this was. Jeff sank back down to the ground on his knees: The cold moonlight shone down, the others still silent and standing around him.
Get The Original Survivors: On The Road. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0749Y4M1R
Book Three: The Original Survivors: Alabama Island.
Rochester NY: Joel
Joel came awake with sunlight streaming in through the windshield of the small car. He looked around at the road. Stalled cars for as far as he could see in any direction He was somewhere outside of Rochester, but where, he wondered. He thought back to Rochester.
The drive into the city in the early morning had seemed uneventful right up until the attack had come. Afterward he had berated himself, cursed himself for not taking the events of the night before more seriously, but he knew that the truth was that none of them had. None of them had, and now he was the only one left. The only one left, and he was alone because of that decision.
They had just passed a large mansion, or what had once been a large mansion on East avenue: Nearly into downtown when the attack had come. The last Jeep, Ed… Terry, Gina? He couldn’t remember for sure, but it didn’t matter, they were only the first to go. The Jeep had blown up behind them. One second it was morning silent; birds whistling from the tree lined street, and the next a roaring fireball had erupted from the Jeep. The Jeep had lifted into the air engulfed with flame, and had come back down a split second later a twisted, shattered wreck. The roof ripped open crudely as if a giant can opener had done the job: Glass gone, body twisted: Blackened shapes, still moving, clearly seen through the flames.
They had all panicked. Joel had hit the brakes, somehow convinced they had driven over something in the road: Landmines. The word leapt into his mind and kept repeating. The second Jeep had rammed into them, Scott, Lilly, Jan, and that had distracted him further. As he had lifted his eyes he had seen the men squatting beside the once elegant mansion. A rocket launcher on one man’s shoulder, and he had known the truth.
His foot had seemed to leap forward of its own accord and slam into the gas pedal, but it was too late. His eyes swiveled back and he saw the rocket leap from the launcher. A second later a black curtain had descended.
He had come to hours later; the vehicles’ nothing but twisted husks, still burning in the black night. He could feel the heat from the fires. He had lain for what seemed like a long time trying to orient himself, make sense of what he last remembered, and what he now saw. Time did nothing to sort it out. It still made no sense some time later when he had first tried to sit up. Pain had flared everywhere and the black curtain had descended once more.
The second time the fires had been out. Heat still came from the blackened shells, but the fires were dead. The moon was high in the sky, bloated, bright silver.
He had moved slower, and while it had been close he had managed to fight past the first pain when he had moved.
His left leg was bad. Not broken, but cut badly, maybe sprung, after all he had lain with it twisted to one side for what he assumed was a very long time. He used part of his shirt to wrap his leg as he let his head clear.
His head was worse. Pain inside every time he tried to move too fast. It felt like liquid sloshing around inside his head, his brain shifting with it, slamming into the bone cage of his skull, and he wondered if it were true, or just something his mind provided in explanation of the pain. As he sat the pain eased enough for him to stand. Standing helped to ease it even more and he began to search for the others…
Get The Original Survivors: Alabama Island https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074DJZX2J
More From Author Dell Sweet at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dell-Sweet/e/B01N24V05N
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Enjoy your weekend and here is a free crime story to cap off your Thursday…
Lucky Liv – © Copyright 2017 Dell Sweet Used with permission
This material is protected by copyright laws worldwide. It is used on this blog with direct permission of the author and publisher.
It is not edited for content.
Appropriate age: Over 18
Liv Spencer had never known Rich not to answer his door. She had called him twice and someone did pick up the phone, but had said nothing. She was worried, but more than that, she needed some heroin. She needed it. Rich always took care of her. Not only did she need his help, she had no idea where else to go for help like his… Caring like his.
She stood outside in the cold predawn rain for fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes. That had seemed like forever. Fifteen minutes was all the time in the world when you needed to fix. It was every clock, every watch in the world ticking away. Hell it was everything in the world. There was nothing else. Fifteen minutes and she finally started trying the doors. Front door, back door, locked. She hadn’t really thought about the garage door, but finally she tried it. It was unlocked and it was also badly damaged at the lock set. That had made her stop.
The rain had stopped. She stood on the wet blacktop by the door thinking what she could say…
“The door was unlocked, Richie… I found the door unlocked, Rich… I just touched the handle and it turned, Rich… It was busted… It was already broken, Rich. I turned the handle and it just sort of fell open… It fell open, Rich. I needed you, Richie, the door was unlocked… I needed a fix, Richie, where the fuck were you?”
