Strangest of Holidays (Black Friday months late)

•06/01/2014 • Leave a Comment

I’d planned to post a blog two months ago but never got around to it. Here it is. =)

Consumerism has never freaked me out more than it does right now, since I work in a chain store and can see it from the server’s perspective.

Christmas was a very busy time for every store with stuff to sell that wasn’t a quirky rug or holographic picture of Marilyn Monroe. Even mine, which specialises in cold beverages – as in sub-zero beverages – was busy for the entire month of December. The addition of kids on Winter break wasn’t as large a factor as I’d assumed it would be, either. I had a conversation with one of our regulars about paychecks and whatnot – people who get paid monthly got paid early, and would be spending it on Christmas. They would spend the remainder on Boxing Day, saving a little for the New Year celebrations, and then trek through January living off leftovers and frozen peas. The sight of hundreds of people, laden with bags from every store on the high street, looking angry/tired/relieved to be sitting down for five minutes, on the other side of my till made me ask one question: Why are people still doing this?

I realise Christmas is the biggest public holiday of the year, and for it to vanish would shock, upset, and mortally confuse countless people, but the sheer amount of stress people put themselves under for the sake of a single day is astonishing.

Yes. It is a single day, regardless of the bluster one can put on it. Yes family come and exchange gifts, but often these gifts are either general junk (one more pair of socks and I’ll have a fit!) or fashionable jank (which will swiftly be outdated and forgotten). Boxing Day sees a MASSIVE influx of people to all stores, looking to buy even more stuff at marginally cheaper prices. I remember a quote I heard once: “Shit you don’t need that you get for £10 off is still shit you don’t need.” Not the hobby-feeding ‘shit you don’t need’, I mean the ERMAGHERD-MILEY-IS-WEARING-IT ‘shit you don’t need’. The former will air your personal pursuit of whatever makes you happy in your downtime. The latter will get a few comments from the people you know until they go out of fashion a month later.
Just had a thought. Being a hipster must be damn expensive.
The days between Christmas and the New Year were mostly booze and leftover-stuff shopping.

But why? Why all the trouble? Why all the added fat men wearing red? Why all the smiling animals and living snowmen? Why do people need to be told that THIS is the time to buy things for others? Why can’t we buy things all through the year instead? Why don’t people just say Fuck You to the trees and decorations for the one time of year, and get creative with their normal living conditions instead? Why does a lowered price make the item we don’t really like more attractive than the full-price item we really like? Why bother?

British people, I’ve noticed, are notorious for min/maxing. Getting as much as they can for as little as possible. It’s the source of all the 2-for1 deals, and their offspring. And yet, until this year I hadn’t noticed a marked similarity to the American Black Friday swarms. In a country where Thanksgiving isn’t even celebrated, I saw stories about people rushing around getting random, would-be-expensive shit for far less than usual. And it’s rarely the hobbyist stuff. It’s always shoes, coats, bags, TVs. Hallmarks of luxury that people want to get cheaper. Hell, when Croydon had it’s mad days of looting, I noticed that no book stores were broken into… I’ll admit I was tempted though. My list of wanted books is so, so long…

And now people are going back to work, and school, and in a week nobody will care that a fortnight ago everyone was gorging on luscious food, drinking in merriment, and playing with the gizmos they received from their families/friends.

It’s as if the gratitude is gone from the holiday. Regardless of its origins, Christmas is universally considered a family holiday – it’s why (nearly) everyone gets the day off. Because of this gesture from (most) business owners, there must have initially been a sweeping feeling of gratitude from everyone because they got to see their families for an entire day, and focus on them instead of resting for the next week of work. Now it’s just another thing that comes every year to suck the money out of the bank account, and as long as everyone gets something from you and yours, it’s a successful one.

