Guts, Guns, and Hodge Podge
The wheels screeched as they slid on the slick, slippery road in front of Nikki’s house. The rain was pouring down. Mom shoved the door open and I fumbled out of my seat belt and got out on the other side, clumsily handing her the gun as Boston clung tightly to my back with his claws digging into my shoulders. I followed Mum as she resolutely marched to the door. Inside there were muffled thumps and yells. Mom checked the door, and finding it open, pushed it in and rushed inside.
I followed after a half second. Better to let the person that has the gun and good aim to go first.
The house was a war zone. I kept close to my Mother as she stepped over broken pieces of furniture and ducked under fallen pieces of ceiling.
A keening scream and what sounded like busting furniture made the house rock. My Mother made sure the shotgun was loaded and made for the source of the noise.
It came from the cellar door under the stairs, which was being blocked by a large man eating tree, a dog that was purple, Nikki who had a cut across the cheek and was looking angry, and the remains of her coffee table.
“Nikki!” I yelped from behind my mother. She looked up and her face brightened.
“Out of the way, I’ll blast the two faced little bastard to Kingdom Come!” Nikki’s Grandmother hurried down the steps holding some sort of old firearm. She stopped when she saw my Mom. “Who are you?!”
“This is my Mom, Mrs. Twinkle.” I called. Nikki’s Grandma sucked her tooth for a second.
“You know how to shoot that thing?”
“For years.” Mom said, cocking the shotgun.
“Nice. Is that a twelve gauge?”
“GRANDMA!” Nikki bawled as the door was thumping. “Stop talking about guns and just shoot the damn thing!”
“Don’t use that sort of language! Now MOVE!”
Nikki threw herself off the door and got tangled with Manny as he jumped back. The purple dog ran behind me.
The door exploded open and Ugly’s cousin (provided it was not his brother) came barreling out. I got a split second vision of a seven foot tall, one eyed, very thin monster with reedy hands that sprouted into gleaming sharp claws, before gunfire went off drowning out the monster.
Three shots from Mom’s gun hit it straight in the chest, two from Nikki’s Grandma in the head.
The worst part of the entire scene was that it didn’t fall over right away. It made a move towards a hissing Manny as he stood between it and Nikki. It never got there though, and fell in a heap on the carpet, claws still stretched towards them.
No one moved for almost five minutes. The first one to make a noise was the dog that started whining. I looked behind me to see it cowering behind a ruined entertainment center.
“Crazy monsters bustin’ into my house, you got what you deserved, you little rat.” Nikki’s Grandma swore at the monster and I dimly registered that I didn’t know she had a gun.
Well, if my mom has a gun, why not sweet little old crazy grandmas?
“Everyone okay?” Mom lowered her gun, which she had still been pointing at the corpse of the monster.
“No.” Nikki groaned. “I just got chased around my house by the Nightmare on my Street. My Grandma just blew its head off. There’s a purple dog in my house, a little kid freaked out upstairs, and I feel like ice cream.”
“Always talking about you. Go see if that kid’s okay.” Nikki’s Grandmother ordered.
“I’m okay!” A voice said from the stairs. I looked up to see a kid in a backwards baseball cap and patched clothes looking down at me. He was wearing jeans that looked like he fell in the mud more than once, an old denim jacket, and a shirt with a tear under the collar. He only looked about ten. His face was rounded and his eyes were big and expressively frightened, even though he kept his voice level. His hair was brown like his eyes, but it was messy and ill-kept. He looked down tentatively. “Is it dead?”
“Can’t get much deader than five bullets.”
Nikki hauled herself up with Manny’s house and stepped gingerly over the dead body. “Tell it like it is, Grams.” Then she hurriedly ran into the kitchen. Manny lumbered after her.
“You, boy, go into the kitchen with my granddaughter. You too Helena. Your momma and I are gonna have a talk about what to do about this mess.”
I skittered away off to the kitchen and out of earshot. There, Nikki was calmly opening up a carton of Moose Tracks Ice cream, a name I had not heard of.
“You know, this ice cream’s really good. It’s got stress relieving properties. I eat it when I have a fight with someone at school, usually about a half cup, then I feel all better.” She looked up at me, looking harassed. “I don’t think half a cup is gonna do it this time.”