She practiced more excuses in her head, but finally it didn’t matter that the door had been broken. She shut down the little alarm in her head that had begun to jabber about that. All that mattered was that the door was not locked and she needed to fix. She finished turning the knob and stepped into the garage.
The garage was lit, but only dimly. She made her way to the door that lead into the house, nearly tripping over a bunched up section of carpet someone had left laying by the door, and tried the door to the inside of the house. It wasn’t even closed all the way and began to swing open as soon as she touched it.
“Rich?” she called. Her voice was a rusty croak. “Richie!” She stepped further into the shadowy kitchen.
“Richie? The door was open, man. I called… The door…” She stopped when she saw the bodyguards lying in the hallway. They seemed tossed aside like big overstuffed rag dolls.
“Oh God,” she moaned. And immediately two things began to fight inside of her. The need to turn and run, because something was definitely fucked up here at Richie’s house: There was absolutely no doubt about it. And, the second thing, the need to get fixed. To stop the itch, even if it was only a little: Even if it had to be coke to tide her over… Something… And it didn’t look like anyone here was going to try to stop her… No… Nobody…
Run?… Stay?… Run?… Stay?… She stepped into the hallway, took a shaky breath and stepped carefully over the bodyguards.
The exercise room was off the living room. It was glass walled, you could exercise and watch TV on the big screen, or you could watch TV and the exercise room too. No one used the exercise room except the bodyguards and Richie’s oldest daughter. But this morning the view through the glass was anything but normal, and it took some time for her mind to wrap itself around it. When it did she bent over and threw up on the deep pile rug of the living room.
She looked back up from the carpet, staring through the glass for what seemed like minutes to her, wondering who would do things like that to another person; to people who were walking around, breathing, talking, living their lives just a few days ago when she seen them last. She’d never seen anything like it. Not even in the horror flicks she liked to watch.
She bent over double and threw up again. She continued to heave until nothing came up, not that there had been much to throw up in the first place. She staggered back into the hallway, got one more look at the two bodyguards, Karl and Geezer, still dead she saw: Karl’s brains were leaking out of the side of his head like some gelatin creation. She looked away quickly and staggered into the kitchen. She sat down at the stools that lined a small counter. The place she usually found Richie sitting. She sat there for a few seconds and then remembered the small counter was also a bar and sometimes rich kept a little something else back there too.
She got up and went to the sink, ran the water, drinking right from the tap. She swished the water around in her mouth and spat, then did it a few more times. She bent closer and splashed the cold water on her overheated face. Pushing the excess off her face with her hands. She straightened and walked back to the counter which, from this side, was open and stocked with all sorts of bottles of booze. All high test. All the good stuff. No bad ones in the bunch. She grabbed a bottle of imported Russian vodka. The label entirely in Russian, all the printing too: All that writing that looked like backwards writing to her that she could almost figure out. She snagged a clean water glass from the top shelf and filled it with the vodka. Her eyes fell on the small refrigerator under the shelves.
He kept some shit there. In the top. In the freezer section, she thought… Sometimes… Most times in fact that she could remember… He had said, “Wait just a second,” and he had walked right over to the bar, opened the small refrigerator, and come back with what she needed… Was it every time or almost every time, she asked herself?… She couldn’t remember. She was usually too fucked up to think about it, but she thought it was nearly every time. And she thought it was the freezer because it seemed to be where he reached.
She sat on the stool and sipped at the vodka. Loving the fire that it ignited in her stomach. No one would know… No one would know at all… She had seen Richie’s BMW in the other stall of the garage. She could take that to get away… If the keys…
She looked over at the small hooks just inside the kitchen door. The BMW keys looked back at her. She could see the little BMW medallion on the leather fob. She licked her lips, took a deeper sip of the vodka, let it burn its way down into her stomach. And now she could feel it inside, working its way down further, making her thighs warm. Hot even. She looked at the small, compact refrigerator again. She licked her lips once more, got up and swung the small door open.
Her eyes bugged out of her head. She had never seen the inside. She had only assumed that it was a refrigerator, but it wasn’t. It was shelf after shelf packed tight with shit. Pot, cocaine, heroin, crack, crank and pills… Probably E, she thought. And at the very bottom stacks of money. She forgot to breathe and nearly toppled over off the stool before she remembered to take a breath again. She took several deep breaths and then went over to the kitchen sink and found the garbage bags underneath. This is not real, she told herself. It’s just not real… But it was. She knew it was. She could feel that it was. She took two bags, slipped one inside the other, and then loaded everything in the refrigerator into the bag. All of it. She hefted it and then went back and got a third bag and slipped it over the first two.
