Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Silence - Punked

“Goddamnit Cid you epic schmuck,” Cid mentally punched himself. His superhero playa fantasy deflated like an inflatable Macy’s parade figure. How could he let down his guard like that? He was bent over, literally bent over the engine of a Hyondei Echelon, waiting to be taken. It was like the plot of some deranged, environmentally friendly porno.

“Hands up, turn around, slowly, kthx.” A male voice. They turned. To face two men and two women, including Kaytie, holding three semi automatic handguns and a twelve gauge in their faces. The highway robbers were all about the same age as Kaytie and all looked like they were spawned, fully formed, from the same blue blooded hipster ectoplasm. Tailored turtlenecks, designer jeans, band t-shirt of “The Venusian Invaders”, an emo-metal group that probably no longer existed. Holes and rips here and there, dirt marks, many of which not very recent-looking. Post-Apoc had been quite the rage in fashion circles Cid entertained for a moment the idea that this sullying of runway perfection might have been achieved by underpaid street urchins rolling in gutters and getting into bar fights to achieve that precise Mad Max aura of wear and tear. But then Cid suspected that Milan had been wiped out like every other metropolis. The punk who spoke was scruffed, with a fake tan to complete the wasteland wanderer ensemble. Cid could tell it was fake from the too-homogenous apricot glow, but the unnatural orange was slowly burning, flaking away into real sun kissed brown. The real end of the world violating the Platonic media simulacra. Cid felt a bizarre pang of sympathy.

“Check them. Don’t get smart, FYI, I hate to hurt n00b badasses who try to grow balls.” Cid wondered if this guy was a smartass or a dumbass with the C-list hardboiled act. His hand was shaking, although that could have just been the IDS, not actual nervousness. Either way, the guy seemed about as stable as WIFI in a salt mine, and was silently praying his index wouldn’t twitch a joule too hard. The other guy in a Neru blazer came around, patted them up, took their weapons, searched backpacks.

“Wait,” Red Jesus said. Rattling, cocking of guns as they trained on Red’s forehead. A millimeter of roseate white above each iris, he raised his hands higher. “Please, you can take the food, the tools, the device. But please, leave us the medicine, I beg you,” said Red Jesus. Tan Kid’s brow wrinkled, he eyed Red Jesus as if he had just received a really great deal for a Ralph Lauren suit and was wondering if the Armani was worth the premium.

“We’ll take the antibiotics, if you have any, you can keep the rest. You can keep that clanky 20th-cen dumbware too.” Fake Tan waved his Desert Eagle dismissively at the Geiger counter. The guy in the turtleneck took the rest of Red Jesus’ luggage.

Turtleneck started shaking a bit more as he came to The Terminator. The Terminator put the bag down calmly, that steel-within-steel gaze never leaving the kid. He was the largest of the bunch, might have been an extreme sport junkie at one time from his build, but he was having trouble keeping his cool as he reached for the Adidas bag, blanketed by The Terminators shadow. He unzipped it, rattled around inside, came up with a quizzical look.

“WTF is this? Um… It’s just a bunch of kids’ toys.” Turtleneck lifted the bag to show the others. It looked like a portable toy chest, a crowded jangly mass of Transformers, Lego, Playdough, assorted others. Turtleneck eyed The Terminator like a suspect.

“What’s with the kiddie toys, army guy?” silence reigned several seconds.

“I’m in the Salvation Army,” said The Terminator, expression and tone never shifting a micrometer.

“Leave it. Let’s just GTFO, Brad,” Tan Kid called to Turtleneck.

The well-dressed highway raiders tossed the loot in the trunk of the Echelon, all the time keeping wobbling guns pointed approximately at the three. Kaytie lingered a moment, one handle on the latch of the Echelon’s passenger door, the other aimed at Cid, and something about her ridiculous pout was almost apologetic.

“WTF, let’s go!” Tan Kid came up behind her, grabbed her butt and kissed her. Cid felt like his stomach was going to cave in, the last gust of air stomped out of his blow-up action figurine. They got in the car and fired it up, electric motor whining like a very quiet 747 engine. Dirt and smoke plumed as they burned out of the ditch, creating a nearly-symmetrical set of tire marks to match those leading into the stall spot. As the Echelon hauled off towards the twilit horizon, they could hear the boys howling, and Cid recognized a screamed Vin Diesel quote from Fast and the Furious VII.

“This sucks.” Cid sighed. There they were, no food, no weapons, miles from the next human settlement. If he’d just been a little less sappy. When the Echelon approached the size of a Kleenex box down the road, The Terminator raised his right arm to shoulder height, aiming at the car. There was a faint electric hum and a series of metallic clicks.

“No!” Red Jesus dove for The Terminator’s arm, pulling it down. “Let them go. They are only doing what they must.”


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