CASINO LEVEL MEZZANINE LEVEL - Caesars Entertainment

Origin of All of the Death Grips Album Covers!

I've seen a lot of this stuff pop up before on this sub but I haven't been able to find a post that contains all of this information together. I'm just kind of bored and wanted to highlight the origins/locations/details of all of the album covers used in the band's discography.
As a disclaimer, nearly all of this stuff has been discovered and even posted on this subreddit before, so I'm not taking any credit for most of the stuff here. I would like to give credit where it is due, but given the large number of people and non-redditors that have found the same things, I wouldn't even know where to begin on some of these. I simply dug out as much info as I could find and conglomerated this all into a single post. Also, if I'm incorrect about anything here or if there is anything else that you can add, please comment. That being said, here it is...

Death Grips (EP)
Album Cover
The album cover for Death Grips's original project is actually just a negative image of a distorted looking screenshot from the first few seconds of this music video for Full Moon (Death Classic). Here. It begins with a short video clip of a man speaking while a crow pecks at the dead carcass of what looks to be another crow. Although I've tried looking I cannot find the origins of the video.

Exmilitary
Album Cover
As stated from these posts (1) (2) the cover for the Exmilitary mixtape appears to be a old photograph folded and unfolded into quarters from a book called The Dark Australians by Douglass Baglin and David R. Moore. As u/ebbsey said:
While i feel like i am spoiling the end of a movie...... here goes. The photograph was taken in 1968 at or around what was then know as Oenpelli Mission, today it's called Gunbalanya. The photographer was Douglass Baglin, he published a series of books primarily on Australian heritage throughout the 1970s with a few devoted to Aboriginal themes, his photographs also appeared in other Australian publications used like stock photos. In regards to the identity of the Aboriginal man, Baglin, like many photographers at the time never recorded who he was and simply called him "bearded man at Oenpelli".
The photos: (1) (2)

The Money Store
Album Cover
The Cover is a rendition of a photo taken at the Folsom Street Fair in San Fancisco in 2007 painted by artist Sua Yoo, who is also the girl on the cover of Fashion Week. The entire collection of photos can be found here (Warning: VERY NSFW). According to this Pitchfork article, Death Grips describes the cover as follows: "On the cover you have an androgynous masochist on the leash of a feminist sadist who's smoking. The sadist has carved Death Grips into her bitch's chest. There is an overly confident quality to the woman smoking and a calmness to the androgynous masochist."

No Love Deep Web
Album Cover (NSFW)
As most of you already know, this controversial cover is a photo of Zach Hill's erect penis with the album title written across it in black marker. It was taken in a bathroom at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles, which the band stayed in for an entire two months leading to the leak of the album on their website, which resulted in their dropping from Epic Records. The album cover was met with much controversy, and they were forced to censor the image on their website, YouTube, and SoundCloud, covering the penis with a black bar. On some music platforms, the penis is censored via pixelation instead.
Wikipedia says: In an interview with Spin Magazine, Ride responded to the interest by saying, "If you look at that and all you see is a dick, I don't really have anything to say, pretty much. I looked at it and said, 'This is a great photo, and I'd love for this to be the album cover.'" Hill further explained, "It was difficult to do, honestly, in general, it was very difficult. It's difficult even telling people that's the source of it; it feels sacrificial in a sense. That idea existed long before, by the way. This is going to sound funny to other people, but we saw it as tribal, as spiritual, as primal. Also, it comes from a place of being a band that is perceived as...such an aggressive, male-based, by some, misogynistic-seeming band... It's a display of embracing homosexuality, not that either of us are homosexual. Am I making sense? People are still going to think that it's macho, but that's not the source of where it comes from." In a separate interview with Pitchfork, Hill expounded, "It's also a spiritual thing; it's fearlessness...it represents pushing past everything that makes people slaves without even knowing it."
There is also an alternate cover featuring Ride wearing mismatched dress shoes with white socks that say "SUCK MY DICK."

Government Plates
Album Cover
This is a really simple cover that features what looks to be a slightly tilted 3D model or photo of a California Exempt (for official vehicles exempt from registration fees) license plate that says "DEATH" over a black background. While this is just speculation on my part, California exempt license plates can only have a maximum of six characters, which could possibly be the reason why the license plate says "DEATH" and not "DEATH GRIPS" like some of their other album covers. As u/mutesirens discovered in this post, when viewed on an iPod Classic, the license plate appears completely flat, which is kind of creepy (in a good way).
On Record Store Day 2014, 900 new vinyl copies of Government Plates were released with new artwork showing some of the 3D models from the music videos over the original cover. These records also came with a physical replica of the license plate on the cover.

N***as on the Moon
Album Cover
The cover features a blurry, black and white photo of Ride walking through what is believed to be Sacramento City Cemetery. This Cemetery is located in Ride and Zach's hometown and is right off of Broadway. In the song Up My Sleeves (the first song from this album), Ride mentions a "Broadway Cemetery" multiple times. It also appears to be the same cemetery from Black Google, the I've Seen Footage video, and the infamous moth photo.
Although this is nothing but speculation, and most people believe "Jenny Death" refers to Marilyn Monroe, there is also a grave in this cemetery for a "Baby Jenny," who was an African American infant who died of worms in 1853. One user on imgur used this info to try and pinpoint the exact location where the album cover was taken here. Although this is very cool, the mausoleum (tomb building thing) from the google Earth view looks to be in a different spot than the one from the album cover, as there is a road directly in front of it. Using the cemetery's website, I found a plot map and grave directory to use with Google maps to try and find the spot myself. Unfortunately, it is a massive cemetery that is covered in trees, and there were no street view photos of the areas I was trying to look in. The plot map is also from 1975 and appears to be slightly out of date, and there may have been some renovations or plant growth since 2014 when the album released. I found it impossible to find a location that looked similar to the one taken for the album cover.
I did however, look through photos that tourists had taken and posted online, and found this photo, which shows a mausoleum eerily similar to the one used on the cover, having the same size, shape, door, immediate surroundings, and even similar shadows. According to the grave directory, it should be located at plot 31, which should be well within viewing distance on plot 19, however I still couldn't see anything well from Google maps. Hopefully a fan in Sacramento can one day visit the cemetery and try and find it and post some better photos.

