“Trapped in a hellhole. That is how I felt when I got shipped to a little farm 70 miles away from civilization. While rolling away from my parents’ driveway, my dad yelled, ‘Have fun at my parents’ house!'”
Trapped in a hellhole. That is how I felt when I got shipped to a little farm 70 miles away from civilization. While rolling away from my parents’ driveway, my dad yelled, “Have fun at my parents’ house!”
I swear to God he smirked to himself, knowing the troubles that would soon follow. And they followed sooner than expected.
It should have been a nice, uneventful hour-and-a-half drive.
It was not.
Not by anybody’s standards, unless you thought the “standard” was a seven-hour drive, excluding the literal five times we stopped for “gas” or “food” or “water” or “rest.” Why don’t you do all of them at the same time? My grandpa did not move faster than 35 mph on the empty highway we were on the whole time, which had a speed limit of 80 mph! I think Grandpa started a three-hour traffic jam. That is how slow he was. Did I mention that it was a one-lane highway? When we went to a gas station for water – I know! Just water! – Grandpa came back, he got in the seat, and we turned into a huge traffic jam. I mean huge traffic. So, basically, the traffic Grandpa created turned out to be the traffic we were stuck in. Don’t ask me how… No, I know how: even with the car in front of us finally out of view, we had a huge line of cars behind us, inching forward. The only thing stopping them from freedom was a small minivan with somebody too scared to go faster than 20 mph because he did not want to “catch up” with the traffic. That traffic was long gone. You could guess that the people directly behind us were wondering why we were going so slow; eventually, the car behind us went around us by driving in the grass! I think that is illegal.
He parked in the road and got out of his car. We stopped and he told us to speed up, and I looked at my grandpa, just wishing for once he would be “cool.” I could tell he wasn’t. I have been away from cool people for so long. Anything better than my grandpa would be cool to me. Unsurprisingly, Grandpa started talking about his childhood, but I did not expect what he told the guy who stopped us. It sounded personal. It was how his mom (my great-grandmother) once was driving 65 mph on a 50 mph road, and she crashed her car. She was uninjured but traumatized for life. Apparently, it rubbed off on Grandpa, and now he drives slow. Instead of empathy, he responded with a cold, “Shut up, old man.”
To be honest, I was not surprised. He then gave a thumbs up to the car behind us, and then he got in his car and drove off. I do not regret my next actions. When he gave the thumbs up, I knew that hundreds of cars behind us would move around us. So I reached over to my grandpa’s legs and pushed down on one of them.
Although I was sympathetic to him, I did not want to wait longer than I needed to. The car bolted forward and almost crashed into a fence, and I think I lit a spark in him because soon we were driving steadily at 80 mph. Grandpa was at the wheel, leaving the other cars in the dust. My grandpa must have had some experience with driving fast. My grandma (also known as Jenny) screamed as well. All I will say is that her clothes used to not be brown.
I think I have told you enough, and around 45 minutes later, we arrived at my grandparents’ farmhouse around ten o’clock at night. And I looked up at what I thought would be a decent barn with a silo for keeping food, and I looked at… nothing.
Yeah. You heard me. Nothing. It was empty. More than empty. It was creepy. Just a few seconds ago, Grandpa was saying it would be big and comfy, and when I looked over at him, he did not have his usual smile. That will happen a lot.
“So this is the beautiful farm you have been talking about,” I said sarcastically.
Grandpa responded in a sad tone, “But… but it was just here! How could this happen?”
We got our answer pretty quickly. We looked behind us to see a huge pile of wood. I thought I heard a moo from somewhere in the pile, and I put the pieces together pretty quickly.
“Something destroyed the house and moved it to the field over there,” I said matter-of-factly.
Grandpa sighed. “I knew this was a bad idea, Jenny. You know he has wanted our land for a while now. He probably swooped in when we were not looking.”
Grandma may have known about the scandal, but it was news to me.
I knew it was a bad time, but I asked, “Why didn’t Grandma stay and watch the farm?”
Grandpa gave me a look that definitely said, Not the time, Robert.
