The brief silence was ripped apart like a piece sugar of paper. A red Beetle door, with garish orange flames spray painted on it, flew across the garage, spinning like a coin flipped by a King Kong size index finger and thumb. It hit the wall of the shop, pancaking the fat biker and embedding itself in the concrete and sheet metal, load-bearing wall.
The fat biker was eviscerated by the force of the door and his body hitting the wall. He looked like he’d fallen from space. His body was only recognizable by garish, near-human-shaped body parts: hands, feet, an eyeball, a tongue, a limb with bone shrapnel perforating the skin. His wet carcass popped like a water balloon full of dark red jello, sticking in some places and plastered to the wall. Heavier matter slopped onto the floor, making a cringe-inducing, wet, slapping noise.
He looked inside out. Grown men, who watched people beat each other to death and fed people to half-dead freaks, threw up raw hotdogs onto the concrete floor.
Mojang shook as he clutched the grenade launcher in his large hands.
The bikers watched as a puckish boy hopped off the rim of the pod. He could have been anywhere between sixteen and twenty. He had a slim, strong frame, and was around five foot four.
He scanned the room. His face wasn’t visible for a carbon fibre helmet covering most of his head, making him look like a cross between a paladin from WOW and a Power Ranger. His body was covered in a skin-tight compression suit made from individual plates of space age metal. The plates moved and breathed with his body, like the scales of a dragon.
A slit in his visor revealed a penetrating stare and a strange set of blue-green eyes. One eye was blue; the other was green.
The boy looked around the room, like the Terminator, but his eyes had a faint smile to them, as if he was in on the joke. His gaze nevertheless was cold and unfeeling. When he’d finished, he flashed a cocky grin with his eyes and turned around. He hopped back onto the pod, like Peter Pan, dislodging a strange chrome rod. The rod flared out in both directions, forming two conical points. It was almost the length of the boy’s entire body.
Clutching it in the middle, by what was now evidently a handle, the boy crossed his chest with the strange, chrome, double-ended lance and let out a cocky, breathy laugh.
“What the fuck are you waiting for? This clown need to make you balloon animals? GREASE THIS MOTHERFUCKER!” Mojang stuttered, wrestling with the volume of his voice as his whole frame shook.
A symphony of gunfire erupted. Small arms fire popped and snapped in the small, metal-box building: small machine gun fire, revolvers, pistols. A staccato WWII bolt action rifle cracked intermittently, like thunder. Between the satisfying metallic clicking noises of bolts moving into place, the assault rifles sliced in whip-like bursts of ecstatic crescendos. Bassy shotgun blasts punctuating the end of a phrase.
The lancer punctured the cloud of dust and debris. And with one dismissive gesture it was dispersed, revealing him in his silvery scale armour. He looked untouched.
“What the fuck?”
“I’ll stick this motherfucker!” An older man with long, silvery hair and a black leather jacket, covered in patches, chimed in. He held a Mosin Nagant WWII bolt action rifle. He’d proudly procured it from a dead WWII vet’s house. He could almost see Nazi helmets popping off with each satisfying pull of the antique trigger. The fool charged the lancer, bayonet flashing in the air with martial fury.
The man came in at an angle the Lancer, who didn’t even turn his head, despite his loud cries and determination to skewer the young knight.
The man lunged forward, with the bayonet like a pike, and stabbed at the lancer who didn’t move an inch. The instant the blade made contact with one of the many small plates coating his body, a small, sharp explosion, like a party popper, broke the supple body of the wooden gun stock. The gun shattered as if it had been struck by lightning, and sent the bayonet bounding back. It fired, like a piece of shrapnel, up under his jaw and came out the top of his head. Blood erupted out of his head and mouth, as if he were a science fair volcano, before he rag dolled to the ground.
The Lancer struck a pose and cast a cheeky grin with his strange eyes.
“I guess that means it’s my turn,” a tinny voice said over the rising dust and smoke.
“TJ, WAKE UP!” Sunday screamed at the top of her lungs, secretly wishing for death, as she’d been reduced to a damsel in distress trope by a hentai tentacle monster no less. “FUCK!”