Fashion Week
Album Cover
The chair is located in the Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno, Nevada. It sits on the second floor in the hotel lobby and has evidently changed upholstery color since 2015. The girl is Sua Yoo, who also painted the artwork for The Money Store.

Jenny Death
Album Cover
The glass mural of Marilyn Monroe can be found in the Cheetah's Club on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. Many people speculate that the name "Jenny Death" comes from Monroe's real name: Norma Jeane Mortenson. Jeane = Jenny, Mortenson = Morte = Death. Many elements of the album also revolve around themes of fame and how destructive it can be, which was perfectly illustrated with the later years of the actress's life. Thanks u/Arthurlurk1 for posting the photos.

The Powers That B
Album Cover
The artwork actually made its first appearance in 2012 in some of the music videos for The Money Store. In the Blackjack music video, the outer rim of the circle appears blackened and sits in the center of the screen rotating while videos play on the inside. In the I've Seen Footage video, it appears in full view at one point and shows up again slightly edited out a few more times, something that was pointed out in this post.
It's basically just a blue ground light with some condensation on the inside. Here's someone else's post with a similar one they found. I can't find exactly where this particular light is located, but in the Inanimate Sensation music video, it can be seen from multiple angles next to Zach while he's laying down on a sidewalk next to a tree smoking a cigarette.
The scratching on the light that says "Death Grips" is not real. You can tell because of the way that the scratching goes off onto the pavement on the left and because there's no apparent dip around the edges. It looks nearly identical to the scratching on the bitch's chest from the cover of The Money Store.

Interview 2016
Album Cover
This one's easy. It's just a screen grab of Matthew Hoffman from the Interview 2016 video. You can see it at the 12:10 mark.

Bottomless Pit
Album Cover
The mouth on the cover belongs to Liz Liles Brown, confirmed by her own Instagram post. She is also believed by many to be the voice of "Mexican Girl" from Lord of the Game, but nobody has confirmed nor denied this. It is not confirmed where the cover was taken nor do we know exactly what we're looking at, but Liz did post this photo of herself on Twitter in late 2014, where it looks like she is wearing huge lit-up balloon eye balls where her head is positioned in the middle like on the album cover. Link for both photos. Given Death Grips's history of quietly working with people for years and photographing album covers well before the release date, it could very well be possible that the photo was taken in late 2014. It could also be possible that the Twitter photo was something completely different, and the group instead used large balloons like the ones found at teamLab Planet Tokyo.
A video loop version of the album cover appears on YouTube for each of the tracks on Bottomless Pit, showing Liz rapidly flipping her tongue between the big balloon things while saliva drips down her chin.
There have been a few theories floating around as to what the album cover means, with some saying that it looks like sexual imagery for cunnilingus, which may be supported by the videos on YouTube. The most supported theory is that the balloons are supposed to represent giant eyeballs like the annoying fan in the Inanimate Sensation music video, which sees Ride with giant googly eyes kind of like the Bottomless Pit cover. The photo of Liz in 2014 also definitely looks like giant eyeballs since they have black circles on the balloons. The lyrics for the title track Bottomless Pit mention "Gagballs drooling pools," which could explain the saliva and tongue flipping from the YouTube videos as well.
My guess is that the album is supposed to be about rabid fans personified by a drooling creature, who were given "Bad Ideas" from the band and are falling down a "bottomless pit," making their eyes pop out of their head, eternally getting "fucked in half" by new content from the band.

Steroids (Crouching Tiger Hidden Gabber Megamix)
Album Cover
The dragon mural can be found hanging on the wall at Simon's Bar & Cafe in Sacramento. The glowing red eyes are actually real and weren't edited in.
In the music video. the dragon is shown flashing different colors rapidly
In 2019, the EP was printed on vinyl and shipped with a slightly altered cover that included a white border, the band name, and a parental advisory badge. The vinyl release also included the songs More Than the Fairy and Electronic Drum Solo, using the artwork for the former on the back cover.

Year of the Snitch
Album Cover
If you look closely at the cover, you can figure out that it's a (plastic?) patio table, with someone (probably Zach) sticking their lips and tongue out through the umbrella hole in the center of the table. The mouth was then copied and pasted to other areas of the table at various rotations and sizes, while another shot of the mouth wide open was enlarged and pasted on the table by itself. The hand of the person under the table is gripping the edge of the table for balance on the top left, and you can see part of a patio chair on the top right. You can a closeup of the mouth moving at the 0:33 mark in the Year of the Snitch tracklist video. The location of the patio table is unknown.
The album and accompanying media that was released on YouTube features a lot of themes about snitching (obviously) as well as cults. The one large open mouth may represent a cult leader speaking while the other tongue-out mouths could be followers. Maybe the tongue-out mouths represent members of a group/cult while the large open mouth is snitch talking. Or I may just be interpreting it all wrong.