Surely something is very wrong when someone can put down a gift from someone else and say, “Thank you, it’s great.” when their real thought is, “This is absolute shit.” This is not only a slight to the person who bought the gift – downright rude, for sure – but it’s also a slight to the one who received it. Logically, that reaction should (keyword ‘should’) only come about if the gift doesn’t match the person who opened it. Socks and underwear aside, if the gift doesn’t match the person, how much did you really think about it before you bought it? I won’t lie and say I haven’t bought random shit for people, even at Christmas 2013. I readily admit that I had no idea what to get them. The recipient might be a Western spoiled brat because they got a set of orange pyjamas instead of a new camera, but the gift-giver is surely just a consuming sheep who bought that because they needed to buy something, despite knowing the intended recipient hates orange but really likes yellow?

Also, anyone who made people work on Thanksgiving (not being American doesn’t quell my indignation) or Christmas? Fuck you. Seriously. And the people who went shopping on Thanksgiving Day, meaning the people that served you didn’t get to spend the whole day with their families? A slightly less intense fuck you. Being an obvious boom for all businesses does not mitigate the family ideal for those days.

 

Maybe I’m a cynical ass.

Maybe it makes total sense and I’m an idiot.

Or maybe I’m just sour that I didn’t get a whole lot that I wanted at Christmas.

Boohoo, poor me. =)

 

-K

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The Safety Lock – Part 13

•06/12/2013 • Leave a Comment

“Ow, ow, ow, ow.”

Kalax groaned.

“Is everyone alright?”

“Alive for sure.”

The voices were too loud. All he wanted to do was sleep. He wasn’t hungry, and the position he was in felt quite comfortable. The sun warmed his face and body. Here he would stay.

“Someone get him up.”

“I will. Last again, for the love of fuck!” Something blocked the heat. “Will you get up already?”

Before Kalax could deny the request, his head was plunged into water. He hadn’t moved, but now he felt like he was being drowned. He sat up and flung his fists in a semicircle before him.  The water receded. He stood, snorting. Some had gone up his nose, and now his sinuses burned. He squinted. The light more than the water stung his eyes.

“Cool, now get over here and let me check.” Judy pulled her sister’s arm.

“If you’re uninjured, what makes you think I will be any different?” Deb resisted, but not very well. “You’ll tear my dress! Stop!”

“Oh please. After all that be glad it’s even still there. Besides, it’s already torn.”

“Where?” She snatched her hand away.

“Stomach.” Judy fingered a hole in her vest. “See?”

“Oh my…” Deb lifted the fabric, then let it fall. “Are you okay?!”

“What?”

“Are. You. Oh. Kay.” Deb jumped on her twin. “There isn’t a scar is there? They’re so unsightly!”

“Christ…” Kalax rolled his eyes. What had happened? He recalled trying to grab a beam of light. Then nothing. Again. He looked at his own clothes. A horizontal line had sheared his jumper. He put his hand through and touched his belly. The skin felt slippery and puckered. He pulled up his clothes and poked his scar.

“I’m hungry.” Tristan reclined against a rock with his hands behind his head. “And I need to pee.”

“Do you have a scar too?” Kalax asked.

“Yup. No torn clothes, though.” He gave a thumbs up. “The wonders being shirtless.”

“If you need to pee, then pee. You’re a guy!” Alex was pacing, swinging her arms hard.

“What’s wrong with you? Cramps getting to ya?”

“No!” She kept marching. “That damn grey blob thing used my attack! Why did it have to copy me?”

“Alex!” Deb screamed.

“What?”

Deb tackled Alex and fumbled with her shirt.

“I think we can assume she has a scar, too, Deb. Which means those beams of light really did hit us…” Kalax said.

“More like blades,” Judy said. “That shit hurt.”

“Deb, get off me!” Alex struggled beneath her friend’s knees.

“But I need to make sure! If your wound is open then-” Deb gasped. “Alex, when did you start wearing contacts?”

“I didn’t. What’re you talking about?”

“Your irises, dear. They’re bright green.”

“What?! Water! Now!”

