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The Wild Hunt: Urban Style
**** * ****
The True Hunt: Downtown
I hadn’t been idle in the month since my last run. Just in case I was not insane, I had made some plans and set up ways to get away from the True Hunt; to dodge Them until dawn. I’d even done some research on what this Hunt thing was. The Hernes had given me an extension on staying with them until February 01 next year. By then I needed to have an exit plan. I did but it was predicated on me surviving this night. According to the Myths and Legends I could find, mortals tended to fare poorly as prey and rarely made it through to dawn. Most of them made it a simple race with no attempts at strategy, they simply fled in fear until they were exhausted. There were some mentions that iron or silver could harm or deter the Hunters, maybe throw them off the scent. I assumed that the lead Jaguar’s shitheads fired at Them wasn’t the right metal (Ha! They all died…).
As far as I could tell, I was allowed to run in any direction or circles or lay down and submit. Not much by way of rules, though other mortals were prohibited from deliberate interference; and maybe, since I was the intended prey, I could fight. I’d stretched the contents of the local, “lie-berry” and the interwebs were just not trustworthy. I ended up asking the Hernes; turns out the Mr. had several books on the subject that offered a wealth of information. I came across a section that noted that in a certain part of England, the Leader of The Hunt was called, “Herne”. I thought he may have gained an interest because he’d discovered the folklore while researching his family name. I didn’t ask the whys and wherefores, I was still pretty insular and liked keeping things to myself... I should have asked…
I was still likely persona non grata in the ’hood, especially with Jaguar’s crew but turd gangsters had offered The Hunters a nice distraction last time. Plan A was to get one of the turd gangs to chase me and run interference. Considering how close I’d come to dying the previous month, it may seem like a dumb plan but this time there’d be no reason for hot pursuit, I didn’t plan on killing anymore gangsters. I just needed them to be irritated enough to follow in my wake… and get eaten in my stead. The turds called me, “Coyote” because I was wily but for real, not like the eponymous cartoon character.
Last night was Halloween, what some of the research material had called, Samhain (“Sau-when”). It seemed a pretty significant Holiday in several cultures and was called by several names. I’d have to stay ahead of The Hunt until dawn on Samhain; great, one of Their Holidays! I thought bitterly. In some of the stories, “dawn” was indicated by the crowing of a rooster rather than actual sunrise. For my run, I’d have to plan for sunrise and hope for, “cock’s crow” (Ha! ‘Cock’s Crow’ – funny to me, I was still barely 18). I knew of only one place roosters resided in town: at Jaguar’s arena; he made them put on razor spurs and fight to the death; asshole! It would have to be sunrise… and I would make my stand at Jaguar’s shithole… er, stronghold, a factory of misery that he called, “La Selva” (The Jungle); aptly named, the cock-fights were only one of several atrocities produced by that paragon of moral virtue. I know…, I tried to stay out of their, “bidness” but this dude and his crew were warped!
I was hydrated and Mrs. Herne had made an inexpensive but stellar meal for supper; the lady could make the plainest fare taste of Ambrosia (I’d discovered all sorts of new words in my research…). I had energy bars, a water bottle, and a small first aid kit, all in a small backpack; no crappy convenience stores tonight if I could avoid them. I could still smell the Fabuloso, it had burned into my sinuses... I had my knife but no firearm this time. I’d dressed in layers with a light gray hoodie on top. It sported a local college logo, so even if the cops stopped me, I could claim to be a new student and everyone knows that college kids are well behaved and get no attention from Johnny Law (eye roll). Let’s face it, a dude riding around on a darked out bike at night and wearing all darkish clothes while pedaling through sketchy neighborhoods was suspicious in the world of law enforcers and good citizens. In mine it was just standard bidness attire!
I geared up quickly and pedaled toward Sony’s territory. I needed to get his temperature in case he felt the need for a grudge. He might even want to sell me to Jaguar as a peace offering; I would be the one to end up in, “pieces”. Dang! Mr. Gosling had hooked me on puns when we both lived in the old apartments, the lowest form of humor he’d called them... My excited and scattered thoughts were interrupted as I felt a blast of cold air from behind and a chill arose in my bones. The baying of the Hounds grew more distinct and I was already in high gear. I needed to focus on being a truly wily coyote: I was fleeing fast but it wasn’t as effective as I’d hoped.