TJ didn’t move. His breathing had become shallow and his eyes showed no signs of consciousness. He just stared blankly at the ceiling, waiting for the world to stop spinning.
Sunday hung helplessly by her leg. The chimera dangled her like bait for its many slick tentacles, which danced to a tune only they could hear. The other thick, swarthy tentacles wrapped around her arms as she flailed. The barbs bit into her soft, pale skin, making her feel numb and sluggish. They tightened around her thighs, slithering all over her body and coating her in some sort of strange, clear ichor that smelled like baby sick and old lettuce.
The tentacles licked and lapped at her skin, sliding in and out between her legs and her bare arms, ripping her clothes and pulling her hair. The veiny tentacles crowded about her face as it started to go dark. She didn’t notice she was being angled over the creature’s head, like an offering to an old god.
She screamed, but she couldn’t hear her own voice. One of the thick, slimy tentacles stuffed itself into her mouth and she couldn’t breathe. She tried to bite down but it was too thick for her to close her jaws around.
She was sufficiently lubricated, it seemed. The mouth of the chimera opened like a flower, untwisting to reveal a maw of smaller tentacles and soft, barbarous teeth.
Sunday felt drowsy. Her eyelids dipped as she was lowered into the creature’s waiting mouth. “TJ,” she sighed. She could barely see anything now. The slimy ichor covered her face and hair as she started to lose consciousness. She saw something out of the corner of her eye. Something silvery caught the light in the oesophagus of the chimera. She could see the sleeve of a football jersey.
Before she could make sense of what she was seeing she was swallowed whole and everything went dark.
“TJ… TJ… TJ… T…J!” An echo from far away grew closer and closer and then it was whispering right in his ear, as if in a dream. He heard a voice in the blank emptiness he occupied where previously he had felt nothing, heard nothing, seen nothing: no sound, no smell, no sight, no touch, hot nor cold, just blank nothingness. It had been a sea of empty white, a canvas without a painter, no thoughts, no time, no fear or love, just emptiness. But he heard a voice calling him, and as he let himself hear it, he felt something warm and wet.
He touched his face and felt a warm, sticky liquid cool between his fingers. As his senses returned he marvelled at the horror of the world and all its sensory information. He was born again.
TJ, finding himself back in his living room or what was left of it, noticed thick black cables covering the floor, which looked like the stage of dubstep festival. Or were they thick black roots? How long had he been out: hundreds of years? Had aliens taken over or was it just nature reclaiming his suburban home?
His ears still weren’t working right, as all he heard was a dull ringing noise and not a lot else. His eyes felt strange and he saw bright blue flashes of light in the corner of his vision. He turned around and saw the chimera. He froze again, not quite sure what he was looking at. It looked a little like a giant fox mixed with an octopus, but the bright blue light was coming from it, whatever it was. It was huge and swelling with this obnoxious bright blue effulgence.
It seemed to be frozen, like a statue, and it hadn’t noticed him. It just pulsated with this strange light, grew fat for a second and then popped like a frog in a microwave. Its weird orange entrails splattered TJ’s living room wall, covering him, head to toe, in luminous bile.
TJ scooped chunky orange crud from his eyes. He blinked like a cartoon character wiping a custard pie off his face only to see Bugs Bunny herself standing right in front of him, untouched but for a sheen of clear liquid and a small blob of gunk on her shoulder.
Sunday gasped for breath. She leant on a space-age-looking crutch which steamed and hissed, dripping with slimy condensation all along its chrome haft.
“You’re awake!” she said, sounding surprisingly chipper. She dropped the strange weapon at her side and hopped off what was left of the chimera carcass, which wasn’t much: just its back legs, some tentacles and a flat underbelly steaming in the middle of TJ’s mom’s two piece.
TJ sat upright, like an oversized stuffed bear. He turned awkwardly to look at the devastation in his living room, nonplussed. Sunday ran to kneel at his side, as if she had just thrown the ring around a plastic duck and was rushing over to claim this big, dumb animal for her own.