Deb waved her hands in the air a few times and soon cupped a small pool of water.

“Holy crap…” Alex touched her face near her eyes, then bolted to Tristan. “Dude! Yours are red now!”

“Cool! Red eyes without being albino. Whatever that Saviour thing did, thanks!”

Kalax went to Deb’s water and looked. His were light brown. Was that different to usual? Alex and Deb were friends, so they’d know if theirs changed. And Alex had kidnapped Tristan, so she probably saw them then. Judy had checked her sister’s – dark blue. Why had their eyes changed colour? He remembered the churning in his stomach going away when his eyes burned for a bit. Did that have something to do with it?

“Hey, he said. His voice was so soft, everyone turned to him. “Did any of you feel strange during some of the fights? Really hungry? And angry?”

“Rage? Nah.” Tristan sat forward, leaning on his knees. “But I did feel weird. Kinda like I wanted to die. The whole thing seemed pointless.” He ran one hand down his face. “That massive group of Goliaths was the worst.”

“Alex?”

“I was mad,” she said. “But not in the way you said. I was more insulted.”

“By what?” Tristan asked.

“Something condescending. I remember that much.”

“I just wanted a hug,” Judy said.

“But only from my sister.” Deb shrugged.

“Does anyone remember anything?” Kalax asked.

“Of course,” Alex said. “Goliaths, the wall, the platform.” She counted them on her fingers.

“Before that?”

“Meeting you guys,” Tristan said. “The cliff, the ooze.”

“And before that?”

“Nope.”

“What about re-memories?”

“What about what?”

“Deja-vu, dumbass.”Alex approached Kalax. “What are you getting at?”

“Um.” Deb hesitated. The twins shared a look, and Judy nodded. “Sometimes I remember details about random shit. When I do, I get a headache.”

“I do too,” Tristan said. “Minus the headaches, though.”

“Me too,” Kalax said. “What about you, Alex?”

There was a pause. “What the hell is a safety?” she said.

Deb snorted. “Well, safety is the state of being out of-”

“No! I’m not dumb! I mean a safety. As in the safety. As in this.” She unclenched her fist, revealing a slightly crumpled, folded note. She unfolded it while the group gathered around her. Heads together, Alex read the words aloud. “‘The safety is off. Be swift.’”

 

END

———–

Yay! At last, it is done. I don’t know whether I’ll continue. Obvious sequel-promising cliffhanger is obvious, but I’ve no obligation to do so. =)

The Safety Lock – Part 12

•24/11/2013 • Leave a Comment

            Fragments of clothing swirled around the air as The Shadow drifted back to the platform. Its red eyes danced. Kalax tried to lift his head. He didn’t get far. He and his comrades were scattered around the bullseye. Their weapons were broken, shards and splinters dotting the floor. His skin was numb, but he could feel pain pushing through it. He looked at The Shadow. It had conjured a chair to one of the rings near them and sat on it, leaning on one hand. He tried sitting up again in spite of the unnatural heaviness he felt, and made it this time. The Shadow flicked the air in front of it and something kicked Kalax back. He skidded across the platform, grazing his face, but landed on his knees. His forehead hit the floor; he still felt a hand pressing him down. Someone coughed.

            “You think this is over?” It was Tristan. He laughed. It was the weakest he’d done all day and sounded more like a groan.

            “As long as my clock ticks, this shit is never gonna end.” Alex held her stomach, but stood straight. “Your clock ticks, I mean. Yeah.”

            Judy pulled Deb upright and brushed dust off her hat. “No-one hurts my sister…”

            “And gets away with it.” Deb jiggled her feet out of what was left of her shoes.

            Kalax got to his feet. “I…” His stomach twisted and bile stung the back of his throat. He spat. The goop that came out was fluorescent green.

            “Uh, dude…” Tristan pointed at Kalax’s arm.

