Taking a brief break from the miniseries to serve up this brief hullabaloo on why film adaptations of books aren't such a bad thing.
After learning I was to be sold to a gang of necrophiliacs, I was taken to Taps who fitted me with a radio collar. I will say this, he took the time to make sure the collar fit without being too snug. It's an odd thing to be so kindly shackled.
Taps then took me to the shed where the other human cattle were kept. Inside rows of rickety bunk beds surrounded a few crude tables held together by duct tape and hope. The only thing missing was a harmonica player blowing out the blues in G.
George and Joyce came over.
"Good to see you still breathing. What's the word?" George asked.
I said, "Met the man in the charge. He, uh, definitely scares me. So I kinda hope I get a chance to shoot him in the face."
Joyce punched me in the shoulder, "But you're alive. Not everybody comes out of that trailer."
I nodded, "Got that an impression myself. Though things aren't exactly working out for the best."
"How's that, sir?" Nigel called down from the rafters. I waved to him.
"They're selling me to someone named Caliban."
A collective gasp preceded a group sigh. Many shook their heads sadly, while a few others made the sign of the cross. One individual, a stocky black man, climbed out of his bunk. He walked over with the look of a man about to bury his only child. He took me in his arms, and held me in the best hug of my life. It was the kind that might banish every nightmare a person has ever had. Then I felt him pressing my face into his chest... quite hard. Hard enough I started having trouble breathing.
I patted him on the arm to let him know it was time to let go. He held me tighter. I slapped at him.
He said, "Hush now. It's better this way."
Someone started singing, "'Memories seep from my veins. Let me be empty. Oh weightless and maybe I'll find some peace tonight in the arms of the angel. Fly away from here...'"
I kneed my hugger in the balls. The second his grasp slackened I jumped away.
Staggering back he groaned, "What the fuck man?"
I gasped out, "Oh no... oh no... no what the fuck me, what the fuck you?"
"Al meant well," George said.
Rolling my eyes I said, "Oh well, in that case. My bad. I just thought I was being murdered. No big deal."
Patting Al on the back Joyce said, "It's kinder than what's going to happen to you."
"The lady is quite right," Nigel said. I gave him the finger. He frowned.
I said, "Kind would be snapping my neck from behind, so I've got no idea what's happening."
"Fair enough," George said. His eyes moved in a suspicious manner. I heard a few shuffling steps behind me. Spinning around I caught a young Asian teenager sneaking up on me.
Pointing a finger at him I said, "Back off! Think you can sneak up on me? Just cause you're Asian doesn't make you a ninja." -- the boy walked away, shoulders slumped in disappointment -- "If I ask then you guys can kill me. Not before. Okay?"
A murmur of begrudging acceptance came from the others.
Nigel said, "Perhaps if you better understood your predicament, sir, things might be different."
"Then enlighten me."
"Very well. Mix Hendricks is, without question, a vile individual. However, Caliban is a monster." -- climbing down from his perch Nigel recited:
"Then he gazed on a town by besiegers taken,
Nor cared he who were winning;
But he saw an old maid, for years forsake,
Get up and leave her spinning;
And she looked in her glass, and to one that did pass,
She said -- 'pray are the rapes beginning?'"
I commented on the morbid beauty of the piece, but its meaning, given my current situation, somewhat escaped me.
Nigel sighed, "A few months back I had the distinct displeasure of being near Caliban's camp. Fortunately, anthros don't appear any different from other animals, so I was able to observe the goings on without drawing attention to myself."
The baboon shuddered. His eyes glazed with the look of one peering back into memory. I swallowed hard, uncertain if I really wanted to know what horrors awaited me down the river.The others drew near as Nigel went on, "Caliban believes that when people interact with one another energies are exchanged. At no time is this more intense than during sexual relations. Furthermore, he believes all the energy a person possesses is released at the time of death. Ergo, when two people are sexually engaged, willingly or not, they begin an exchange of energy, all of which can be consumed should one die amidst coitus."
I considered this a moment before saying, "So he thinks that by screwing someone he connects to them then by killing them mid-fuck he can suck up all their power."
A half smile crested Nigel's face, "Very concise."
I said, "Why can't he just be a normal cannibal and eat me?"
Joyce remarked in a hollow tone, "This place fosters special kinds of madness."
George asked, "Are you saying you'd be fine with this if he weren't fucking you?"
