You can be the boss
“Turn around, slow”
“Who th-“ Murray was cut off by a shotgun barrel poked hard into the side of his head. “Ow!”
“We ask the questions, you do what you’re fucking told.” Roch said through her teeth. She was feeling it, her adrenaline pumping, blood boiling, she wanted to hurt someone.
“That’s right, girls rule, straight white men, die!” Juanita came around the side of the truck. Trying to not look out of breathe as she lugged the giant anti-tank rifle around. Trying to look comfortable resting it on her shoulder.
“Freeze cracker!” Kat screamed trying to sound like a cop pointing her mach ten at him with both hands clasped tightly around it.
Jaclyn had her laptop in her arm, pointing her gun forward but not really aiming at anything. Concentrating on making her face look as mean and serious as possible.
Roch pulled Murray down the steps of the Van and span him around hard against the side of the truck. “Ow” He said “What’s all this about?”
She hit in him in the back of the knee and got close to his face and whispered “We’re asking the questions asshole”.
He straightened up grimacing and said “So ask away”.
“Jacy do we need this piece of shit?” She shouted. Clammily fingering the short shotgun pressed tightly to the back of Murray’s sweaty neck.
“I just need to access his network so we can broadcast our signal piggybacking off theirs so..”
Roch smiled, her blood rushing in her ears. Murray closed his eyes and swallowed hard and said “Fuck me”.
“But we might need him for verification.” She perked up. “We have no idea how many security protocols they have, they could even have iris or voice recognition.”
Roch poked her head out of her bloodlust stupor, Murray squinted.
“I’m just saying. It’d be better if had him and didn’t need him than blew his brains out. Only to discover he’s the only one that can access the network.”
“Err yeah, that’s exactly right” Murray said.
“Shut up” Roch said giving him another little love tap with the shotgun.
“Just bring him inside and sit him down.” Jac said.
“Who died and made you the boss”.
“Just do it Roch” Jac sighed as she climbed the small set of stairs into the mobile hq. She took a deep inhale of breath as she entered. It was everything she hoped it would be although it smelled more like ass and doritos than she imagined. She sat down at Murray’s console moving his mountain dew bottles to make way for her laptop. She opened it up connecting it to the terminal and started to type in command prompts.
Roch lead Murray. A nasty look on her face as she pushed him up the steps. She sat him at another one of the screens in the van on a chair connected to the floor. The van evidently was intended for an entire team of people watching the cameras, budget cuts.
Juanita felt like a million dollars. She was starting to see herself as some kind comic book hero. Fighting some righteous daydream as she dragged her oversized gun into the truck. Parking herself in a seat next to Murray with the gun by her side. Panting and sweating profusely she said “Who’s this guy?”
“He’s their tech guy, monitors all the cameras” Jac said with her back turned typing at her laptop.
“How didn’t he see us coming?” She wheezed.
“He’s just one guy.” She shrugged looking over at the sad sack that was Murray. “There’s no way he could have known we had the kind of tech to ping his signal or the man power to take down his guard team.” She scrunched her face like she almost felt sorry for him. “Plus I’ve been patching into their drone traffic. There’s activity happening all over town, there’s not enough eyes on the ground to keep track of it all.”
“So what now?” Juanita huffed.
“Roch would you mind tying him up and then just guarding the door with Kat? We need someone to keep an eye out.” Jac said with an air of aloof superiority.
“Sure thing” Roch sneered and flounced out slamming the door behind her.
“What the hell your cracker as-“ Kat was cut off by a neat balled up fist tapping her on the nose and knocking her onto her ass. The french man picking and palming the mach ten out of her hand as she fell.
“I’m very sorry.” He said as he looked at her on the floor dazed.
As soon as Roch came out of the truck she was too pissed off to notice the smell of the crazy homeless guy. Which waiting for her at the side of the steps with his back flat against the truck wall.
“Hi” He said cherrily as he snaked a hand onto the barrel of the shotgun. Wrestling control of it away from her and tapping her on the nose with the top of the barrel. She folded like a cheap pic nick table at a heap at the bottom of the stairs.
The Frenchman gripped the mac ten in his hand looking over at Carpenter. Gauging distance and spread.
Carpenter clocked him looking and gave him a cheeky little wink as he cocked the shotgun. Liking his chances.
The Frenchman seethed and slackened his grip on the gun.
“After you, my friend” The Frenchman said.
“I don’t mind if I do.” He smirked.
Time passed slow. The world outside was gone for however long it took for Sunday to throw something together. She was in the kitchen of a chinese restaurant in the empty foodcourt. Knives and forks fought an arurian dance. Across a plate slaked with soy sauce and sweet and sour noodles and wok fried meat and beans.
“I didn’t know you could cook like that.” TJ said as he stabbed at the last piece of chicken on his plate with a cracked chopstick.
“I didn’t know either” She said with a smile reaching for her glass of water.
They laughed and then the food was gone and there was nothing to do but awkwardly look around the room. Think of something, anything to talk about that meant buying more time of just this.