            He looked at his limb; it glowed like a Goliath. It wasn’t just his veins and arteries, though. His muscles gleamed beneath his skin. The knot in his stomach unravelled and slithered up his spine, past his throat and into his head. For a few seconds his eyes burned. Then nothing. He felt fine. Even the heaviness has vanished. He looked at the others and they glowed too. Their eyes were a vibrant purple. Each looked at their hands and touched their faces.

            Sudden sunshine burst through the thick haze in a thin column. The Shadow stood from its chair and raised its club. Darkness crept over the repurposed tree and The Shadow swung it at the narrow beam of light. The light still shone, but it no longer reached the ground; it stopped a few yards above. As if spilling into a mould, the bright white split in two at the base and touched the battlefield again. Two became four; four became five and the beam vanished, leaving a glimmering white mass behind. It stood on two legs and raised its head, then a hand. A thin silver wave pulsed and the eyes in the haze melted away.

“The fuck is that?” Alex whispered.

“That? The fuck is this?” Deb rubbed her hands together.

“Deus ex machina,” Tristan said.

“Our saviour…” Kalax said.

The Saviour grabbed one of the paperclip trees and plucked it. As it held the tree in one hand, it swept the other over it in a slow arc. A grey mist followed the motion. After, the tree looked like polished marble in a statue’s hands. It turned and faced The Shadow, who hadn’t moved but had its club ready. The two remained motionless for a few minutes. The Saviour acted first, but only by tilting its head to one side. The Shadow responded by leaning forward. Suddenly two massive blue eyes stared at the group. The Saviour directed its attention at them one at a time, and then straightened. It ran its free hand over the tree again, but came away gripping branches this time.

“New weapons?” Tristan said. “Sweet! I miss my sword.”

“Gotta admit,” Kalax said. “I agree.”

The Saviour threw the branches at them.

“How do you know they’ll be weapons?” Alex huffed.

“Did you see what just happened?” Judy said.

“Right now I’ll believe anything.” Deb put her hand out, ready to catch.

The others mimicked her. Mid-flight the branches had morphed into simple beams identical to the one The Saviour had arrived in. They nosedived and rebounded off the ground toward them. The beams split, and each aimed for a chest. Kalax lowered his arm; his beam was first. He prepared his hand for the impact, but noticed too late how low it flew. It rammed into his stomach and he tumbled backwards. Dazed, he saw the beams do the same to his allies. The Saviour and The Shadow held hands in the distance, clubs in their other hands. They released each other, sidestepped a few times, and then shoulder barged each other. Black and white became grey.

The Shade had no eyes, but did open a mouth. A cold breeze carried the smell of rotting flesh towards the giant monster. Kalax lost focus and closed his eyes for a few seconds, but forced them back open. Goliath corpses and body parts flew overhead, and with them the putrid stink had intensified. The Shade was still inhaling. A stream of black liquid came next, but it breathed the bubbling stuff in like gas. Last, the haze thinned as it was dragged into the airflow.

Kalax blacked out.

The Safety Lock – Part 11

•13/11/2013 • Leave a Comment

It was solid black, standing out against the purple pinwheel churning behind it. Two crimson eyes blazed on the head. Five horns jutted from the middle of its forehead around to the back of its head, all curling in. Its shoulders were wide and, as if it was wearing a cloak, curled out and down; the shape getting slimmer as it met the floor. Even from the distance it was gargantuan. It stared at them. But it didn’t smell. At all. Suddenly red eyes were in their faces. It looked at each of them, sniffed, then went back. It didn’t speak, or growl. Neither did they. They couldn’t. What could be said that would justify what they saw? Each side watched the other like alphas preparing to battle for territory. Each awaited the other to move. Each looked for possible approaches. Each feared the consequences should they lose.

“So, is that a he, she, or it?” Deb asked.

Judy chuckled. “No idea, sister.”

“You’re not very impressive, are you?” Alex shouted. “Those beasts of yours looked way cooler!”

