Cynthia McClundy sat by the shack’s only window, tugging the end of her greying hair. The sandy street outside was lit by torchlight. Palm trees leaves rustled in the wind, the trunks arching and bending with every push and pull.
Their old analog clock read half past midnight. John’d found it in the wreckage of a house, though it had been broken then. A clock without arms. Cynthia had been irate with John for bringing junk home, she’d thought he should’ve been working. Not that there was any work.
Now a thin piece of scrap metal ticked the seconds away. It was the piece of sheeting John cut and fit into place.
Cynthia rose and tried to still her shaking hands before going upstairs. Their son Hughston was sound asleep. She kissed him lightly on the forehead and whispered; “Mommy’s going to be right back baby, don’t you worry.”
She tip-toed downstairs and went outside. Using three different keys from her chain, Cynthia locked the door. She turned and walked towards the shore gate. Most of the shacks and makeshift houses were dark but the town’s gate glowed with torch light.
The guards saw her coming and walked out towards her. They wore sleeveless light armour and shorts. It was too hot for anything else.
“Cynthia,” George said. A family friend. He held a hand up to stop her.
“I’m going out to look for John.”
George exhaled long and avoided her eyes. “No can do.”
“I need to go look for him George. I can’t stand thinking,” Cynthia trailed off.
There was shouting from behind the gate. Another one of the Ameritech guards leaned into George and whispered something in his ear. George nodded, keeping eye contact with Cynthia. His brows furrowed and he took a step towards her.
“Cynthia, I’m sorry but you’ve gotta go home. Think of little Hugh.”
Cynthia glared at him. “No George, I’m not,“
George glanced nervously over his shoulder. The gate began to slide open with a groan.
Cynthia took her chance and darted past him, running for the opening. She heard George curse followed by his feet crunching the sand behind her.
“Close the gate.” Someone behind her yelled, maybe George. The gate kept opening. Two guards came out of nowhere and caught Cynthia under the arms. She fought, screaming John’s name and swinging her eyes crazily along the shore.
The waves were black. A group of guards were carrying something in a wet blanket. Blood soaked through the bottom. Cynthia saw pieces – an arm, a torn chest and then she recognized the remains of a hat.
She went completely limp, eyes staring into an unseen infinite. The guards averted their eyes until George lifted her to her feet. He supported her while putting a consoling arm around her shoulders, “Cynthia?”
She looked at him, lips trembling.
George felt like he was going to be sick and as John’s body was carried past, he was, all over the beach.
* * *
Mickey made better time cruising on the sand. His hover bike’s exhuast fanned two beige wakes behind him. Some grains stung his eyes, but it was still better cruising than the dilapidated streets. Skeletons of cars and collapsed buildings made the pot holes hard to avoid at breakneck speed.
The Atlantic Ocean was a liquid body of rapidly changing precious stones; amethyst, emerald and then sapphire. The heat baked Mickey’s head and his long hair dripped beads of sweat. Keeping one hand on the bars, he felt behind him to check the package secured in the back. The ropes held it steady.
Mickey spotted Bokan Retahn. Tin hatched shacks sparkled under the scorching sun. The encampment was nestled in a small bay. Not a bad place for an outpost. If Mickey had it his way, he’d stay here awhile. A guy could do worse than a drink of rum and a lounge on the beach.
As Mickey drew closer he began to see the people of Bokan Retahn. A shirtless man was fly fishing waist deep in the ocean, a ragged shirt draped over his head. Mickey scanned the surrounding coast for more fishermen but there was only one. Strange.
Two women combed the beach with decrepit rakes, looking for forgotten trinkets. Maybe hoping to find an old watch or a ring of precious metal.
There were ten Ameritech guards strolling around, keeping their eyes on the locals. They were meat suits wearing heavy armour and they carried heavy Stop Cannons. Poor bastards.
They eyed Mickey cautiously. He raised a hand in greeting, and pulled up to the gate.
Mickey hit the intercom. It buzzed once.
“Mickey Wiser. Ameritech sent me. About the -” Mickey paused to read the briefing on his Ameritech Display, “shark.”
Mickey slapped his ID down on the scanner. Lights beneath flashed green and the gate opened with a squeak.
There were far more people working inside the outpost than there were outside. Men and women, even children of less than ten, hammered supports against the wall that surrounded the camp. Wood and metal beams to make them more sturdy. Others dug sharpened stakes into the sand, facing the wall.