"No, they're both horrible scenarios."
Nigel placed a gentle hand on my shoulder. With eyes like a grandfather comforting the loss of a beloved pet, he asked, "Would you like us to kill you now?"
"That is a tall glass of nope," -- I grinned -- "Because I've got one thing none of you has."
"What's that?" Al asked.
"A total lack of experience here. With no idea how likely failure is, I still think I can escape."
Al said, "You sure you don't want me to kill you? It would be much easier, and a guaranteed success."
"Still going with no; and you're getting a little creepy."
"Just saying I'm right here if you need me."
"Thank you. I will keep that in mind."
Tapping his own radio collar George began a ponderous list of reasons why escape would be highly unlikely. What others might view as discouraging -- guard towers, bloodhounds, the obvious tracking collars -- offered a list between the lines. After summing up all the ways which had thus far failed, George inadvertently suggested maneuvers no one had tried.
A plan formed. A brazen foolish plan so ludicrous it just might work. Joyce was right. This place fostered a special kind of madness.
I shared my plan with the others.
Afterward Al asked, "You're sure you don't want me to kill you?"
I replied, "When I get out of here, and tell this story to others, I will only refer to you as Creepy Al."
Nigel remarked, "It is not the best idea."
"Therein lies the brilliance," I said, "It's too stupid for anyone to try. As such, no one will see it coming."
The ape held out a hand, "Then by God, the best of luck sir."
We shook hands. George shook his head. Joyce gave me a kiss on the cheek along with an ominous goodbye. The rest dispersed around the shed looking glum. The prospect of an escape had rekindled their will to live, but the absurdity of my plan snuffed that fire right out.
I decided not to wait. Hesitation would only lead to second thoughts. So I went to the door, tried the handle, and finding it unlocked I stepped out into the Oakland Raiders' camp. The guard by the door glared at me, but I didn't stop. Walking at a slow, calm, steady pace I just kept on going. One foot in front of the other, my ultimate trajectory the gate at the other end of the compound.
A pair of Raiders walked passed me. Hands in my pockets, I nodded to them, and said, "Sup?" -- continuing casually ever onward. The men up in a watchtower observed me with expressions typically reserved for those watching a dog with a pink mohawk riding a unicycle.
Seventeen feet and closing, I noticed that although the bus blocking the front entrance meant no vehicle could come in there was more than enough space for a person to slip through.
"Where the fuck is he going?!"
The sound of Lenny's shout triggered plan B. I ran for the exit. Bullets pounded the ground around me.
"Don't shoot! He's too valuable!"
Thanks Lenny, I thought, that improves my chances.
I'm going to pause here to describe an interesting device. It is, in essence, a shotgun shell containing 2 lithium batteries, wire, and a set of barbs at one end. When it hits a target the impact is like being struck with a spiked hammer. Almost immediately this unique device then allows the target to experience 1.3 milliamps coursing through one's body. It doesn't sound like a lot; however, it's enough to cause a man, literally running for his life, to seize up and fall flat on his face, giving his pursuers more than enough time to catch up, and begin beating him mercilessly.
Thanks to this infernal contraption, I failed to escape.
After being disciplined by a rain of gun butts, Lagos carried me to Doctor Elsa's. She found nothing seriously broken, just a smattering of savage bruises. She told Lenny it might even make me seem more valuable to Caliban, the escape attempt a sign of my vigorous spirit. Lenny agreed. Still, there was one laceration above my eye.
While Elsa saw to it Lenny and the giant departed to send word down the river.
Elsa said, "In less than a day Caliban will come for you."
She smirked, "You do have -- Was heißt das? -- spunk."
"Thanks. I guess."
Lowering her voice Elsa said, "I can get you out of here."
Not sure if I should trust her, but unwilling to miss an opportunity I asked, "What's the catch?"
"Take Joyce with you."
"She is my lover."
I shook my head, "No, why are you helping me?"
Elsa blushed, "I don't wish to be here. I only do what I do so the Raiders will leave me alone. If I didn't have value as a doctor they'd do things to me. Terrible things.""I don't doubt it."
She looked me straight in the eye. She looked terrified as if even mentioning escape put her at risk. I held her hand, and asked what our next move would be.
Elsa smiled, "First, we must kill George."