I could freeze and hide somewhere but that was risky, I could end up trapped and it seemed too early in the chase to go to ground. I just couldn’t see fighting The Hunters. Guns had seemed to have no serious effects, so what could my pitiful knife do? I’d put some old nails in my pants pockets, I’d read something about iron protecting from certain Entities, maybe they could be used to throw Them off my trail. I wore a silver chain around my neck; it had a metal pendant that went around in a weird endless knot, like a puzzle for the eyes. I wasn’t sure it would help but Mrs. Herne had given it to me for my birthday and it was part of my former stash that she’d made into a gift; talk about tweaking the conscience…
I dropped a few nails behind me at a four-way intersection; a, “crossroad” and after a few clever twists and turns down well-lit avenues, I lost the sound of the Hounds. I saw, “L” hanging out on his favorite corner, he might give me a heads up or some news. His gang’s smaller territory was on the way to the heart of Sony’s. The leader, Skittles, had been a protégé of Sony’s. The ‘hood keeps one on his toes but it can be funny as well. It’d have to be or everyone there would commit suicide or start a war. I’d heard, from a good source why he went by, “L” instead of his first name:
· When his mother was in the hospital to have him, she saw something on a card at the hospital and thought that with creative spelling, it would be a good name for her baby boy. The card was a menu selection and his first name became, “L’mongelo” (no shit, dude was named, “Lemon Jello” but crammed together as one word with the emphasis on the first, “o”, as in “Les Mans” and the ‘j’ switched to a, ‘g’). The other ‘hood rats didn’t catch that he was named for a gelatinous dessert but he was actually a smart dude and didn’t want to take a chance, so he cut it down to, “L”. After all his half-sister was named, “Placenta Marie Smith” (PMS) from something his mother read on a medical chart…
I grinned as that thought rattled around my skull that otherwise felt full of actively crawling and biting spiders… Bbbbrrrrgh… I shivered and looked quickly over my shoulder toward the encroaching gloom; I had to be quick, “’L’, What up? Am I okay to be around here?” I circled out in front of him at a distance and at a casual speed.
The tall, thin man shrugged, “Don’t know Coyote. Skittles an’ our crew got no beef, don’t think Sony got no beef. Nobody knows for real what happen’ but Jaguar lost five of his big boys las’ month; all his real killahz. Word is they jumped you and you took care of bidness but nobody know jus’ how. It put Sony up in the game. He hintin’ that he bailed you out of a spot.”
I nodded, that made sense, Sony would grab all the credit he could since the conflict with Jaguar was actually his, “So you think I have a pass to cut through Sony’s block?”
He just shrugged and said, “Well, I’m not sayin’, I’m jus’ sayin’. Know what I’m sayin’?” I caught the flash of a quick grin and I knew that what he was, “sayin’” was that there were no guarantees but to the best of his knowledge, I’d be safe in his trashy gang’s territory and maybe even welcomed in Sony’s, unless I contradicted Sony’s version of events.
I sped off in a new direction and called over my shoulder, “Thanks L; owe you!” I wondered for a moment if the Hunt would affect L or anyone else on my path tonight. I couldn’t shake the chill nor the realization that this thing with the supernatural Hunters, was real. FUBARino! Hopefully changing direction a few more times would help, it was clear that I couldn’t win a flat-out race…
**** * ****
I cut through Sony’s territory on the fastest route but kept my speed to a minimum; I didn’t want to attract unfriendly eyes of any kind by whizzing around like a trouble-maker, at least until I had my social bearings. I had a destination in mind to tell Sony and crew if I got stuck talking to them; “money-town”, the nice part of the city. My ‘hood contacts called it, “money town”, not because everyone there was wealthy, yet most had more than ‘hood rats and it could be lucrative to conduct bidness over that way and then catch a train and bus back to the ‘hood. Even some of the ‘hoes… pro’s… prostitutes… whatever, rode over there to transact, “fun for money” deals and slung a little dope on the side. I would have been a great direct dealer in that area but I didn’t like trading with those people, never knew when they’d turn on you or call in authorities to stop their kids from, “getting corrupted”… as though their little darlings weren’t looking for dope and skanks!
