I buckle the plastic green helmet around my chin, keeping it loose enough so I can chew my gum. Making binoculars with my cupped hands, I see it.
“What do you see?” whispered Stick from beside me.
“Just as I thought,” I reply, “by the slides, three Dino-Nuggets. Trying to take what’s ours.”
Stick spits in revulsion, peeking his bobble head over the rock wall, our prime sniping position.
From my spot, I can see McDonuts jumbling his way behind cover, Bug Eyes frightfully hidden above the slides with his ice cold bucket of water, Freckles behind the tire swing, 7 hidden eggs, and our secret weapon.
“Think they’re ready for this?” I smirk, cocking my new CO2 white cap airsoft gun.
With a short whistle, I alert Freckles, our newest member. She’s a rookie, but she knows what to do.
“Hey boys,” she exclaims, walking from the swings.
Results are perfect, as one of Dino-Nuggets drop the basket, popping open a few plastic eggs. “Wh- What’s up?” He tries to lean on the slide but stumbles.
“Just wanted to hang out. I don’t bite!”
“Oh. I think that’d be cool to ha-“ his buddy elbows him. He must be the leader.
“No girls allowed,” says the leader, “my Momma doesn’t give me shots just for you to get me sick!”
“I get shots too, ya know?”
“Yeah, to stop you from turning into a slimy monster!”
“You’re a slimy monster! Look at your clothes!”
“You’re just here to take our eggs,” says the leader. Crap.
He looks around, our heads drop.
“No I’m not,” she yells.
“What are you here for then?”
Silence... Come on, say something Freckles!
“Him,” she says, pointing at the nervous boy.
“Him?” Asks the leader.
“Because... I wanted to ask you something.”
“No, I want to ask you something alone.”
What are you doing Freckles?
“Oh. Okay. Let me grab my bask-“
“Leave it, and stay where I can see you,” demands the leader.
McDonuts peeks from beneath the slides he’s somehow managed to sneak to. Bug Eyes has the water bucket in both hands, tired from holding it so long.
“Well come on,” says Freckles, hands on hips.
“Dont trust her Timm,” mutters a 3rd Nugget.
“Don’t give them our names,” exclaims the leader.
Timm, with his name revealed, is now even more nervous as he tumbles his way to Freckles. Hands behind back he says, “What d- do you want?”
“You.” Freckles grabs him by the shirt and pulls him in. As he tries to get away, he’s spin around until she has him in the bear hug. She plops back and wraps her legs around his waist.
“Help me!” Timm yells. She has him trapped, and he is shook with fear.
The leader pushes the 3rd Dino-Nugget to rescue but he yanks back, falling to the ground.
I take my opportunity to position over the rockwall, aiming at the leader. “Stay where you a-“ suddenly I’m knocked in the forehead. I stumble backwards, but Stick catches me, crouching behind cover again. What was that? I peak over for a glance, and quickly duck to hear a pebble whistle over my head
“I should have known,” says the leader, “that the ‘Life Drainers’ would show up here. You’re taking in /girls/ now?”
“It’s the Life /Savers/,” I yell, hearing another pebble slap the other side of the wall. I peak over to find Bug Eyes crouching down, hiding behind his bucket of chilling water.
“And who’s this?” Questions the leader.
I hear him resist, kicking gravel as he’s pulled from his hiding spot. “Let me go man!” Yells McDonuts. Crap!
Stick confirms, “They got McDonuts, they’re pulling him out!” A pebble slaps Stick as he stays above for too long. “A fourth Dino-Nugget has him, he’s bigger than McDonut!”
“Don’t worry, I have this,” says the leader as he pulls out a secret weapon of his own. I glance, see the worn sharpie, then get hit square in the nose by a pebble. I’m knocked back. I grasp for a handle. I miss. I fall from the wall. I watch Stick watch me soar from our hiding spot. I hit the ground.
I haven’t ever lied to you. I know you’re confused, it’s complicated. Believe me, please, while I explain. I’m coming clean. I love you, yes, but as a friend. You know that. I say that. I need you around, though. I really need you, as a friend. I understand we just broke up, but I can’t be away from you. Something is following me. It wants us apart. When you leave, even mentally, it’s chips away my insides. I forget a memory, I feel weaker. Please, it only happens when you’re not here.
Tar Pt. 1
In a nearly desolate state park grows a flower. A rare breed of flower, the last of its kind, to be exact. On this flower grows thorns, not the longest or sharpest. On the thorns’ tip grows a small black substance, too small, at this point of time, to be noticed by the man who walks by.
In his walk, he unintentionally puts the flower into extinction with a casual step. It’s stem is broken and it will soon whither. The black substance, however, persists. Infact, with the next step of this man on the same foot, the, let’s say “tar,” makes contact with the grass, causing a reaction. Multiplication. and the following same-footed step does the same.