COMING SOON! PART 6: STABBY TIME FOR GEORGE
I Am The Game: Part 4: I Don't Know What You've Heard, But There's No Good Time to Become a Sex Slave
Inside smelled like the hot, sickly sweet odor of compost bordered by a faint aroma like a pine tree inhabited by skunks. Smoke clouds drifted about hazing the already dark interior. Thin shafts of light spilled through windows shrouded by ratty curtains. From the shadows came scuttling movements as small vaguely human shapes scurried to remain unseen. The furniture within might have been lavish once upon a time, but it now appeared to have spent months moldering in the rain. On a leather couch sat three young women with blank faces, all seemingly lost to chemical oblivion. One shivered and giggled, though it may have just been a kind of seizure. Still, I envied their artificial peace of mind.
Lenny the dwarf herded me into the double wide, prodding with his gun as if searching for my asshole. I won't lie. A brief escape plan involving grabbing the gun with my butt cheeks flashed into mind; however, I abandoned it due to a very realistic concern about being shot in the process.
"Hold up," Lenny said, accentuating my halt with a barrel-jab to the kidneys.
I stopped, glad for the pause. Nothing but darkness occupied the far end of the double wide. The inky void made the inside seem to go on forever. Anything might've lived in the bowels of that hideous place.
A red neon light flickered. As it fluttered to life the shadows scattered. The light sputtered to its full brilliance bathing the back of the trailer in a ruby glow; the image of a she-devil in a seductive pose shone like a burning coal. Beneath her radiance sat a man.
He possessed the wide staring eyes of a child, coke bottle lenses magnifying those peepers to comic proportions. A pair of toothpicks passing themselves off as arms jutted out of his Raider's jersey. He smiled at me, and I imagined him being a the kind of neighbor who loans out his garden tools, never gets them back, and never complains.
Gesturing, he said, "Lenny, bring me one of the girls."
"Yes, sir, Mr. Mix Hendricks."
Lenny rustled a girl off the couch. She staggered over, a drug induced zombie.
Mix Hendricks walked over to her, "This is Michelle. She's a lovely girl. Anyone who sees her smile is given a gift from the gods."
Michelle's lips twitched as if her brain could send the message to grin, but her facial muscles couldn't quite follow the orders. Without another word, or a batted eyelash, Mix Hendricks pulled out a knife, and cut her throat. He looked as bored by the act as someone getting the mail. Michelle smiled.
I turned away. Lenny jabbed me in the thigh.
"You watch it all," the dwarf growled. I fixed my eyes on Michelle.
Mix Hendricks grabbed her by the hair. Pulling her head back not only held her up it opened the slit in her throat wider producing an anatomy lesson in severed tissue and internal tubing. Blood flowed out, splashing onto the floor. Long ribbons spurted out her neck and draped across my face. The drugs lost their grip on Michelle. The reality of her circumstances triggered a panicked attempt to clutch her throat, stop the drain, but Mix Hendricks slapped her hands down. It didn't take long for Michelle's eyes to go dull, though it felt like hours.
Mix Hendricks let the body drop to the floor. Dusting off his hands, as if crumbs of Michelle lingered on his fingers, Mix Hendricks said, "And that's how we do things. Understand?"
Part of me, a large part, felt this was a rhetorical question one should only answer with a nod. However, the other part of me insisted I say, "Of course. In case the gun jammed firmly up my ass didn't already prove I'm fucked, you decided to kill someone to emphasis that fact."
Mix Hendricks grinned, "I like your eyes." -- wiping off his knife on my shirt he said, "Lenny, have this one bury her. If he gives you even a glint of sass put him in with her..."
"No problem," Lenny said.
"...Alive," Mix Hendricks added, "He fucks around bury him alive."
"With pleasure," Lenny said.
Stepping away Mix Hendricks paused, "Oh, if he does manage to somehow stay above ground then take him to Elsa. Have her check him out, price him, that sort of thing."
"Sure thing boss," Lenny said.
And with that Mix Hendricks returned to the other end of the double wide. Taking a seat in a battered wicker lawn chair he snapped off the light. For a moment, it seemed as though the shadows hesitated to touch him.
I picked up Michelle, and carried her outside. With his gun and words Lenny poked at me constantly. Not daring to make a mistake I kept my eyes on the ground. He led me to a cemetery of scrap metal crosses where a shovel already awaited us at the entrance.