Let me know if I missed anything!
submitted by Yellowdog727 to deathgrips [link] [comments]

The Weight We Carry Ch 18

So you've been asking and I heard! The latest chapter in The Weight We Carry! I got bit by the writing bug earlier this morning and if my strange writing habits weren't so time consuming I'd have it out sooner. As it is I'm posting this and then going to bed! So if there's any glaring mistakes or horrible things I didn't mean to leave in? Well... shit.
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Highway Y outside Eldon, Former Missouri. 9:21 am local time, December 25th 2034.
“This… isn’t… a very… good… Christmas.” I looked over my shoulder with a smirk as I saw Sergeant Huertas pedaling along at the back of the group. Wobbling a little as he kept riding.
“What’s wrong sergeant? Don’t you get enough PT? This is just a nice little ride into town.” I looked ahead up Highway Y as we kept riding. Thankfully it hadn’t snowed since the trucks came through so the road was clear enough for the rest of us to follow on our bikes. Since the attack on Fort Sierra the trucks and cars were all being used to move around supplies and equipment, along with our wounded. The rest of us. Myself included, had two choices for transport. Foot. Or bike.
“It’s… not that… this… hurts… my dick.” The sergeant replied which made the rest of us start laughing and I shook my head a little at his rather honest answer.
“You’ve got to adjust the seat sergeant. Didn’t anyone ever teach you how to properly ride a bike?” I asked then as I looked back to see him huff and puff, his breath coming out in big plumes thanks to the low temperature.
“When I was a kid! Not… for this… ride so… long… your dick… hurts… shit.” I couldn’t help but laugh once again. “In the… fishing village… where I grew up… we drove places.” I thought that over a moment.
“Fishing village? Aren’t you from LA?” I asked and he nodded as he kept pedaling.
“Like I said… the fishing village. Fuck… I didn’t… join the army… for no… goddamn… tour de… Missouri shit.” I kept chuckling even as I shook my head and kept moving. Leave it to Sergeant Huertas to make a long cold bike ride more amusing.
“Come now sergeant. Bicycle corps have a long and storied military history. Starting in the late 1800s. Used by the first commandos of the modern age. The Dutch in South Africa.” I glanced around the group of bike riders around me then. Lewis was to my right, Felon was to my left, and the rest of Alpha around us. I was plenty well protected in this group of resistance soldiers riding their bikes into old Eldon. Might as well give them a little history lesson while we rode.
“The Dutch? Weren’t they known for smoking a lot of pot and growing tulips?” Lewis asked which made me chuckle again.
“Don’t let their modern history fool you. The Dutch once held a massive trade empire spanning the globe. New York as first New Amsterdam, and Australia was New Holland. Though for some reason the Brits didn’t rename New Zealand… Anyway they actually started a lot of modern military ideas. The first marines were Dutch. They raided the English navy at port once. Burned up a lot of ships up the Thames river which would be like… the Cubans sailing up the Mississippi and burning shit in Saint Louis.”
“The Dutch?” Felon asked and I nodded as we kept pedaling along, Huertas wheezing behind us.
“Yep. Then their king… or prince? The monarch of the Netherlands at some point became the king of England and shit went downhill for the Dutch after that. The Brits conquered most of their colonies and they were never the same… But anyway back to bicycle corps. In the…” I paused and tried to remember my years a bit. “A few centuries ago the Dutch settled in South Africa and later the Brits showed up and drove them inland away from the coast. The Netherlands had to give up the colony and they became the independent… Boers. Before you ask no I have no idea what Boers means or why the name change.”
“They called themselves pigs?” Lewis asked and I laughed before shaking my head.
“B-O-E-R-S.” I spelled out. “Like I said. I don’t know the meaning. Anyway, the Brits weren’t satisfied with the coastal towns when they found out about the resources deeper in South Africa… and all of Africa I guess. So they took over. Then the Boers began a resistance campaign that spawned the first modern commandos. Hit and run raids, early IEDs, all sorts of guerilla tactics. It was a brutal and protracted affair. War crimes for both sides involved honestly. But back then they weren’t called war crimes.” I trailed off as we kept riding until Lewis spoke up again.
“So… the bicycle corps?”
“Right.” I nodded as he reminded me. “So one of the best commandos at the time realized that horses take supplies and are pretty easy to spot, and only certain people could have them since they were expensive. But they also had bikes. So what’s faster and easier than walking 20 miles? Biking 20 miles.”
“It ain’t… fuckin… easy…” Huertas panted from the back which made most of us chuckle again.
“I said easier. Easier doesn’t mean easy. Anyway, that’s Eldon up ahead.” I pointed to the buildings ahead of us a ways. “We’re not far now. But yeah… the Dutch were the first marines, and commandos, and created the first bike corps. They were in limited use for decades. Even in World War 2 the Danish had them and later on the Germans used them as they got pushed back into Germany. In fact the Boer commando who came up with the idea was the great great grandfather of… that one… actress…” My words slowed down as I tried to think of her and glanced over at Felon. “You remember her right?”
He just shrugged as he kept riding. “Colonel I have no idea who might be related to an old Dutch commando.”
I sighed out then and slowly shook my head. “Shit…” Was all I could mutter. “That’s going to bug me.” What was her name? I could picture her… she was in that movie about Australia. Driving that big war truck thing around. Fuck! What was the name of that movie? I was getting too damn old. I let out another sigh and shook my head. “I’ll remember in the middle of the night.” I muttered knowing that it would eventually come to me when it was too late.
“We’re coming up on the junction.” Felon pointed out the slight curve in the road where Highway Y would meet 52. As we got closer I began to slow down without really thinking about it before finally coming to a stop at the intersection and looking to my left for oncoming cars. “Sir are you expecting traffic?” I looked over my shoulder at Felon and then laughed as I started to get riding down the road as we turned right.