The Chinese restaurant was a little cosy box in the corner of the food court. Decorated with rich green and red pagoda style tiles on the walls, giving it a warm rustic feel. The chairs were padded wood in the same colour palette, it was a fancy little place for a mall.
“So” TJ said pausing to take in some air “Any desert?”
She took a sip from her water and licked her lips like it was wine. “Actually I think I saw some icecream back there, gimme a sec.” She got up and skipped off into the kitchen accompanied by banging and crashing noises. She came out a few minutes later with two bowls.
“All they had was chocolate and vanilla, and I didn’t know what you liked so I just made like a mix of them both.”
TJ smiled, his face got tight, fighting back tears, he croaked, “No that’s great.”
“I’m good” He smiled batting whatever that was away.
They sat back down shifting their dinner plates to one side on the booth table they cosied up in and started to eat. The silence punctuated with spoons poking at porcelain for icecream drippings.
“We’ve never” TJ paused.
“We’ve never talked before”
She looked up from her icecream, making a face “What’s there to talk about?”
“I.. well” He swallowed.
“No TJ, what’s there to talk about? I’ve known you collectively like four days if that and all we’ve done that whole time is kill monsters and zombies. What do we have to talk about?”
“You just what? You think because I cooked for you and we’re eating icecream and we’re fighting that we’re friends?”
“What do you thinks gonna happen? We’re gonna kill whatever freaky fucking thing is in there and just ride off into the sunset together?”
“Ok say we do kill it, what then? What we fuck on top of it? Have a bunch of kids and get married? Live happily ever after so I can fulfil some fucking weeb fantasy you have? You really think they’ll let us walk away from this. Think this fuck on the phone can help us, you’re more deluded than last time. Didn’t that teach you anything, didn’t you learn anything?”
“This is it, this is all you get. There’s no hope, no happy endings, no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Just blood and pain and death, we’re nothing, we’re already dead, don’t you get it? We’re already dead even if we live!”
TJ sat, his face shifting, silent, trying to fold into himself. Feeling like a child in the principles office. Like he wanted the world to swallow him up and spit out the bones, anything but this. Anything but certain death and loneliness, to feel adrift, a cold wind coming in as she got up to leave. Picking her bat off the counter where she rested it.
Her voice got cold and distant and she said; “We’re not friends, we’re not anything.”
“Good morning ladies.” Carpenter said as he entered the dark mobile command centre letting in lots of light. The shotgun hanging by his side.
“Who the fuck are you?” Juanita screeched and reached for her huge gun but it was much too cumbersome to manoeuvre in such a tight spot.
“Achchacha!” Carpenter said wafting the shotgun in her general direction. “You don’t need that, we just wanna talk don’t we Justin Trudea.”
“Qui” The Frenchman said as he came in after him. The mac ten at waist height pointed at Carpenters back. He was sweating, waiting for the perfect moment, not wanting to rush it.
Juanita, almost relieved stopped working her flabby arms trying to pick up the gun. She slumped back in her seat.
Murray pipped up, blocking out the sun with his tied hands and said “Hey I know you, you’re that crazy guy.”
Jac was nervously spider crawling her hand across the desk to reach her pistol. The Frenchman noticed and took his eyes off Carpenter and walked over sliding the gun just out of her reach. “You won’t need that”.
“We don’t talk to guys like you” Juanita pouted.
Carpenter smiled wide. He was thinking about something monstrous for a second. Then he jumped to keep his balance as the weight of the truck shifted.
“Sacre bleu!” The Frenchman shouted.
It shifted again like it was being humped by a t-rex.
“Garylynn, as head of our pr department will be happy to forward any questions you might have.” Juanita smirked before another jolt and she fell off her seat. She toppled over the anti-tank rifle. Accidentally snagging the trigger and blowing a station wagon size hole out of the top of the truck.
The explosion rocked the van and seemed to suck out all the air like a breach in an airplane at five thousand feet. The truck lurched onto it’s side propped up by the satellite dish on top. Straining from the weight of the heavy truck.
Cold wind, silence, darkness, only footsteps exist. Slow moving footsteps onto the stage of life and then there was light.
A bright blinding flood light blasted on Sunday and TJ like a smokeless musket flash. Freezing them as they were, Sunday cool and steely, TJ wobbly and making a stupid face. And then slow mocking clapping in the darkness.
“You kept me waiting Sunday girl” A slick wooden voice said. A face emerged, the darkness peeling off of it like a veil. A dark man appeared wearing a light coloured suit on the second floor on a raised walkway.
“Evergreen” Sunday said Casting her face up at him shielding her eyes from the light.
He smirked and let out a breathy laugh to himself. “You remembered my name.”
“How could I forget?”
“It’s nice when stars remember the little people.” He smiled, pincering his hands together in an alien gesture.
She sneered and said icily “You killed my brother”
“What strange rationalisations women make.” He snickered “Little girl, you have no idea what you’re dealing with”.
“So stop flapping your fucking gums and show me!” Sunday cried in a hushed shouting. A cannned indoor scream reverberating around the large room.
“I intend to.” He beamed from ear to ear in his eery flat featureless face, shark like eyes and teeth glinting in the dark room.