As I dug Michelle's grave Lenny said:
"You think this gun was up your ass, huh? You got no idea. Once we took a shotgun, and greased it up real good. Took our time slowly sliding that thing right up this fellow's poopchute. When we couldn't get any more in we pulled the trigger -- BLAMMO! Like a big fucking piñata."
It took two hours to dig the hole. Most of the time went because Lenny kept in insisting I make the edges even, dig the slant out of the bottom, and all kinds of piddling details meant to provoke me. But I kept my teeth in my tongue, and my eyes on the job.
Inspecting the grave Lenny nodded, "That is a fine hole you dug. Fine hole."
Glancing around he saw the giant, Lagos, carrying a crate of ammo. Lenny waved to him. Lagos hurried over.
Lenny said, "Take this dead bitch to the pigs, and feed her to them." -- I grit my teeth together -- "Cemetery's for Raiders, not disposables."
The ammo crate under one arm, the dead girl under the other, Lagos headed off. Lenny then took me to a white hut with a red cross painted on the side. Faintly I heard the notes of a violin.
"ELSA!" Lenny shouted. The notes cut out. A few seconds later a woman in her forties emerged from the hut. She wore khaki pants, a gingham shirt, and a revolver holstered on her hip.
Tying her hair back in a small ponytail she said, "Was haben wir denn hier?"
Lenny replied, "Eine Einweg, ausgewertet."
Elsa said, "Gute Rasse?"
Lenny shook his head, "Arschloch."
Elsa grimaced, "Was für ein Pech. Bitte, bitte, lassen Sie ihn zu mir."
I have no idea what the fuck they said to each other. However, Lenny handed me off to her. She then led me into the hut by herself.
Inside I saw an improvised hospital. Rows of makeshift shelves holding an array of plants I assumed to have medicinal purposes, a sturdy combination safe in one corner that probably held the more pharmacological cures -- the manmade antiseptics and -biotics -- a wooden table reminding me more of a cutting board in a butchers shop than anything in an operating theater, and nearby a host of tools that probably stood at the forefront of Medieval medicine.
Elsa said, "Welche Sprache sprichst du?"
Recognizing one word I took a stab at answering, "English."
She smiled, "Ah. This is no problem then. My name is Elsa, well," -- she considered saying more but decided against it -- "That's how I'm known."
I introduced myself.
She said, "Now, I have a job to do. I'll try to make it as painless as possible. All right?"
"Okay." She brightened, putting on a butter melting expression.
Elsa set about performing a general physical exam. She took my measurements, blood pressure, and did the typical doctor's tsch-tsch when I confessed to smoking. As the exam went along she made notes on a small pad. Afterwards she called for Lenny on a walkie-talkie she kept on her desk.
A few minutes later Lenny strode in, "Was ist er Wert?"
Elsa folded her arms across her chest, "The smoking doesn't make him the best for Runner, but we need to replace the ones we lost, so ja, we could do that. His penis is nice, but too average size for Thelma -- she only want the biggest we got. Still he is good for labor."
"How much you think we'll get?" Lenny said.
Elsa flipped through her notebook. Adding figures in her head she eventually said, "For labor we'd get a few gallons of gas, and maybe a goat or pig. However, he is healthy. No disease, so there is always... Caliban..."
She trailed off. Lenny understood the implication. I certainly didn't, especially being distracted by that too average comment I couldn't deal with for fear of Lenny burying me alive.
Lenny laughed, "Oh ho! And that sick fucko lets us name our own price." -- Lenny patted me on the knee -- "Looks like you're one valuable asshole."
Sensing my confusion Elsa informed me, "Caliban is the leader of a small gang down the river. He and his men will pay a great deal to rip you apart and fuck the pieces."
I couldn't help asking, "Well, if that's the case, Lenny, would you be a dear and bury me alive?"
Lenny chuckled, "Nope. I think you're more valuable alive."
"I do too," I said then sighed, "Though probably not the way you do."
COMING SOON! PART 5: THE GOOD DOCTOR
There is no denying the truth that years of smoking will make a person a very poor runner. The lungs sizzle after only a few feet as if the air has turned to acid. One's heart begins to blast beat the message either you stop or I will. Yet, despite such painful impediments even the most chain crazy smoker is able to run a four minute mile when being pursued by a wall of fire.