“Old habits.” I answered with a shrug. On either side of us snow was piled up around the old abandoned houses. Most of them had Christmas decorations still up from the invasion all those years ago. Up ahead on the right I spotted some of our trucks parked in front of the old dollar store. “You can finally give your dick some rest Huertas.” I called over my shoulder to a wheezing reply.
“Thank Christ!” I chuckled again and looked over to Felon.
“Get them warmed up and fed. I’m heading down the road a bit to the bank across from that… Gas station with the… what was it? Mobster’s pizza?” I was about to continue when I heard Huertas cry out.
“Don’t mention pizza! Fuck! I’d… I’d fuckin… kill… for a big… greasy… pepperoni… fuck.” Felon just shook his head at that.
“With cheese in the crust?”
“Beer! Beer in the crust!” Huertas called back as I frowned.
“How’s the supposed to work?”
“Science! Fuck… I dunno… just… give me… a way… to eat… greasy pizza… and get drunk… at the same time…” He was trying to stand up a bit as he rode now, one hand adjusting his pants as I heard him mutter something about “cojones.”
“Well they won’t have that here.” Felon called back. “Just soy sludge and hot porridge probably. Warm you right up Huertas don’t you worry.” Most of the soldiers pulled off then to stop in the old parking lot of the general store while Lewis and I continued on.
“They used to have a lot of gas stations didn’t they?” Lewis asked as we rode on and I nodded as we past several local places with gas pumps out front. I could see the old sign for McDonalds further down. By now the golden arches had faded to a pale yellow white. There were still some old cars in the parking lot. The snow covering everything but the tops of the windows and their roofs, their paint stripped from years of neglect. Diagonal from the fast food place was the birck building of the bank and there were more of our trucks out front.
Lewis and I rode up onto the sidewalk then and dismounted our bikes, leaning them against the building as we headed inside. Sergeant Jackson nodded to me as we entered and I let out a happy sigh as I saw an oil drum someone had dragged to the middle of the big room and set a fire in. I walked towards it, glancing up at the ceiling to see it was already blackened from the smoke. But without a fireplace or a heater this was simply how we had to keep warm. Rubbing my hands together after removing my gloves I held them up before the fire and looked around.
All the old desks had been removed or shoved to the side and I could see Reed off in the bank’s small vault with a clipboard in hand. We were storing some of our gear and intel around the town until we could get a new camp. The most important stuff would go into bank vaults. Besides Reed there was Jackson and the rest of Bravo scattered around the place. I’m sure some were up on the second floor keeping watch, but only Lewis and I were huddled around the oil drum fire for now. When Reed finally finished with her checklist she walked out of the vault and over to us.
“Sir, have a nice ride through the snow?” She smirked a bit and I gave a snort. Reed was a good officer. I gave her credit for being so professional despite our resistance conditions. I always felt she was a bit too stern and formal with the soldiers though. She was relaxed and casual when it was just me and Lewis but she held very strictly to the old separation of the enlisted from the officers.
“I did, but Sergeant Huertas was having some problems with his seat.” She just shook her head and rolled her eyes before she went on.
“So, we’ve gotten most of our things stashed through the town. You and Alpha were the last to make it down off the mountain. I got word from Piven that the gun bunnies made it to Barnett. His guns are stashed around Rocky Mountain and we’re going to have to hope the aliens don’t find them.” I nodded at that. We barely had time to get out of the Ozarks before the Unity brought in heavy reinforcements so getting the howitzers hooked up and towed would have been nearly impossible.
“What about Hatchet?” I asked and she pointed to a map up on the wall of the area.
“Same as last report. Unity forces are heading northwest from the remains of Fort Sierra to Versailles.” She was about to continue when Lewis spoke up.
“Is that how you say it? I’ve been pronouncing it ver-sails this whole time.” Both Reed and I laughed at that for a moment.
“It’s French.” I informed him and he frowned.
“The French settled there?” He asked and I shook my head. Sometimes I forgot how little history the kids these days knew.
“No it’s just a name. We’ve got a long proud history of stealing names from other places for use here. Like… Paris Texas.”
“West of us is Warsaw.” Reed added. “North up the 87 is California.” I laughed at that.
“Yeah Missouri has Warsaw, Versailles, and California… and… isn’t there a Nevada here too?” I asked and Reed nodded. “Then… Pittsburg?”
“No that’s on the Kansas side.” She mentioned and I nodded.
“Well I know there’s a Moscow Idaho. And Dublin California.” I listed off.
“New York New York Las Vegas Nevada.” Reed added but I just snorted.
“That’s a casino it’s not the same.” She shrugged and then wagged a finger at me.
“But we’ve also got some pretty original names too like Knob Noster.” I laughed as she reminded me about that.
“Oh yes that’s right. Over near Whiteman airforce base… I never did find out what a Noster is or why it has a knob.” I sighed and shook my head slowly before shrugging. “I just hope that it confused the aliens too while they were invading. So back to Hatchet. They’re moving up and away from us even now? Has he been drawing them up?” I asked and Reed shook her head.
“He’s only instigated minor hit and run raids on convoys for supplies but they’ve been scattered all across from 135 to 52.” She pointed at the highways on the map. “And they’re already moving past his position. They’ve got a heavy presence and they’re searching the town itself but they aren’t really stopping for long. Oh and he said you wanted to know about anything unusual? Two nights ago in one of the camps the dogs went… as he phrased it. Nuts.” I arched a brow at that and she handed me the radio transcript.
