Say hello to The Generalist - Taboo 0: Double Feature Show!

Round 1


In all the annals of history, in all the eras and ages that have ever passed, there are quite a few generalizations concerning humanity.

One of those is that you are bound to have a truly, terribly bad day when the first thing that happens is that you awaken in a bathtub full of blood.

By you, I mean me.

By bathtub filled with blood, I mean bathtub filled with blood and, well...myself, all Mister Big Naked style.

I kept acting like I was asleep, keeping my breathing deep and my eyes moving as if they were in REM sleep. I "stirred" a bit then pretended to go back to sleep, my eyelids barely opened to allow a thin sliver of light to shatter the darkness.  My eyes moving quickly as they were, I was able to take in the scene quickly: the bathtub itself was huge, apparently copper. It stood in the middle of the bathroom like a squatting gargoyle, the bathroom itself reeking of opulence. The checkerboard-patterned tile was rank with ivory and ebony, an entire wall of the bathroom was one humongous, spotlessly clean mirror and, y'know, those his-and-her sinks some people have? Yeah, there was one right next to the doorway leading out. Absolutely nothing on the east and western walls, and what walls I COULD see were of the purest marble.

Situation, check. My body felt fine, my mind felt empty and I couldn't remember who the hell I was. I somehow knew (without even knowing how I knew, I just...y'know, knew) the price range of the room I was in and yet it didn't feel like mine...nor did I, once again I should point out, know how I knew.

Great. Amnesia. I can only hope that my past self was as snarky as I apparently am.

With no one else in the room and no cameras in sight, I slowly edged my way up to a sitting position and verified what I had quietly sensed earlier: no wounds on my body, so all this blood CERTAINLY couldn't be mine.

Strangely enough it didn't make me feel any better.

Getting out and slipping about a little, I was able to find clean towels, rags, and what appeared to be clothes that fit me. I filled up the 'his' sink with hot water and rinsed off with the 'hers' sink (why did I find that funny?).  Ignoring the coffee mug filled to the brim with delicious-smelling, steaming-hot coffee on the sink, I dressed quickly and took a moment to check myself in the mirror while picking out my small, well-kept afro with an eight-pronged plastic, black pick I found in one of the khaki's pockets, taking further stock of myself. Wide shoulders, caramel brown skin, chocolate brown eyes - not exactly a looker, but darkly handsome. Somewhat full lips, black mutton chops and the black afro spoke of African descent, but the light skin coloration and those cheekbones bespoke of something Caucasian-ish. Besides, I hadn't a clue what racial grouping begat that somewhat raccoon-esque coloration around the eyes themselves, the sockets made slightly darker due to the long, straight bangs that flowed over them, covering them in shadow whenever I moved my head.  Tucking the bangs behind an ear and out of my sight, I ran a hand through the pockets of the black khakis I wore and realized what felt wrong.

Untucking and unbuttoning the black button-up shirt, no design on it nor label on the collar (snazzy~!) and letting it hang, I noted  that wearing it like that felt a bit better, certainly something my body was used to. The various assortment of cheap knives, rocks, and vials of liquid in my abnormally deep pants pockets didn't feel any better to me, poking me through the pockets as they were, but I resisted the initial urge to get rid of them - something within me told me that I might have use for such objects.  What struck me as strangest was the absolute lack of any cards with a name on it – instead I found a small silver flask with ornate, Gothic writing in some script I didn't recognize that went back into my rear left pocket. For a second it felt warm and I realized I couldn't feel it anymore while it was IN the pocket, but the moment I reached for it - boom, there it was, a nice bulge in the back pocket until I took my hand away and it disappeared again.
Well, at least it wasn't uncomfortable. Weird, but there was a strange comfort knowing I could sit down without busting a back pocket with the damn thing.

Lacing up and stomping about in the heavy, steel-toed boots I stopped to check myself in that mirror again.

Yeah, lookin' good. Now I just need to figure out more of my situation.

Indeed, I answered myself, we really DO need to find out what's going on here. Bathtub full of blood, these clothes just layin' in a pile but my stuff unransacked? Someone put me in here for some reason, and I need to go get answers.

“Well, where do YOU normally go to get answers,” I asked myself.

“...the Yellow Pages! that second voice answered back, at least that feels like what we'd've done. Right?”

I stopped for a moment and thought hard on that, then asked, “You're just the voice in my head, right?”

“ Well, yeah...at least I am, yeah? I mean, you're you and I'm me. I'm you, and you're me...but I can't be you, and you can't be me, right?”

My head hurt at the so-called logic of that response and after putting an ear to the door and listening out for strangers, I eased the door open as soundlessly as I could and slid into the rest of the place, intent on getting the hell outta Dodge and back into whatever might jog my memory back. In the very least, get into a more comfortable position than where I currently found myself.

****

Despite the disgusting expensiveness of the condo, as richly furnished as the bathroom had been and just as upper-class gauche, the rest of the neighborhood quickly fell from upper-crust condos and suburbs into the strangely comforting nitty-gritty of the darker aspects of the city. Graffiti dotted the buildings here and there, and low-rent apartments and mini-marts lay jam-packed alongside brick buildings and gas stations.