One of the bound running before me tripped up. I jumped over the prone figure, and a second later heard the man scream as the fire consumed him. Flames licked the back of my neck like a serpent's tongue. Thoughts of blackened skin cracking apart letting boiling blood bubble out the splits as fire chased my screeching down into the my lungs to burn me from the inside out -- I suddenly found a second gear that propelled me to somewhere in the neighborhood of Mach 2. Or more realistically 27 mph.
I saw Nigel abandon two legs in favor of four. Easily out pacing us bipeds he disappeared into the brush ahead. For a moment I considered running at a diagonal. The fire could only have spread so far. Running in a straight line seemed like giving it more of a chance to get me. The only problem stemmed from the fact I didn't know this jungle. For now the path seemed relatively clear, but going in any other direction could lead smack into something impassable. Then I felt the heat lessen.
Risking a glance back, I saw the fire falling behind. At which point I promptly tripped over the remains of a dead pig. On the plus side the fall sent me tumbling down a steep incline. Though I ricocheted off a few trees, and possibly one or two rocks, at least I kept escaping the flames.
After hitting t the bottom of the slope I looked up to see the fire coming to rest at the top of the rise. There it grumbled, crackling at defeat, contenting itself by burning the jungle. I started to smile. Something hard and round pressed against the top of my head. I stopped smiling.
"Drop the shotgun," a voice growled.
I let go of the gun. A brown leathery, oddly childlike hand pulled it away.
"Get up," the growler ordered.
I turned slowly. Behind me stood a tawny dwarf. He held a hunting rifle aimed at my stomach, and wore a black shirt with some kind of hand painted image on it.
Out of the brush came a lumber giant. He wore a similar black shirt. The logo, more easy to see on seven feet of death, turned out to be a grinning skull wearing an eye patch with a pair of crossed cutlasses in the background.
The dwarf barked, "Tie this one up."
The giant did as commanded. Meanwhile I did my best to help, even offering advice on a more solid knot than the one being employed. For this I got backhanded across the mouth. Some people just can't take constructive criticism.
The dwarf gestured with his rifle. Taking the hint I marched forward. It didn't take long before we emerged onto a dirt road. Off to one side an olive colored truck stood idling, while other men in black shirts herded the radio collared runners into the back. A man carrying what appeared to be a metal shoebox came over.
The dwarf said, "What's the score Taps?"
Taps replied, "Not good Lenny. We lost four runners, all top odds to win. Somehow the dregs came out on top."
Lenny growled, "Meaning we got some fat payouts to deliver."
Taps nodded, "Looks that way."
Lenny sighed, "That's the Game."
Taps reiterated the resignation then asked, "Who's this fucking asshole?"
Jabbing me in the kidney with his rifle Lenny said, "Stray."
I've been called worse.
Taps said, "Guess it ain't a total loss then. We got a monkey too. Talking kind."
Lenny whistled, "All righty. Finish loading then we get the fuck outta here. This shit always attracts attention."
"Wrong kind," Taps said. As Lenny went to the front of the truck Taps ordered the giant behind me, "Lagos, toss this guy in the back."
Meaty hands grabbed me by the shoulders. My feet left the ground. Lagos carried me to the truck then physically threw me in the back. I flew so far I almost hit the back of the cab.
A radio collared runner helped me to my feet. He said, "Lagos can get a little literal with the orders."
I thanked the man, introduced myself. He did the same, saying he went by George. I took a seat across from him. Looking around I didn't see Nigel.
"You see a talking monkey anywhere?" I asked.
The woman next to George said, "They're probably tying him to the front of the truck. Want to hear him scream and beg while they drive back to camp."
George said, "Joyce is right. The Raiders do it with all the anthros."
"Anthros?" I said, unaware of the term.
Joyce explained, "Short for anthropomorphized. Some experiment to create new hazards for the Game turned a bunch of different animals into something... more."
George snorted, "You haven't been fucked till you're being chased by a bipedal cheetah with an axe."
He held up the remains of a hand for emphasis, only the ring and pinkie fingers remaining.
I said, "This place keeps getting more and more magical."
George chuckled, "How long you been in the Game?"
"About a half hour. Max."
Joyce nodded, "Not bad. A lot of people are usually dead by now."
"I'll try keeping that in mind."