“She’s got a point.” Tristan said. “You’re so basic, dude!”

“You sure it’s a dude, dude? I don’t think it has the balls to attack yet.”

Deb laughed. “It’s so ugly! It’s a mere shadow. Nothing more.”

Silence ate the laughter. The Shadow narrowed its bright eyes and lifted what looked like a hand. But nothing moved except the hand, so there was no cloak. It was just a collection of darkness, hopefully with flesh beneath. A tangible shadow. It grabbed one of the paperclip trees and dragged it out of the platform. It held its barbed club by the trunk and slid forward.

They sprinted around the target rings in response. Kalax tried crippling its leg; he forced two stalagmites out of the ground and tore them out, firing them like bullets at The Shadow’s thick lower section. He pulled vines from the paperclip trees and shot them toward the same area, hoping to overwhelm its balance. The stalagmite chunks passed through, hitting nothing, and tumbled off the edge; the vines punctured the ground.

Tristan aimed for the arms. He slammed his broad sword into the ground and rubbed his fingers together to gather fire into his hands – so much that he had to hug it. He concentrated it into a ball the size of his hand, packed like a dwarf star. Grabbing his sword by the hilt, he jumped, tossed the fireball up, and followed it with his sword’s edge. The ball split in two and hung, suspended, in the air for a moment before Tristan spun himself around and used his sword as a bat to launch the halves forward – one to each side. They flew with  flames licking the trail of smoke in their wake. They, too, flew straight through it. The demi-spheres hit the ground, flames extinguished.

The twins went for the head. They used water to propel themselves in circles around it, leaving thick pillars behind them. A water orb formed around The Shadow’s head as they flew through the air. When it was done, The Shadow narrowed its eyes. The water orb split into quarters that floated away. Judy and Deb nodded to one another and boosted to one of the quarters, still whole, in the air and whacked it at The Shadow. It made contact, but there was steam. A lot of it. The other quarters fell to the ground and burst on the surface, spreading over the platform.

Alex went after the torso; she stood on the blunt end of her guan-dao, the sharpened edge wedged into the ground. She took a deep breath and kept inhaling. The platform shook. The paperclip trees bent towards her, the moisture left on the ground, and the rubble from the previous attacks all flew towards Alex as if she were the eye of a tornado. She closed her mouth, and all was quiet. The violet hue of their surroundings was unfazed by this disturbance, the platform nearly clear of all evidence of battle. Alex jumped and forced her weight down. She grabbed her weapon and planted her feet on the wooden pole’s tip, bending it back. She motioned her body forward cannonballed towards The Shadow. She was point blank with its chest before she opened her mouth and blew. Everything she’d sucked in came out in one powerful jet stream, so strong it halted Alex mid flight and pushed her back. It blew out the other side and into the middle of the pinwheel.

Everyone in the air landed and The Shadow raised its club. It threw its whole body behind a swing that cracked either the ground or the tree. The warriors rocked, and The Shadow lifted itself into the air. It swam far above them, almost out of sight. The haze twinkled a faint red, and then eyes appeared all around them. They jumped as a unit in an attempt to overwhelm it but something resisted, and The Shadow was too high. As they descended, a thunderclap boomed above them. Invisible hands swatted them like a swarm of hornets. Kalax landed on his chest. Pressure pushed him down even as he rolled onto his back. Then he felt the pressure shift, forcing him to ascend again. The eyes stared at him from the haze on the way up, pupils dilated. As fast as he had been raised, he was thrown back down; this time he landed on his shoulder and bounced a little. In the tiny gap between him and the ground at that moment, something kicked him up again. He travelled faster and further this time, and received another glare from The Shadow’s own bloody eyes before being hammered down again.

The Safety Lock – Part 10

•08/09/2013 • 3 Comments

“I think that might have been all of them,” Kalax said.