“Are you?” Sunday said, as TJ looked straight ahead, breathing steady, his legs splayed out in front of him.
He looked at her dazed as he was. “I think I peed myself.”
Hurried footsteps on a slick concrete floor; red black blood spreading. Mojang slipped and rolled on what could have been a liver. He scuttled into the relative cover of his little office in the garage. Its thin, corkboard walls, covered with nudy lady calendars, and its kitsch, old-fashioned ring dial phone, low slung chairs and ratty old coach were homey, tinged as they were with the smell of motor oil, filter less cigarettes and stale coffee.
Mojang clicked the light, wood-framed door closed and locked it with a flimsy bolt. He was kidding himself if he thought that was gonna hold out anything bigger than a horny pug. He stepped back from the door and breathed out slow.
“Mojang, what the fuck, what’s going on?” His nurse was getting dressed in the office; she buttoned her shirt hurriedly. Startled by her sudden appearance, he glanced at her and then down at his desk. Atop it sat an engine converted into what looked like steampunk flamethrower or a budget proton pack from ghostbusters.
“Get the fuck outta here! Take this!” He picked up the flamethrower and took her by the crook of her arm, sweating profusely.
“Mojang! What’s going on? There’s red on you!” she screamed as he ushered her towards the flimsy office door.
He opened and shut the thin door with a tinny rattling noise. He bolted it behind her and started to sweat harder in private.
“YOU FUCK!” she screamed at the door, confused, before turning to take in her surroundings. She turned her head in disbelief. She felt like an orthodontist looking into some old person’s gummy mouth. The entire interior of the building was coated in red and brown ‘matter’. There was so much that it looked like the soft, wet interior of someone’s mouth, minus the teeth.
She took it in for a minute and felt like she must be dreaming, aside from the smell. It was a hot, thick, acrid smell. Blood and iron and coppery scents perforated her sinus wall. Her eyes filled with water. It was like the acidic smell of raw bile ducts; it was like blood in the back of your throat after you get a tooth removed; she could taste it.
A mound of flesh quivered as if it were alive, and then it was. It was a biker, completely unrecognisable. He was standing upright, covered in gore. He spun around, clicking an empty Uzi, over and over, not quite absorbing the definition of insanity. He clicked the expensive paperweight at every corner, every squeak of metal, shake of a crisp chain, the wind coming in through the skylight.
“What is it?” the girl screeched.
He looked at her and clicked the empty Uzi. She jumped instinctively. She looked into his vacant eyes as he tried to change the channel.
She felt a tightness in her chest as if the room was getting longer and she was falling backwards. A shiny, conical, chrome implement penetrated through the biker’s lower abdomen. It impaled him, lifting him off the ground. The crazed biker wailed wordlessly, like an animal. He pulled a large Rambo-style combat knife out of his boot and slashed down at the lancer. The blade scraped and sparked off his shiny helmet. The sparks lit his smiling eyes through the slits in his visor. A grotesque, teeth-clenching, slippery, screeching noise began to eke out mournfully. The weight of the man on the lance pulled him down lower. As it was conical, the more he slid down, the wider the opening in his stomach became. He yelped and the clanking slashes became slower and less determined.
The lancer grabbed the man’s arm and squeezed it hard, like a cheap tube of toothpaste, resulting in a horrifying, brutal snap, which the girl could hear from across the room. The sound put her teeth on edge. All the hairs on the back of her neck stood up like porcupine quills. The sea in her guts tossed a little boat tattoo she had on her belly. The biker had lost too much blood to feel any great loss. He just moaned in a vacant expression of regret, as if he was watching his demise on a monitor in another state and was just annoyed on principle.
The man slid all the way down to the handle. The lancer proceeded to use the man’s broken arm as leverage against the lance in his gut, pulling him apart like a piece of soft bubble-gum: one of those bubble gums with a gooey centre. He was hot and full of stomach acid, reels of lower intestine and chunks of three-day old truck stop burrito. His body yawned open and sloshed onto the floor. The biker’s eyes wide open and white, frozen in a melancholic silent scream.