The truck rumbled to life. As the trek back to the Raiders' camp began we could hear Nigel swearing. Well, his kind of swearing:
"You vile blackguards. This is just every kind of unacceptable. UNACCEPTABLE! " -- The truck lurched to the side of the road, plowing through the jungle at the edge of the road -- "Oh you cunts. You devilish cunts!"
Despite my efforts, none of the other runners wanted to chat. George and Joyce did me the kindness of filling me in. Seems this particular group of jungle pirates dubbed themselves the Oakland Raiders, after their leader's favorite team. The leader of these cutthroats went by Black Mix Hendricks. He arrived in the Game a year ago, and quickly set himself up as a bloody purveyor of human cattle.
"So they sell people," I said.
Joyce nodded, "That about sums it up."
We splashed across a shallow river into a compound. Glancing out the back I saw a circus bus being driven back in place to act as the gate. The large clown face painted on the side had been stripped away by years of exposure leaving jagged parts of the grin, pieces of a makeup covered face, and bulging eyes.
"Home again, home again," George sighed.
Without being told the runners piled out of the truck. I followed suit. The Raiders' compound looked like a trailer park ringed by tree trunks crudely stripped of all their branches. A makeshift causeway of wood planks and metal plating allowed armed guards to patrol the wall. Somewhere in the camp a stereo blasted out something akin to 80s music. The constant static cackling from the speakers made it hard to tell which band exactly.
Taps and Lagos came around from the front of the truck.
George leaned over to whisper, "Good luck."
Joyce added to the sentiment with a tight smile. While Taps led the runners over to a small shack made of corrugated metal, Lagos took me by the arm. I tried to walk, but ended up being dragged. Accepting the situation I did my best to simply enjoy the ride.
As Lagos dragged me passed the front of the truck I glanced at Nigel. His body covered from head to toe in hundreds of thin cuts, some bleeding, his eyes burned. Catching his eye caused him to nod at me. I nodded back, though I'm not sure what we were saying to one another.
Lagos deposited me at the door to a double wide. Lenny held the door open.
Sneering, the dwarf said, "Time to see what you're worth."
COMING SOON! PART 4: I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'VE HEARD, BUT THERE'S NO GOOD TIME TO BECOME A SEX SLAVE
The monkey leapt from the tree. Firing as he fell, the baboon shrieked, "HUZZAH!"
Reacting with a speed even I found surprising I somersaulted toward a fallen tree. However, I misjudged the distance. My lower back slammed into the trunk leaving my feet up in the air. Buckshot grazed the soles of my shoes. I heard the baboon land then surged towards me.
For an instant I prepared to enjoy this rather unique death. After all, how many people are murdered by shotgun toting simians? Perhaps more than anyone suspects.
The shooting ceased with a distinct click. Though I still heard the baboon running a chance for survival had opened. Maybe today wasn't my day to die.
Scrambling to my feet I snatched a large rock. Standing up I saw the monkey ten feet away and closing fast. I let loose a war cry that sounded as if I'd stubbed my toe. Vaulting over the tree trunk, the rock raised in my right hand, I felt a rush many call being truly alive, while others dub it a mere surge of adrenaline. Either way, I was ready to bash that baboon's brains out.
We charged at one another. Six feet. Four. An explosion erupted between us, the blast flinging us apart.
I flew several feet before slamming into the ground. A minute passed where nothing existed except a steady ringing, and fuzzy view of the jungle. Sucking in a desperate gasp I groaned in agony. My chest felt like it'd been pummeled by a wrecking ball. That said, I took a little pride in the fact I still held the rock in my hand.
I heard muffled sounds. Dull thuds accompanying shaking earth. A voice crying as if from a great distance. Something like the crack of an electric whip.
Wincing, I pushed myself up on an elbow only to be immediately tackled back to the ground.
The baboon hollered in my ear, "Are you mad? Stay down."
Not thinking clearly I hit him with the rock.
The monkey snarled. Nothing makes your life flash before your eyes quite like baboon fangs inches from your face. He caught my arm before I could strike him again.
He growled, "I am not trying to kill now. There are more perilous things afoot."
Grabbing me by the hair the baboon lifted my head a bit. I saw what can only be described as a walking aquarium: a set of metal legs attached to a bubble full of hazy purplish liquid, and around this sphere an array of nasty looking weaponry, everything from machine guns and chainsaws to a crackling set of tongs whipping out green bolts of energy. One such bolt sizzled past exploding on impact sending bits of bark and dirt raining down on us.