I was about to sit at the edge of the ruins when I heard a far-off rumbling. I looked over, and what I saw in the distance was horrifying. It was an excavator with black and yellow stripes. There was a lot of other machinery in the same style, including a big truck that had a lot of materials, such as metal and brick. House material it was not.
I gave a small glare, and I ran to my grandparents. I shoved them off the road and into a little crevasse in the ruins. Before they asked what I was doing, I covered their mouths while giving the “shush” symbol. They nodded quickly, and Grandpa peeked outside. He looked back at us with a stone face. He said quietly, “We need to stop him.”
“Why don’t you sue him?” I asked quietly.
Grandpa responded in a small voice, “He owns the judges. He owns everything. Well, kind of. He has almost every country’s hands tied.”
“What is his goal?” I asked weakly.
“Nobody knows. He has been taking property all over the country. No… all over the world.”
The bad guy (who I will call Destructo until I learn his name) and the machinery rolled up to what I guess used to be the front porch. I strained my ears to hear anything important, and I realized something. Well, actually, two things. The stakes had gotten a lot higher. This was supposed to be a boring summer at a farm, not a life-or-death situation. The other realization was just as bad. My house could be next. These guys needed to be stopped. I said it was a life or death situation because it likely was. If Destructo was able to have a country’s hands tied, I didn’t doubt that Destructo would kill in an instant. I started to think of my parents, and just then, Grandpa shook me out of my daymares. “Listen!”
I got my wits back and heard Destructo yelling to one of the guys operating the excavator, “That oil won’t dig itself out!”
Suddenly, things started making a lot more sense. I got a sick feeling in my stomach and looked at Grandpa. He looked worse than I felt. Suddenly, I heard Destructo start talking again, this time much softer. All three of us looked at the area where the house used to be and heard, “Durce, we have done this before. I know you don’t like it, but that old gremlin’s family needs to die. We can’t have them getting all suspicious.”
I started to hyperventilate, and the other guy, Durce, responded to Destructo, “When do we go?”
“Not us! I will send somebody else out! I am not going to risk our lives for even the most annoying of people! And for your question, they will be playing a flute in the clouds in less than an hour. They may not open the gate for anybody related to that fool, though.”
I tuned Destructo out. “Call my parents!”
Whoever you are, wherever you are, you know that a man can be worried. Especially when their parents are about to die. Grandpa called my parents, and they answered with a slightly slurred, “What the hell was a guy with a revolver doing in the house!?”
A very grim feeling settled in my chest. I tried to keep it down, but the fact that somebody had ordered my parents’ death was pretty uncounterable.
They kept talking. “We are in some guy’s car, driving to your grandparents’ house.”
I answered with surprise, “It’s too dangerous!”
The next thing I heard on the phone made me want to cry all over again.
The phone beeped, dead. Grandma looked at Grandpa, and said quietly, “We need to go back.”
I added weakly, “Can you speed up a little on the way?”
And so we went.
For Lennon Wright, it was supposed to be a relaxing, no-kid summer with his wife, Kenya Wright. Their son, Robert Wright, had left an hour earlier in a very grumpy mood. The second Robert left, the party started.
“Get the cocktails!” Kenya yelled.
Around an hour later, the people started flooding in. Soon, there were dozens of noisy, drunk adults dancing where Robert had slept just a few hours earlier, and finally, when the Wrights’ friends left, the real fun began. Spoiler alert: it kind of depends on what you think of when somebody says fun.
The Wrights went to bed in a half-drunk haze for a few hours and woke up to the sound of banging in the kitchen. They felt a little better, but they were still stumbling everywhere and were sleep-deprived.
They quietly walked down the stairs, or should I say fell down them, and they saw a guy they remembered letting into the party. Only this time, the guy was holding a revolver and looking into Robert’s room. Kenya almost screamed, but Lennon held her back. They quietly crept out of the room but found a random black car with the words “Durce&Dereck” on the side and their usual blue Subaru Forester in flames. Lennon said somberly, “I heard a noise earlier but I never would have thought it was this.”
They both looked at the destroyed car, a single tear rolling down Kenya’s cheek. Lennon looked at the horizon.
“It’s early. Only two or three. No matter.”
“How could this happen?” Kenya asked nobody in particular, choking on every word. They looked at each other and nodded their heads.