Anyway, I had it in mind to go that direction, loop through well-lit spaces and then maybe catch one of those trains. I couldn’t imagine The Hunt boarding a Metro train or a bus; might be worth seeing… Oh crap! The way I was going was now cast in deep shadows. It had been decently if not brightly lit just a moment before… Dang! Time to re-route already… There! To the right it was lighter. I took off that way. For now I’d just have to play along. Last time I’d hidden in shadows, I’d had to face a Bridge Troll, no idea what was waiting for me this ride…
I picked up the pace; it’s not that physically challenging with a geared bike if you know how to use it and I feared The Hunt much more than the ‘hood. Still, I had a feeling I’d be exhausted if I lived long enough; maybe I’d just end up dying tired. I made a few more turns on streets and alleyways that were clear and lit to varying degrees. I was well clear of Skittles’s small territory and deep into what I last knew to be Sony’s. I should be okay from mortals for a while… Great! My next turn took me toward Sony’s club and favorite hang-out, “B.A.E. Vue”, a shitty topless bar and nightclub he owned (Appropriate: in ‘hoodratish’, “B.A.E.” means, “Beyond Anyone Else” but in Danish it means, “poop” as in shitty… didn’t know Sony was Danish… Goofy ass mind of mine: never stops chattering to itself!). Hopefully Sony and his close quarter crew would be inside holding court...
Naturally, no such luck. There he was out front near his pearlescent-painted Escalade with classless goldish trim; likely so he’d have a place to hide if shots were fired. He probably wouldn’t have noticed me but Papa Boo Boo, his lead enforcer saw me, maybe made eye contact, it was hard to tell since it was after midnight and he was wearing gold trimmed dark shades: Sony insisted on gold trim for himself and his vulgar minions. I figured it was better to act like I had been headed toward them on purpose; maybe I could avoid the delay of being dragged inside to, “visit”.
Sony looked toward me as I did a rolling dismount and came to a stop well before I reached his, “danger radius”, the point from which anyone could attack effectively with or without a firearm. He pushed up the frame of his gaudy prescription shades, “Say Coyote! You ain’t been around for a while, you been fillin’ ah’ight?” He had a smooth, snaky voice, like a topless bar DJ. I didn’t let the friendly tone fool me and I needed him to give me a hint of how to answer, so I just nodded and then ducked my head in a humble fashion. “Come on up in the club. We’ll go to the VIP Room and visit.” Did I really need to think it? FUBAR!…
I grinned a fake grin and set my bike against the front wall. Nobody would dare steal it from in front of Sony’s H.Q. I followed the big gangster into the dark, smoky, and far too loud interior of the club. Papa Boo Boo went ahead to forge a pathway and a different bodyguard loomed behind me, “Biggie S” or “Biggish Ass”, not sure. We had to go through a door to get to the VIP Section, then another to get to Sony’s sanctum sanctorum (okay, gaudy, tacky, and smelly office: the stench was a combination of scented candles, cat piss sweat, and dirty arse, with the slightest effluvia of weed and sweet tobacco). It was surprisingly quiet considering that a short distance away, the tooth rattling bass of stripper music vibrated the walls of the club proper… Sony had truly admired the cable TV character, Tony Soprano and had decided to emulate him by placing his headquarters in a topless club. “Yeah, it’s like Sony be Tony!” he would often say to his mindless sycophants. They’d cheer him on and encourage him. Have I mentioned that these guys were not exactly rocket surgeons?
“Go on, C, you can have a seat, nobody hatin’ in heah.” Sony delivered a full-on reptilian smile, fangs (snaggled brown teeth) and all and gestured to a scantily clad woman who had already poured and handed him a drink. She proffered one to me. I would love to have declined but I knew how the game was played. Besides, a little Hennessey would calm my nerves. I smiled and nodded my thanks as she handed me the glass and returned her own smile that promised pleasures… Oops, Sony was talking again. “Heard you been recuperatin’ since that thang with Jaguar’s Crew. He pissed! Left him short on peeps. He put up 10 G for you dead and 25 G alive; good money.” He hissed out a short, quiet laugh and took a slurping sip as a means to prompt me to speak in turn.