“So all I'm saying is that it's funny that we've come across, what, five different phone booths with no Yellow Pages, even back in the affluent part of town, y'know?” Said the voice in my head, by now having given me a steady stream of chatter to take my mind off my slightly depressing situation, “I mean here we are, puttin' feet to the street, yeah?  At least THAT much feels familiar! Hey, do you remember anything yet?  'Cuz I don't remember much right now.”

Earlier I had mentally yelled at the Voice to shut up already, only to practically feel it sulk and mope in the darkness of my headspace. Deciding that I'd rather have the Voice cheerfully talk to me while being alone within the small crowd that journeyed on the sidewalk of the city, I told it to talk again and apologized.

Then it wouldn't shut up again. I have a feeling that this has happened to me before, but it was better that at least one of us was cheerful, so much so that I stopped caring that I might be a schizophrenic suffering from multiple personality disorder as well as being an amnesiac.
All the smells and sounds of the inner city assaulted me, and the myriad of its denizens moving here and there on their own business - all this felt a bit more comfortable to me than the situation I woke up in, and I was strangely happy at seeing the dilapidated streets and lost souls walking about the way I was, intent on their late-evening travels and ignoring that anyone else existed. Some cared only of the bad day they'd had, others thought of the usual litany of the human condition: food, sex, money.  Desire, greed, lust. Love. Hate. Happiness. Anger.

For whatever reason, all their emotions flowed through me and into me, calming me with the strange music that the city represented to me...or at least I should have been calmed – I instinctively knew I should've been by now, that I did this on a regular basis.

Except I was being followed currently, and had been followed for the past ten minutes or so. That shit pissed me right off.
Passing by a basketball court with a chain link fence, I hauled myself to the side and ducked down an alleyway, wanting to face whomever was following me in a battlefield of my choosing. The alleyway itself emptied out to the other side, and except for a dumpster it was big enough that I'd have room to maneuver (woah, I knew Kung Fu! Well, some kind of fighting art - I could feel my body relax and prepare for the fight) yet there wasn't enough room for me to be easily surrounded.

To my relief (and the relief of my Voice) there was only one guy. To our mutual horror it was a huge creature with red glowing eyes that panted and growled at the end of the alleyway, glaring at me and flexing its humongous claws, obviously taller and bulkier than me, wearing a beige trench coat and a fisherman's hat of equal color.

Green skin, ginormous legs and arms, a strangely thin trunk in comparison to those limbs and his flexing, giant, scaly fingers were tipped with excruciatingly noticeable claws that glinted in the murky streetlight of the alley. How did this thing move about normal society without being spotted? It sure as hell scared me, and scared me further still as it panted and growled, glaring at me the entire time, flexing those frightening claws and trembling with what could only be described as tangible rage.

"Frank. Todd," the creature panted, its eyes still glowing red, like pissed-off laser lights, from under its greenish-black hair. Was it wearing armor under that huge trench coat? Hell, it was wearing pants, camouflage-colored baggy khakis!

"FRANK! TODD!!!!" the creature roared, beginning to lumber towards me, its face a twisted visage of pure mad. Not, like, normal mad but someone-threw-a-folding-chair mad.

“What should we do?!” I asked my Voice in a mental tone that was way calmer than I felt. The animal instinct part of my mind gibbered and growled, trying to make sense as the creature drew closer: it was certainly humanoid, but those arms...those hands! My, grandmaw, what big nails you have!  
“I already ran, except I'm in your head,” The Voice, who was currently the smartest guy in my head, screamed back at me, “Run! RUN!”

And so I did.

Something screamed and I realized it was me, screaming like a damn fool with my hands over my ears as I hauled ass to the other side of the alleyway, intent on putting distance between me and the...the...shit, it was a monster. It was a freaking monster!
Ignoring the roared cries of the monstrosity I hauled harder, wanting to get away, wanting to get AWAY! From those claws, those glaring red eyes, the rows of sharp teeth it had.

I didn't want to think about it, I only wanted to get away from it, and I did just that. By the time I turned around to see that there was no one left on the street I realized several things.

I was panting, standing and looking around like a fool in the middle of the street. I had lost the monster. I had also run insanely hard and was now in yet another part of the city, a school to my left and an overpass to my right. Looking up, I forced myself to regulate my breathing and take another stab at locating where I was and figuring out where I needed to go from there.

I had outrun the monster, but ohhhhh baby...this night was just getting better and better.

