Game Over
Author:James Patterson

Chapter 6

IT MUST HAVE been Bad Human Disguise Day here in Tokyo, because those dirtbags wouldn’t even have passed for human in a Halloween parade for blind space rangers.

Never mind forked tongues. These guys apparently didn’t know that human knees bend forward, not backward—and that most folks don’t have long, hairy tails. Most of them had tucked their tails up their shirts, but the biggest one left his hanging out the top of his leather pants. They clambered aboard like so many overgrown insect-Labrador hybrids and gathered around a tired-looking family of four seated at the front of the bus.

I turned up my hearing (it’s a shame you earthlings can’t do that), so I could listen in on what they were saying. They were joking among themselves in a horrible attempt at Japanese.

“Nice haul tonight,” said one of the shorter ones.

“Not bad,” said the tallest and strongest looking of the thugs, the one with the tail hanging out. He also seemed to be the one with the most tattoos—dragons and shogun swords were all up and down his arms and neck. I suddenly realized what they were going for with their gangster exercise clothes and slicked-back hair: they were pretending to be Yakuza, the ruthless Japanese version of America’s mafia.

“But remember, we’re not just supposed to be collecting revenue; we’re supposed to be acquiring targets for the next hunt.”

“You mean like these guys?” said the one wearing the gold-brimmed New York Yankees cap, elbowing the father of the unfortunate family next to him.

The big one leaned over and snuffled at the side of the father’s head as the rest of the family sank into their seats in terror.

“Ah, what luck!” he shouted, suddenly wide-eyed and excited. “These are the ones that got away!”

The five of us watched in shock as one of the aliens proceeded to knock out the bus driver with a blow to the back of the head, while another removed what looked like a high-tech staple gun and fired it into the father’s shoulder. The poor man screamed in pain and fell to the floor.

I didn’t need to say a word to Dana, Emma, Willy, and Joe—we all stormed to the front of the rapidly decelerating bus.

The man wasn’t dead—he wasn’t even bleeding—but whatever they had just done to him sure didn’t tickle.

“All right, tough guys,” said Willy, standing up to his full five foot two inches and throwing out his not-exactly-intimidating chest. “Get off this bus, or I’m going to pour a fifty-five-gallon drum of hurt all over your heads.”

The big goon turned and for a moment looked at Willy like he’d lost his mind. Then he joined his friends in raucous laughter.

“Maybe we can paralyze them with humor?” suggested Joe as the thugs jumped up on the seats around us and simultaneously drew out the biggest Ginsu knives I’d ever seen.

I leaped ahead of my friends.

“Drop. The. Knives,” I said in a voice that, for a second or two, actually made them stop grinning like jackals.

“Kill them,” the leader commanded.

“But the boss said no taking humans yet.”

“These aren’t humans,” he replied. “They’re gnats.”

“They’re what?” asked his thickheaded henchman, apparently not knowing what a gnat was and taking him at his word.

“Just get them!” ordered the boss.

They sprang toward us, knives flashing. But they didn’t realize who they were dealing with. While they were arguing about bugs, I had already decided exactly how I wanted to handle these guys. Having recently played one of the GC’s rated-M-for-mature games, Extreme Cage Fighter VI, I morphed myself into one of the most legendary thugs in all video-game lore—Vito the Home Wrecker. Have I mentioned my ability to transform myself into any person or creature that my mind can adequately visualize?

My arms and legs grew long, muscles I didn’t normally have rippled all over my body, my neck became massive, my jaw as square as a cinder block, and the next thing I knew I was nearly seven feet tall and over two hundred pounds. The alien thugs instantly recognized me—and my weapon of choice, an oversized baseball bat wrapped in razor wire.

“Vito?!” asked one of them, standing stock-still with the rest of his friends.

“Get off this bus,” I growled, smashing my club against the floor and causing the bus to rock like we’d just driven over a land mine. “And go tell your superiors that the Alien Hunter is here.”

“Only if I got your severed head in my hands to prove it!” one of the more dimwitted henchmen yelled. He sprang for me, but I was too quick. The bat smashed into him in midair, and he dropped like a stone.

“Who’s next?” I roared. “I’ve been dying for some batting practice.”

The jaws of their pathetic human-costume faces all fell open as I flexed my biceps, covered—as was most of my body—in tattoo portraits of Roman Catholic saints.

“GET OFF!!!” I yelled, and, even before I could cock my club for a second swing, they were clambering over each other to exit the narrow bus door, tails tucked firmly between their legs.