Hatchet reported that the trained dogs in the camp began acting strangely shortly after sunset. They would growl at the woods but wouldn’t bark and often would try to pull their handlers away from the edge of the camp and closer to the center. In fact all the dogs formed a ring at the center of the camp that night and didn’t sleep but kept an alert and vigilant pose as he put it. Several combat patrols were made that night but no contact was made and no trace of Unity hostiles were found. I shook my head as he described their behavior just like Reed said, as nuts. “That was two nights ago? Nothing since?” She shook her head as I rubbed my chin.
“We haven’t had time to properly interrogate the pilot either. We’ve got her down the street in the Hardee’s freezer.” I glanced up at Reed then and frowned trying to place the name.
“Is that… the Arby’s out here?” I asked and it was Reed’s turn to frown before she realized what I meant and shook her head.
“No, Arby’s is just Arby’s. You’re thinking of Carl’s Junior. I forget sometimes you’re from the west coast.” I just groaned a little and sighed.
“Well damn. Earlier Huertas was talking about greasy pepperoni pizza and now I just made myself think of a big fat ham and cheese sandwich. I guess I’m just hungry. Was Carl’s Junior… Hardee’s the one that had that special that was just a big pile of french fries covered in cheese and bacon?” I asked and heard Lewis groan a little.
“Would you stop with the food? I’m hungry too.” Reed smirked then.
“I can help you two with that problem. Even get you a ham and cheese.” She nodded at me before looking over at Jackson. “Sergeant Jackson. Go get some sandwiches from upstairs.” The Sergeant nodded and headed into the back of the bank to get upstairs as she explained. “We’ve been picking up some goodies from the farms around Jeff. Including ham and cheese.”
I was feeling greedy and couldn’t stop myself before asking. “What kind of bread?”
“Rye I think.” I got my hopes up for a moment. “Just the light one. Not marbled.” I let out a disappointed grunt and shrugged.
“I really shouldn’t get my hopes up. But one day. One day I swear I will have a Reuben again.” Reed chuckled as I said that.
“For a west coast boy you always go on about Reubens. You sure you’re not from New York?” I scoffed as she asked that.
“You act like marbled rye and pastrami is somehow exclusive to the east coast, when they got it from eastern Europe so really you’re just denying yourself the culinary splendor that makes up America.” She smirked at that. “Anyway it’s about where you find it. We moved around a lot when I was a kid but I always could find a Jewish or Russian deli with good rye bread. It was so much more flavorful than that enriched white bread crap in the stores.” I thought it over for a moment then and shrugged. “But I guess now all bread has to be pretty fresh. Not like I can just walk into a supermarket and pick up a loaf of Wonder bread.”
“The Unity provisioning centers usually have some form of bread.” Lewis mentioned. “But… I don’t think I ever got anything that wasn’t a few days old and pretty stale.
“Well you’re in for a treat today.” Reed mentioned as Jackson came back out with a brown paper bag. He opened it up and handed me a hot sandwich wrapped in deli paper and I couldn’t help but let out a soft groan.
“Oh it’s hot… Just what I needed after riding 10 miles uphill through the snow.” I started to unwrap my sandwich as Lewis chimed in.
“Sir, it was actually more like 5 miles downhill.” I just glanced over at him while he unwrapped his own sandwich until I caught his attention and he looked at me.
“Lewis, would you like to go back outside in the cold Missouri winter and ride 5 miles uphill and then 5 miles back down? Or would you like to just agree with your commanding officer and eat a hot ham and cheese sandwich?” He stared back at me for a few seconds before quickly raising his sandwich to take a large bite, as if I was about to take it from him. “That’s what I thought.” Was all I said and looked down at my meal. It was warm but not really toasted. Not like I cared. Light rye, thick slabs of ham, and also thick slices of what looked like very pale yellow cheddar. Without mass production and consumer demand cheese had stopped being orange.
As I took a bite I kept it small, not wanting to eat too fast or choke on a big chunk. But I nearly went back on that idea as I could taste how damn fresh it all was. One of the benefits of getting supplies from the local farms.Which made me pause for a moment. But I kept chewing and swallowed before speaking. “How did they get fresh rye at this time of year? It’s late December and there’s no crops growing.” I looked at Reed who frowned and then shrugged.
“I’m… not sure? I’m sure they had some stored away for the bread.” I thought that over for a moment as I looked at my sandwich.
I glanced at Lewis who was still chomping down big mouthfulls of sandwich, then Jackson past him. “Did you have one?” He nodded.
“Yes, sir. Why?”
I looked back to Reed. “Did anyone get sick?” She looked confused and shook her head. “No? Is this a trustworthy farm?” Switching back over I saw Jackson who seemed to catch on.
“Yes, sir it is. They’ve always been good about providing supplies for the resistance. I know the rye crop is over but it’s just a grain. I’m sure they had some stored away for bread like this.” I nodded slowly and then shrugged before dismissing that thought.
“Just an old man being paranoid I guess. Lord knows I’m no farmer.” I sighed as I realized that a life of being a spy master had corrupted me permanently and this was just one of the more minor ways. I went back to taking small manageable bites of my sandwich and then had to keep from spitting some out when I looked over to see Lewis with his cheeks bulging. I choked down my current bite and spoke. “I had no idea you were this hungry Lewis.”
When he looked at me he just tried to say something but all I could hear was a muffled collection of sounds that meant nothing to me. “Well try not to choke to death. I’d hate to train a new orderly.” I looked past Jackson and nodded at him. “More in the bag?”
“Yes, sir. I was warming them up to take over to the guards at the Hardees. Got a thermos of hot soy sludge in there too.” I reached out for the bag then which he handed over.
“I’ll take it over. I need to talk to the prisoner anyway.” Jackson nodded and began to head for the door when I spoke again. “I didn’t ask for an escort sergeant.” He looked back at me then seeming surprised.
“You should have an escort sir. We’re not in a secure camp.” I snorted at that.