Lennon said almost excitedly, “I call shotgun!”
And so they went.
The next few hours were a blur. On one hand, I wanted to kill this guy. On the other hand, I needed to save my parents, so the first hand would have to wait. The first thing I did once the phone died was simply ask, “How are we getting back with Destructo right in front of us?”
The answer came quickly. Destructo walked inside one of his machines. We crept out of the ruins of the house and into the ditch where Grandma had parked the car – thank God it was not in the open. The next step was scary. We could either have just gunned it and hoped we did not get shot or driven slowly as far as the ditch took us and then gunned it. Yeah, we took the second option. The car slowly crept through the ditch and, to our absolute dismay, a huge tree was poking out of the end of the ditch. I wish we had known this before, though, because we were ready to be gunning it and, surprise, we were already gunning it! Grandpa just missed the tree. I wish we had not. Our car shot directly into an upright log. Who puts their logs there? The log flew through the window and into the roof of the car. Grandpa screamed.
“You okay?” I asked, with more than a touch of panic.
He was not. Besides the glass flying down from the window, there was not much that could’ve hurt him enough to scream like that. It was loud. Grandpa, now with his head flopping on his shoulder, struggling to stay conscious, squeaked out, “My hand… it hurts.”
I looked up in horror as I saw that the log had jammed his wrist between the open car roof and the log, and a sharp piece of roof was sticking out of his palm. I forgot about the whole car thing, and the car suddenly slowed down by 80%, and this is the worst part: it hit a house. Yeah. A normal farmhouse. And let me tell you, it is not fun to go through the wall of a house with eight year-olds playing hide and seek. Especially when your grandpa is dying. The kids yelled for their mommies and jumped out of the way. We rolled to a halt in what used to be a kitchen.
Yeah, you could say we destroyed the house. Grandma, Grandpa, and I stepped out of the car. There were four kids and two adults staring at us wide-eyed when this clean-shaven, normal guy with slick hair and striped pajamas broke the silence.
“Do you need medical aid?” I thought he was talking about Grandpa. Likely. Even so, I looked down. I wish I had not. Red pieces of glass of all shapes and sizes. On my body. My body. The body that had managed to live years without a hint of a scar. I fell to the ground, and let’s just say I took a little nap.
I woke up to see Grandma standing over me, and I saw tears in her eyes. I looked down at myself, and I had scabs all over my body and face. I felt sore but not too hurt. I immediately sat up as I realized that it must have been about Grandpa. I ran the possibilities through my head, and then suddenly a figure stood next to my bed. And I was happy to see… You may have guessed it! Drum roll, please… Grandpa! WHOO! He was alive. With his limbs, hopefully. Annnd no. I craned my head (in pain) to look at his hand and deflated. A stump was in its place. I tearfully said, “I am so, so, so sorry.” I gasped for breath, tears falling from the wrong man’s eyes. “This is all my fault. I did this to you.”
He put on a fake smile. “Robert, it is not your fault. It is just a minor roadblock.”
It barely put my worries at ease, but I cooled down for him.
I asked in a small voice, “How long?”
I leaped out of my bed.
I felt every one of my cuts reopen, days of healing gone in an instant. I fell to the side of my bed. The pain was just that incredible. But even more incredible was the fact that somewhere out there were my parents. I remembered the call vividly. The call where my parents were in a car and then… it was gone. Everything. The point of life. Family. They might have been out there, dying… or already dead. I grabbed my shirt and stuffed it in my mouth, and slowly got up. I wanted to scream in pain and die, but my mouth was stuffed with cloth, so that helped. I crept up, getting flashbacks to when I was a little kid. Everything was so easy. Life was easy. Grades? Non-existent. Running for my life, being worried about dying at every turn? Not a thing. The one thing I never seemed to be able to do was walk. I took my first step at four. You could say that I was a late bloomer. Honestly, I didn’t “bloom” until a few days ago. Not until… you know what, I’m not going to go back into the horror that happened. To start all of this… well, madness really. I just hoped that I could put this all behind me and have a good story to tell to my kids. If I lived that long.