"I see your point," I said.
"Indeed. We seem in need of an alliance."
The baboon nodded, "Good. You distract it. I'll get it from behind."
"I feel like you'd make a better distraction."
Another bolt struck. This one quite near.
The monkey asked, "What makes me a better distraction?"
I replied, "You seem more agile, less likely to get shot."
Frowning, the baboon nodded, "I see your point." -- He reloaded the shotgun then handed it to me, "Aim for the blue tube on its back. Don't miss."
The baboon took off, practically flying up a tree. The machine let loose a stream of bullets chasing after the monkey. For a moment I considered just running. There's no shame in a tactical retreat. Yet, I knew the primate would probably survive then track me down to unleash some unholy, albeit deserved, retribution for my desertion. So I nutted up, pumped the shotgun (ejecting a shell in the process, however, action films have taught this is how one declares hoorah Ima bout to fuck shit up), and charged.
The machine kept its focus on the baboon. Green bolts burst the trees, while a hail of bullets shredded everything in their path. But the monkey managed to stay ahead of it all. Meanwhile, I ran crouched, moving quick as I could to get behind the maleficent machine.
The closer I got the more I saw myriad wires, tubes, and belt feeds reaching from the various appendages and weapons around to the back of the walking death. Sure enough, I spied a tube glowing neon blue in the center of the thing's back. I took aim, and fired.
Something to keep in mind: shotguns fire, what is in essence, a cloud of tiny pellets. Though it is never fun to get hit by them, one should remember this type of ammo is not devastating at a distance. To put it another way, a few small holes peppered the blue tube while the rest of the pellets tinked off the machine's metal plating. The neon contents gushed out, melting the grass where it fell.
The machine ceased firing. Awkwardly it stamped the ground in an effort to turn around. Not dumb enough to give it a chance I ran forward. No more than three feet away I fired again. This time the tube burst. I dodged the spray, though some got on my jacket. I tossed it off as it started dissolving.
In a panic one doesn't associate with machinery, the marching aquarium snapped off a few more bolts and bullets before stuttering to a standstill. That said, I stayed behind it. One chainsaw continued circulating with an idle growl. No sense in giving the contraption any kind of a chance.
From a nearby tree the baboon called out, "Well done!"
The monkey hurried down. Strolling nonchalantly, it patted the machine on the way to me. With a grin he remarked, "Ha ha. Couldn't've done better myself." Holding out a paw he added, "Now then, would you kindly return my gun?"
"Uh, fuck no." Pump; chee-chunk.
The baboon frowned, "I understand your reticence, but I'm plotting no treachery."
"Yeah. Sticking with fuck no."
The monkey glared at me, "This is a dangerous place to be without friends, sir."
I replied, "Not five minute ago you were going to kill me."
Straightening up the simian said, "That's the nature of the game. It was nothing personal."
"Oh well, since murdering me was nothing personal..." I aimed the shotgun at the baboon's head to emphasize my sarcasm.
He said, "A fair point there. However, our shared experience with the Phalanx changed all that."
The monkey knocked on the machine's leg, "This abomination. The blue tube is such an obvious weakness this type of machine tends to travel in packs, marching shoulder to shoulder to protect one another. Harder to flank you see."
When I'm sober I'm a surprisingly swift learner, "Meaning this thing is probably not alone."
We both looked around. Though neither of us saw anything the jungle felt too still. Silence is always more terrifying than cacophony.
I heard a dull bumping sound. It came from the machine. Peering around at the front I saw a brownish figure floating inside the bubble. The body looked like a mummified human. It was slapping the inside of the tank.
The baboon said, "If I told you my name was Nigel would that put you at ease?"
"Is that really name?"
"Pleasure to meet you -- ya still not getting this gun."
"Son of a bitch."
There is a distinct sound to something sprinting through the jungle, foliage being slapped aside, brush rustling. I heard that noise then a group of people ran passed. They all had their hands tied, and wore what appeared to be radio collars on their necks. None of them so much as glanced at me, the machine, or Nigel. The whole group seemed panicked.
"RUN!" Nigel shouted, immediately following his own advice.
Off in the distance I heard a whump-whump-whump. Soon after a series of thumps preceded a wall of fire roaring its way towards me. I decided then and there, I absolutely hated this place.
COMING SOON! PART 3: THE OAKLAND RAIDERS