The girl cupped her mouth as she attempted to take in her surroundings and not vomit. The lancer turned and noticed her, his smiling eyes scanning her. He dripped with hot blood and bile. A vile human steam rose off his shoulders and head like the souls of freshly slain warriors floating up to Valhalla.
He began to walk towards her, his feet clacking on the wet concrete floor, slick with blood and other bodily fluids. The floor began to look a little like a festival toilet with the addition of a homicide attraction.
She swallowed a mouthful of bitter bile. Her mortality wrapped a cold, bony hand around her heart. She put her slim arms through the straps of the flamethrower’s heavy fuel tank, slinging it onto her back as the lancer walked towards her from the other side of the garage. Frantic, she flicked knobs and twiddled valves until the flame at the end of the crude nozzle sparked. A petal-shaped blue flame appeared.
She took hold of the lawnmower handle on top of the flamethrower. She squeezed the motorcycle throttle used as a trigger. The weapon burped gusts of disorganized flame. She laughed as she began to put more confident bursts of flame between her and her knight in shining armour. “Come on, fucker!”
She quivered as the lancer didn’t even seem to notice the flames.
“You fuggin fugger, you killed my pal!” A middle-aged muscular biker, looking a lot like Stone Cold Steve Austin, appeared out of nowhere. In some horror movie cliché, he appeared right behind the lancer and wrapped a heavy chain around his slim neck.
The man used his greater size to get the upper hand on the much shorter lancer. Looming a full six feet over the lancer’s slight five four, the stone-cold look-alike lifted the lancer off his feet. The boy’s legs flailed in the air as the life was choked out of him. The lancer’s arms and legs went limp, one hand reaching for the chain, the other still locked onto his lance. And for a split second, it looked like the biker could be winning. Another biker, with a much slimmer frame and a sawn-off shotgun clutched in his bony hands, crawled out of a rat-like hiding spot under the wheel well of a busted-up Chevy. He had been drawn by this call to heroic action.
“Yeah, put that hog leg under his chin, see if we can take a look at his pretty face!” the stone-cold look-alike said to the thin man with rat-like features.
The girl felt a swelling in her chest, sure a definitive end to this was a shotgun blast away. But of course, all good things must come to an end. Without warning the lancer stopped flailing. They hadn’t seemed to notice that it was strange he hadn’t dropped his lance. The lancer cleared his throat and repositioned his lance. His arm became rigid. He pulled on Stone Cold’s chain, flicking those smiling eyes towards the girl with the flamethrower. He pulled the chain forward, over-balancing the Stone-Cold look-alike and stabbed him with the other end of the lance, using a reverse grip. Toying with him, the lancer began poking playful holes in the look-alike’s chest and stomach and groin: only two or three inches deep, just to see how long he could hold onto the chain.
“Do it!” The look-alike struggled as he coughed up sticky wads of blood onto his sandy coloured goatee.
The thin man gripped the sawn off purposefully with both skinny hands, his elbows cocked out, like a farmer chasing a horny townie out of his daughter’s bedroom.
The lancer sneered, and let out a quiet breathy laugh as the heavy chain dropped at his feet. Despite that, the look-alike was still standing. His chest looked like a maxi pad and he swayed back and forth, the lack of blood going to his head.
The lancer jumped, like a Korean gymnast, spinning in the air, and delivered an excessively violent Chuck Norris-style kick to the look-alike’s head, dislodging it completely and sending it flying in the direction of the thin man. It hit him in the chest. He almost blocked it with the sawn off and fired a single shot from the force of the impact. The barrel slipped in his sweaty, skinny fingers and hit him on the bridge of the nose.
Before he could catch all the birds circling his head, the lancer pinned him to the ground by piercing his steel toecap leather work boots. The Lance went straight through his foot and nailed it to the concrete floor.
The thin man proved to be quicker than expected. With a rat-like swiftness he regained his grip on the sawn off and took another shot. He hit a shoulder panel of the lancer’s reactive plate. It exploded off his shoulder, absorbing all the impact and turning a glancing shotgun blast at close range into a dull thump from a ham fist.