She was on autopilot now. She crossed to the rack, took the keys to the BMW and walked into the hallway. Gelatin, she told herself, just gelatin, as she stepped over Karl and Geezer and then started down the steps that lead down into the garage.
She nearly tripped over the carpet again, looked down, saw one slim dusky gray hand that had slipped out from under the carpet edge when she tripped over it, and quickly looked back up before it could cause her to lose her happy thoughts again.
She opened the garage door. She had thought it would be so hard. She had been convinced it would be, but it was easy. Push the button, the door went up. She climbed into the BMW, set the black plastic bag on the passenger seat, backed the car out of the garage, and then came back and pushed the button to close the door. She stepped back out the side door, shut it as well as she could, then opened it back up, turned the knob on the handset to lock it, and swung it closed once more. It was broken, but maybe it would lock anyway, she told herself. She looked at the dented gold handle of the knob for a moment wondering what had happened here, and then turned and walked back toward the BMW. No going back, her mind said. No going back.
She was nearly to the BMW when she bent double and heaved. The vodka came back up. Burning her throat raw as it did. She slammed down onto her knees, skinning them, and retched until the nausea finally passed. She got up slowly, straightening her clothes as best she could, turned, and that was when she saw the kid standing on the sidewalk. She tried to smile as she staggered toward the BMW.
“You okay, lady?” the kid asked.
She looked at him. Sunday morning, before dawn. The newspaper carrier bag slung over one shoulder. Sunday papers. Maybe he was 16. Maybe 17. Well built. Healthy, unlike herself. She needed to dry out. Funny, a few minutes ago all she had wanted was a fix. Now she didn’t want to ever touch heroin or anything else again. Dry out, be normal. She’d been sixteen herself not so long ago.
“Are you?” the kid asked again.
She shook her head. “Probably not… But I will be… You got a girlfriend?” she asked.
The kid shrugged.
“You want to have an adventure?” She straightened up and looked at the blood running from one of the cuts on her knees. She raised her eyes to the sky and then looked back again. “Maybe get out of this crappy fuckin’ town?” she asked quietly.
“With you?” the kid asked.
“Yeah, maybe I’m not so hot right now, but I clean up real well… Yeah, with me. There’s no one else here. Want to deliver fuckin’ newspapers the rest of your life? Or maybe get some shit-job flipping burgers someday?” she asked. She allowed a little laugh to slip into her low voice.
“No,” the kid answered.
“Can you drive?” she asked.
The kid looked at the idling BMW, the driver’s door hanging open. “Yeah,” he said a little breathlessly. He looked back at her. She smiled.
“I’m… I’m going to be sick for a while… Kicking the shit, you understand? The big H. The big H… I’ll need help… You’ll take care of me… Won’t run off and leave me?” She wobbled a little on her feet.
“Took care of my mother before she died… I can take care of you… You won’t die though, right?” His eyes looked worried, but he shifted the carrier sack from one shoulder and let it drop to the wet pavement.
“Nope,” she answered. “But I’ll probably wish I did…” She looked at him, “You’ll really stick it out?” She watched his eyes.
“Yeah… I’ll do it,” he said.
“Liv,” she said.
“Brian,” he said. He stepped toward her.
“Well, Brian, better get me into the fucking car before I pass out,” she said as her vision blurred. She wobbled, but he was right there. More substantial than he had looked. Stronger. He pushed the plastic bag off the passenger seat, belted her in, and then went around to the driver’s side. He backed out into the street.
“Where… Where to, Liv… Where are we going?”
“Down south… Stop and buy a map at a gas station. Take us south. Get a motel when you need to. When I… When I get crazy… Okay?”
He nodded as he drove. The BMW accelerating smoothly on the rain slicked streets. “I only have about 20 bucks,” he said.
She laughed, worked her way into the bag, drew out one of the stacks of money and handed it to him. She pawed through the bag taking out all the money, stacks of it: Slipped the bottom bag off, put the money in it and then tied the bag with all the drugs in it.
“You saw all the money? That bag’s got a lot in it. Take it wherever you go and be careful,” she said. “This shit?” She lifted the other bag and pressed the switch to roll down the window. The air felt cold, but good. She flung the bag into the woods that lined the side of the road. And then she burst into tears. It was gonna be so hard.