The homes had an assortment of misfit metal bars on the windows and heavy locks on the doors. A skin and bones black lab lounged in a patch of shade, panting with a lolling tongue. A fly landed on it’s eye but the dog didn’t move.
Pitiful weapons lay no further than three feet from the workers; barb wire clubs, metal pipes, a few guns, pieces of torn, sharp metal and various knives and blades.
Mickey stopped next to a man with grey flecks in his hair and hard eyes. He was hammering a support piece of wood against the wall and a small child worked alongside him, handing him nails.
“Hey friend, know where a paying man can get a drink around here?” Mickey asked.
The man turned around slowly and dropped his hammer in the sand. He wiped his sweaty face with a yellow rag and then bent down. He raised a filthy milk jug full of water to his cracked lips and drank heartily. Then he offered the jug to Mickey.
Mickey looked at the jug and frowned. Sediments whirled around the bottom.
“While I’m most thankful for your hospitality, I was hoping for something a little stronger. Say, a half glass of whiskey on the rocks.”
The man stared back at him. With a giggle, the child turned around and looked up at Mickey with too-large blue eyes. The child’s hair was long and it’s face and clothes were coated in a layer of sand grains.
“What’s so funny there?” Mickey asked.
A tongue protruded rudely from between the child’s lips and blew, spraying spit.
“Head down to the shack over there.” The man said sombrely, pointing with a knobby finger. Mickey turned his head and saw a small, shabby construct of sheet metal. It didn’t appear to have walls.
“Thanks,” Mickey said.
The man nodded and tapped the child on the shoulders before resuming his work.
Mickey drove slowly down the sand street, noticing that the work ethic here was unparalleled. No one was slacking. There were no resting people, no one was laughing or sharing a joke. Every single tanned back was bent in the act of hard labour, sweat shining on their skin. Mickey felt tired just looking at them.
The largest group of workers were fixing a hole the size of a large truck in the wall. They patched it with drift wood and aluminum siding. Splinters and torn chunks of metal lay on the sand inside the wall.
Mickey arrived at the small shack and found a large piece of sheet metal held up by four wooden poles which had been forced into the sand. A shirtless man with two distinct stumps for legs leaned back in the shade beneath. Each crippled leg was different: the right one ended in a jagged scar near the hip bone and the other ended mid-shin, a sharp bone protruding from scar tissue that looked like ground meat.
In the sand on his right lay a battered beer cooler that still worked, apparently, because it was coated in condensation. Mickey’s mouth watered.
“Like the look of that do you?” The man sneered.
He opened the cooler’s battered lid with a heavily muscled arm.
Frosty Ameritech lager filled it. Nine empties littered the sand on his left, and another was clutched half-crumpled in his hand, which he sat up to raise to his mouth.
The man was wide around the middle, and had a face like a hairy thumb. A messy goatee circled his fat lips and it quivered as he squinted up at Mickey.
“Got something stuck in your eye or do you have a problem?” He spat at Mickey’s feet. “Go fuck your mother.”
“Actually, I was hoping that I could-“
“Oh, I’m sorry.” The man said loudly. “I think you’ve misunderstood me. If you’re done trying to paddle upriver during a fucking monsoon, you’d better go find your sister. I hear she needs a diddling and if no suitable man can be found she’ll do it herself.” The man pretended to consider, a hand held to his chin. “Actually, you know, I’d be willing. For the right price.”
“I just want a-“
“Alright, alright,” The man said, raising his hands and acting hard done by. “I’ll tell you the story but only if you have a drink with me. No one ever drinks with me. That’s the cost.”
Mickey’s eyes bulged. The man was just giving away drinks?
“Do you have any whiskey?”
“Whiskey?” The man asked, taken aback. Then he exploded in laughter, slapping his round belly like a drum. “We’re two of a kind, you and I. Take a seat.”
The man wiggled over, crunching the beer cans with his ass before he turned to brush them away. He cleared a space next to the cooler for Mickey to sit.
Mickey sat down and looked expectantly at the man, who was finishing off the end of his beer with generous slurps. The man finished, belched and then climbed over Mickey, who shielded his face against the man’s wobbling midsection. The man handed over one of two beers he’d acquired and then plopped back onto his elbows.
“No whiskey then? I can pay.”
The man barked a laugh. “All gone. It’s the first thing I drank. Well, after the vodka, the rum, and the gin.” He chuckled, cracked the beer and drank deeply.
Mickey shrugged and opened his beer. It was cold, crisp and more like water than alcohol. He looked at the label, which was completely grey like the can with “Ameritech Lager” printed in plain black text on the body. It was glorious.