“I was in bad shape. Couldn’t have got outta that without you.” He raised an eyebrow, he knew this was an outright fabrication but wanted to see where I’d go with it. Well Enrico Fermi… er, Sony, if you’d given me a proper hint, I wouldn’t be doing mental gymnastics to answer! I thought, as I reasoned through this conversation for which I had no time. “Well you know, things got tough there at the end but when I walked away, wasn’t nothing left but some smoked turkeys and a couple of rides and they was gone before morning. I knew it was you who took care of the leftover problems. Glad you got your own cash and don’t need any dirty-assed Jaguar money.” (Yes, I was a real douche for sucking up to him but I really didn’t have the time… and I could speak, “Urbanese” vernacular when necessary, though I was always self-conscious; didn’t want anyone to think I was a poseur… even though I took turd money in exchange for doing, “ill shit” and all the while looked down on my benefactors… guess I WAS a poseur.).
He nodded and steepled his fingers, “Yeah, well, you know I’m ole skoo, I look out for my peeps. You ain’t exactly one of mine but you do yo’ bidness right. That gets respeck”. He’d wanted me to commit to his crew but that would mean less for me and more for him. I preferred to remain an independent contractor... a criminal entrepreneur; though that pipe dream had been fading fast in the past month. I kept thinking, Please let this be over soon, get to the stinking point! Amazingly he picked up on my non-verbal cues. Not sure to what he attributed my nervousness, probably to being in the presence of someone so impressive as himself… maybe because I’d dropped a gauntlet about whether he was sorry enough to want to collect the reward on my arse. He looked at me over the rim of his glasses, “You look like you still gettin’ well. You want a special dance or any dranks, you jus’ hit up my gurrrll, Mercedes here. She’ll make sure you get what you want. You want to be full time crew, jus’ come see me.” That was a clue that he didn’t intend to turn me over to Jaguar… yet. I was obviously dismissed from the great shit-bird’s presence, arrogant dumbass!
I thanked him and let Mercedes help me bolt. I knew that wasn’t her name; most of the dancers used dance names based on items they (and usually their customers) couldn’t afford, especially expensive, fast cars. Instead of taking me back out front, she walked me over near to an opening at the back of the main stage and crooked her finger to indicate that I should follow her. I couldn’t help but pause and watch in admiration at the dancer currently on stage who performed amazing gyrations, all while upside down and topless and with one leg wrapped around a pole… Nope! No time for that, I said to the front of my trousers as they tightened and I picked up the pace to catch up with Mercedes. She turned a corner and passed through a door labeled, “Dressing Room”. I paused at the threshold but she turned and said, “Come on in, if you ain’t seen nekkid bitches already, you will soon enough.”
It was essentially a locker room, where several dancers in various states of dress prepared for their shows or counted their tips to see if they had enough to cash out with the DJ and still have some to take home. There was a hooker seated at a make-up table and drawing on her eyebrows with a Sharpie pen. A full bag in an array of colors indicated that it was her preferred brand of, “facial enhancement products”… Once Mercedes and I were in her closet/office, she turned abruptly to look at me. “Now, what the fuck are you up to Coyote? You know Sony didn’t do shit to help you. You got out on your own. Why’d you kiss his ass, you in a hurry to get someplace?”
I nodded, sometimes the need for haste required speaking the truth and this woman with the Mercedes-Benz logo on a golden pendent that gleamed between her obviously improved, all too impressive breasts… Stop it, hormones! projected an air of intelligence or at least competence. “Yeah, still got some trouble on my tail. Trying to get over to money-town.”
She pursed her lips. “You know, Sony might be willing to help you for real?”
I nodded yet again, “Yes but I need to handle this one, the real beef from last month; Jaguar’s crew was just some extra bullshit that got in the way. I have some real trouble behind me. Besides, I don’t really want to owe anybody. Sony is welcome to the rep but I don’t want to lose my game, you know?”
She nodded in turn and reached into the top drawer of the little desk. She took out a heavy side by side, two-shot, gold-plated derringer. One of those that shoots either .410 gauge or .45 long colt. “Take this. You can give it back later, don’t argue; if it’s worse than Jaguar, you’re kinda fucked. Now, you look out over in money-town, they got Po-Po all over.” I gratefully accepted her offering and this time, I checked it before I tucked it away in my back pocket. It was loaded with two .45 long colt rounds with shiny silvered tips. I rolled my eyes up toward Mercede’s with a questioning look. “It was Sony’s back in the day. You know he likes flashy shit. The bullets are stainless steel, not silver, so don’t try to hock them.” She delivered the last with a little smirk.
I gave her a weak smile, “Thanks, never know when a round or two will come in handy. I’ll be careful with the Po-Po. They’re too scared to work this side of the tracks without a call but they’ll all be in money-town, especially with it being Halloween night. Love your costume by the way.”
