Spanky did not like those Bang-Bang Kids. Not one bit.
|Wrote the title as a joke for another portfolio item I'm working on, decided I liked it, so here we are. No planning, no take-backs!
"Wowee!" Spanky murmured under his breath, snatching the three granola bars half-buried under a portion of collapsed ceiling tile and cramming them into his ratty messenger bag.
The abandoned grocery store had been a good haul. It had been picked over a little - clearly someone had got to it early on since there wasn't any fresh food putrefying on the sad, beige linoleum floor - but it was largely untouched. Spanky was cautious, though, on edge. He hadn't been the first to try and rush off with the bounty of preserved (yet largely expired) foods. How did he know? Let's just say there was mucky evidence stinking up the place that was definitely not animal carcasses.
"No traps. Probably no poison...why would you poison food you could use?" Spanky wondered if there were hidden wild things in the building he just hadn't stumbled upon yet.
Really, though, he wasn't going to wait to find out. After managing to wedge in a couple more cans of tuna, causing the seams of his messenger bag to strain, Spanky decided to call enough enough, cut his losses, and hightail it out of the eery place.
Just as he picked his way over a collapsed pyramid of soda pop, he heard a throaty growl. Spanky froze, his heart jolting and his vision jerking involuntarily to the source of the sound. Another throaty rumble joined, and another, until there was a chorus going on. Impossible to pinpoint the location, Spanky's sharp hearing told him a bit too late that a gang of motorbikes was circling around the building, revving their engines with the purpose of intimidating. It was working.
"Fuck!" He scrambled towards the back of the store, scattering some loose cans on the floor. On the plus side, he didn't need to worry about being stealthy with that exhaust-choked cacophony going on.
Nearly tripping over a mud-looking body, Spanky darted to the right and vaulted over the butcher's counter. Landing badly, his ankle rolled and he sprawled over the floor. Sucking in a sharp breath at the shooting pain, Spanky rolled right back up and limped into the back. Just as he suspected, there was a cabinet full of styrofoam meat trays. Noticing the tire tracks in the receiving area, Spanky knew his time was limited. Wrenching open the sticky door, he bailed the trays out in a spray behind him and crawled into the claustrophobic space. The grumbling engines were getting louder and Spanky cast his lot by slamming the door shut with the toe of his good leg.
The eager-sounding motorbikes assembled and, one by one, went silent until the grocery store sounded like it had when Spanky had been the only living thing there. Then, he heard a snicker followed by heavy footsteps strolling up to his hiding place.
"I know every inch of this store, and you bet your boots I know when something's out of place," came the voice that sounded like one of the motorbikes had learned to speak.
In one swift motion, the door slammed back open and Spanky was hauled out by his boots to dangle up-side-down. His scavenged food couldn't complete with gravity, and clattered all over the floor along with his bag. He swung wildly, but the tall man held him at a comfortable distance.
"Aw, it's just a little kid," the man sounded disappointed, and dropped him to land painfully right on the canned goods.
"Agh," Spanky moaned and sat up, looking closer at the man.
Not a man. Just a really tall, gangly teen with a deep voice. Strong arms, a wide back, but spindly little chicken legs. The chicken legs became inconsequential, as he pulled an impressive-looking machete out of a sheathe strapped to his back.
"What do you think, gang? Meat piñata?"
Spanky looked at the group behind him - one girl and three guys - who laughed darkly. The girl tapped her black boots with the tip of a baseball bat pierced by nails (a ubiquitous weapon in the wasteland), the guy with the patchy jacket rubbed his hands together with an eager shine in his eyes, the tubby kid in the long coat licked his lips, and the weird, mangy-looking guy managed to hold a bowling ball in a way that made Spanky fear for his safety.
~This is it. This is how you die.~ Spanky felt the energy suddenly drain from his body and his shoulders sagged.
Chicken Legs swung his machete around impressively with a rubber wrist, and advanced. Spanky felt a kick in his stomach and suddenly energy was bursting out of his very pores. His dang capillaries were on fire!
~Might as well die standing!~ He climbed painfully to his feet and pulled a small knife from a hidden strap on his leg.
Chicken Legs stopped, and raised an eyebrow.
"You're gonna fight me? Fight us?" He spread his arms wide, almost like an invitation. "Do you even know who we are?"
Spanky tried to say something defiant, but his mouth was dry and barely a sound croaked out.
"Maybe you can't talk then, whatever. We're the Boom-Boom Kids, maybe you've heard of us?" He cocked his head to the side, awaiting an appropriate response.
It didn't come. Spanky stared at them blankly, still wary, and still trying to figure if he should chance a long-range weapon with his knife or try throwing it and risk missing, only to end up with no weapon at all.
"Let's just kill him!" Tubby pulled out what looked like large cherry bombs from his long jacket. "I got places to be."
Mange hefted his bowling ball, and paused, "Then again, maybe it's pertinent to ask how a goddamn toddler made it here all by himself."
"It's been so boring lately. I agree with Baku, let's just kill him." Boots drawled.
"I must confess I am intrigued," Patchy's shoulders settled, clearly not engaged for immediate violence. "I think we can wait a bit."
Chicken Legs rested his machete across his impressive shoulders and seemed pensive, something Spanky suspected was rare.
"I guess it makes more sense to ask him first and kill him later, if it will make Digits happy," Chicken Legs had the ease of false magnanimity, and looked down at Spanky through half-closed eyes. "But seeing as the kid can't talk, lets just find out what he's made of."
Spanky swallowed thickly, still holding his knife, and looked back and forth between the group uncertainly. The roving bands that had formed after the Time of Great Order had fallen were capricious at best, and he had been told they could never be trusted at their word. For all he knew this was some weird kind of ploy. Chicken Legs sauntered slowly up to Spanky, Machete still perched lightly atop his melon-like traps.
"Come on, 2, this is bullshit!" Boots hissed, slamming the top of her bat against the floor to emphasize her annoyance. "What are you gonna learn from some toddler tub of shit?"
In the split second after Spanky moved to let fly his knife at Chicken Legs, his beefy arm moved with impossible speed and intersected at the perfect moment, wrapping around Spanky's wrist like a whip. The shock of his throwing arm met with an immovable stone caused the knife to tumble harmlessly out of his hand. Chicken Legs wrenched Spanky forward, jarring his shoulder and knocking his brain about in his skull as his head snapped back.
Chicken Legs knelt down to Spanky's eye level as he recovered his footing and his eyes stopped spinning. His face uncomfortably close, Spanky felt his hot breath rolling across his face along with the sickly sweet and sour stench of tooth decay.
"Best not do none of that," he growled, "because the second I find you boring or useless, I will gut you with that sorry pin of a knife you carry with you."
Spanky was outnumbered, and weak. He was terrified and helpless, feeling a roiling mix of emotions. His eyes started to water and his body shook.
"Understand?" Spanky knew enough to know it wasn't an actual question and, after a moment's hesitation, nodded against the tenderness at the base of his skull. "Good enough, for now."
Chicken Legs clapped him heavily on the shoulder, bringing Spanky to his knees. Swooning a little, Spanky's head was just clearing as Chicken Legs mounted his bike and shouted back to Patchy, "He's your problem until he becomes our problem," and took off roaring through a loading door long torn off its hinges.
The other three took off as Patchy hefted him easily over his shoulder without much fuss, and followed after them. Spanky watched his messenger bag fade into the distance and kept quiet as he could. Wind and dust whipped past his ears and into his hair as he was held in place with one arm, trembling as tears dribbled silently down his cheeks.