He clicked his fingers. In an instant the room went from darkness and a shallow pool of intense blinding light. To a gawdy winterwonderland.
It was so much to take in TJ flubbed his attempt at strong silent type. He made a gawping wet fish sound with his mouth like he forgot to close it or swallow the spittle building up.
It was a huge auditorium, the size of regular nascar race track penned in by gawdy shops in all Christmas flare. Evergreen stood over them on a second floor catwalk he’d had penned off by his men. They were standing guard behind turned over hotdog carts. Blocking all the stairs and escalators.
Behind him there was a giant ice rink the size of two Olympic swimming pools. Which was sealed off by a nine foot toughened plexi-glass wall that went all the way around. It was perfect and untouched and ready, the sun beating down on it from the huge whitehouse shaped glass top. Beyond the ice rink there was a divider of fast food kiosks, a little open air sushi bar and speciality coffee hut. On the otherside of the divider further into the back of the mall proper. The full size pirate ship covered in tinsel and bawbles. All the animatronic skeleton pirates converted to Christmas pirates with glitter and tinsel. It was erected on some great concrete plinth made to look like crashing waves underneath. The rest of the décor in that part had a vaguely Davey Jones feel. like it was pretending that it was a wreck underwater manned by the undead.
The room was like an indoor themepark. Noises and lights and things whooshing by your head. The worst Christmas music playing nonstop over a PA system so loud the whole town could hear it.
“So what now? You’re gonna Christmas spirit us to death?” Sunday yelled up at him.
He folded his arms behind his back and laughed. “Rigby.”
Out nowhere, like a statue had come to life. The rugby player peeled off the wall he was propping up and coughed politely. He dangled a small elegant pistol in the vicinity of TJ’s head, the gun looking like a toy in his huge mit. “Alright?” He said without a hint of irony, like he was greeting someone in a mens room. Not so much a greeting as a begrudging acknowledgement of their presence.
TJ started bolt upright. As far as he could tell this was the first time anyone had sort of pointed a real gun at him in real life. He shot his hands up in the air almost too fast.
“Calm down fatty, I’m not gonna shoot.” Rigby sighed and waved the tiny gun in the direction of the ice rink. “Onto the ice.” He said in a broad Yorkshire accent.
Sunday smirked never taking her eyes off Evergreen as she walked towards the ice. Her skin getting cooler but her blood sparking to a boil. Rigby opened the gate of the rink and stepped to the side holding it open like a doorman at a hotel. He idly pointed the gun from his hip not really aiming at anything. Sunday wafted past him filling his lungs with her sweet heady smell and she said “Thanks”.
“My pleasure” Rigby responded without changing his sullen expression.
She stepped out onto the ice sure footed.
TJ came in after her with a strange expression on his face. A look of anger and weird jealously pointed at Rigby who didn’t pay any attention to it, looking straight ahead. The cosmic comic relief TJ of course slipped and fell the first foot he set down. He got up without Sunday even looking in his direction. He was cold and tired and beaten.
Sunday turned casually with the bat on her shoulder to look up at Evergreen. He took his place on the other side of the catwalk. Overlooking the ice like a roman emperor about to make a thumb gesture. Sunday smiled and let out a cocky laugh and tipped her bat pointing it at him like Babe ruth became a gladiator for a day.
TJ struggled to keep up straight, pulling his sword around his gut. Swallowing and breathing heavy through his mouth. He watched her make this gesture and then did his own small bow out of some misplaced respect.
“For those about to die.” Evergreen laughed. “I salute you…” His voice trailed off as the loud whupping of a helicopter blade could be heard over head. So loud it could be heard over all the Christmas cheer. Like a kamikaze dive bomber coming back from the dead for another round. A clanking crashing sound like lighting hitting a stainglass window, twisted metal. snapping steel and concrete rebar bulking under the weight of a huge container. Blocking out the sun. It tore through the wall and ravaged the whitehouse dome shaped glass top. Showering the mall below in glass and bent steel leaving only a box the size of a small bus inbedded in the ice.
When TJ and Sunday had picked themselves up off the ice after the crash. They checked for missing limbs and pieces of rebar sticking out of places it shouldn’t be. But as luck and plotholes would have it. They were untouched by the debris owing to the precision of the drop and the sheer size of the ice rink. The wall surrounding it jostled, vibrating like it might decide to shatter. But maybe not today. The box located on the otherside was a good couple hundred feet away. It dug itself into a big crack in the ice it had carved.
Sunday was standing, her face hardened like there was a full scale icey wind blowing into it.
TJ was getting to his feet, on a knee and he looked at her knowing she couldn’t see him right now. Wouldn’t want to, and he wondered how someone like that could exist in this world.
She looked at the box and said “Well let’s get this over with”.
Outside the mall was alive with music and lights and sounds, everything was on. The echoing of the cheesy Christmas music reached right out and touched the heart of the town. The lights beaming out like the rays of alien craft intended to draw in dull cow eyed serial shoppers. Now drawing shambling hordes of undead furries.