“Well, I don’t feel like eating, so you take that whole carton yourself.” I said, swallowing a little. I stopped that immediately. Swallowing hurt.
“Don’t do anything stupid Hodge Podge.” The boy’s voice whispered as he walked in. The purple dog had his tongue lolling. It was medium sized, and a bizarre shade of purple that hurt the eyes.
The boy’s eyes darted to Nikki, who was calmly and systematically mutilating the ice cream before she ate it, to Manny who was watching her and curling his leaves this was and that, looking threatening even though he didn’t realize it, to Boston who was now hovering in the air above my head, ears pricked and eyes glittering, to me and the soggy state of my clothes, the bandaged wrist, and the nasty purple bruising around my neck.
“Maybe we should go.” The boy whispered to his dog.
“Maybe you shouldn’t.” Boston said reprovingly. “It’s rude to leave without thanking the ones that protected you.”
“You didn’t do a whole heck of a lot.” The boy said back rudely.
“ACHOO!” The dog, whom I take to be called Hodge Podge, sneezed his head off.
“Holy-” Nikki jumped onto the table as the purple head rolled by with the tongue lolling out.
“Cool.” The boy crawled on his hands and knees until he got to the head and drug it back to the still standing body. “Auntie said some people’s heads roll off when they aren’t attached. Guess you proved her right, Hodge.”
He stuck the head back on the neck and screwed it in like I would screw in a light bulb. I just watched in a sort of bewildered haze as the head was twisted fully (and securely) back on.
“Dogs with heads falling off, that’s gonna take another pint.” Nikki muttered.
“It’s not his fault; he just…falls apart sometimes.”
The dog went from bright purple to a speckled black and green. And poodle sized with bear like fur.
“He also changes colors?” I said, more calmly than I should have. Shock was probably wearing off. Nikki was cross legged on the table with a spoon in her mouth, determinedly looking at the wall. I would have expected her to be a lot more at ease with this, but I guess everyone’s different.
“And shape. And species. And everything. Sometimes he just has to fall to pieces and I put him together like a puzzle.”
I considered this. It was creepy. But to a kid…it actually sounded kind of cool. I told him so.
“Yeah, it’s better than some cat.” He said, shooting a glare at Boston.
“Did you hear that?!”
“Break it up. My throat hurts and I don’t want to yell at you two. He has his high points. Granted, he isn’t a living jigsaw puzzle, but he’s special too.” I said hoarsely as a twinge of pain came from a swallow I forgot that I wasn’t doing.
The little boy didn’t look like he believed me.
“So what’s your name, kid?” Boston asked sulkily.
“Justin. Justin Kase.”
“Justin Kase?” Nikki tittered. “I get it!” Then she laughed. I wondered if ice cream wasn’t being a detriment.
“Yeah, you and every other yahoo.” Justin said, crossing his arms over his chest.
Nikki stuck her tongue out at him. Just then Mom and Nikki’s Grandma came walking in, Mom looking a little pale and soaked, with sweat and rain water.
“Alright, there’s going to be a little powwow. Girl, you get your feet off that table this instant.” Grandma Twinkle shook her finger in her granddaughter’s direction. Nikki hastily jumped off, slapped the top on the ice cream carton, and threw it back into the freezer.
“First and foremost, Justin Kase, you had better have a good reason as why you showed up at this house twenty minutes before that thing came outta my cellar.”
“I just wanted to make a phone call. I missed the bus, nobody else was home.”
“The bus stop is a half mile away. It’s surrounded by stores. Don’t lie to me boy.”
“Hodge led me here. He kept grabbing my jacket and freaking out when I stopped.”
Hodge Podge rolled his tongue out and managed to look like an idiot.
Grandma Twinkle just glared at him. He rolled his tongue back in and skittered his green furred body under the kitchen table.
“Now, we’re gonna have a little talk about that thing I just shot. It just dissolved into sand. Now, before I share my house anymore with you creatures, you better tell me what the hell that is all about.” She fixed all of us, even me and Nikki, with an evil eye. “Right now.”