“The nearest Unity forces are supposed to be miles away. And we’re in the center of Eldon. We have sentinels on all the roads. You think I’m in danger walking… what, 200 feet?” The Sergeant shrugged.
“I still think you should have an escort sir.” I glanced over at Reed who shrugged so I then copied the movement and shrugged as well.
“Doesn’t hurt I guess. I must really be showing my age for a young man to offer and help me cross the road.” I smiled and he did as well but the lack of laughter cut a bit deeper than I’d figured it would. We headed outside and I shivered a little at the change in temperature once we were outside. “Did you want to talk to me in private? Is that why you felt the need to escort me?” I asked but the sergeant just glanced over and shook his head. Was I really looking that old and feeble these days? I just rode a bike five miles through snowy roads… I shrugged it off then and kept walking.
The old fast food place was ahead of us past yet another gas station. The once bright and colorful signs faded and worn. I could barely make out a sign about some sort of new hamburger with ham on it and snorted a little. One of Jackson’s men nodded to us from the window as we walked around the structure to the entrance. Inside it was still pretty cold, but not nearly as bad as outside. One of them had a fire going inside one of the ovens.
“Brought you guys some chow.” I mentioned and the soldiers approached, thanking me as I handed out the still warm sandwiches followed by the thermos. I took another few bites of my sandwich as I waited for them each to get a cup full of hot soy sludge and then took the thermos as they handed it back. “The prisoner talkative?”
“Lizzie? She answers questions. Doesn’t venture much on her own except complaints.” One of the soldiers answered me. A corporal based on the smiley face patches on his gear. Just how did that start again? I wish I could remember. How much could I not remember today? I frowned a little and tried to clear my head as something caught up with my brain.
“Lizzie? You guys named her Lizzie? As in… Lizzie the lizard?” I asked and they chuckled.
“That’s her name. It’s on her documents.” Jackson informed me.
“She named herself Lizzie?” I asked then and he shrugged.
“Someone named her Lizzie. That’s all I know for sure.” That made me think for a minute as I just shifted and shook my head.
“See this is why I don’t trust the Isoren. Bregnan have names that sound like you’re coughing up phlegm. The Rekanta don’t even have real names that I can tell. They just have their rank and then a number. But Isoren? They have suspiciously human names. I don’t like it.” I shrugged then and headed to the back of the restaurant. The freezer was pretty easy to spot, as was the icepick they were using to keep it locked shut. I removed the ice pick from the handle and opened it up.
Inside was our captured alien pilot. The reptile was bundled up in thermals and a parka, and ski pants and was still shivering visibly when I saw her. She was just standing in the middle of the room shivering and clutching herself in the cold. “Oh hell you look like a popsicle. Come out here.” I waved her forward and the alien quickly stepped out and then feeling the heat from the oven stood in front of it close enough that I thought she might burn herself on it but clearly the alien wanted the heat.
I stepped into the freezer then and noticed it was about as cold as the outside. “Ah right even without power it’s insulated. Probably kept all the heat from the oven out. Sorry about that. I’m the one who told my men to keep you someplace secure. But that’s not necessary now.” I mentioned and closed the freezer door. I glanced over at Jackson and his men clustered around the old counter as I waved them away to give me and the alien some space.
Jackson nodded and motioned for his men to head closer to the front of the seating area. I handed the thermos to Lizzie then. “Soy sludge.” I said simply and she unfastened the cap so quick I thought she might have just ripped it off before she tilted her head back and started to chug it down. I was about to reach out and try to stop her as I saw the steam coming off the dark liquid but even as I heard her whimper she kept drinking until it was all gone. After that she was shivering less but handed the thermos back, her tongue hanging out a bit as she looked to be in pain.
“Burn your tongue?” She nodded at my question and I just sighed. “Wait here.” I set the sandwich bag on the counter along with my own sandwich and walked outside, scooping up a bit of what looked to be clean snow and walked back inside to press it into her hand. “Suck on some of this.”
The alien looked at the snow as if she’d never dealt with it before. Perhaps she hadn’t. Then she put some in her mouth and we stood there in silence as she seemed to work it around before nodding. “Maybe not burn… just felt very hot.”
“Well I’m sure with how you were shivering in there it’s a hell of a temperature difference to suddenly chug hot sludge like that. Are you hungry?” She nodded then and I was about to tear my sandwich in half when I paused. “Can you eat cheese? Dairy?”
She nodded to that as well. “Given treatment after conquest. Is good source for fat. Need more fat. Cold planet.” I smirked a bit at that and finished tearing my sandwich apart to hand her half. She glanced at it, then me and I took a bite of mine before she began to eat what I’d given her. Once more we just stood there, but now we quietly ate our sandwiches. She finished hers first and waited for me to finish before speaking again. “You said needed to be keep secure. No longer?”
“Well, you’re still our prisoner. But your friends didn’t come looking for you like I thought they would. Hell they didn’t even slow down. They just raced off chasing that Chimera of yours.” She eyed me carefully and I knew she didn’t want to talk about that stuff but I was no longer interested in the fast and sloppy route. “Still hungry?” I asked and she looked a bit confused but nodded once more.
I walked back to the counter for the sandwich bag, just one left so I pulled it out and crumpled up the paper bag they’d been in. I tore it in half just like the other and then reached out with half in either hand. “Which one?” I asked and she hesitantly reached for the one in my left. So she favored her right. I was curious if aliens were lefties or righties and so far I’d seen they were mostly righties. The Bregnan at any rate. I wondered if that meant anything.