She gave me a tight smile, it was always cool when people with a brain found one another even in the worst environments. Didn’t hurt that she was hot. Of course she’d run over to Sony’s office and parrot everything I’d just said; that was her job. No problem but I was really pressed for time. I made my way to the front; time to ride…
**** * ****
Between the strong drink, the smoke haze, and the eardrum-punishing bass from the club music, I felt a little buzzed and dizzy but I was able to see and what I saw was an awful, dreadful darkness that encroached on the nightscape. Even here, in a relatively settled and well-lit area. I needed to move! I did and quickly but my options were narrowed, always something blocking my way; the stalled delivery truck, the menacing group of juvies, the pile of druggies sprawled at the front of an alleyway between a couple of stores, resting up so that they could be bad for business tomorrow morning… This morning! I chanced a moment to fish out my phone, 02:22 a.m. At least the easy path led toward my current goal, across the tracks and into the land of prosperity!
I made my way toward money-town but I’d lied to Mercedes and used my, “innocent eyes” to best effect. I had a different destination in mind but I didn’t need every turd in the ‘hood to follow me where I was going; they could chase me later if I survived. It was only a matter of time before word leaked that I had once again entered the ‘hood and anyone with a grudge would be looking for the reward on or the blood of Wily Coyote. Apparently my short sojourn in Sony’s den of iniquity had confused or side-tracked The Hunt; maybe they’d stopped by to check out the show! I thought, without any real hope, just my outlandish mind...
**** * ****
I was soon clear of the literal tracks that ran up to the last metro rail station before downtown turned to turd-town; anyone going further in that direction on public transportation would have to use a bus. I was headed for the maze of skyscrapers and lesser buildings in downtown, the turns and alleyways were extensive. In my research I’d discovered that The Hunt usually took place around forests. We had parks and some trees over by the zoo but I had a larger and more familiar hunting park in mind: the towering structures of downtown. The other part of my research had been studying maps and making practice runs. Have I mentioned that I ain’t stoopudd? (generic goofy voice…).
Feeling self-satisfied, I patted myself on the back for an inspiring, “prey plan”. A train pulled into the station and I had just enough time to take out my Metro System Pass card and get my bike and me onto a car before the doors gave their audio warning, “Doors closing”. I took a seat near said doors; I loved the synthesized female voice of Metro; she sounded hot for a computer... It was after hours, so the train wouldn’t stop until near the far side of downtown proper. I had plenty of time to rest and to leave The Hunt behind. I’d caught a chill and maybe some weird sounds as I’d boarded, all to be left behind shortly… and there it was, the “ding!” that indicated that the train was now in motion; I was speeding away from the supernatural slayers…
There were a few other passengers in the car. I scanned them out of habit: a young couple who looked strung out on something; a middle aged couple dressed as Grand-mamah and Lurch from the Addams Family; and a big dude at the far end of the car, slumped down with a dark hood pulled over his head and face and a voluminous black leather jacket over that. He was bulky and gave off a vibe of, “Stay Back!”. I would; he smelled putrid even from this distance and I had no intention of interacting with any of these people, though I wondered why the older couple was on the train. Likely they’d missed the last stop and gotten stuck riding to the edge of the badlands; now they’d have to backtrack.
I relaxed a little and smiled at the, “Addamses”. It was part of what I did, good customer service; I was always practicing. They both smiled back tiredly. They just wanted to get back to civilization and home, probably pooped from partying. The man was tall enough for Lurch but under the costume, the woman was too young and pleasant looking for the old witch. They gave off a, “nice couple” vibe. The other couple was completely unconscious... About then, the cold hit me. I didn’t just shiver; for the first time in my life I truly, “shuddered”. It felt like a wave of cold that rattled my entire skeleton and pulled at my muscles and joints; the sensation was painful and terrifying…
The train car went dark. It wasn’t pitch dark, light penetrated from outside the windows, the window casements and interior poles and railings made the light strobe crazily and distorted the view inside the car. The older couple looked fearful, the younger couple continued to sprawl limply as they, “chased the dragon”, and the hunched over big dude…. Ah… Shit! I mean FUBAR! My brain rattled…
It wasn’t a dude… well, maybe… kinda… It stood and kept standing until the stiff black bristles on its great bulging head brushed the ceiling of the car. The face was a thing of nightmares, a bull’s snout with tremendous horns sprouting from the sides of its head and curving upward into wicked points. Snot and drool dripped from the thing’s chops. It had slumped, hunching shoulders but it was clearly a mass of muscle and bone, from head to… hooves! The massive Being snorted out a slobbery laugh and gave me the most menacing smile I’d ever encountered… no mere gang turd, no matter how well-armed, could ever manage such a look of delighted malice.