“So, you want to hear the story of how I lost my legs? That’s all anyone wants with old Larry Kabob these days.”
Mickey said nothing, willing to hear the man out but only in exchange for cold beer.
“Not much to say there stranger.” Larry was fixing him with a crooked, glassy-eyed grin. He burped. “You local?”
“Didn’t think so. As soon as you asked for whiskey. That’s how I knew. You see, around here people aren’t living for today.”
Mickey looked around at the outposters. It seemed if they were living for today, they were living to get shit done.
“Old Larry Kabob’s not like that. Oh no, not even before all this.” He gestured at his stubs with his beer.
“I moved here with nothing, built myself a bit of a liquor store, sold drinks. Used to do good business too. Ameritech still sends me liquor. I owe them a fortune.”
“This was before the attacks. It started real slow, understand. We’d hear about attacks far out. A caravan heavy loses an arm, a leg, a head, whatever. Then the attacks got closer. Like the monster could smell us. Flocks of children went missing. The parents lost their minds of course. So the made a new rule; no children allowed outside the fence. That was the beginning of the end in Bokan Retahn,” Larry said.
The beer crunched as it crumpled in his fist and he tossed it aside. Then he began to climb over Mickey again.
“Allow me.” Mickey said, pushing and tossed Larry another beer before helping himself.
“I wasn’t always like this,” Larry jiggled his belly and giggled. “I used to be a man who could do things, who could be counted on in a scrap.”
The metal gate made a loud groan as it opened, and the fisherman jogged towards his home, a smile of jubilation on his face, carrying a single, fat fish.
“So first it’s the children can’t go outside. Then it’s the parents, though that almost starved us, so they let hunters and gatherers out now. Not that many hunters and gatherers want to go outside the wall. God, it’s been two years since it all started but it feels so much longer,“ Larry said.
Mickey turned to look at him..
“There used to be a good time atmosphere. Had a couple Ameritech execs stay here once, difficult as it may be to believe. People’d drink and make merry with every meal, and business was good. I made a delightful dollar. That wasn’t it though. The money. It was the attitude. People weren’t afraid, they were happy. Life was good.”
A man walked by, carrying a bundle of sharpened spikes over his shoulders, sweat streaming off his chin.
“Now people are afraid if they drink, it’ll be the last drop they ever have. Never know when you’re gonna need your full mental capacity.”
Silence followed. Mickey looked at Larry and saw he was lighting a hand rolled cigarette, held in shaky fingers.
“How do you get around? How do you eat?”
“I’m functional enough,” Larry said, cheeks puffing hard as the cherry ran crookedly down the cigarette. “I’ve got a bike of my own actually.”
Mickey laughed. “How do you ride it?”
Larry laughed hard in the way that drunks do when they’re inebriated well and good.
“It’s not easy to balance without legs, I must say, but I’ve got skill enough for five men on a bike. I used to ride around all the time,” Larry trailed off, looking at his smoke.
“Did it take your legs?”
Larry nodded slowly and blew a cloud towards Mickey. The smoke smelled stale and lingered. Probably like smoking wood chips.
“I thought I could kill it. That’s the course of drink, isn’t it? You drink a few and you say something you wouldn’t, drink a bunch and you sleep with someone you wouldn’t, drink till your blind and you do something downright stupid that you wouldn’t.”
“Why’d you do it?”
Larry coughed and swung a gaze around at Mickey. “I told you. I was drunk.”
Mickey raised his beer and appraised it. “I’ve never known alcohol to act as the lone source of a man’s motivation. It just brings about the things you think about lots.”
Larry grunted and inhaled the smoke between dirty fingers. Mickey noticed the tip of his pinky was missing.
“I wanted to save us. We needed a hero.”
Mickey clapped the man on the back. “You should count yourself lucky. You faced it and lived. Not one of it’s five hundred victims can say the same.”
Larry laughed bitterly. “Look at me. You call this lucky?” He patted his long stub. “I’m less a hero than a sack of meat. They don’t look at me as brave, but as a symbol. I’m the true expense of leisure. The drunk who lay in the sun too long and got baked. The man who stopped swimming and drowned. I’m worse than dead.”
“Would you take it back if you could?” Mickey asked. “Attacking it?”
Larry shook his head. “No. I’d just fucking kill it.”
“Is it true how fast it is?”
“It’s fast enough to outrun your brain. Vicious as a foaming mongrel too. You’re not thinking of going after it are you?”
