The Two Week Curse

By: Michael Chatfield

Chapter 1

Chapter: A really shitty day

“They call it the two-week curse. What was originally being called an age of heroes, has now taken a drastic turn for the worse,” the news reporter said.

Those in the room watched her, more out of boredom and the fact she wasn’t another dude.

“She probably smells clean.” Rugrat put together his rifle, working the action as a few in the room grinned and snorted.

“And that is not the downright creepiest thing I have heard all day,” Honcho said, gliding by as he walked out of the room with his gear checked and his gun in hand.

“Better than being around you sweaty nutsacks!” Rugrat yelled.

“Like she’d let you within ten feet.” Erik West checked his pouches and massive bag that held all manner of drugs, tourniquets, bandages, and other medical supplies.

“I’d only need ten feet.” Rugrat waggled his hairy eyebrows. The man looked like a mix between a Russian bear and some Southern good ol’ boy who preferred to walk around in cowboy boots, his American flag booty shorts, and a cowboy hat, covered in more tattoos than a Russian gangster.

It might be wildly specific, but that was his usual outfit. He even had six pairs of shorts with the weight limit on the flight over.

“Dammit, Rugrat.” Dillon shook his head.

“Two days ago, the first of the disappearances began with people vanishing into thin air. Many are calling for answers, some people even saying that it’s a government conspiracy. However, there have been no answers at this point. Without fail, people are disappearing roughly two weeks after they contract the curse. We now bring in our expert on the matter, Doctor Werstein,” the lady said.

Rugrat snorted. “Wein-stein! Hah! Dick stain!” Rugrat laughed. “He one of your lot?”

Erik West had the unfortunate luck to have a German background—unfortunate because he had been stationed twice in Germany when he was with the United States Army. The running joke was that they sent him the second time because they thought he’d snuck his way into America but he didn’t take the hint.

It didn’t matter he didn’t know any German, other than a few curse words he’d picked up along the way.

“See if I help you out if you get shot in the ass,” Erik mumbled, just barely audible to the others in the room.

People snorted and laughed.

“Might finally mean he has to wear something other than those shorts!” Rossy laughed. The big Italian always sported a smile. It was hard to feel anything but goodwill for their leader. Even if he ate garlic as if it were running out of fashion and crop-dusted when dismounting, just so everyone would have to go through Rossy’s “flavor of the day.”

“Please tell me you haven’t been having garlic today, sir,” Dillon asked, straight-faced.

A devious smile appeared on Rossy’s face. The sounds of gear being checked and weapons moved around came to a halt as Rossy ripped open a Velcroed pouch, enjoying every moment as he slowly pulled out a bottle from his vest as if it were his most prized possession.

“Aw, fuck! Hot sauce!” Keller said on the other side of the room. The look on his face made it seem as though he’d realized that there was truly no god or higher power to try to redeem him from Rossy’s abilities.

Rossy simply smiled and displayed the triple heat specialty blend of fiery fury.

Erik unconsciously checked his shemagh, hoping it would be enough to save him.

“Ah, quit your whining.” Rossy laughed and put it away. His demeanor changed and everyone’s attention focused in on him.

“The curse has shown to have a symbiotic relationship with the host, in the first three days of incubation,” Dr. Werstein said on the TV.

“Mute that shit. We’ve finally got the details. We’re going to be moving from the compound to Camp D,” Rossy said. The TV muted off in the corner as everyone listened in.

“Camp D? Shit, does that mean we’re going through the shanty?” Rugrat asked.

“You got that right. Also, the body is going to be using their own vehicle and driver,” Rossy said. Even though his tone was neutral, everyone could tell how pissed he was.

“What they driving?” Dillon asked.

“A flashy Benz,” Rossy bit out.

“Oh, I hope they have a nice fucking ride in that motherfucker.” Rugrat shook his head and cast a look to Erik.

Erik shook his head and shrugged. There wasn’t anything that they could do to change their lot in life. If Rossy hadn’t been able to change their mind, there wasn’t any way they’d be able to.

Seems even when I’m working private instead of the big green dick of the army, I still get fucked. Erik grabbed his rifle as Rossy continued, loading a magazine.