This time as she ate I spoke. “Do you have any special dietary needs? We take multi-vitamins to make up for certain deficiencies in what food we can get. I can show you what’s in them. I’m not very familiar with Isoren diet.” The alien pilot studied me carefully and shook her head slowly as she chewed, then swallowed before speaking up.
“No… should be fine with human food. Maybe more… mmhhh… plants?”
“Vegetables and fruit?” I ventured which made her nod. “They’re not as easy to come by in the winter. Hence the vitamins. We’ve got lots of those. Before the invasion people were concerned about eating healthy. We had so much food to eat most of it was very tasty but bad for our health in large amounts. But since it tasted so much better we kept eating it.” I chuckled a little but watched the alien to see if there was any reaction.
“This I was told. Seems so strange… before we get too heavy. Too… mmhh.. Fat. They reduce rations. Why did you not simply reduce rations?” That was interesting. So a pilot had rations? The Unity wasn’t starving. Military habit? I’d find out in time.
“We were free to eat what we wanted. We were successful enough to get fruits and vegetables in any season. But… not any more.” I shrugged. “We’ll see if you can take our multi-vitamins.”
She watched me as she ate a bit more of the sandwich and I took a bite of my half, waiting for her to initiate this time. “So… I am prisoner. But you share food with me? You do not bind me?” I nodded at that. “This is… not as I was told.”
“Have you been treated alright?” I asked then.
“Cold… coldest in that… room.” She nodded past me at the freezer. “But past few nights… not hurt. Fed when able… allowed to wear warmth.” She touched the front of her parka with her free hand. “I thought… maybe just waiting until done running. Thought that room was start. A room to freeze me if I did not talk. But you say mistake?” I nodded.
“Just a simple mistake. I told them to keep you secure. And that room is very secure. It’s just… also cold.” I shrugged.
“I thought… punishment. For not answering questions.” I looked over at Jackson and the other three sitting in one of the old booths up front, talking and drinking their cups of soy sludge.
“Did they ask you questions?” When I glanced back at the alien she was shaking her head.
“No.”
“So… why would we be punishing you for not answering questions we didn’t ask you?” The pilot frowned at that and slowly shrugged. I was curious if shrugging like that was natural to them or learned from us. “Well, no more cold rooms. Soon we’ll move to the houses for the day. Not sure how long we’ll be here. If you keep behaving things should go pretty smooth. Then maybe we can send you home when the fighting dies down.” I shrugged and tried to seem non committal but the alien seemed confused.
“Not here now to… barbecue me for information?” I frowned at that and then laughed.
“Grill you? No. No I wanted to make sure you were fed and doing alright. I’ll have questions later. I don’t know much about the Isoren. All the Unity says is you’re faithful servants. Like the Bregnan.” I made sure not to smile when the alien let out a hiss.
“Not like them! They are brutes! No manners! Too aggressive. We are better. More useful. More civilized.” I raised my hands then.
“Hey that’s only what we heard from the Unity. They don’t tell us much.” She got quiet at that and seemed thoughtful. “I’ll talk with you later Lizzie.”
“Wait… that is all? No… questions about Chimera?” She asked and I shook my head.
“Nope. It’s moved on. I’m more interested in you. Your kind. If you need something let them know.” I pointed to the soldiers up front. “If you get cold where they set up for the day tell them. They’ll find you more blankets, or get a fire going. Just tell them.” I nodded and turned to leave, motioning for Jackson who got up from the booth to walk over to me. I stepped outside with him before talking. “You trust your men to watch her?”
He nodded. “Yes sir I do.”
“Good. Tell them to keep a light touch with this one. Treat her well. Be gentle but firm. She can’t just wander off but don’t tie her down. Keep someone up at all times at night to make sure she doesn’t escape but no interrogation, no mistreatment. They’re free to talk to her. But simple questions only. Nothing about Unity forces or their military. Okay?” He nodded once more and I gave his shoulder a pat as he headed back inside to talk to his men.
While he was in there I briefly considered heading back to the bank on my own without him as an escort but figured I’d just wait. Didn’t make sense to possibly annoy him over something so trivial. When he came back outside we went crunching back through the snow towards the bank. “How was the fight for the supermarket crossroads back at Fort Sierra?” I asked then, realizing I hadn’t done much after action work yet since I’d been so busy with the evacuation and then hiding in the woods.
“Surprisingly easy sir. By the time they started to retreat we were well entrenched and Zeus just moved the barrage up along their path. Did we ever get a final count of the hostiles sir?” I shook my head at that.
“No we were moving out of there too quick. Best guess is around a buck twenty.”
“What about our own casualties sir?” That made me sigh softly. Besides hiding out in the woods these last few days I’d also been carving stars into rocks to honor our dead.
“We got off light. Final count was 34 dead. About the same seriously wounded. We caught them by surprise and hit them hard as we could. You know as well as I how poorly the Bregnan do in an ambush. Especially when they’re outnumbered. Their only instinct is to charge. They’re too used to having the upper hand.” He nodded at that. We’d seen them charge head first into kill zones. The Bregnan were not tacticians. They were bred to charge it seemed. So charge they did.
“Sort of sucks to think that even if we always could kill them three to one there might not be enough of us left.” I nodded as he said that. It was a sobering thought. As we approached the bank I saw a third bike stacked next to mine and Lewis’. When we headed inside it wasn’t much of a mystery to see who it belonged to.
“Master Sergeant Felon. Has Sergeant Huertas’ ass managed to recover from his earlier ordeal?” I asked as Felon laughed.