Mickey smiled and looked at the other man. “I’m here to kill it.”
“Why in the fuck are you drinking then?” Larry’s tone was harsh. “You want to die? You think it’s a fucking joke?”
“I’m not planning on grabbing the snapping demon by the horns and spitting in it’s face.”
Mickey stood and dug into his pocket. He held out a handful of coins to Larry.
Larry just looked at the coins. It was far more than the value of the beers. Then he laughed. “Keep em. I’m so far in the hole with Ameritech it doesn’t matter much. Dead men need no coin. Buy yourself a pretty girl after all of this.”
“Thanks for the beers.” Mickey turned and walked back to his bike.
“Don’t thank me yet.” Larry called at Mickey’s retreating back. “I might’ve killed you – or worse.”
Mickey walked to his bike and climbed on. He drove up to the gate and got the attention of an Ameritech guard.
“Where can I find the shark?”
The guard looked sombrely at him. “You an extinctor?”
“Listen, I don’t know how much you know. Most extinctors I’ve met are loud mouths with one lucky kill. This shark isn’t your average monster. It’s smart, sadistic, and it’s strong as all hell.”
“Don’t forget fast,” Mickey said with a grin. “I know what I’m doing.”
The man smiled. “Not a bad approach. How fast is your bike?”
“Up to eighty miles per.”
The man nodded. “May be enough. What’s your name?”
The man’s eyes gleamed in recognition. He extended a hand. “I’ve heard of you. Name’s George.”
“Glad to see I have fans out in Bokan Retahn.”
“Maybe you can do it.” George said. “Do you have an Ameritech Display?”
Mickey pulled it out of his pocket and handed it to George. The guard began busily tapping the screen.
“The shark doesn’t really stay anywhere specific for long. The victims who survived say it seemed relaxed at first. Until it smells you.” George handed the display back to Mickey. The map had a large highlighted section now. Mickey groaned internally. The highlighted area covered several miles of the broken city.
“Thanks.” Mickey made for the gate.
“Good luck Mickey.”
Mickey sped out onto the beach.
* * *
George’s map specified that the shark’s largest prowling area was the city streets. Mickey got onto the eroded highway and went half speed due to the obstacles. Blown out, charred cars littered the way. A human skeleton lay against the guard rails, clutching a small gun.
A shipping truck lay on it’s side, the container burst open at the back. Mickey slowed as he drove past and then stopped. A wide variety of cans lay in a huge mess on the baking concrete. Mickey saw a can of tuna in pristine condition and bent to pick it up. He looked at the bent tin and shrugged before dropping it in his pocket.
Mickey kept an eye on his display. He was getting closer to the sharks area. Driving slowly by a gas station on the street, Mickey scanned the intersection. Driving straight, deeper into the territory, Mickey strained his ears but there was no sound. It was unnaturally quiet.
A large board was advertising some sort of pre-war chewable square that helped you have sex. A sexy girl was putting the square into a smiling man’s mouth. The caption read; “Practice safe breath.” Mickey chuckled. Those pre-war ja’broneys never failed to amuse him. They seemed so disconnected.
Mickey went very still. Heavy foot steps, getting louder. Coming from behind. Swinging his bike slowly around, Mickey faced the intersection from before.
An enormous being entered the intersection, grey and smooth but with four muscular legs. It had the alien black eyes of a shark and a damning gallery of razor sharp teeth. From the neck down it had the body of a squat, muscular hound. A fin on its back had a chunk missing and stubby legs gave it an awkward, shifting gait.
Mickey was far enough from the shark to avoid being smelled but he couldn’t helping noting, with growing alarm, that the creature was almost as large as a nearby bus. The shark seemed to wander, slowly swinging it’s great head side to side as it went through the intersection and out the other side.
Following very slowly behind, Mickey observed it. From behind, he saw that its tail wagged like a dog while it walked. From it’s coloration and size, Mickey thought it was mutated from a great white. Why couldn’t it have mutated from a mud shark? Nature was insane.
A small bird swooped through the air in front of the shark and landed, pecking at a stain on the ground. The shift was instantaneous. The air was filled with loud cracks as the shark’s jaw worked mechanically, snapping at the little bird.
The bird took off before the shark could reach it and flew away. But the shark had been disturbed. It rushed around the street in a rage. It surged forwards and smashed it’s head into a wall. The shark shook it’s head to clear rubble and continued it’s rampage. It took the shell of a bike in it’s mouth and chomped at it. The shark spat the bike to the right where it clattered in a slobbery knot. The shark took a fallen traffic sign in it’s mouth and bit it into oblivion before spitting out flecks of metal.