The lancer span with the hit. He turned back to wag an obnoxious finger and flash those horrible, one-blue-one-green, smiling eyes. He clutched the thin biker by the root of his ratty ponytail and forced the biker’s head down towards the lance sticking out of his foot.
The thin man squealed. The lancer forced his head slowly and surely down towards the large chrome lance protruding from his foot. Sweat streamed off the biker’s forehead. Both his hands strained against the irresistible force of the lancer’s hand on the back of his head, his small, powerful hand tangled in the thin man’s ponytail. The tip of the lance danced in and out of the thin man’s fevered vision, coming in and out of focus, getting closer and larger and wider.
“FFFfuuuccckkkkk!” he spat.
His mouth frothed with bitter spit, the veins in his neck raised, like bloody blue and red train tracks going nowhere. His eyes opened wide and his breathing came out in staccato bursts of spit. His face turned red and purple.
The fine point of the lance was something to be seen up close. As opposed to a traditional blade that was limited by the sharpness of its edge, the lack of an edge and the conical design made this point seem to stretch indefinitely, getting finer and thinner. From the thin man’s perspective, it seemed to grow before his eyes: the prick of a pin, reaching out like the liquid metal finger of god coming to poke his eye out. The thin man would get a great view.
The intense strength of the lancer was inhuman. The thin man’s veins popped and all the blood rushing to his head made him look like an extra in ‘The Thing’. His bloodshot eyes turned red. The tip of the lance was ten millimetres from the corner of the thin man’s eye when the lancer began to move even slower than before.
The lancer eased the fine point of the chrome lance into the space between the thin man’s eye and his skull. It was almost like an injection, so perfect and surgical it didn’t even feel intrusive, at first. It slid delicately into the corner of his eye without piercing the membrane. The thin man felt only a cold discomfort on the inside of his head, like minor brain freeze, but this wasn’t a check-up. The lancer kept his head moving at the same intensely slow speed. The point went deeper and deeper into the soft nasal cavity behind the eye. A terrified numbness had come over the thin man. Then a gut-wrenching cracking sound brought him back into his body. He felt the cold metal probe pushing further into his head like a sci-fi rape scene.
He moaned, his other eye flickered and he started drooling as he took more and of the chrome lance. It pushed his eye then pushed it out altogether, rupturing his eye socket with another sickening crack. The tip of the lance now stuck out of the back of his head, but he still clung to life. His lower extremities twitched and flailed as if he were a wacky inflatable balloon man. His head was kept in place by the vice-like grip of our chrome knight.
The thin man opened his mouth a few times like a beached goldfish, his wet lips smacking open and closed. A droning noise came from the back of his throat: some primitive form of communication or a sliver of lizard brain trying to hold onto some slight form of consciousness.
“We can’t stay here,” Sunday muttered as she stood in the door of TJ’s trashed living room, resting her weight against the strange gun she had found in the belly of the beast.
TJ held a couch cushion in his arms as he looked over what had been his life. It hung open, ragged, like an exit wound in a watermelon. As he stood there, in a fresh set of clothes, it finally dawned on him that he would never live in this house ever again. He’d die soon or he’d have to run far away, but he’d never call this place his home ever again. And considering this had been his childhood home since before his father had left them, he found it hard to let go.
He had gathered up a handful of his stuff and a change of clothes in a backpack and had stuck his sword in his belt.
“I know,” he said as he sat the pillow down delicately on the ruined couch, which was covered in gore.
“We gotta keep moving,” Sunday said. Her face hardened as she picked up the weapon and slung it across her shoulder. “We can make it. Probably can’t win, but the game was always rigged from the start.”
TJ breathed in and out hard and chewed his lower lip as he felt her eyes on his back, those sympathetic eyes pitying him in a way he couldn’t stand. He didn’t want to look.
“We can run,”
“Where to?” Sunday let out an aggravated sigh. “You don’t get it. They’re everywhere. They see everything; they hear everything. There’s no way out,” she said, trying to convince herself.