“Yes, sir I do believe he has. At least enough to stop complaining and start eating.” I smirked at that and nodded. “Either way sir I found us a house Lewis, you, and I can camp out in today.” I nodded at that. Felon was more or less my bodyguard when he wasn’t commanding Alpha.
“Alright well let's go take a look then. Major Reed has he told you where we’ll be?” I looked past him at the Major and she nodded.
“It’s down the street a bit. Not too far at all. If I need you or hear anything I’ll send someone down. Plus Lewis has his radio if things require breaking radio silence.” I nodded then and motioned for Lewis who tipped a cup he was holding up to his mouth to quickly gulp the contents before he stepped back outside with Felon and me. Felon got his bike but was just walking it rather than riding it.
“The snow down the street makes it a bit too hard to ride. We didn’t want to drive our trucks further into town in case a Unity patrol rolls down the highway. It’s not too bad though just a few blocks. I’m sure you’ll love it sir. You’ll fit right in.” I frowned as he said that and tried to think about what was down this road.
“You’re not trying to take me to the funeral home are you?” I asked which made him laugh.
“No sir. You’re not dead yet are you?”
“I most certainly am not. Sergeant Jackson thought I looked so old and frail though he did walk me down the street.” I let out a grumpy harumph which made Felon laugh again while we walked our bikes along the old snow covered street. I looked around as we walked along. Past an old church, then a career center, then a fire station, then another church. Looking back I never understood why we had so many churches. Then again why did we have so many gas stations? Everyone liked their own particular brand I guess.
We passed the funeral home and I glanced over at Felon. “We’ve passed a few houses Felon. Where are we going?”
“Just up ahead. Across from that boat.” When he pointed I squinted to see a boat sticking up out of the snow half a block up. It looked like at one point it had been covered in a tarp but the tarp was torn to shreds and the boat itself didn’t look much better. When I saw the house we were approaching I scoffed a little, looking up at it.
“Did you just find the biggest fanciest house in the area?” I asked as I looked up at the big columns out front and the Christmas decorations littered all over the place.
“Yes, Sir I did. I figure the nicer houses are built better. Besides it’s got a fireplace.” He pointed to the chimney.
“They’ve all got fireplaces.” I replied as I waved my arm around the neighborhood. But either way we were soon walking up the path past the little statue in the front yard sticking up out of the snow and up the brick steps to the front door. I knocked and the other two just stared at me for a moment as I sighed. “Old habits.” I repeated again and tried the door which opened with a loud ominous horror movie creak. But inside was dark and quiet.
“Anyone home?” I called out but got no reply so I knocked my boots against the door frame to try and knock most of the snow off and stepped inside. To the right in the corner was the skeletal remains of a Christmas tree. I sighed heavily as I saw the presents arrayed around the bottom. Still wrapped, but now covered in dust and dead Christmas tree.
“You always call that out when we enter an old house like this.” Felon mentioned as he stepped past me. “Has anyone ever answered?”
“Not yet.” I replied with a shrug.
“Look at this one.” Lewis pointed at one of the presents which was very sloppily wrapped. Whoever had covered it looked like they’d used one giant piece and just wrapped the boxy contents in it, folding it at odd angles and using a giant piece of tape to hold it all in place. Felon picked it up.
“Ah shit… it’s just made out to dad.” I shook my head slowly then as I walked further into the house, glancing at the pictures at the walls. The people were smiling and happy. Were any of them still alive?
“Open it.” Lewis was saying behind me.
“What?”
“Open it. They clearly aren’t coming back for it.” I heard the tearing of wrapper paper followed by Felon’s surprised gasp.
“No way!” I looked back and frowned as I tried to see what the box was he had in his hands. “It’s the complete blu-ray set! The original trilogy, the prequels, and the new stuff! Look!” He held the box out towards me. “It’s the one with the unmolested original trilogy at that!” I arched a brow as I tried to piece that together.
“Unmolested?”
“Yeah you know, like it was originally aired! Without all that bullshit CGI stuff they added later. Thanks George.” He muttered that last phrase sarcastically.
“Are the stand alones on there?” I asked but he shook his head.
“Nah just the core.”
“Well it’s still not a bad find.” I replied before seeing Lewis’ confused face. “Wait… you’ve got no idea what we’re talking about do you?” He just shrugged and I began to look around. “Leo see if the power still works. Lets find the TV. Lewis here hasn’t seen this glorious masterpiece of science fantasy before! We need to correct that.” Felon snapped off a salute to that.
“Sir yes sir!” He said before heading deeper into the house, the boxset held tight in his hands as if he was afraid he’d lose it.
“Lewis head back up to the general store and requisition us snacks. Lots and lots of snacks. You’ve got…” I tried to do some mental math. “Somewhere between 18 and 24 hours of movies for us to get through.”
“What?” He stood there looking even more confused at me. “But… aren’t you worried about Unity or… planning our next move or something?” I was about to reply when there was a loud clack from somewhere in the back and the lights flickered to life around us. So I just lifted my hands to the ceiling,
“It’s Christmas Lewis and we’ve just been handed a miracle! So go get some food and prepare yourself for a spectacle of Hollywood entertainment! You’ve missed out on some of our finest cinema! It’s time to correct that and show you some of what we’re fighting for!” He snorted at that.
“Movies? I think fighting for our freedom is pretty damn important sir.”
“It most certainly is. And that includes our freedom to make movies! So get.” I waved him out the door and then went to find Felon and the house’s TV. I knew I was being a bit selfish, especially with Unity forces just a few miles down the road. But if they headed our way Reed would warn me. And I couldn’t remember the last time I’d sat down and just watched a movie. Maybe this Christmas wasn’t going to be so bad.
Next Chapter
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