“I fucking hope not…”

“It’s a shame I’m not hungry anymore,” Tristan said, swallowing. “I wasted so much meat just now…”

“Dude, you’re eating an arm right now,” Kalax said.

“You selfish prick!” Alex jumped toward him and clamped the arm between her teeth. She dragged a chunk out and jumped away.

“Question.” Everyone turned to Judy. “Why is the sky still purple? We killed them all. Doing that usually fixes things, doesn’t it?”

“Usually?” Kalax said. An electric charge ran through his head then. Had all this happened before? Purple sky? Lavender? No. Something similar. The Goliaths were pawns.

“Damn these headaches.” Deb’s voice made Kalax open his eyes. “Those things were of no consequence. Peons. Foot soldiers. Our target is now their general.”

“How do you know that?” Tristan asked.

“I… I don’t know.” Judy patted her sister’s shoulder.

“Do you know where he is, then?”

“No…”

“Oh for the –” Alex shouted. “Hold on.” She shook out her legs and twisted to her sides a few times, and then she spin-jumped. High up, she stopped spinning and extended one arm, which stayed out until she landed. “That way.” She led at a run. “You might want to speed up. We have walls to jump.”

All followed. She was right – they neared a large wall. Even at a distance Kalax couldn’t see the top or ends. All walls stopped somewhere, not that he planned to go over it. They split again.

Tristan was the first over. He sprinted until he was nearer than the rest and leaped, aiming it so he landed point blank with the wall. He crouched into the descent and sprung. Fire burst beneath him and sent him out of sight. Alex made it next; she began spinning and turned into a small hurricane. She took her guan-dao in hand and the extra space widened the base of Hurricane Alex as she flew over. The twins shared a look and smiled. They dove forward, but before they hit the ground a jet of water pushed them up. They arced in the air, and their fall was stopped by another jet, and then another. This continued when they reached the wall and they scaled it. Kalax stopped running when he reached it. He put his left palm on it to gauge its thickness. His probing went too far for him to topple or open it. He set his fingertips in place of his palm and grunted, forming a large circular crack. He left it and backed up a few yards. He darted forward, his long strides closing the distance fast. Then he bowed closer to the ground and dipped his fist in. It came up covered in clay inset with fat, flat stones. He collided with the wall. The crack became a hole with Kalax attached by his gauntlet. The tunnel was dark. When he emerged to purple gloom again, he climbed atop his carriage. The others landed on it.

“Better than running, wouldn’t you say?” Kalax said.

“If I call shotgun, where do I sit?” Tristan asked.

They travelled for what seemed an eternity; the carriage never slowed as it scraped the ground, but their surroundings never altered, like they were on a treadmill.

“There,” Kalax said. “Another wall.” He pointed forward; this wall stood far lower than the first one. Almost like the side of a platform.

“That’s no wall. That’s the side of a platform,” Tristan said, pointing up. “See the pillars on the top?”

“If it’s in our way then up we go.” Alex grinned. “This is a great workout.”

“Up again? Why couldn’t this thing stay on the ground?” Deb complained. “The hell is wrong with him?”

“Or her. Or it.” Judy glared at her sister. Deb stuck her tongue out in reply.

The carriage finally stopped next to the platform. There were ledges they could use to get up this time.

“Ledges?” Kalax said.

“Sweet! Let’s jump!” Tristan said.

“You don’t find that suspicious?”

“Race you, Tristan!” Alex sprung upward.

Kalax shook his head.

“Even if it was leading us into a trap, what alternative do you see?” Judy shrugged.

“Now stop dawdling and get hopping,” Deb said. “Being last to do everything isn‘t a positive habit.”

He followed. The small outcrops of stone were secure. No pitfall traps, then. Unlike that ooze. A shiver cramped his legs and he had to stop. A rumbling came from above. It shook the ledges beneath their feet and stirred the haze. They hastened.

