Sunday, June 5, 2011

Green Slime: Earth War Ep. 6: If this mall's rockin'...


I know you've been waiting.  Probably giving yourselves hangnails over it.  But here it is...the next episode of Green Slime: Earth War!

“So what was your first car?” Jack asked, hoping that the question would put Lisa’s mind at ease and keep conversation going between the two of them.
“I’ve never owned a car,” Lisa said from the floor where she sat.  “Other than my pink Barbie Corvette.  I so dearly want a small piece of chocolate.”
Jack was perched on the countertop of the kitchen, leaning against the cabinets and eating peanuts without bothering to remove the shells.
“My first car was a sweet little Fiat Bianchina,” he said with a smile and a distant look to his eyes.  He then expelled a wistful and warm sigh.  “Same kind of car that George Lucas cracked up in.”
From time to time there would be a thud or a clanking sound, emanating from somewhere in the building.  Each time, Lisa would shudder from the muffled noise.
“How can you eat them like that?” she asked Jack.
“Only way to eat peanuts,” he said and then crunched down on the hard shell.  His face then brightened with inspiration and he leaped down from the counter.  “I’ve got it.”
Jack opened the overhead cabinets and began to remove canned food.  That was followed by cooking utensils from the drawers and pots from storage beneath the counter.
“I’ll whip up a favorite dish from your homeland,” he said, beaming with pride.  “Hungarian goulash.  Make you feel better, won’t it?”
“I’m Italian, you dolt!” Lisa shot back.
Frozen in mid-movement, Jack processed what he had just heard.  He brought the spatula and the wok back to rest on the counter.
“You’re not from Hungary?” he asked quizzically.
In a huff, Lisa stood up.  She ran a hand through her long, amber hair and frowned.
Silence followed as Jack gave her a level gaze, one that she avoided by looking straight down at the floor.
“Look, I’d bring Vince back if I could.  But I can’t.  So I won’t.  Don’t plan on it anyway,” Jack said.  “He was my friend too.”
“More than a friend to me,” Lisa replied.
“Look we’ve got two choices,” Jack began as he worked his way back over to her and held her by the shoulders.  “Work together and survive.  Or hate each other and let those things kill us.”
Lisa huffed, broke away from the hold, and then turned her back on Rankin.
“I say let them kill us both,” she said.
“That’s not an option!”
“Then don’t couch it as one!” she countered.
Two neurons rubbed together somewhere in Jack’s brain and a mild brushfire started.  He moved in a slow pace over to Lisa and forced her to look him in the eye.
“You screamed out the name ‘Brian’ to a soldier we saw killed out there,” Jack began.  “Who was he?”
“The man I dated in between you and Vince, you smug bastard,” she said after a deep breath.
“And the men I’ve seen around your apartment?”
Lisa did not answer.
“Darlin’, I never had you figured as a ho,” Jack accused.
“I’m in pain!” she hollered and then darted to place more distance between her and Jack.  “I’m a woman with needs!  You have no right to...oh hold me, Jack!”
The woman collapsed into Jack’s arms and he allowed her to sob into his armpit.
Without warning, the bright lights of the hall snapped off.  Only the dim glow of emergency lighting dispelled any of the ensuing darkness.
“They’ve cut the power,” Lisa breathed.
“How could they?” Jack demanded to know.  “They’re just a buncha dumb animals!”
A deep and booming sound called out its rapport.  Though muffled, the forceful blows seemed closer to Jack’s ears than he would have preferred them to be.  Like the sound of softballs thrown repeatedly into a metal garbage can, the thuds shook the very walls of the dining hall.
Jack peered out from the kitchen window.  From his vantage point, he could see the heavy doors that were the entry point to the cafeteria.  The metal rectangles were denting and buckling, with new stress fissures added with each sounding thud. 
“They’re breaking their way in,” Jack said in a plain tenor.  Lisa clenched her fingers into him.  “I’m not going out like this.”
  That was when Jack stood away from the window and ripped his shirt off, flexing his biceps and displaying his defined abs.
“No, Jack!” she cried, her hands up to form a protective shield.  “Not like this!  Not like this!”
Focused and oblivious of Lisa’s actions, Jack tore a strip from the cloth of his shirt.  Forming a bandana of sorts, he tied the strip around his forehead, damming his thick black hair from falling forward.  From the refrigerator Jack brought a bottle of mustard.  He smeared thin lines of the condiment across his cheeks as if it were war paint. 
“Come on.  Let’s go,” he said.
Grim and determined, he again took hold of Lisa and dragged her from the kitchen to the storage closet.
Slams turned into bangs.  Then there was the sound of fatigued metal giving way, followed by the hideously familiar screeches of the creatures.  Yet by the time those sounds traveled through the air and into the kitchen, Jack and Lisa were already crawling hand over hand through the air vent system with only a Bic lighter to light their way.
