Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and mature content.
“Not just yet, ma’boy.” He was still recovering from his roaring session, and I had given it some more gas. “Replace that tarp back over the gun.”
I groaned. “Why do I have to do everything around here?” but picked it up and swaddled it back around the stationary craft. It blinked out of sight. I could still feel the bulk and texture of the object it concealed in my hands.
“You did start this iffy little predicament,” he retorted.
SHEESH! I had a desperate need to be Pink panther so I could ‘Exit, stage right.’ In a way, I was still getting to exit, even if for a brief period. What I could really use would be a moment all to myself, instead of getting chased by monsters, or plagued by self-woes. Well, for the latter, I’d need to part ways with myself. So forget Pink panther, but I had a real need to be a cartoon at the moment so no matter how heavy the blows, I would never break down.
He went back to educating me. “It must maintain a decent balance as we squeeze through, so-”
I hijacked his sentence, “Squeezing is a no go. I do not approve of any sucking, squeezing, pinching, excettera."
“Buck up, Buttercup.” He shot me down. “I’ll go left, you go right. Make sure to hit the Spinal Tap furthest from the center.” There were two on my appointed side and three on his. Good. I had about forty pounds on him; that would counteract our difference in weight as much as possible. I credited him with taking that fact into account. “For the least painful ride,” he winked, “Try to heave your body in with as much of a bow in your back as possible, to slide more fluidly. You’ll need a good run and jump if you don’t want to get stuck midway.”
“Pain!” I spewed. “Wedged in pain?” I fretted. It sounded like a true squeeze. “I hope to get back alive, you murderous Cock-a-doodle-doo!”
“No pain no gain, Cheapskate!” he hollered as if we were in a wind tunnel.
I yelled in defiance, “I’ll race you momma’s boy!” I think we were mostly trying to cover up our fearful emotions, substituted in the form of name-calling.
Gut took off without another word. That good-for-nothing cheater. It was only twenty or thirty feet to the portals. I sprinted after him, a good five steps behind, both of us anticipating that I’d catch up. We had turned a life-or-death situation into some sort of psychotic, twisted game. “You’ve got a screw loose!” I called. “Get back here, Gutfuck, and I’ll give it to ya!”
His laugh resonated in my ears, almost as much as the throbbing of my heart. “If you can catch me then you’re as mad as a March hare!”
Breaking out the old-timer jargon again. Not surprised.
“Hey!” I howled, feeling like a real Witsicle this time, “If you beat me over the hill I’ll knock off your Mad Hat with a screwball, and when you tumble down I’ll call you London Bridge!”
I arched my back and braced myself for the plunge.
“Good!...” he barked at the moon, about to kiss it, now a half-step behind me, as we came within inches of completing an action that seemed was going to knock us cold as mackerels. The color drained from my flesh as it rushed up to pummel us.
And we danced off into the moon.
Miraculously, as I cascaded through what seemed a moist, gold-tinted waterfall, I still heard his final comeback, “...Then, you can blow a fuse in your hysteria of laughter and fall out of the tree you pitched it from.” playing ping-pong against my eardrums.
The odyssey through wasn’t too bad, serene actually, although I felt like the loop being cast in a game of Ring Toss. The worst part was the punch of agony I had dreaded, but that never arrived. Lots of times fear is irrational, bred and born in our own mind. And we let us, apprehend us.
There was no explosion of lights or strange rush of noise when I stepped beyond the plane. Suddenly, I became weightless, but felt like some pressure was forcing me through the slim neck of a bottle, though devoid of pain--definitely a lubricated bottle. Lubricated with a substance that glittered like sand, but more clumpy, yet it wasn’t slimy or scratchy. In fact I could only feel it if I made an effort to touch it, not it touching me. Even then, it was minute, rather comparable to brushing against one’s own body hair. Beyond that, up, down, direction not mattering, I was surrounded by a metallic-looking tawny substance that unseen elements played on like water.
I fell, fell, and fell through several more layers of scarcely tangible things that I could only glimpse, feeling as though my body was pervaded by nothingness. But not down, or up, or over. Not in any logical direction. Because it was more of a sensation that I was falling. It was as if I was a surfer being churned underneath foaming waves after wiping out, the center of my body staying more or less stationary, but I could feel myself being pulled along by the sand-stuff, could see it flowing lackadaisically like I was inside some tube-ish conveyor belt which had transparent veins, always changing course, through which I could see the metallic stuff coating everything else like a blank canvas.
