Part One: An Inconvenient Tooth
The smoke was so thick in some places, you would need special equipment to see. Gunfire riddled the air, as well as the occasional explosion. Jets were heard soaring overhead. Helicopters hovered above with the distinct sound of their artillery spraying targets below. Every so often you could hear the lone shot of a sniper, no doubt striking a target somewhere. When the bombers flew by dropping their payload, it was so loud it shook the chandelier in the room downstairs.
Tony sat in his chair, less than a foot from his video screen, playing a war-shooter online, something he would do for hours on end without interruption. When the parents weren't home he would turn the stereo sound up so loud, passers by had to wonder if they were under attack.
He wore a backwards cap and a headset used for communication with online teammates. The smoke was from a nearby bong, which Tony kept sucking from to try and relieve his hangover. At twenty-three years old, this would be his worst hangover yet. He had been at a house party the night before, of which his memory of was completely erased. He had woken up this afternoon to immediate throwing up. He was unable to keep down a coffee. The marijuana was the only thing to settle his stomach, but it failed to do anything for his headache or general weakness.
He noticed, despite his increased accuracy in taking down virtual enemies with his digital M16A4, that his hangover was growing worse by the minute. He felt as though he might pass out at any time. His mouth was heavy with saliva and his thirst for water was unquenchable. Every muscle in his body ached, but not like usual. Tony swore in an email to a friend earlier that morning that his body felt like it was shutting down.
After a match of capture the flag, Tony shut his game off. Giving in to the hangover, he was convinced to go back to bed. He went for a shower first, but was stopped in front of the mirror at the sight of himself.
His arm was a dark red, spreading down from his shoulder. The dark circles under his eyes looked like he hadn't had sleep for a month. He brought his left hand up to his right shoulder, and shocked himself at the touch. Searing pain was below his T-shirt sleeve, that blackened his vision when he winced from the slight brush of his hand. Slowly, with his teeth firmly clenched together, he lifted the sleeve.
There on his arm, surrounded by blackened flesh, was a bite mark. Teeth marks from a human being. The first thing to go through his mind was Carla, who he had planned to break off his relationship with at the party. Whether he had or not was amongst the forgotten details. Had she bitten him in response? He had not expected her to take it well, but never knew her for a biter.
He brought his shoulder around, closer to the mirror. He studied the wound and traced it lightly with is finger, drool leaking from between his clenched jaw. As he graced each tooth-shaped dent in his arm, the pain became more severe. Finally, at a certain point there was a flash of pain so intense, Tony nearly lost consciousness.
Gently pulling his sleeve down over wound, now pulsing with heat and pain, he made his way back to his bedroom. From his nightstand he withdrew a baggie of pills. He threw a few of the blue ones into the back of his mouth, and picked up a day-or-two old bottle of beer to wash it down with. As he tipped the bottle, a cigarette butt floated up to and kissed his upper lip. He vomited simultaneously, showering his nightstand, wall, and parts of his bed. The bottle hit the floor but did not break, but oozed a filthy brown sludge full of ashes onto the carpet.
Recovering from the retching, he again took three more blue pills from his little bag. He brought them over to his desk, where he used a lighter to crush them all into a fine dust. Using a rolled up twenty-dollar bill, the only cash he had, he sniffed the powder up into his nostrils. He gagged a bit, but did not heave. It wasn't long after another bong hit that the pain started to lift, and he was in the shower.
Tony had a dream in that shower. Though standing up, the soothing feel of the warm water falling over him had rendered him into a sleep. Tony thought it felt more like a coma. His dream was of a party, and there were a number of inhuman guests. They were humongous frog-men with razor sharp teeth, and they lurked everywhere, consuming barrels of beer at a time. They were jumping around on the furniture, eating from the ounce of weed on the table, handfulls at a time. Some bottles of beer they simply tossed into their mouths, and chewed to shards, lapping spilled beer from the floor. They drank everything in the house, and a few sat in the basement chewing their way into the keg. When his dream-self investigated this, Tony could only stare in awe of their ability to devour. He laughed as they finally punctured the keg, firing a steady piss-stream of beer into the air. They danced around it triumphantly, and Tony joined them in their celebration. One of them turned to him, handing him a joint and said: "You don't look so dead."
Tony snapped out of his mini-coma, and turned off the water. Stepping out of the shower he was reminded of his shoulder pain upon reaching for his towel. He brought it to the mirror again. After being washed, there was no question that a person had bit him. The wound was inflamed with red, and surrounded by a bruise almost completely around the arm. He could see what looked like a white pus in the most painful spot. He grabbed some hydrogen peroxide from the cabinet underneath the sink, and poured it all over his arm, letting a large amount of excess wash all over the floor.
Surprisingly, he felt nothing when the peroxide hit, and it failed to wash away any of this white spot. It was when he slowly touched a finger to it that he realized it was a solid object. Like a piece of glass, this white stone was imbedded into his flesh. The drugs had covered up the majority of his pain, but when he touched this thing, there was no hiding from the sting.
Tony considered the hospital for a short moment. There would be problems with all the drugs in his system currently, along with who-knows-what from last night. His probation officer knew what he was up to almost constantly, but documentation of it would be bad.
Later in the day he had plans with a few friends to go up into the mountain for the weekend. A little camping trip with some homemade wine and most likely some ruckus with air rifles. They always started out by firing BBs at cans, but as more of the drink flowed, the target range increased. The hospital might interfere with this trip, and Tony couldn't have that.
He went to his closet for his belt and grabbed his box of paraphernalia. He took his hemostat from the box and went back to the bathroom. The belt he rolled up into a four-inch long bunch, and put it in his mouth, biting down. He used a lighter on the end of the hemostat, heating up the clamp. When it smoked a bit, he put it to his arm, and without thinking or preparing any further, he grabbed hold of the white nugget and yanked it out.
He screamed through the belt and spit it across the room. He dropped the hemostat and it dinged as it hit the floor, the foreign object that was in his arm still sailed through the air. He was able to catch it, and he held it tightly in his hand until the peak of pain passed. When he was able to look at it, he rolled it around in his palm and studied it. The look on his face went from curiosity to complete turmoil. He held before him, a tooth. A human tooth that he had just removed from a bite wound on his arm. Whoever bit him, bit him so fucking hard, they left a tooth in his flesh.
Surely he would need to seek medical attention for this. A tetanus shot, no doubt. Infection was not only very possible, but Tony felt it guaranteed by the evidence found. Of course, with the weekend planned as it was, he would wait until Monday to see the doctor. His boys would be around in a few hours to pick him up. He cleaned the wound with alcohol and more peroxide. He put an ointment (with pain-reliever) on it and wrapped it with a bandage. He decided to hit the bong again, and put a couple more of the little blue guys in his nose. For the remaining time before his ride showed he loaded up his digital assault rifle and got some kills. He got a lot of kills. He was very impressed with his current ability to hunt down these other players, and was extra satisfied every time he spilled their blood-red pixels. He could almost smell their blood, he knew where they were almost every time. He could smell their blood in his mind, and it fucking smelled delicious.