By Galen Westmoreland
Pt. 1 Blue by a Thread
I gotta give it to Caboose. It takes skill to talk more than you breathe, but he seems to have it mastered. Maybe he won’t shut up cause he’s just an idiot. That, or he thinks chatting with me will make me feel better. Either way, walking away isn’t an option. You see, my legs broke about thirty minutes ago. So as I stand in a hundred and ten degree heat listening to Caboose talk about the piles of blank paper we keep finding under our doors every morning, I wonder what caused my malfunction. Probably that idiot: Sarge. He built Church and I new bodies, crappy ones at that. If I could walk again, I’d plant both feet straight up Sarge’s—
“As I was saying, the three horns were round, and kinda looked like mushrooms, and OH MY GOD! I think it was an alien that really…really liked me,” he whispers the last sentence.
“Caboose, will you shut the hell up? I’ve been standing out here with my legs broken watching shit fall out of your mouth for the past thirty minutes, begging for Church to come by and fix my legs. But since he’s clearly to busy bitching about literally anything, would you please go get him?” It feels wonderful to get that off my chest. Caboose tilts his head down and walks away. In complete silence, I might add. “Come on, Caboose, I’m sorry,” I call out as he goes down the blue base ramp. “I just want a break. I just want a break from all this crap.”
Church appears a few moments later, followed by Tucker and then Caboose. Caboose walks to the edge of the base and takes a seat. I explain what happened to Church, avoiding any mention of Caboose. “Okay, I’ve seen this before, Tex. No worries, we’ll have you walking in no time. Hey Tucker, will you take guard? Don’t wanna get attacked while our best soldier is rebooting.” I feel blood rush through my cheeks.
“Dang it, I thought I called dibs on fixing her legs. You know I fixed Church’s. Found that switch in a heartbeat, if you know what I mean, girl,” Tucker comments.
“Stop,” Church deadpans.
“Bow chick bow wow,” Tucker laughs.
Right off the bat, I can tell that Church is struggling to find the switch. Several minutes pass, and rage builds within him like a flame under gasoline. “GODDAMIT! I can’t find the fucking switch!” He shouts. His voice is slightly mechanized as it escapes the helmet.
“You never could,” I comment.
“Not now, Tex,” he responds through his teeth.
“Seriously, hurry up. I can’t swallow right now,” I say, assuming that my inability to swallow has also been caused by the malfunction in my legs.
“You never would,” Church retorts.
Tucker turns to us. “Uh, Church? We got movement…of the red kind.”
“They better not just be standing there and talking,” Church says sarcastically. I turn my head a bit and observe the red base. Two red dots, one orange one, a brown one, and a pink one have assembled at the base of their ramp. They seem to be pushing something up it. “Well, I could tell you what they’re doing, only I’m not a fucking hawk.” Tucker’s eyes go from Church to the sniper rifle.
“Oh, hell no.” Church answers quickly.
Tucker stomps his foot in protest. “Come on! It’s that or we trade places. And Choo Choo Sour Pants isn’t in the volunteering mood right now.” Church releases a tremendous sigh before allowing Tucker to use the rifle. Then, he resumes tampering with the cords and buttons located between my legs.
“Okay, Tucker. Tell me what you see,” he groans.
“They’re moving something to the top of their base. A silver box with a big red logo on it! Oh, god, they’re lifting up the top…and plugging it in! I think the kiss-ass is putting in big, rectangular rounds.” Wow, Tucker’s actually panicking.
“It might be some long range weapon from their command. We better get over there fast so they can’t use it on us,” I suggest. I only slightly meant that as a comment to get Church to go faster, but he takes it very personally.
“You know what, Tex? Why don’t you fix it? Why don’t you go over there and actually kill the reds this time? And don’t die this time. I’m sick of saving you anyway,” Church suddenly bursts.
I bend over, but he doesn’t flinch. I look between my armored legs and connect the red to the red and the blue to the blue. Then, I reach deep inside and flip the switch. Voila! I can walk again. And the first thing I do is turn straight around and waltz right off of blue base.
“Yeah, that’s right. Leave me again,” he whines.
Tucker runs up next to him. “Dude, come on. That’s our only chick!” I hear Church punch Tucker in the groin. I’m so furious at Leonard that I don’t even bother to flip the bird. Yeah, he may have tried to save me millions of times, but he wouldn’t believe the army, people, friends, and lover I fought through to try and save him. He was the first to leave. And as far as I’m concerned, I’ll be the last.
One second, I feel whole. Complete. Free from the worries that Blood Gulch has brought me. The next, there’s a whole in my brain where O’Malley used to live. Sometimes, his voice pops into my head, but then I realize it’s my voice with a deeper tone and maniacal laugh. Regardless, I don’t know what to think or feel right now. I’m lost, to be honest. The almighty, Freelancer Agent Texas, hopelessly defeated by a couple of words. Wouldn’t be the first time…CT…
I stand up, deciding to go back and give Church my two cents. Just as I’m about to exit the dusty, brown cavern, I back track to look at something that’s…out of place. A small poster lazily nailed to the cave wall. It reds in red ink:
Blue Sucks! Red Rocks!