When their feet hit the platform, they took in what was left of the strange underworld, and the foe awaiting them. The platform itself was dark. It looked like marble, or wood, or marble and wood. It shined like metamorphic rock, but smelled and felt like foliage or a growth of some sort. The pillars they’d seen from below looked like paperclips, standing straight on one side and curling in on themselves. But there were small, pointed offshoots surrounding the odd structures like tree branches. The middle of the platform was full of silver rings. Like a target the rings got smaller as they went inward, and at the other end of the platform stood their adversary.

 

————————————————————

I don’t know why my indents are working suddenly…

LOTS OF SPACE BARS? ARE YOU SERIOUS?! Nope. Nope nope nope. Gone. All gone.

The Safety Lock – Part 9

•21/08/2013 • Leave a Comment

Kalax, taking the lesson from his previous encounter, threw up stalagmites – the strong rock first impaling, and then tearing them to shreds one at a time. Every fist he threw slammed faces, crushing life with cold clay. Their cries were muffled, blood leaking from around the impact mark before the Goliath’s limp body dropped. He drew his sword. Hack, slash, stab, click, release, swing, swipe. The beasts fell to bits, no more than grill fodder. His eyes glowed like the blood spattered on his clothes and skin. He was no longer hungry for the flesh; he was high on the stench of sweat fused with adrenaline. He could sense everything around him. The Goliaths had realised this would be a genocide. They threw themselves at him and his allies in protest, to protect their master. Let them protest. They would find no mercy. Not with him; not with them.

Kalax could see the trail of corpses Tristan had made. His jacket flushed its vibrant green. His eyes were ablaze, the nicks on his broad sword carrying entrails from every enemy it had struck down. He spun in a circle, slicing stomachs. Several Goliaths fell, convulsing and wailing. Three tried to ambush him; he turned his head over his right shoulder and swept his free hand in their direction. Flaming turbulence rode the air with lightning momentum and exploded in their faces, leaving ashes. Such a waste of food. Turning, Tristan jumped, sword raised, and met a Goliath in mid air. He kicked it down and made his landing on it, sword first. The beast was halved, and a red shockwave bounded from the blade’s tip, dicing the remaining enemies where they stood. Clean sweep. He got up, brushed a hand over his head and howled, beating his chest with one fist, before dashing to Kalax. A high-five later the pair made their way towards the next crowd.

Kalax and Tristan came upon Deb and Judy next. Their bō staves were like blurs. A poke here from one, a whack there from the other and two drives straight through the torso felled more than one of the creatures. Their effort was plain in the sneers on their faces. At one point they moved like a single person. A paw slashed at Deb, but she swerved around it. Judy stood just out of reach and heel kicked its owner’s stomach. When the Goliath doubled over, Deb cracked its back with her staff. Judy rammed hers into its spine and twisted. Deb put her lips on the beast’s and blew. It half inflated, and then it’s eyes dimmed. The pair then stood among the last of their hunt and planted their staves in the ground. The twins had seen them, but they hadn’t seen the twins. Judy took Deb’s left hand in her right and they looked up, closing their eyes. Water began to pool beneath them, concentrating beneath their feet and pushing them upwards. Their propulsion stopped, and they leaned into the fall with their bō staves extended. As they neared the ground each one whistled, each Goliath looked up and each bō went down the throat of the each beast. The twins landed on their feet, and punched a clean hole to retrieve their weapons. They smiled at the boys and joined their trek.

The four of them soon neared Alex’s territory, but had to duck as a Goliath sailed over their heads. She was surrounded, but grinning. She guided her guan-dao with the skill of a composer; she spun it to crash the blunt end against their heads, knocking the Goliaths off balance, and followed it with a slice from the blade. With her other hand, she blew Goliaths away from her back and kept them pinned. When there was a large enough pile, she wagged her finger. The motion turned to a blur. The blur turned to a tornado. She blew it at them like a kiss. The spinning Goliaths collided, flailing at and killing each other by accident in the process. Alex pulled up her shorts. She nodded and joined them.