Every contact this rubber sole makes with the soil leaves another tiny signature of tar. The rustle of the grass in the wind causes added friction, increasing the tar growth by a small scale. The dying plant, 32 steps, and the man’s shoe carry the black substance.
The man climbs into his car to drive home. Where his foot rests spreads even further, until he walks to the front door. He removes his shoes inside his home, primarily ending his part in the spread.
The next victim is the leashed dog, who’s paw makes contact. The first breathing thing to touch. Soon, it will find its way to her mouth, her throat, and eventually coated over her stomach lining. She will be the first to die. The walking trail of this dog skirts the neighborhood sidewalks.
The third victim to spread was a small role, but a significant one. A wife walks from her door, into the speckled sidewalk, across the road, to her mailbox, then back home.
The fourth is a rear driver tire, causing the highest area of spread in the beginning of this plague. With every 360° rotation, another area has been touched. This goes all the window into town, 27 miles of road contaminated. Enough rubbing has occurred to make the spots roughly a fourth the size of a dime, but has still yet been noticed. It will be seen soon, though. Not that it will matter, it is already far too late.
Something to be Proud of
Some are most proud of the achievements they’ve done, like getting the medal for a race
Others put pride in the work they do, like planting an entire field after a long day
Me, I stand by what I’ve created.
Maybe I have created a drawing, a birdhouse, maybe even a plan. What I seem best at creating, though, is a story.
El “Forward Bus” Libro
It happened in the library, where I found the scrapped up leather hardly qualifying as a book. I wasn't particularly interested in the content of these gathered pages, but instead the cover. Along the spine it said nothing other than "Libro," but the cover, on the other hand, plainly stated "Forward Bus." It was as if the book wanted nothing other than to be unread. Curiosity brought me further.
Curiosity, I've noticed, rarely brought me any fortune. This is a particular example to prove so. Grabbing the book, I walked to the back corner of that crippling bank of dying stories. As I sat, I scanned for faces among the numerous posters grasping to halt the decline of paper-book reading. Only two others were around, the librarian and an elder man, whom both sat reading.. After opening the book, I saw only one word surrounded by all the unidentifiable symbols in the center of the page, "Forward."
The best description to give the next event is almost an intense teleportation. My chair rocked into the air and suddenly I was bouncing my head off of a metal pole. My first breath was thick with fog. Endorphins shot through my body and everything was almost slow-motion thereafter. A fluorescent light over my head flickers. In fact, the remaining few lights around were just about burnt out.
The first direction I looked was to my left, horrifying me before i even knew what i was watching. A small bony girl, staring straight forward. Her hair was lying about in scads around her in the plastic blue seats. Her blood crusted hand was digging into her forearm. As if I wasn't already petrified enough, I realized that dry bone scratching sound was, well, just that. All flesh raked aside by her nails as she emotionlessly itched into her own bone marrow. She stares straight forward.
I threw my eyes in another direction, hoping to find a sight more pleasant. That's when it hit me I was sitting in the back of a bus. I counted half a dozen other heads, the hair once attached to them sprawled across their shoulders and seats, just like the small girl. Eyes also straight forward. I jumped out of my seat just as the bus hit a bump, shorting my legs and sending me head first down the stairs.
I woke up on my back, blinded in my right eye. I grabbed the back of a bench seat, slowly pulling myself up. For an unknown amount of time, I had been unconscious at the bottom of the bus stairs. I found myself bloodied from an open wound above my brow in the reflection of a black window. All eyes were still straight forward. My fresh blood was barely distinguishable on the metal floor from the already laid out carpet of, assumably, more blood.
Grabbing poles to keep my dizzy self upright, I make my way to the front seat. I found myself already a little like everyone around me, as I'm covered in blood and staring forward as to not catch another horrifying sight. There was no driver. Instead, a pile of shoes lay across the top of the gas pedal. The steering wheel was broken off, missing actually.
One headlight still worked, but it shown nothing except the pavement ahead. There didn't seem to be any lines or mark indicating the road was not just an infinite blankness in every direction. To my right was the bus door, practically destroyed and covered in blood as if someone had pried it open with their bare hands.
I turned around, hoping to find someone with half an expression I can talk to. The first person I saw was a man, based off his choice of apparel, I would assume a Marine. Right as I was about to speak, I noticed that missing steering wheel dug inside of his leg. He held onto it with both hands, digging it further in as he held the grips with both hands.
I turned around, deciding to talk to the teenage-looking man instead. He had his hands in his hoodie. However he was harming himself, I wasn't able to see. I settled for that. I tapped his shoulder, "sir?"
No reply, not even an acknowledgement of my presence.