Okay. I will stop fantasizing. Back to where I was. I was bursting in pain, ready to save my parents. It hurt, but it was worth it. I stood up, and came face to face with… the two people I wanted to see most?
Or should I say, Kenya and Lennon Wright.
And so we go.
Lennon said almost excitedly, “I call shotgun!”
“This is not a game, honey.”
“We will see about that,” he responded confidently.
Kenya suddenly gasped.
“What is it, dear?” Lennon said with more than a hint of fear.
What it was, well… a word. A simple word.
“Robert!” they shouted in unison.
They took off, unlike Lennon’s father, at a “little” over the speed limit. Around thirty minutes later, they saw a normal-looking neighborhood, and they knew they were close. All of a sudden, the car phone rang.
“I will get it,” Lennon said. He fumbled through his pockets and took out his old 2009 phone.
“Five minutes,” Kenya said, without taking her eyes off the road.
She stared intently at the horizon, as if it would get her there faster. Lennon brought the phone to his face and turned on his mad voice.
“What the hell was a guy with a revolver doing in the house!?” Before Robert could respond, Lennon said, “We are in some guy’s car, driving to your grandparents’ house.”
Over the phone, they heard their son’s voice squeal, “It’s too dangerous!”
Kenya rolled her eyes, ready to butt into the conversation, when – CRASH! Their car seemed to flip over for no reason. The now upside-down car flew into the dirt, crushing the phone. They looked around their bodies, and they were both happy to see they were not badly hurt. Kenya and Lennon slowly limped out of the mystery car and did not like what they saw. It turns out that there was a reason for the car’s demise. A fricken rocket launcher had shot at it! This beast had a smooth, gray surface, for the most part. There seemed to be odd buttons sticking out of the front. All of this, on a CAR! Kenya and Lennon gaped in wonder. This quickly turned into fear. They quickly recovered from their shock, and well, took cover. Despite how dirty they looked, they had capabilities. They ran to a small ditch and crouched. They looked at the rocket-car pointed at them… on a grassy knoll.
“I don’t like where this is going,” Kenya said while trying furiously to get any lower. They heard the infamous PUSSHHH as the missile launcher depressurized, and well, fired. BOOM! A little too late, Kenya and Lennon realized that they had not helped the situation by jumping into a hole: they had worsened it.
“Run!” Lennon yelled.
Lennon seemed to forget they were in a ditch. It served its purpose, though, and they leaped out of the small hole and dove into some dirt as if that would help. Luckily, it did… kind of. The explosion shot both into the air, and both fell right on their knees. Ouch. They quickly recovered, believing that no pain was worse than losing Robert, their sweet Robert.
They looked at each other, movie style, and they seemed to make a connection in their minds. They made expressions on their faces, and the little conversation all seemed to resonate: Rush it. When? How about this: tell me if you like it. One… two… three… GO!!!
They rushed the huge turret. They heard the creak of the launcher being aimed at Kenya.
“Under!” Lennon yelled quickly.
They both slipped under the tank-like car and looked out just in time to see dirt erupt from the ground, resulting in a volcano-like shower of dirt. It might sting the face, but nothing more, they thought, forgetting one thing: shockwaves. BOOM!
A flurry of dirt flew around Lennon and Kenya, and the rocket-car seemed to fly off of them, as easy as picking up a usual morning cup of coffee. Except this was not usual. Also, if the shockwave could throw a car like a doll, what could it do to a person weighing 10 times less? The answer came quickly. They got launched 15, maybe 20 feet.
It is said that 20 feet is around that distance where you can break everything from your leg to even your back or neck. It was all good, though, because they landed on a powerline… with no way down. They felt the ground rumble, and they looked down to see a smoking wreckage a few yards away. They could see a foggy view of somebody getting out.
“Damn. It is always the bald guys,” Lennon said.
A tall, maybe six-foot-three man with a bald head and a long scar on his leg walked around, surveying the damage. Lennon looked at Kenya and sighed.
“Are you thinking what I am thinking?” Lennon asked.
Kenya responded with a weathered sigh, “I will get the switch.”