There was a cloud, not a physical one, a fog desensitizing my mind, obstructing my ability to rationally function. However, it allowed me to hover in a state of consistency. A state free from worry, ambiguity, and hypocrisy. The gray areas had retreated, fairy tales in the first place, understood to be an intricate illusion. For humans, only having an amount of knowledge to be humanly extracted, hypotheses filled the unknowns as axioms of wishful thinking, later on some puffed up as truisms. Such philosophies are unsound. It’s very difficult for people to see higher than themselves. And I could see these things, and many other truths naked, bled of their fallacies, all because I was aided by an all-access pass to cognition. I was unbound. It was undisputed order, Stainless Harmony.
Alas, my taste scarcely lasted a lick.
I cringed as I saw a snowball headed straight for me. Then it was still. Warily, I cracked an eye. I remained trembling still a second or two longer before I realized I was on stable ground with no ball to whack me. Gut and I stood beside a flight of stairs, at the edge of a predominantly white room. A space big enough to serve as a fish tank for a blue whale. Comfortably.
I squinted over my shoulder at the three remaining crescents, then blinked a couple times. “In there,” I observed. I felt like I had retained but just a chunk of a strange new dimension, like I needed to recall something important and couldn’t figure out what it was. “It’s uncanny.....a supernatural drug.”
“Natural, I think.” He gave me a sidelong stare. “I don’t make enough money to support it as a full-time habit, so don’t get any ideas.”
“Hmmph.” I grunted, upset. “And you were just trying to scare me about getting stuck in there and crap.” Then I shifted my gaze from him, causing me to marvel, “Where are we?”
The tower of stairs connected to a long ledge. There was an armored door up there, a speck on the peak of a mountain.
“This is a safe within a vault, within a vault, miles underground. You see son, they think nobody can infiltrate. They don’t quite have all their bases covered.” Gutterson tapped his forehead. “I’m old. I’ve been a generic nobody for twenty, thirty some odd years. Why should they remember me? Certainly I would never show up on their radar as a threat. How have I kept my low profile, you may ask? Simply because I don’t have to purchase like a peasant.” No kidding. “Granted, I do have to buy new rounds for the Gatling gun every so often. Thus,” he grinned, “My place, is effectively this place.”
“Jeez, am I underprivileged.” I commented.
“And as you can see,” he absently waved a hand at lofty metal racks amassed with encyclopedias of boxes. “It’s a weapon handler’s wet dream.”
“Or a terrorist’s,” I breathed with a sour twist.
There wasn’t a hair’s breadth of oxygen between individual boxes. The ledge went the whole way around the room and cat walks stretched here and there, allowing access to the boxes perched on top.
I rubbed the side of my face. “I take it the real arms lie in those boxes.”
“Right as rain,” he responded. “You see, there’s plenty where that hundred-and-fifty-year-old lump of wood came from.”
“A pricey lump of wood,” I corrected. “That you bashed the brains out of. These better be top of the line.”
“It grieves me to tell you this, but you’re likely to dissolve into a puddle of tears. Because these aren’t the salt of the Earth,” he explained. “They’re only righteous.”
I inhaled relief. “That’s the good news I needed to hear. Otherwise,” I declared, “I’d melt into a puddle of rot right here, without the strength to carry on.”
Gut looked square into my eyes and said, “Nice to know you’re hunger has been allayed. Let’s get a move on.”
We crashed through box after labeled box. The rows were two by two. The weapon name was posted plainly on each box, and in another straight behind it, was the type of ammo it required. To us, it wasn’t stealing: If this was government property, they stole from countless hard-working citizens every day. Besides, we needed it more than they did. We didn’t even bother snooping around on the top. There was more than enough on the lowest shelves.
“Hey Guts, you didn’t, by any chance, bring a sack to carry this stuff in.” I had things of folklore scattered around me. An M134 Multi-barrel mini-gun, (which wasn’t so mini) a Pfiefer Zeliska Revolver, a Saiga 12 shotgun with drum magazines that held tons more than a regular clip, and things like Uzis, assortments of assault rifles, and ultra flavors of Smith and Wesson. Things the average Joe just couldn’t lay hands on.