I gave his shoulder a small shake, trying to hopefully wake him from his blank trance. "Sir, do you know where we are? ... Do you know what is happe-" I'm interrupted as he bolts out of his seat. The suddenness frightened me, as I fell back and shielded myself. Looking back up, I watched as he vaulted for the bus door, climbed out, then crunched and twisted like a pretzel across the pavement aside the bus.
I was.. no, I am horrified. Because this just happened. Sitting in this same seat, everything that had just happened flashed through my head again. I'm now realizing I'm trapped. If there was a way out, all these others wouldn't be here. My head races, I feel numb.
I plant my feet in front of me.
I look out the window, but as it's just blackness, I find more comfort looking straight forward.
I scratch at the wound above my brow. Quickly I find pain from this, but I'm at a loss of ideas for other ways to feel anything except pain.
I join the crowd of the Forward Bus.
Don’t Want My Fix
Twenty-four hours of the day I'm free, and seven days of the week my plans are empty. The most freedom I've ever had, and not a damn thing I want to do, I'm going mad. I love to create, but there's not a single thing I want to make. I like to write, but my brain's gone utterly blight.
I must be depressed.
Too down to even try.
Outbreak in Basic
I wake up to a loud thud. Instinctually, my body jerks upright, but I'm quickly pulled back down from the soreness of my body. The thud is louder this time, coming from the hallways. I take a deep breath and think, 'Day four. I can do this. Every day is easier than the last in Basic Training.'
The doors are thrown open, plowing the metal bin and awakening everyone except PVT Dennis, who is right beside the doors. We've seen this twice already, we know what's about to happen. At least we think we do.
We all jump from our cots and stand at attention as two drill sergeants charge towards him, I feel bad for how badly he's about to get chewed out. Suddenly he screams. The hell are they doing to him?
Moments later a drill sergeant leaves PVT Dennis and trips over the bed as he launches onto a different PVT. The PVT buckles to the ground with a yelp of pain as the Drill Sergeant climbs atop him. We are all shocked, standing at attention, staring forward as trained.
PVT Dennis rolls off the bed, slamming the ground with what looks like a seizure. Across the room a PVT breaks his composure as he runs to Dennis, but he is tackled in the mid-hall. The private's face cracks Dennis's footlocker, after the loud snap he goes limp.
I break my own composure, looking around. PVT Baker lays in the cot below me, shaking violently with foam spewing out the mouth. A PVT yells, "Fuck this!" He runs for the front door, but turns corner to find Drill Sergeant Koddak, the meanest man in history, bleeding from the face in his tattered pajamas. The PVT stands there for a second, half expecting an order for push-ups. Drill Sergeant Koddak lunges for the private.
I quickly jolt in the other direction, along with a few other PVTs. With no real exit except the front door, I and 6 others run into the male head. We tried to let others in, but they were laced with insane drill sergeants and I think I saw a bloodier version of PVT Dennis after us.
The door is rammed, slammed, kicked, and pounded by screaming privates. Cries of pain echoing the perimeter. Then PVT Smith vomits on PVT Cook, falling to the ground in a seizure. PVT Smith is far too strong for us to even harm, and PVT Cook may need killed too.
He knows by the look in our eyes we don't trust him, he grabs the only broom and breaks the head, backing into the corner defensively. Someone tries to calm him when PVT Smith lurches to my leg.
He jumps for another's leg as I stumble backward. My leg quickly tingles as if asleep. I feel dizzy. Still backing up, my leg is shorted by the toilet bowl, throwing my headfirst onto the wet floor.
My eyes crack open to sunlight. I feel well rested. It's nice... too nice. I turn my head to find the dead alarm clock. I've overslept, I'm late for work. I jump up and run to the bathroom, flipping the switch I find the light's dead too. Okay, power outage, I can't be the only one late.
I climb inside my car after getting ready, noticing the neighbors frantically stuff their car with backpacks. Must be camping or visiting. I wave to them but no reply, why the rush?
Reaching the stop sign exiting my neighborhood I remark how busy it is. Not only are the streets packed, but everyone seems to be pushing the speed limit. After merging my way in, I'm peer pressured to speed too by the wail of horns behind me. I never liked the speed limit anyways.
I arrive to my workplace to find an empty parking lot. Also my phone died overnight for not charging. Guess I don't work. I take a U-turn and head back for my house. I mean, I don't know what else I'd do with this free time. I'm not even awake yet!
Turning onto West Broadway it hit me what's going on. First I see the packed grocery store, which pulled my attention by the shatter of a window and people running in and out. Then I see the gas station backed up through the road with cars, with people screaming and pounding the doors.
Then I remember falling asleep last night just after hearing the radio buzz about "economic collapse."
I slow down, not sure what I should do. When stopped, I hear a pound on my driver window. I look left to find the muffled yells coming from a masked man pointing his pistol at me.