Years ago, they had done this in a similar fashion when their skydiving didn’t go as planned. Kenya took her “emergency hatchet” out and started hacking away at the rusty metal, sparks flying in all directions into the never-ending horizon, dawn just striking. The metal, lined with old blue paint marks, long since having been redone, started to crack, and then, all of a sudden, broke off. A sizable chunk of metal flew from the bone of the powerline, and they looked inside.
“Is it the red or the blue?” Kenya asked.
“The red, I think,” Lennon said.
Suddenly, the air seemed to drop in temperature, and they found the dots when they stopped hearing the buzzing sound. Kenya looked herself up and down, wondering if she really was going to do this.
She was. Lennon picked up the hatchet which Kenya had dropped after cutting the wire and started hacking at the powerline wire. After a few very strong throws, the line was being held by just a thread. Kenya and Lennon grabbed onto the strong wire, and with all their trust in it, jumped. The wire broke, and they flew down at breakneck speed, trying to do anything to get higher for fear of skimming their feet on the ground. They flew back up as momentum took over, and they started flying toward a giant powerline. With no brakes.
Chapter 5: The End Is Near…
“How did you get h – ” I got cut off by my dad.
“We are killing that guy.” A new, hard look was on his face.
I managed to croak out, “Okay…” before blacking out.
People act like blacking out makes you fall asleep for years, but really, it is a short thing. Two minutes, maybe three, tops. And that is what happened. But it felt much longer. In my dream, my parents and I were in a tiny rowboat, and, suddenly, the water started rippling. The water started to push upwards, and a man seemed to show up out of nowhere. And he walked on water.
“God?” I asked. No… It was the opposite of God. It was Destructo. I bolted up, panting. My parents were waiting over me, and I got up almost like a robot. We walked to the parking lot, and they directed me to a big car. Our car?
“We had a little extra time,” they responded.
I hugged them. They looked as crude as me, but I still held onto their scent, never letting it go, like a watchdog fiercely protecting their leader.
“I – ” I started.
“Yeah, yeah. We missed you, too. We love you. But right now, we need to kill that guy,” Lennon said, playfully in an unplayful way.
I smiled. “Yeah, let’s go.”
I limped into the car and surveyed it. Clean cup holders, an undamaged roof, and leather seats. Mom put the car into second gear, and we were off. Apparently, still too cheap for an automatic.
After an hour of driving, we reached what used to be my grandparents’ house. They were still there. And more. There were hundreds of people drilling into the ground, and still, we stepped out of the car. We had no plan. We ran to the remains of the house, and we dug a little hole into it. I swear, I could still hear the cows mooing. Mom took out her phone.
“Mom, don’t you think it would be a little disheartening saying your goodbyes now? Right now?” I asked, with a hint of a smile.
Kenya replied slyly, “I managed to find all the people who Destructo has taken property from. They always seem to show up on the local news, and I tracked them down from there. While you were recovering from getting glass shattered onto your body, I called them up, and they were just happy to help. They should be coming right about… now.”
Before I could respond, hundreds of cars simultaneously revved.
“Here they are,” Kenya said, all jolly. I peeked my head out of the makeshift house. My eyes widened as I saw something that I never would have imagined in a million years. Cars lined up for miles. On the good side. People started stepping out of the cars. I was taken aback by the age groups when I saw babies standing strong next to grandparents holding their ground next to their kids. I walked towards them. They all gave us the same sympathetic grin, and we did the same for them. Somebody a little older than me, maybe 16 years old, stepped up.
“My name is Gerald, and I am fighting for all of our properties. All of our freedom from this horrible curse brought over us.”
“I, too,” said a middle-aged woman.
“My name is Philip, and I have spent eighty-seven years on planet Earth. The last five have been hell. Because of what Putty has done,” said an old man.
“I, too,” said a different man.
“I, too,” said another.
And then all of a sudden, everyone said in unison, “I, too.”
And we marched forward. (Where? No idea.)
I walked next to my mom. “Any idea what ‘Putty’ means?”
“Nope. Nada. But if I had to guess, I would say Destructo or the whole organization of Destructo.”
“Wow… deep,” I responded a tad too casually.
“What’s up, squirt?”
I sighed. “Why did this have to happen? Why are you here? Wait… how are you here?”