“Surprise, surprise,” he said, uprooting a thin plastic fabric from his jeans. The bag was decently sizable. I was impressed with his forethought, even though he regularly brought in these kind of shipments.
“Is that a bottomless pocket you’re wearing?” I joked.
He heaved a sigh with feigned sincerity, “My butt's showing again isn’t it?”
At that we shared splits in our sides. Every time we caught sight of each other it would rekindle. For a steady two minutes no gathering got done.
“Always have a “sack” handy!” Malibu roared and thrashed about.
“Yo Santy,” I bellowed. “You’ve got your stocking. Where’s the reindeer?”
He wrenched out words through coughs, “Rudolph proposed they all stay at the North Pole. Said he refuses to light the way for someone with bigger junk than him!”
“Paaahh...hee hee hee...HoHoHo!...HaaahaawwHaaaawwwwwwww...” we giggled from the floor, clutching at our cramps and wresting runaway tears.
After we recovered, he snatched a rifle that lay at his feet. “This is a must have. AK-47.” he pronounced. “Fully suppressed.” before dropping it in the bag.
“Anzio 20mm Sniper Cannon.” I said, heaving it over my shoulder only to have him stop me.
“Much too bulky. Let’s make this trip efficient.”
But I really wanted this one! “Okay,” I said, downcast.
He produced another item. “Peacemaker. Colt 45-70.”
“Hold up.” I imposed before he could slip it in the back, “Are you sure that thing will even make the bird blink? If I was the bird, it wouldn’t intimidate me.”
His nose ran along the barrel with a sniff of satisfaction. “Long-barrel, won’t take up much space, relatively. Never know what may come in handy. Cover the bases Kevin, cover the bases.”
I sifted through my supply, wanting to get my voice into this. “This one looks queer; it’s blue and some parts of it look plastic. An assault rifle called a TAR-21.”
I handed it to Gutterson and he inspected it. “Hmmm,” he remarked, “I bet this is waterproof. That could prove very convenient.” He placed it among the spoil. “Get me two more if you would.”
I searched back for the box with TAR-21 on the side, which I came upon about ten down the line. “Here yawr.” I passed them on.
“Alrighty,” Gut started as he rummaged through more goodies. “Take the sack.” He thrust it at me along with several species of gun. “Mossberg 500 with pistol-grip,” dang, that shotgun had two handles. “Desert Eagles,” he scooped up five, “and o-o-oh, Magnum Hand Cannons.” He took a duo. Probably because he wanted to shoot one of those silver son-of-a-guns himself and let someone else feel the voltage as well, and then have a laugh-chat with them about it later.
“My turn,” I said happily, and shoved the cargo back at him. First I dumped in some Smith and Wesson models, most notably the 460xvr. I was going to have fun with that sucker. Next order called for the Shotgun family. “Saiga 12, and this professional-looking 12-gauge with camouflage pump-action.”
Now for the big boys. “Oozies,” I said, eyes sparkling, “A humongo revolver so dubbed The Wicked 28mmPfiefer, wicked being my own addition to the name, and my most prized acquisition, the Not-so-mini Gun.” The M134 reminded me of the Gatling gun design, though profitably smaller, and on steroids. It was something straight out of The Terminator. In a robotic manner I said, “All items tagged and added to bagging area. Time to pay up Birdy.”
What’s that? No way in hell that load could fit into such a meager stocking? Hey, this plastic could qualify as a thin rubber, dearest.
Malibu rested the contents on the ground with a groan. “Alright, before we fly this coop,” he turned his back to size up his side of the mess, “We need to cover the last of our tracks.” Then while we began to pick up shop, he burst into song.
Clean up, Clean up
Everybody do their share
Clean up, Clean up
You made the mess, it’s only fair
A minute later, when I happened to look up across the room, I almost choked, then dropped debris (the more expendable guns that we were putting back for their incapability of jarring impact) from my clutch as if they were active bombs. “Mallliboooo!” I quacked, my voice climbing on pins and needles. “Why is their only one gateway left? And why’s it blinking!”