Tits up.

©2014, 2021 Michael Raven

I wrote this on June 4th, 2014. The file has the date right there as I loaded it up and wondered just what I would find. “2014_06_04_Fiction” was the file’s name. Very descriptive.

Imagine my surprise when I saw it looked like a gun battle scene. I have no memory of writing it, but it looks like one of those not-quite-cyberpunk-but-later-than-2030-era stories I was toying around with over the years. How do I know it is likely from some post-now cyberpunk? The big hint is that Caleb takes time to do some cursory religious thing, ‘just in case’. I always wanted to mix up post-modern tech with folks who were careful not to anger whatever god that they were kind of agnostic about more than firm adherents believers of. That, and there’s hint of a “job” that involves theft and cred. Actually, ‘cred’ was added tonight to clarify their target, but the rest whiffed of a shadowrun kind of gig. Maybe should added ‘chummer’ too, but I never wanted to come off as writing fanfic for Shadowrun, so maybe it’s best I omitted such things.

Yeah, it’s a bit sweary. Sorry about that. Then again, I lived close enough to street folks (“hard cases”) over the years to know that the language is probably too tame for what they’d think and say in real life. And the title? Well, it explains Caleb’s situation perfectly: the job has gone “tit’s up”, and it seems like something a tough old bastard would say to describe his situation. “Nigel, this job’s gone tit’s up from the moment you sold me on it.”

Now that I’ve made the intro nearly as long as the tale…


Caleb checked the chambers of his revolver, still smoking from the most recent rounds fired and reloaded his Colt .45 with six fresh bullets to join their cousins already laying spent in the warmth of several corpses scattered in the warehouse. He deftly rolled the cylinder closed and briefly took aim at the next moron willing to reveal his location with the flash of a cheap 9mm muzzle. There were a few wasting their ammo shooting blindly over whatever cover they managed to garner when the shit all came down, but their bullets would never find Caleb that way; he’d almost have to have a deathwish and walk straight into their path for the bullets to connect with his flesh. Bad shots and cheap guns. He wasn’t sure what was so damn appealing about those toys they carried, but these guys must have found something appealing about carrying such worthless tools of trade.

One of his attackers forgot the standard protocol of a gunfight, stood up and shouted something about Caleb being a whoreson or some other such playground taunt just before Caleb squeezed off another round, thereby cutting off the insults before it even really had a chance to start. He crossed his forehead as a gesture of thanks to whatever god had guided his bullet home, knowing full well there was unlikely any hand of a god assisting his gunfire — one would have to be a terrible shot to miss an arcade-like target popping up in plain view outside of cover. But, as Caleb well knew, it never hurt to flatter the gods. You might need their assistance some time later on and it behooved anyone to make sure the gods looked upon you favorably.

And the clusterfuck was just beginning… Even though he’d known it would end up in such a state when this whole scheme was first proposed to him by Nigel.

“Easy peasy, lemon squeezy,” was Nigel’s assessment of the difficulty level. “Nil perspiration,” was his follow up comment. Any time Nigel was in charge of orchestrating a gig, things were likely apt to be anything but easy peasy. The boy was just too damn green, cocky and self-important to realize that planning was essential to a successful operation. Caleb preferred to not have to use his gun on a job — it was an amateur move. It was always best to get in and out before anyone knew you’d been there and if you planned it right, you’d be gone with the cred with several klicks between them and you before they knew you’d hit them. Best case, if they did discover you’d jacked them at all, would be somewhere else entirely, with several days or decades of time having passed since the dirty deed and its discovery.

“Good job, Nigel. They don’t even know what hit them due to your superior planning abilities,” Caleb said in a conversational tone to the man next to him.

“Fuck you. I had this completely planned to be as smooth as your baby ass, so someone must have fucked up and let them know we were coming.”

Caleb sighed, his breath heavy with the weight of years of training in cocky young assholes like Nigel. “It’s always someone else’s fault, ain’t it, Nigel? Someone else always responsible for shit rolling downhill, that it?” A 9mm bullet chipped away at the concrete over his head, whining as it spun off into places unknown well within the belly of the warehouse. “And watch your mouth. Show some respect for your elders. I get to curse, but you haven’t earned that right yet.”

“Whatever man,” replied Nigel as he looked for some new idiot willing to get plastic surgery with the help of a bullet. His voice was the same tough guy voice as before, but Caleb noticed he refrained from swearing at him again. Good, the boy was finally getting a fucking clue.

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