“Didn’t think ye’d lose me just like that didya, Sammy, ya little fucker?”
Oh, Christ. It’s Ernest; crouched and pointing a weapon at me. He’s looking very pleased with himself, if a little worse for wear.
“Weren’t easy ta get these lads together on such short notice but its surprising what ya can come up with when someone blows up their relatives.”
I’ve started a family vendetta. The possibility of forgiveness drops below nil.
“I want to be the one who blows your fat, fucken head off, Sammy. But first I’m gunna shoot you in the balls for trying to kill me.”
Ernest duck-walks under the fuel tanks, holding the laser sight very steadily between my eyes. For the first time I feel that the option of being shot in the face is a preferable one. Ernest gets close enough that I smell his charred, dusty clothes. Obviously he hadn’t been far from the truck when he’d triggered the bomb.
And now, here he is, preparing to kill me for the second time today. A soft scraping noise interrupts his enjoyment. Still mesmerised by the gun barrel that has lowered far enough to castrate me, I look out the corner of my eye. The distraction that lends me a few extra seconds of manhood is a panel gliding open very quietly beneath the first trailer.
Ernest points a finger at me and then presses it against his lips. I promise to remain statue-like. A scared, unhappy statue clutching its testicles.
Our friendly escort from the warehouse dips his head through the opening and reacts as lithely as a cat when Ernest raises his weapon. The guard drops flat onto the ground and fires a stubby machine gun. Ernest responds by emptying a clip on full auto.
Mother chooses this crazy moment to either fall or jump out of the engine bay. She lands on Ernest’s back and claws at his face, screeching about betrayal and revenge.
Bullets bounce off the road and undercarriage, zipping around me like hornets. Then the world explodes again. Our rescuer cops the worst of another RPG which detonates directly behind him. The blast flattens the rest of us as well. My ears ring but I crawl away from the fire and acrid smoke and poke my head between a set of tyres into clear air.
I’m faced with the hopelessness of our situation. Organised men with guns surround our wreckage, and they are moving in. They see my frozen rabbit crouch.
“That’s the fucker! Kill im, so we can go home.”
My identity confirmed, they shoot. Bullets ping off the side of the trailer and a fist slams into my stomach throwing me back under the rig.
I’m doubled over in unbelievable pain!
It wasn’t a fist, there’s a bullet hole in my shirt. There’s a corresponding bullet hole in my stomach. God, it hurts! Blood seeps, then dribbles from the hole.
I’ve got a bullet in me!
I could die!
Eventually the firing stops. I hear them reloading and decide not to wait around. Crawling; trailing blood; I drag myself towards the trailers in the direction mother has gone. I pass by Ernest who is moaning from his second concussion in a matter of hours. He is clutching at his torn face, courtesy of mother’s sharp fingernails.
Speaking of mother, I see her jump up into the hole our guard dropped out of. I scrape the skin from my hands and knees in a crawling race towards the closing panel; jamming my fingers in the gap to prevent it closing.
“Ma, ma! I been shot. Don’t lock me out! MA!”
She hesitates. There’s a small chance she will stomp my fingers. The bitch actually hesitates before tugging the trap door open again.
“Oh, hurry up then. Stupid boy! Why ya always getting yourself hurt?”
I’d love to know that myself.
I lunge upwards and flop halfway in, landing on my stomach. I scream, of course. Mother flutters about pulling at my hair and treading on my grasping fingers; this must be her way of helping. None of what she does hurts more than the fiery bullet wound in my guts though. I buck and push with weakening legs but the blood spreading under me is slippery and I can’t get my hips over the edge.
I come to a standstill, breathing hard. I’ve collected the last of my strength to throw a knee at the edge of the hole when a hand grips my ankle and pulls me back. I screech some more and look down. It’s our guard. He’s in a bad way. One eye is hanging out and his clothes are torn and bloody.
I nod; fixated on the weapon pointed at me.
“Both of you. Help me up there.”
Since he holds that gun in an iron grip I decide not to use his face as a step. He uses me as a ladder however, and drags himself up my body. Mother’s token tugs at his sleeve are shaken off. Even badly injured he has the strength of a horse. I see him contemplate shoving me out the hatch. But a spray of bullets that zing around my legs gives him the impetus to grip my belt and drag me bodily into the trailer.