“It’s too cramped in here,” Lisa panted as she continued to crawl.  “I can’t stand it!”
“Stay frosty, Lisa!” Jack said, not ceasing his crawl for one moment.  “Tell you what, babe.  Live through this and I’ll buy you a steak.”
  The vent gave way from their combined weight, sending them both crashing through the cheap, foamy ceiling tiles that everyone still insisted on using even though it was the 21st Century.  A hard floor greeted them upon landing as the two found themselves in a hallway lit only by flickering fireglow.  In that glow were two human figures.  One of them was wearing a helmet two sizes two big for his head and both of them were firing away with laser rifles.  All through the air were the insidious cries of the creatures, the zzzzap of the lasers, the smell of smoke, and the gymnasium-like aroma of sweat...lots of sweat.
“Martin?” Rankin called out with a squint of his eyes.
One of the figures stopped and turned at the sounding of his name.  He too squinted his eyes in the dark.  The figure asked with hesitation if the man addressing him was indeed Commander Jack Rankin.  The two men rushed towards one another like lovers and met in the center of the corridor.
“First Gamma 3, now this,” Rankin commented to Martin, a former officer of the aforementioned space station.  “We are in a real fix here.”
“Glad to have you with us, sir,” Martin shouted above the din and then narrowed his eyes at the commander.  “You’ve got mustard on your face, sir...and you’re topless.”
Pleasantries exchanged, Rankin turned his attention back to the business at hand, namely combat with the oncoming tide of tentacle-flailing monsters.  Though just a kid, Martin’s companion was still sending stream after stream of laser bursts at the enemy.  He was round faced and had his black hair cut into a Mohawk.  Diamond spikes twinkled from his ear lobes.  All the while he bore an expression that bordered on glee.
“Eat this, bitches!” he howled and then cackled.
“That’s Rice,” Martin explained as he tossed Rankin laser rifled purloined from a dead SPACOM officer.  “He’s a kid that works in food service.  Listen, sir.  SPACOM is SOL, totally overrun.  Thompson gave the order for us all to evacuate back into space and then they’ll blow the nuclear reactor.”
“Thompson’s dead,” Jack blurted. “Where did he set the rally point?”
“The shopping district,” Martin replied and then resumed shooting.  “And you’ve still got some mustard on your face, sir.”
A tentacle dropped from the ceiling.  Lisa screamed.  Martin felt the pinch of the claw and bellowed out as the electric charge turned his skin black.  Whirling about, Rice opened fire and severed the target from its owner, which promptly fell down from the vents.  Rankin took hold of the bumpy green appendage and tore it free of Martin.  He then asked the dazed and wounded man if the elevator at the end of the hallway still worked on emergency battery power.  Martin nodded that it did.
Before the three men reached the elevator, Dr. Benson was already there.  She took hold of the injured Martin and began to see to his wound.  Rice gave suppressive fire and Rankin hit the “down” button.
Nothing happened.
After an exchange of dumb looks, Rankin expressed his dismay to Martin and in a second’s time decided that something must have damaged the physical circuitry of the lift.  Lisa dropped her patient and went straight for the button panel.  Popping it open, she then worked her fingers in a furious fashion over the circuits and wires contained within, attempting to run a bypass.  And all the while, the creatures drew closer.
Rankin crouched behind the kid and joined in on the suppressive fire.  Though many of the ugly green things fell from the shots and appendages littered the hallway, the pace and number of the creatures made one thing evident to Rankin: the most that they could hope to do was slow them down.
“I thought you weren’t supposed to shoot them, Jack,” Lisa asked, working away at the circuitry panel.
“You’re not, but we have been.  That means that the energy beams are going to cause these things to reproduce like rabbits from their own blood,” Jack explained between pullings of the trigger.
“What’s a rabbit?” Rice asked.
With great fury, Rankin and his newfound punky companion continued to stave off the oncoming surge of creatures.  Yet the Commander’s mouth went dry and his buttocks clenched together as his rifle began to beep a tattle-tale sound: the indicator of a low energy charge.  Lisa still knelt at the panel, sparks and sweat flying.
“What’s it going to take to get this thing moving?” Jack shouted in reference to the elevator.
“The patch must be run through circuitry that is so slight and delicate that...”
Lisa was cut off by the whir of electronics.  The elevator began to drop and Rankin and Rice left their stomachs back on the floor above as they fell backward together and into a corner of the cube. 
“Check out the big brain on Lisa,” Jack smiled.
After that, Dr. Benson called him a “twit” and the elevator car slammed to rest.  The doors slid open and the party found themselves with an open corridor to the shopping mall.


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