Finally, it stopped biting and then turned back in Mickey’s direction, lumbering along. Mickey’s heart froze. He put the bike slowly in reverse and thanked whoever invented the electric engine. Completely silent.
Mickey extended a hand behind him, keeping his eyes on the shark the whole time. He took the package from behind his back and began to unwrap it.
Within the cloth were three sticks of labratory grade nitro-glycerin. Mickey balanced the package on his groin and reached into his pocket. The shark was getting closer. It paused, great, ancient nostrils sniffing hungrily.
His lighter was caught in his pocket and the layer of sweat on his hand wasn’t helping. The lighter slipped from his fingers, but then he caught it.
Mickey flipped open the lid and lit the fuse. The fuse began to fizzle and the shark went very still.
Mickey threw the explosive at the shark, but it landed five feet to the left. The shark sprang into a sprint and surged towards Mickey. Frantic, Mickey accelerated hard to the right and the shark roared past him. Swinging around, engine revving, he saw the shark was still slowing from it’s charge, legs working. The dynamite exploded, sending a hail of small stones and dust into the air.
The shark was slowly turning around. Mickey pulled out his revolver and shot it in the side. It’s mouth opened wide and it shuddered, shaking it’s head in obvious pain. It recovered almost immediately and bounded even faster as it attacked Mickey head on.
He registered hundreds of sharp teeth in a gaping mouth like a cave and gunned hard to the left. He avoided being swallowed whole by two feet. The shark crashed into the building behind him, head stuck in the cement wall. It’s legs worked furiously, digging grooves in the cracked street.
Mickey reached down for the explosives but they weren’t there. He glanced around and saw they had fallen off the bike sometime during his desperation to avoid becoming shark chow. With a crank of the throttle, Mickey glided over to them and reached down without slowing. He had one in his hand, and looked back regretfully at the other.
The lighter snapped open and Mickey lit the fuse. The dynamite began to crackle. Great, lurching cracks were spreading out from the wall, the shark would break free any moment.
Mickey hurled the dynamite at the shark and it landed between the beasts legs. With a burst of speed, Mickey glided away swiftly.
The shark broke free and chunks of concrete rained down around it. The fuse ran out. Mickey squinted as the shark and wall were consumed by an orange blast of light.
A chunk of concrete flew by Mickey’s head and shattered behind him with a crack. Smoke filled the street and Mickey covered his mouth and nose, watching through slitted eyes.
An ocean breeze ushered away the smoke and Mickey smiled. The breeze smelled like freedom. Ocean. Peace.
When the smoke cleared the shark was getting back to it’s feet, eyes locked on Mickey. It had a burned belly, where the white skin had charred over but otherwise the bastardly monster was unharmed. Mickey’s eyes widened.
The shark lunged at Mickey and he yanked the throttle out of panic. His bike shot out from beneath him and smashed into the sharks mouth. Mickey landed hard on his back and his lungs seized.
There was loud crunch. Mickey sat up, red in the face, struggling to breathe and saw the shark was dismantling his bike into ribbons.
Mickey slapped at the knife in his pocket as he became dizzy with asphyxiation. He dug in and grabbed it, then stabbed it into his chest and yanked it back out. Air flooded into Mickey’s lungs and he gasped loudly.
The shark was still moving its jaws but not much bike remained.
Mickey scrabbled to his feet and sprinted to the dynamite. The crunching of metal stopped. Deep rumbling approached from behind him, but he ducked down, snatched the dynamite, turned and fumbled for his lighter at the same time. This resulted in the lighter slipping from his sweat soaked hand and flying down the shark’s gullet which was only inches from Mickey’s hand.
The shark stopped it’s pursuit and snapped it’s jaws, wheezing furiously. Mickey backpedalled furiously and looked around for something to light the explosive with. There wasn’t a flame in sight.
Mickey looked at the explosive in his hand, and then his hand went to the gun at his waist. It wasn’t like he had much choice.
The shark lunged forward and Mickey threw the explosive. He pulled his gun and began firing furiously at it. Every single shot missed and the explosive went down the shark’s throat.
Mickey fell back over the roof of a rusted car as the shark came close but he fired a shot first. The bullet flew harmlessly into the blue sky.
The concrete was hot as hell and the shark was coming fast, around the front of the car. Mickey rolled underneath the car and bumped his head on the under carriage.