“Well, that is a long one. I guess you have no idea where I am starting from, but we are almost there, so I will keep it short. Your father and I are holding on to a power line, I know, no context, and we are about to hit the metal structure holding it up. You know what I am talking about?”
“Um… I guess?”
“Whatever. Anyway, your father and I are about to hit it when… The line breaks. We flew up, still going towards the structure, and then your father saw something. A handlebar that led to the interior of the structure stuck out below. ‘Over there!’ Lennon yelled. We hoped for the best, and we drove all of our bodies to weight for it. We just catch hold onto the bar, and from there, we shimmy our way down to the ground, not before having a few hundred heart attacks.” Kenya seemed really invested in the story, but she suddenly stopped to look forward. “Almost there, honey. I have to speed up.”
“That is fine. I just want to know the basics,” I responded.
“All right. There was this bald guy, and we wanted to sneak away from him, but we couldn’t. He found us and coincidentally took us to a dungeon a block from the hospital you stayed at. I used my bobby pin to escape.”
“Wow… that was a fast ending but really cra – ” I trailed off.
I kept staring forward, but I wanted to look down. It seemed crazy. I couldn’t help it. I looked down. There was a step down to a sort of basement with no roof, and it was full of weapons. It was so well covered by all the farmland around, and… and… IT WAS FULL OF WEAPONS, GOD DANG IT! Glocks, C-4, rocket launchers, SMGs, everything! And hundreds of them. We all gathered around, taking what looked cool, acting like we knew how to use it, and we lined up. And we marched.
Chapter 6: Survival of the Fittest is True to Every Extent
No, really. We became the fittest. So we survived. This can be seen in so many different cases. If the weakest wins, then they were actually the fittest. A normal person walks into a wall. They feel incredible pain. But if a person with fried nerves walks into the wall, they feel no pain. All odds were against them, and they still won. Let’s see how.
We marched to the battleground in style. Not expected, but it felt good. We filed into a line behind the house.
“Ready! Set! Go!” I yelled. We walked into view, guns blazing.
My grandparents walked next to me and crouched down next to me, and my grandfather shouted over the gunfire, “I need to go! I can’t be here, even though I would love to. My hand is infected!”
I wanted to cry for him, but I stepped forward.
“Whatever you think is best!”
He left, and we stepped up. We encircled the compound, and, suddenly, some of the drillers who had taken cover ran toward us. With nothing. They got behind our lines and pleaded for mercy. We gave them weapons, and they fought for us. And then we closed in. We walked inside and saw Destructo, and we surrounded him.
We put a rope around his head, and attached ropes on every side.
Victims grabbed onto any available piece of rope.
“Three! Two! One! Pull!”
And with that, Destructo died. And nobody shed a tear, as he would have wanted.
I was at home, hundreds of people hovering over me, bright smiles on their faces. It was over. They could have their property back. The monster… the creature that uprooted dozens of families… was dead. I stuffed a cupcake into my mouth, trying to, as most likely everybody was, forget the pain and suffering that had ensued after the loss of their homes. Mom had combed my hair an hour before and somehow got a fancy suit on me. Grandpa had actually gotten a prosthetic hand after he left the battle. Thank God he did… saved his life. But some of the stolen property was still being run. Durce, well, he was now running the operation much more humanely. No wonder Destructo’s workers turned their backs on him.
I looked around at everybody with great smiles on their faces, filling up with colorful churros – Mom still had kept the recipe secret. She said when my birthday rolled around, she would tell me. She didn’t. I looked at Dad. He was looking around nervously, repeatedly rubbing his hand across his head. “Dad – you ok?”
“Uh… um, yeah, sweety. Just happy everything went well.”
“Well, me, too,” I responded.
“You should try one of the churros. We bought them extra special!”
I looked at Dad. Bought? Suddenly, hundreds of people fell to the ground. None were moving. And they never moved again. “Dad? Mom?”
They were the only ones standing. They both reached for their faces, and suddenly started peeling their hair off of them.
“Durce, you said it would be painless!” said a man that I thought was my dad.
“Well, Azerite, you ruined my surprise!” Durce said harshly.
I studied them from head to toe. Definitely bad guys. And I ran.