****

Picking the lock to the elementary school was easy at this time of night, and I finally got a chance to get a better idea of what was going on. It was 10 p.m. on a Friday night according to the principal's computer, and I was in (New) Los Angeles. As I checked around the internet, I felt superficial information and memories return - I still didn't know quite who I was beyond my name, but I at least knew what the year and date today was and where I was (James Woods Memorial Elementary), then I ran a check for my name. Not too many with that specific combination of names, and at the very least I could ascertain whether or not I was a sex offender (amongst other things).
Gaining food and FINALLY finding a Yellow Pages, I began to scan about for anything that would stand out to me, flipping through the book swiftly, my eyes scanning quickly, whilst wolfing down the two loaded hot dogs carefully - no need to get ketchup and onions all over the place, y'know?
“So how DO you know how to do all this stuff anyway?” my annoying Voice asked me.
That one stopped me cold - picking the lock could possibly point towards me being a criminal (ergo my search for my name in certain criminal databases), and for some strange reason I could see myself as a sexual deviant. Hopefully not TOO deviant though, I might not like myself afterwards.

“I dunno,” I answered back honestly, “Brute hacking passwords are easy, at least it feels easy. Ditching and dodging the security cams were also easy. Hitting up these databases won't show much, though it'll show snoops and earworm programs that SOMEONE here looked up Frank Todd, tipping off their masters to unnatural activity. At this point in time, I'll be happy with...nyoho, hello!”
Franklin Theodore Todd. I'm, apparently, a bad man.

A very, very bad man.

The list of jobs and skills the FBI (don't ask - I don't remember how I know these passwords, but I remember them) has on my file reads like a bad fan-fiction. The groups and organizations that are connected to me are...well, let's just say they're freakin' impressive. The whole thing is startin' to make me feel like I'm in a bad John Grisham novel, and even at his best the protagonists usually get fucked over and out.

I'm associated with the Catholic Church, the Rosicrucians (the Order of the Rosy Cross, an interestin' name my Voice plucks out of the ethers of our...my...brain), some family by the name of Scarletti, and some weird Japanese name I can't even read right now. I don't have a criminal record apparently, but there's more than a few red x's in official lookin' boxes with nothing next to them, and obvious redactions like that worries the unholy fuck out of me.

I'm completely flabbergasted when I reach my previous employment section.

Martial arts instructor. Wrestling instructor. Detective. Chemist. Alchemist. Plumber. Electrician. Mechanic. Scientist. Astrophysicist. Mage. Physiologist. Historian. Artificer. Esper. Writer. Duelist – Swordsman. Marksman. Loan shark. Knee-capper. Bouncer.

Exorcist. Banisher. Onmyoji Mystic. Bushiden.

"Generalist." They're calling me a Generalist. I see why.

What the hell though...Alchemist? Scientist? Scientist of what? Esper? Artificer? I can't even SPELL those, let alone understand what the hell they are and how I became them.

Don't even get me started on the entire line from "Exorcist" to "Bushiden."

“Gesundheit,” my Voice said.

“Shut up,” I replied.

Next to each title, I saw full licenses and degrees of various kinds, and for the more outlandish titles there were only names, presumably of those who trained me.

Now, all this doesn't weird me out nearly as much as the fact that there are several notes that state that I'm under house arrest, as well as complaints from agents that they either can't make it stick or can't find me from time to time.

Interestin'.

This doesn't explain everything, but I'm already startin' to get an idea in my head as to what might've happened to me, or at least why. Nice people don't wake up in empty condo's in bathtubs full of blood with heads lacking memories. Nice people don't have FBI files with notes like "terminate if he exceeds level 5 protocols" or whatever-have-you.

Nice people don't learn this much garbage then NOT work for the good guys, right? Good guys aren't under house arrest and know how to pick locks and hack databases and have confidential, sensitive passwords memorized.

So either I really am out of my mind, monkey nuts, or the world really might be out to get me.

****

Leaps of logic aren't like leaps of faith - for one thing, I'm fairly good at the former and completely horrible at the latter. It seemed only natural to look up my name on various databases in order to figure out, at least superficially, who I was. On the other hand, I thought it was a good idea to find the place they had as my last known address and hope for the best that there was more there to remind me of who I was, what I really was, and why I've ended up the way I have - bathtub full of blood, running away from monsters, things like that.
What I got was a small two-story warehouse-like structure, sandwiched between two similar ones. Pure brick, iron shutters, barbed wire around the doorframes, a real character of a place. Above the single door hung a neon blue sign, "The Shop."

Hell, the FBI called it "The Shop" as well. I'm startin' to get a better angle on what kind of guy I was already - all those complicated titles, yet it seems like my thing was more about keeping it simple than anything else.

Approaching the door, I felt something itch at the peripherals of my vision but for the life of me I didn't actively see anything. The Voice in my head felt a little nervous as well, but as we approached the closed door nothing happened. Either we dodged a bullet or just grew accustomed to the place.

After feeling like an idiot to find that the heavy iron door was obviously locked (fairly obvious, I'm certain I'm the paranoid type even what with all those professions and skills and such) I began to search around for a key and, indeed, I found a heavy key of cold iron underneath the so-called welcome mat.

Go away the welcome mat screamed at me, simple red lettering on a black field.

Yeah, real nice.

That strange, itchy feeling overcame me as I unlocked the door and stepped into a world I simply wasn't expecting.

****

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