The older couple stood and backed to the far end of the car away from the hulking menace. They huddled together near the silent pair of opioid zombies, twin looks of terror flashing in the off-kilter light. I faced the Bull-man head-on, nothing else I could do. I pulled out my knife, I didn’t even consider the derringer, I just wasn’t used to carrying firearms. For some reason, I pulled out the silver chain and metal pendant from where it was tucked in my shirt. Not like I had other resources, I didn’t think it was the right time to toss a handful of rusted nails, this one had already found my trail.
It was hard to tell with the lights but it looked like, “bully” narrowed his reddish bovine eyes and maybe turned down the edges of his mouth when I pulled out the pendant. I had no idea why he wouldn’t like it. Maybe the silver and maybe the puzzle design. He looked none too bright, just naturally mean-tempered and single-minded; either way it appeared to annoy him. Great fucking FUBARRRR!!! I screamed in my mind. A nearly seven feet tall, umpteen hundred pound walking impossibility was about to trample me, bite off my head, and eat my carcass… and all I could do was piss it off!
Insanely, I heard Mr. Gosling’s voice echo from somewhere in my mind, “When you are outnumbered, outgunned, and all looks lost… press the fight!” He’d loved military quotes and had told me that one as I parted for Aunt Tabitha and Uncle James’ house after the fire. So I pressed the fight… I stepped forward and attempted to gut, “The Beefinator” (Crazy, I know but with that leather jacket, he looked a little like Schwarzenegger in that old cyborg movie.). My pitiful six-inch blade struck the monster’s gut and snapped off at the handle; so much for my funk-jitsu lessons... Unlike The Terminator, it had a sense of humor. It leaned forward and emitted vomit-inducing, fetid breath, along with disgusting droplets of spittle as it… chuckle-grunted…
I went for Plan B and continued to press the fight. I brought up my right knee and slammed it as hard as I could into its groin. That was enough pressing, I stepped back, anticipating a counter-strike… Instead, I was rewarded with a look of momentary agony on the beast’s face. It had ‘nads and I’d just smashed them! Problem was, I had no follow-up. It stood there a moment, clutching itself and breathing heavily, drool and more sprays of snot and saliva flew in every direction from that terrible maw. I retreated as far as I could. “Lurch” placed his hand on my back to let me know there was no place else to go. He and, “Grand-mamah” were handling this better than could be expected of standard good citizens, I was impressed for a split-second but my attention was drawn swiftly back to Beefinator. It stood tall and roared, its horns flew up along with its head and… stuck in the ceiling and probably the metal roof of the car.
It stood there, absurdly jerking its head from side to side. With no other options, I pulled the little derringer, wasn’t like I could piss it off any more than I already had. It was starting to tear loose but I had a moment to aim. I stepped in close and shot it in the balls, since I knew I could hurt it in that spot. I flicked the little hammer over to the other chamber and put the second round under its jaw; it didn’t really have a, “chin”. About that time, the horns tore loose and it lowered its head toward mine. I thought, this is it, it’s going to rip me to pieces and turn this into a dining car… Instead, it kept tumbling forward and the momentum of the massive form pushed me back sprawling onto my butt with the bulk of the monstrosity resting on my legs.
I quickly started to lose circulation but shortly the weight, “faded” and the avalanche of beef dissolved into black tendrils that drifted… up…ish… they didn’t go any particular place, they just merged with the shadows on the ceiling of the car. The lights flickered and then came up completely. The only remains of the enormous refugee from the “Island of Dr. Moreau” was the jacket it had worn and a lingering putrid stench. I lay there panting, blinking my eyes and with absolutely no doubt knew I was gaping like a fool. That must have been real silver on the bullets. I had no idea that it would have any effect. Seriously though, why would a turd like Sony have silver bullets made? Didn’t make sense, Mercedes had been specific that they were not silver… Maybe I can fight Them, I considered briefly, still flopped out and supine… my little pack was digging into my upper back but it supported my neck…
I felt hands grip each of my shoulders. I started at that but Grand-mamah said in a soothing tone, “It’s alright kiddo, are you hurt?”