“That.” She stretched. “Was so much fun. Are there any more?”

The Safety Lock – Part 8

•06/08/2013 • Leave a Comment

“Shit,” Deb said.

“Steaming hot and stinky,” Tristan added.

“Thanks for the mental image,” Alex shuddered.

“I think they like you Tristan,” Kalax said.

“It’s you they like, I mean the ones before looked right at you when you got here,” Tristan replied.

“If you would kindly like to shut the fuck up, we sort of have a decision to make,” Judy said. “What’s our next move?”

“Isn’t that obvious?” Kalax replied.

“Clearly it isn’t,” Alex said.

“We attack. Quick and hard. We’ve taken down more than one, so we can take down one hundred.”

“Each?”

“Yes, each. I know we can,” Kalax nodded. Talking calmed his stomach, but his head was light. He needed to run.

There was a moment’s silence.

“That’s the gayest shit I’ve ever heard,” Alex, Deb and Judy said.

“But he has a point,” Tristan said, taking his sword from the ground. He swung it around his head once. “Let’s get this shit over with. They’re preventing my lunch.”

“I thought you were full?” Alex said.

“Never!” Tristan yelled. He hasted toward the army.

“Honestly, always charging and never thinking. Just like a man.” Deb shook her head.

“I’m standing right here,” Kalax said.

“Oh yeah. You are… Are you a submissive, then?”

“Kalax, don’t answer,” Judy said. “Just go.” She smacked her sister on the head and pushed her forward.

“There’s nothing wrong with it if he is!” Deb said, met with another smack.

When they caught up with Tristan, they saw the monsters stood in a line, rank and file style, waiting.

“Bagsy not first,” Judy whispered.

“Not first,” Tristan said.

“Not first,” Alex and Deb said.

“Stop being such…” Kalax’s stomach twisted, sending him to one knee. “I think they’re waiting for us to dive in,” he wheezed. “They can overpower us.” Another twist shook him. “Their numbers.”

 “Stop it!” Alex yelled. “You’re thinking too much! Just do something!”

“Glad to.” Kalax released his chest as a hot flush hit him. Head light, he slammed his palms onto the ground and then threw his arms up.

“Take your time,” Tristan sniggered.

Seconds later, something exploded from the centre of the beast armada. At least three had been impaled by a rock spire that had burst from the ground, skewering them like meat on a cocktail stick. Seven more had been shredded by the shards of stone that had erupted from the spire’s entry point. Kalax hung his head forward, overwhelmed by a new connection to his surroundings. Somehow he could sense them outside his usual five. The Goliath formation was shattered, but he could smell their rage. And their fear. Sorrow for lost brothers. Hunger; but that could have just been Tristan. The air was dry. The ground was hard. Still a purple sky. So many Goliaths. So much meat. More meat, more heat, more power. And he liked power. The heat was pleasant. Having a full belly felt good. Feast. Feast. Feast. He blinked hard, rolling his eyes to lose the train of thought. When he opened them Tristan stood to his left, the broad sword still on his shoulder. Something flicked the back of his jacket, though there was no breeze. His darting eyes watched the Goliaths for any manoeuvres. Then his stomach growled. Alex stood to his right, tying a bandana around her forehead. She snapped her fingers and a guan-dao materialised before her, the curved blade glinting. She gripped it in one hand and twirled in a circle; she planted the blunt end in the ground and stood proud, looking past the horde. The twins, Deb and Judy, stood in front of him. For the first time, he noticed that their hair length was visibly different; Deb’s being shorter. The pair didn’t look worried, nor did they look confident. They looked excited. They faced each other, linked their hands and then jumped apart. In their wakes, two bō staves took shape from hollow water streams. Each turned to grab one, doing a cartwheel in mid air and landing with a light splash.

They charged.

 

The organised Goliath ranks proved convenient. They split their party, each marked their own territory, and they rushed.