The shark went still for a moment. Then it walked slowly around the car, in a full circle. When it came back to where it had started, the car began to shake. The rims began to screech against concrete, sending up sparks as the shark shook the car in it’s jaws.
Mickey took out his gun and tried to think. He didn’t see any way out of this situation. Maybe he was finally cooked.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out his display. The car was almost off of him now and in any moment he’d be looking into the abyss of teeth.
Mickey brought up a picture of a blonde woman raising a mug of beer, in a cheers. The smile on her face was jubliant, and her eyes shone with excitement.
“I’m sorry Moll,” Mickey said.
The shark tore the car away and tossed it aside like a loaf of bread. It rushed Mickey and he fired three shots. The first one went into it’s mouth, the second ricohetted off the concrete and the third found an eye.
The shark made no sound of pain, but reered back, head shaking wildly. Mickey slid away and stood, vaulting behind a rusted out truck.
The jaws of the shark didn’t snap, but worked slowly. A trail of blood flowed down from it’s ruined eye. It took a few drunken steps to the right and the left.
Mickey stood up straighter and fought a smile. He raised his gun again, took aim and fired. The bullet sunk into the shark’s side and forced it to take a few steps that way.
The jaws came together in a loud snap and it began to run towards Mickey, the direction of the bullet.
Mickey raised the gun again and fired it at the shark. The bullet sank into the thing’s shoulder but it didn’t slow. The shark rammed the truck, lifting it into the air and all Mickey could do is hold on and go for a ride.
The truck’s rusty frame slammed into Mickey’s chest and he grabbed onto the top of it as it flew. The impact crushed his chest and searing pain filled him. His legs dangled off the side.
Mickey held onto the truck desperately, he was worried he wouldn’t be able to stand otherwise. It came to a grinding hault and Mickey saw the shark was preparing another charge.
There was an explosion of fire to the right of the shark. Those dark eyes were stil fixed on Mickey though fire began to lick it’s body.
A triumphant bellow came from above. Mickey turned to see Larry Kabob lighting a molotov jar.
“What the fuck?” Mickey said.
“Yeeee-ha!” screamed Larry as he tossed the jar and it broke over the shark’s back. That got the beasts attention. It began to run in circles desperately.
“Keep throwing them,” Mickey yelled.
Mickey reached into his pouch and took a handful of lead. The chamber of his pistol swung open and he refilled the clip, dropping bullets in with practiced ease.
Another explosion of fire filled the street with even more liquid fire.
Mickey raised his gun and walked slowly towards the shark, which was rolling on the burning ground in an attempt to free itself from the flames. This only coated it further in fire. Mickey pulled the trigger rapidly. He shot at the writing belly, and every bullet found it’s home.
The shark exploded with a bass pop. Meaty flesh, fat and white cartiledge splattered outwards with blistering force. Pieces of the thing stung Mickey’s skin.
He hit the explosive in the shark’s body with a bullet. One in a million. Mickey couldn’t help but smile at that one. He began to laugh. Then he remembered that Larry Kabob had shown up and doubled over.
Slapping his knee, Mickey laughed himself out of breath.
“What are you doin’ down there you fuck?” called Larry from the rooftop.
“Wha-What?” Mickey managed, a huge smile on his face. “What the hell are you doing up there?”
“Had a few more beers and then I found my courage. Good thing too. You’d probably be dead if I hadn’t shown up.” Larry said.
Mickey ran towards the rooftop. He saw a ladder hanging off the side of the roof and vaulted up it.
Larry was lying on his belly, hand clutching a jar.
Mickey swooped down and picked Larry up. He kissed the man on the cheek and the smell of beer washed over him.
“I killed it Mickey,” Larry said before burping.
“That’s what we’ll tell everyone,” Mickey said. “That you slayed the beast with your bare hands. That you punched it to death.”
“I did kill it,” Larry said and he turned towards Mickey. His eyes were narrowed.
“Er yeah okay,” Mickey said.
“I did you motherfucker!” Larry shouted, hands reaching to choke Mickey.
Mickey put him down on the ground and took a few steps back.
Larry crawled towards Mickey, who took another step back. This continued until Larry grew tired, panting on the hot stone.
Mickey bent down.
“I owe a debt to you Larry. I intend to pay it in full. You saved my life.”
Larry shrugged and then smiled. “You’re not a bad sort kid. Why don’t you stay around awhile? I have a feeling this place is gonna be very different in a few months. Fuckers might actually relax for once.”
“Maybe we can get some Whiskey,” Mickey suggested.