“We’ll be in the three Bronco’s—two up front, one behind the Benz. We’re going to be taking the modifieds we’ve got. I want more firepower if we need it,” Rossy said.

“The cops know our movements?” Erik asked.

“They do. I talked to our boy. He’s not happy with having a Benz running about in the shanties, but there’s nothing that we can do,” Rossy said, holding Erik’s eyes.

Erik nodded and the others in the room paid attention.

Rossy was their leader and shot caller. Erik was their combat medic but he’d been in the shit more than nearly anyone else and he’d earned his place as their second-in-command.

“We move out in twenty-five. Get your gear stowed.” Rossy’s eyes cast about the room. The noise once again picked up. The woman on the TV continued to talk silently. Someone turned off the mute as Erik checked his magazines and sidearm, loading it.

“Yes, after the incubation period, people report seeing a display in front of them, reporting on stats like Strength and Agility as well as Mana, which is a cultural reference to magic used in many different forms of media. Increasing these stats increases the person’s natural abilities, well in excess of what a normal person can do.” Dr. Werstein was pushed off to the side as a video appeared, showing someone picking up a heavy loaded barbell and laughing as they curled it with apparent ease.

“They are also able to cast spells.” Another video showed someone in their backyard. The person mumbled a few words; fire shot out of their hand. The person behind the camera yelled, excited, as the caster laughed and joked around as the fire dimmed down.

Erik shook his head. Could use some fucking magic on this run.

His gear checked, Erik grabbed his bag and slung it over his shoulder as he grabbed his rifle with his other hand.

“Doc, what you think of that two-week thing?” Dillon, who was also ready, asked, a half step behind Erik.

“Think that it don’t have much to do with me,” Erik said. His nickname Doc was a moniker for nearly all medics in the armed forces;

He pulled on his ballistic eyewear that hid his eyes as he turned and slammed into the pushbar of the door. Light dazzled him and Dillon as the heat shot upward as they left their air-conditioned sanctuary.

“But magic, and stats? Sounds like some kind of messed-up video game,” Dillon said.

“It’d be pretty kick-ass but who’s to say that it’ll happen to us?” Erik had dabbled in video games here and there, playing tabletops as well as Dungeons and Dragons on longer deployments.

“The whole disappearing after two weeks is kind of fucked up though,” Erik said as they walked across the compound. There were tall buildings acting as overwatch, with the residences and command center in the middle.

They were on contract with one of the biggest copper mining companies in South Africa. It was their job to make sure that the higher-ups of the company got to where they wanted to go without being harassed, or to run security on the copper shipments.

They crossed the pavement as the heat beamed down on them.

“True that,” Dillon agreed.

“Wait up!” Rugrat yelled from behind. He jogged to catch up. His helmet, attached to his vest, swung around as his bearded ass met up with them as they made it into a large metal shed. Inside, there was a large vehicle garage, from beat-up shit boxes that one might see on the roads, to premium sedans and up-armored trucks that looked beaten to shit but hosted heavy weaponry. These would be their rides. There was no hiding a Benz in the shanty town—might as well go with enough firepower to make the bastards think twice.

All the doors were open, with people dumping their gear into their seats. Rugrat got up into the turret, sweet-talking the fifty-cal machine gun as he checked over its working parts. With the dust and sand, keeping your gear clean was a necessity.

Everyone trickled in, storing their gear and making sure everything was how they liked it.

“Five minutes! Fire up the trucks!” Rossy yelled.

The three trucks came to life. Their beefy diesel engines chugged on air as the turrets turned from side to side, making sure that the motors weren’t all gummed up with sand and shit.

“Load up!” Rossy called out. Everyone jumped into their vehicles. Doors slammed shut as the air con in each Bronco tried to cool them down.

“I thought they switched out this window,” Dillon complained from the backseat.

Erik looked back to see that the window was spiderwebbed in a few places, showing where it had been hit by incoming rounds.

“Fucking Grade A.” Erik shook his head. He unclipped his helmet from his vest and pulled the tactical helmet on. A red cross was on the side; scratches and dust covered the rest of its surface.