She pressed the button and the window whispered closed.
“Take care of me, Brian. Take care of me,” she said. She closed her eyes, rested her head against the glass and passed out.
“Liv… Liv… Come on, Liv, you got to do this on your own. There are people watching… They’ll think it’s funny if I carry you… Maybe call the cops,” Brian said.
“Oh God, I’m sick… I’m really fuckin’ sick… Leave me the fuck alone, I mean it,” Liv said.
“Liv?” he bent and pulled her upright from the car. They were in Pennsylvania. Near the Catskills. The night was not just cool, it was cold: The cold air brought her awake.
“Okay, Okay… Where are we… Where are we… Fuck… Lead the way… I’m okay… Not so goddamn fast… Slow… I hate to puke,” Liv said.
Brian had toed the door to the cabin open after he had unlocked it, and then edged it partially shut with his foot as he left to get her. He would get her into the bed, lock the door and set the alarm, then he’d get the stuff out of the car after he got her settled… Maybe a shower first too.
He had rented the cabin for three weeks. It was the best he could think of and he thought it was pretty smart. They would have privacy while she got better.
He asked himself a dozen times today why he was doing this, but he didn’t have any solid answers. Maybe because he had no family left. Maybe because he was tired of living in Foster Care with people who didn’t want him. Maybe because he had watched his mother die from this same shit. Crack had done her in instead of heroin, but it was all the same shit. Maybe it was Liv too. Maybe it was a little of both. He had never known anyone who had walked away from their life like this: Never, it was like starting over. Like getting a second chance. He had decided that, that was the main reason.
They passed one couple on the way to their cabin. He smiled politely, helping Liv along.
“A little too much to drink,” he heard the woman whisper to her husband after they had passed by.
He smiled. Good. Let them think that, by the next time that they saw Liv, she would be on her own two feet. He helped her into the cabin and laid her down on the bed. She instantly curled up into a ball holding her stomach. He got her into the bathroom just in time.
Once he got her cleaned up and into the bed, it was close to midnight. He made his way back out to the car, retrieved the stuff he had bought today: Leaving her sleeping in the car; panicking the whole time that she would be gone when he got back, but she had still been there. It had been okay. He grabbed the bag of money too, and carried everything back into the cabin.
It took a few minutes to get the loose cotton pajamas on her. The room had a huge bathtub, and after he had helped her into the bath and bathed her when she couldn’t stay awake to do it herself he was a lot less embarrassed. Besides, there was no one else to do it. He put antibiotic cream on her knee and bandaged it up. She drifted in and out while he did it, mostly to tell him to leave her the fuck alone, but he knew she didn’t mean it. He got some vitamins in her and got her to take a couple of aspirin and drink some juice: She was out cold a few minutes later. He turned the TV on low, smoothed her hair away from her brow and found something to watch.
Los Angeles, California
Liv and Brian
Liv sat next to the pool. Her skin was dark, healthy, and glowed under the hot California sun. She had never been to L.A. until now and it was beautiful. In fact she had never been straight long enough in her life to do much more than think about where the next high would come from.
That wasn’t exactly the whole truth, back in junior high school there had still been a real, vulnerable girl inside of her. That was only five years ago, but it felt like it was closer to five hundred years ago. Five million years ago. She almost felt young again, hopeful. Like the young girl she had been back then.
She looked over at Brian in the chair next to her. Somewhere in all of what had gone on in the first months: the sickness, the crying fits, the depression; she had stopped being so mad at the world and had fallen in love with him. He seemed so naive to her, but he wasn’t. The only other woman that had ever mattered to him had died a crack addict, still using, HIV positive with full blown AIDS for the last six months of her life. The two had used her up, what the crack didn’t kill, the AIDS virus had.
They had talked about it for hours. She had no idea how he had managed, he’d only been fifteen. Fifteen and he had taken care of her. And then when he should have been able to go on with his own life, the state had snatched him up and put him in Foster Care. Life had been tough, but she thanked God for him and the fact that his life had been so tough: Taught him such hard lessons. Someone else would have left her on her own. Not Brian. He had stuck it out.
His hand came over and touched hers. He squeezed lightly. She liked the feel of his hand in her own. She bought it to her stomach along with her own and held it as she drifted off to sleep.
I hope you enjoyed the free short story. You can get more in the Crime Time Collection this short story came from.