TJ continued to take deep slakes of breath.
“There’s somewhere,” he said. “I used to play in this old missile silo, on the outskirts of town.” He smiled and gave a breathy laugh as he went on. “This guy, this crazy hippy, bought it and converted it into, like, an underground commune for the end of the world. You know, fucking drum circles and peace pipes when the bombs are falling? Guy was nuts and he got busted for making porn without a licence and couple of drug offences.”
“TJ, we don’t have time for this. We have- “
“Hear me out. This place was abandoned after he went down, but, the thing is, it’s built right into the mountain. It goes all the way through, clear into the next state. We could be away from all this shit in a couple of hours.”
“They’d find us. It’s a waste of time.”
“No. It’s not on any map or blueprint. The only people who still know it exists are me and a handful of stoners. If we can just make it there, we can escape.”
“OK? OK.” TJ said, pleasantly surprised by how easy that was.
The lancer delicately dislodged the lance from the thin man’s foot, yanking the other end from his eye with a slick, slippery noise. His body tumbled to the ground in free fall. The lancer almost giggled as he noticed he was still holding onto his ponytail. The force of the struggle and the thin man’s fall had scalped him. Maybe his scalp hadn’t been well attached to his thinning head in the first place. The lancer got a better grip on the flaccid scalp with it’s thin, rat-tail ponytail, smirking at it before tossing it against the wall like a wet and slimy banana peel.
The girl with the flamethrower gawped. Her lower lip shook and her mind came screaming back into her head. The lancer swiped the blood and brain matter off his lance and turned those vicious, smiling eyes on her.
She swallowed and shook and started twiddling the knobs on the flamethrower again. It belched and hissed, spitting flame in short bursts, as she tried to get it to shoot straight again.
“Fuck, it was working a minute ago!” She pulled the gas trigger. It sputtered with a lame raspberry of flame in the lancer’s general direction. He started his casual advance on the girl who played with fire.
She twiddled the knobs harder, fiddling with anything that might make fire come out of this useless piece of metal. “Work, work, work, you piece of shit!” The lancer tilted his head, catching her with those ambivalent smiling eyes. He made a quiet clicking, tutting sound in the back of his throat.
A gassy sound and a satisfying tocking noise erupted in a huge gust of flame, much bigger than had been previously advertised by this unpredictable weapon. It covered the girl’s entire field of vision and swallowed the lancer. The flames continued for thirty seconds before the dragon’s breath started to die. The flamethrower coughed off to its eternal rest.
The square foot in front of her was incinerated. She could see black and dry cracking metal, scorched concrete and dry gore and flesh. The smell of barbecues and burnt acrylic filled the air and coated the inside of her lungs. She coughed and dropped the hot weapon, which hissed and spat on the ground, the metal and plastic warping and crumpling like it was alive.
A small firecracker explosion caught her attention. The lancer was still standing. Hunched like a wounded tin soldier, he smoked and steamed, his armour popping and crackling, its panels exploding intermittently like popcorn. His body moved spasmodically with the small, repetitive explosions. He straightened and turned those vicious smiling eyes on her through his charred helmet. The skin around his eyes had blackened and cracked.
Sunday swung the heavy gun by the barrel, braining an idle zombie who had lain on his side, in a lazy cobra pose, with his arm up: all stereotypical ghoul-like. He groaned: not mad, just disappointed. His mouldy brains and soft skull matter were teed off across TJ’s lawn with an excellent back swing.
“Excellent form,” TJ said, smiling. A tinge of melancholia crept into his croaky voice.
“You ready?” Sunday said as she slung the gun back over her shoulders. She lifted her other hand to shield her eyes from the glaring mid-morning sun. A hint of annoyance crept into her voice.
“Yeah just give me a minute, will ya?” TJ said as he took another deep breath. Would he ever breathe this air again?
He swallowed and started the long walk across his lawn.
Sunday bent over, noticing something weird lying in the crags of TJ’s unkempt lawn.
“What the fuck is this?” she said as she picked up a thoroughly chewed plush lamb.