Mother slams the panel closed and looks us over for a few moments not knowing what to say.
“Looks like ya both gonna’s to me.”
Mother has all the bedside manner of a mortician. She backs away from the bloody pool leaking from me and slips through a door into the next compartment; probably looking for something to steal. I’m left alone with the dying guard.
It’s quite dim in here. An odd hospital smell of antiseptic, metal and ozone are the pervading odours. Everything is shiny; stainless steel, glass and plastic. Banks of unidentifiable instruments and machinery with one end of the compartment closed off by a pair of smoked glass door. Shut tight.
“This body is too badly damaged. You’ll have to help me.”
“Can’t. I’m hurt too. Got shot.”
His single remaining eye glitters strangely in the mess that used to be his face. His total disinterest in my injuries evident. I stop pointing at the tiny bullet hole in my belly, meekly conceding his wounds are much worse than mine. His legs are shredded meat. In fact, he should be dead.
I will be soon. My shirt front is sopping with blood and the area the bullet has disappeared into is hot and swollen. It pounds in time to my rapid heartbeat. But no one cares. I heave myself up in puffs and grunts, slower than a glacier; fearful the wrong movement will unzip my belly. Braced against a bench I lend the guard my arm and he rises, stoically accepting his pain.
He catches sight of himself in a large mirror and without further thought, locates a pair of scissors from a tray of surgical instruments. He picks up the remains of his eye and snips the trailing nerve bundle, showing as much emotion as plucking an errant nose hair.
Watching this act of self mutilation, and the professional way he plops the eye into a stainless steel basin, is shocking. But I’m already in a state of shock so instead of throwing up I swallow queasily, quite unwilling to bring on the pain contracting stomach muscles would bring.
“Are you a doctor?”
I ask in the hope he will take this bullet out.
“I have medical training, so yes, if you like.”
The doctor continues to root about amongst the instruments. He finds an umbilical-corded pistol-like object and loads it with an ampoule. Before I can stop him he presses it against my bicep and pulls the trigger twice. Tiny puffs pass a powerful pain reliever into my bloodstream, and my pain-locked muscles instantly relax.
He drops the injector and turns away, searching for something. I sag, almost overcome with pleasure before the feeling begins to level off. I grab the injector, and give myself three more puffs. It drops from numbed fingers.
Ohhhh, yeahhh. Now that’s more like it. That’s really nice. Dreamy, floaty, nice. Air waveringly, need somewhere to lie down and giggle helplessly, nice.
The doctor is annoyed.
“You fucking idiot! If you pass out you won’t be waking up. That I promise you.”
He slides me across the floor. My feet have become olden day sailing ships that float in different directions to each other. I knock over a rack of liquids and weird surgical instruments. The way they dive headlong at the floor, crashing and tinkling makes me burst out laughing.
“Ish thish a operashun feerter.”
I’m slurring drunkenly and this too makes me crack up until black thoughts intrude, quelling the mirth. This is a dissection lab. I’ve heard about them. Travelling freak shows, picking up vagrants to strip them of organs. They dice what’s left up for dog food.
“What the fuck are you doing?”
I’m struggling with him to get away.
“I don wanna be dog food. Lemme go ya big bully.”
“See this gun. Yes, it is up your nose. Now settle the fuck down. I need you to help me at the operating table.”
He removes the gun from my nostril after I have remained very still for several seconds. His aggression has ruined my trip. Rational thought is returning, mixed in with a lot of drug induced wooziness.
There is no operating table that I can recognise; just two extra deep body-form beds. They are behind the smoked glass doors at the back of the trailer and both are occupied. The closest contains the very still body of an elderly man.
The doctor slaps a bloody handprint on the scanner. The doors slide open releasing the smells of death and drain cleaner. I enter and admire the strikingly handsome adult male body in the farthest bed. Not that my sexuality leans in that directions but it is a perfect representation of what a man might aspire to be.
A bit like the guard. Hmm a lot like him.
“Hey, mannn! Issat your brovver?”
Their features are so similar they might be twins. Then I see its unfocused, silvery coloured eyes. Cybernetic organisms have eyes just like that!
Uh oh. Cyborgs. Evil, military toys, packed with every known method of death and destruction. The doctor is one as well. It’s obvious now.
And I’m locked in here with them. Psychotic murderers on the outside; and two killing machines inside.