Volunteer for the Red Army Today!
Internship Opportunities Include: Poisoning Grif’s Next Meal, Uplifting Our Leaders, Food Comas, Joining an Equal Opportunity Work Environment, y Burlándando los Idiotas en Español. (Mocking idiots in Spanish)
Just Locate the Nearest Red Base and Haul Your Keister Over Here!
Salary Not Included
“You know what,” I say to myself, tearing it off the wall. “That trumps anything I could say to Church.” I spin around and go out the other side of the cave. Hell, I don’t care that they won’t pay me, or that they’re even bigger idiots that the blues. I just wanna watch Church suffer for that hurtful comment earlier. And this will be far better than anything I could ever do to him physically. At least for now…
How should I approach them about the internship? I could go in fighting and cussing, but they might turn me away then. However, if I swallow my pride, I’ll never hear the end of it. Maybe something in-between will work.
The pink one, Donut, I think, notices me first. Honestly, I want nothing more than to stomp on his non-existent groin for killing me way back. But that can wait. For now, my primary objective is to enrage Church to a level he’s never seen before.
“Hey, Donut!” I call out, standing a good ten feet below him. “I’m here for this,” I say, raising the paper. He takes a step forward, leans over, and sighs.
“Well, I’m just as blind as a bat! Let me go grab my reading glasses. Be right back,” Donut announces joyfully. He’s like the gay version of Caboose, but with some actual intellect. He disappears down the ramp and goes through the back door. Some ten minutes later, I get fed up and go up the right ramp. There lays a sniper rifle, undoubtedly used to scout out blue activity. Through the circular scope, I watch Church pace back and forth. If he’s upset now, he’s gonna hate what happens next. Tucker and Caboose hang their legs over the edge of the base, likely talking about my actions this morning. For a moment, I miss it. Not the people, but the setting. Blue Team life was like a blurred reality I feel into and just awoke from. Now, I’m conscious and on my own again. That feels even better.
Footsteps come from the hallway below the roof. I look down into the hole in the ceiling, watching the red characters follow Donut out of the bunker. “Boy, you guys sure are lucky I know how to lube up the space between a man’s legs!” Donut comments. Sometimes, his sayings are so unbelievably homosexual, I think he makes them on purpose.
López grunts. “Necesito grasa, sonzo. Pero te me dio la crema sexo.” (I need grease, idiot. But you gave me the sex cream)
Sarge lets out a chuckle. “You’re damn right, López. Grif did drink all the grease!”
“You know we ran out of water weeks ago. I’m thirsty as hell,” Grif says after an exasperated sigh. Just then, Donut notices me standing above them.
“Oh, shot. I forgot to tell you guys we had company.” In unison, all the red team members turn and look up at me. Though their faces are covered, I am amused by the shell-shocked fear I imagine behind each helmet.
“Scatter!” Simmons yells. Everyone runs, some in circles, others straight into walls. Sarge is quick to load his shotgun and ‘randomly’ fire at moving objects, the main one being Grif.
I leap off the edge and drop in the midst of them. “Everybody, shut up. I’m here about this,” I jut my hand out, showing off the paper. Sarge looks it up and down very carefully.
“What in tarnation? Why I’d never accept a blue, even if I did—”
Simmons steps forward. “Sir, wait. Think about it. Tex, the Freelancer badass, is offering to help us defeat the blues. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity!” It’s not like Simmons to be so trusting so quickly. Perhaps they’ve really grown desperate for a victory since our return to the canyon.
“Indeed. But it could be a trap, set up by the most cunning, evil member of Blue Team: Caboose,” Sarge replies. Wow, they’re all dumber than I remember. Perhaps the lack of water is to blame.
“One, that’s stupid, Sir. Two, she’s probably had enough of helping blue team anyway. There comes a point where you just stop caring. I should know, I reached it years ago,” Grif comments.
Sarge turns from me, to Grif, and then to Simmons. “Simmons, I want you to poison Grif’s next meal.” In a split second, I realize that the only way from my plan to work is for Sarge to give the A-Okay. So without missing a beat, I answer the call.
“Already done, Sir,” I dare. Simmons says it a half second behind me. Everyone goes dead silent, including me. They all watch me very carefully now.
“Yeah, right,” Grif snorts.
“Hey, buddy. You wanna guess how long I was standing up there? Could’ve been seconds. Could’ve been hours. With all you in the bunker, I could’ve done anything I wanted to your meal. So tell me, are you feeling lucky, punk?” This could either work perfectly or solidify the argument that I’m only here to kill them.
Grif’s silence says a million words. He doesn’t dare to call my bluff. For all he knows, I could’ve done anything in that time. And each one of them knows they’d be dead right now if I was actually here to kill them. “Welcome aboard,” Sarge says.