I did a quick physical inventory. “No ma’am, I think I’m okay, just bruised and covered in Beefinator snot.” At that, Lurch bellowed out a quick laugh. We were all shaking with nerves. About that time, the train slowed, it was making an unscheduled stop!
Grand-mamah saw my look of panic and patted my shoulder, “It’s alright, we used the emergency stop button and intercom to contact the engineer. This is just protocol. They’ll have some Metro Officers check the cars and then we can be on our way.”
I looked down at the little pistol. This would be a charge. Lurch helped me stuff it back into my backpack. “Don’t worry” he said with a nod towards the young couple, who were still out cold. “We told them that we pushed the button because we thought those two may be OD’d. Thought the real story might cause more trouble than necessary. Besides…” he trailed off and shrugged. I nodded and started to compose myself as we slid smoothly into the station. Sure enough, Metro PD was waiting. Lurch and Grand-mamah took the lead and before the officers finished their radio call to get EMS to the scene for the zombies, I was hauling my bike up the powered-off escalator on my way back to street level. I looked over my shoulder at them and Gand-mamah gave me a supportive wink. One never knew where he’d find true courage. They were cool folks and I’m sure they looked pretty good as a pair when not in costume…
**** * ****
[REVIEW] OPPO Find 7a
Now, for the specs:
CPU: Snapdragon 801 clocked at 2.3Ghz (Find 7: 2.5Ghz)
Display: 5.5 inch LTPS CGS3, FHD (Find 7: QHD)
Storage: 16GB, with SD card up to 128GB (Find 7: 32GB)
RAM: 2GB (Find 7: 3GB)
Connectivity: FDD-LTE Bands B1/3/7/20 TD-LTE Band B40 UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA/HSPA+/HSPA+42 (850, 900, 1900, 2100MHz) GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz) 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz and 5GHz) Wi-Fi Direct Bluetooth NFC
OS: Android 4.4.2 via flashable stable build
Battery: 2800mAh (Find 7: 3000mAh), with VOOC charging
Camera: 13MP Sony Exmor with some fancy specs on the back, 5MP cam slapped on the front
AnTuTu Score: 43.778 out of the box, expected to fall a bit over time.
I just want to start out with saying that there will be a lot of praise in this review. However, you have to pay more attention to the negative critiques here because this is a phone that costs 399 euros/499 dollars. I managed to get a discount of 40 euros by being a student, but that still doesn't make this a cheap phone. Your average high-tier chinaphone which costs maybe half of this one has most of the specs this one has, bar some of the fancier features. I mainly chose this phone above some DooGee or ThL model because of moddability. I really like playing around with technology and most Asian manufacturers do their customers no favors when it comes to custom ROMs or other tomfoolery. OPPO on the other hand encourages modding and even actively supports the custom development community. Now, on with the actual review.
As you might tell from the advertisement shots, the phone looks amazing. The main eyecatcher is the special notification light, called the Skylight. It's a bar underneath the main sheet of glass that covers the phone, and it lights up and down in a blurry fashion, which looks really nice. Too bad it only has one color (blue), but it's really no sacrifice at all. The phone is sturdy, has a hard plastic back cover which is really hard to take off by hand, but still, it comes off, which is a plus. The pattern on the back looks and feels really nice (I have the Astro Black model), and goes well with the lining around the phone, which seems to be shiny aluminium or something. The bezels are small enough, nothing revolutionary but they aren't in the way in the slightest. The capacitive buttons light up really subtly but are well visible when lit.
So much for the outside. Color OS isn't the most popular Android variant outside of China, and for understandable reasons. I don't find myself inconvenienced much by the ROM, but you can find what the main flaws are according to others on various forums. I only have a few gripes with it. For starters, it comes with Facebook, all Google services, and some games preinstalled. This in itself wouldn't be so much of a problem, but every subsequent update reinstalls these apps. The Settings have been completely reworked, and look little like the stock Android settings we all know and love. It takes some getting used to, but in the end it's far from incomprehensible. These are the main things that stood out to me. There's some pros to this ROM too, like the ability to make folders in the app drawer (EDIT: As of ColorOS 2.0, the app drawer has been removed, in favor of a MIUI/iOS style single-layer homescreen. This is too bad since I personally prefer having an app drawer, so I've taken to using a Themer theme as my main homescreen now.), and the relative ease to customise the launchechange lock screen types. If you, in the end, decide it still isn't the ROM for you, there's already a heap of well-made stock Android ROMs waiting for you to flash them, which is easy enough on the Find 7a.
As you can probably see by the Antutu score above, this phone packs quite some horsepower. I haven't seen anything slow it down yet, so there's little to worry about there. All connectivity seems to be in order here in Belgium, 4G, 3G all work fine, WiFi is nice and fast, bluetooth connects to everything I want it too, GPS locks on insanely fast (due to the GLONASS support not found in MTK chipsets) and stays locked. NFC works, and I even got WiFi Display running with my Android TV stick.
It's got some fun features like air gestures, black screen gestures (draw on locked screen), custom gestures that you can bind to several actions like calling a contact, visiting a webpage or opening an app.
Sensors all seem to be in order as well. Accelerometer works fine in games. Highlight might be that this is the first phone I own with an actual functional gyroscope. I got myself one of those premade Google Cardboard frames from DX.com and have had a lot of fun with it. It's no Oculus Rift but it sure comes close.
The camera... well, it's something special. I must tell you that I've owned the device for quite a while, but waited to do the review, because I had actually sent the device back to the vendor. I thought there was a fault in the camera. It takes some beautiful shots, I'll show you some in some links after this, but one thing the camera is utterly uncapable of is macro photography. My previous phone, the Zopo ZP998, had a decent camera, but took amazing close-up photos. This phone supposedly has one of the best lenses found in phones, and it's true, but when you move it closer than 10cm to an object, it completely loses focus. I sent the device back and actually received a new one, probably not because of the camera, but because of a yellow band on the bottom of my screen, which was a manufacturing error in earlier models. When I saw the new phone had the exact same camera issue, it was clear that it's just the camera that worked that way. Still, I can't say I'm not pleased with it, I'm just a bit dissatisfied with the close-up functionality.
Now, for one of the major properties of the phone, and maybe the USP of the device, the VOOC charging. I'm a forgetful person, and often forget to charge my phone before going somewhere. VOOC charging is a technology that super-charges the charging process. In 5 minutes, you can get enough to last you three or four hours of passive use, in one hour your phone goes from 10% to 100%. This is a major plus for me, and it's going to be hard going back to phones that need several hours to charge fully again.
Now, for some miscellaneous stuff. The audio quality is superb, there's some proprietary software on the device that controls the EQ and bass and stuff, and it shows that it was worth the investment, it probably rivals the iPhone in sound quality through headphones. Updates are frequent enough. The phone is easily rootable. There's a handy cloud service that allows you to upload stuff like contacts, text messages and calls to their cloud, so it can sync with other OPPO devices (turned out useful when receiving my new device). A similar system to Apple's "Find My Phone" is on the device. It has the standard anti-theft stuff like sounding an alarm when there's been 3 failed lockscreen attempts, GPS tracking, but also one that really suprised me: You can tell the phone to send you a text message with GPS location when someone replaces the SIM card in the device. This one really surprised me. One last major shortcoming of the device is the lack of unified partitions. In other terms, you can't use the full 16GB of storage to install apps, you only get a 3GB partition to do so. This was a real problem in the community and received a lot of attention. Luckily, one talented guy by the name of ColdBird in the OPPO forums forged a way to solve it, although the fix requires a ROM that's compatible with the new layout. There's currently 3 custom ROMs that officially support it, together with the latest beta builds of the official Color OS. There's talks with the official devs currently about wether or not it's gonna get implemented in official OTA updates, but it's looking good.
Final Verdict, AKA tl;dr: The phone is well worth its premium price. It's a real flagship device, even with the superior Find 7 at its side (who really needs QHD anyway). My only real gripe with it, the close-up on the camera, turned out to be normal, and it still was a small one anyway. The split partition problem looks like it's gonna be solved, and anyway, if there's something about the software you don't like, there's bound to be a custom ROM available that has what you need.
Here's some camera samples for you guys
And a sample of a close-up shot, to illustrate my point
As always, if there's any questions or requests of certain benchmarks/other stuff, don't hesitate to ask away!
EDIT: This has turned out a bit longer than I originally expected. I get carried away sometimes.