The banners in Donovan Memorial Shadium were brilliantly colored and completely limp in the still, humid heat as thousands of people marched into the stadium under the words, "Welcome to Kid's Day with the Monster Trucks!" They came in droves, which made Rick all the happier. He'd tried to make it into a more acceptable entertainment event and I watched as the first event came on.
We were given seats in the executive box, just below the PA system and behind the cone of sound from the speakers to either side of us, which was a blessing.
A poet. I have no idea why Rick thought poetry would be more acceptable with kids and families, but he had hired a poet, and not a very good one. It gave me pause. Poets.
The only way that I have come into contact with poets, in my odd past, has been in the realm of demon capture. For some reason demons in the Netherworld are attracted to poetry, even bad poetry. Even poetry in languages other than that of the East. From what I could hear, this poet was not a good poet. Not a good ear for what rhythms and tones his language even could produce. But it was still not particularly respectful or good that he be boo'ed off the stage.
Rick bit his lip as that section of the program failed and softly said, "Okay... come on Skip, you can do it."
A wild figure zoomed from the dark cave under the arena, hanging onto a hook and chain being dragged by a vibrant purple truck. If Prince had died and were reincarnated as a truck, it would have been this truck. It roared along, towing the figure that resolved to the slender boy on a skateboard. He aimed for a ramp, picked up as much speed as the truck could give him, and then let go as he entered the loop de loop. The loop ended in an up ramp, giving him plenty of air for a double whammy, and then he landed it, *BAMM* right in the bed of the purple truck.
The entire stadium erupted into a roar of sound. As dust settled, Skip bowed, and the roar intensified for the moment it took for the truck to take him back into the darkness. And then the roar slowed and died away.
The poet came out again and was immediately boo'ed off the stage.
Then the Monster Truck came out. Big Foot in all his glory, shooting sparks, belching smoke and roaring all around the arena, followed by five trucks in eye-searing colors. Big Foot went back into the quiet cave as the five other trucks circled and the announcer screamed over the screaming roar of the stadium.
"Never before and Never Again!! Get it up now for the Monster Truck Demolition Derby! Show these gorgeous mechanical beasts of destruction your appreciation and their fine drivers too!! Now they salute you before they go into battle!!"
The crowd roared again as they came around again. The really violent purple truck gleamed, the rumbling roar of the throbbing magenta truck made the stand seat shiver under me, a polyester lime green truck a color no self-respecting lime had ever achieved came next, then an exceedingly radioactive yellow truck made the statdium seem to brighten, and last but certainly not least was an eat-all-light jet black truck. Each truck had, instead of a grill, a front that was painted to look like the gaping jaws of some snarling animal, with gleaming rows of teeth. Flames were painted back from the snarling mouthes, so beautifully rendered the flames almost seemed to curl and flicker with the wind of their passage.
A bell rung, so clearly it seemed to be right by my ear. That startled me badly. All the trucks whirled, on the cue, and roared towards the center of the arena, as if they were all intent on mutual annihilation, all in an instant.
A flash pot went off in the middle of the arena.
I looked at him. "What, isn't that part of your show?"
"No, damnit, something's going all wrong."
Pyrotechnics went off, making a forty foot high tower of smoke, when it slowly drifted away, there was a fifteen foot tall obsidian tower, with a man in long, drifting purple robes at the top. He cackled with a loudness and clarity that could be heard even where we sat, he turned up his hands, which contained an immense scroll, and brought them up to the Heavens.
A bolt of lightning then came down, split into five forks and then the entire sky crashed as the bolts of lightening hit each of the five trucks. There was a *foomp* of imploding air and the man in the purple robes disappeared.
Now I started swearing. In Chinese.
Being what I am, I know that weird things can go on. Things that are better left in the dark, things better not dug into too far. These were related to some of the nastier ones.
The trucks whirled after the bolt of lightening struck them and then turned and snarled at the crowds of people. This time the stadium screamed a much higher note. This time, I could see the muscles bunching and stretching under metallic skin. They were changed. The mouths that had once been painted to their hoods were now gaping with metallic teeth. Flames curled and snapped from the raw metal edges as each snarled in hate. The trucks backed up, so that their beds were nearly touching, all facing outwards.
They pawed the broken earth of the arena and then charged for the croud.
I had both guns out before I even really thought about it and was blazing away with both of them at the driver of the on-rushing black truck. The driver's head and shoulder exploded away, uncannily, eerily like a hollow chocolate bunny's shell just cracking open to show a raspberry jam filling that spilled along the edges of the shell. I told you. Better left alone. Unless it's trying to kill you and everyone around you.
The trucks began to claw their way up various points of the arena, mauling, biting, and clawing whomever they could reach. Luckily, the crowd was panicked enough to get away from the creatures as quickly as possible.
Then I heard an unforgettable sound. The ripping, crackling whiplash sound of a helix-ripper. I whipped around to the sound and saw the beam of weird energy slice into the lime green truck. It screamed, reared and struck out the strangely wide figure in a black trenchcoat that had fired the beam. Okay. An ally, it seemed, for the moment.
My heart stopped when I saw Skip out on the arena ground, with the black truck dropping to try and run him over, but the kid wobbled and then leaped over the on-rushing truck. Another woman leaped from the stands, streaked across the arena, and landed right by the driver's door. She then proceeded to rip the driver out of the truck. Or tried to. The driver looked like he had been melded with the car, and when the driver came out, great gouts of that raspberry jam-like substance came out as well. The truck settled, tipped over, and an arterial oil flowed slowly from it, pulsating out from the transmission.
The music that was blaring over head, something about a highway to Hell started to turn more complex, less bland, more like the atonal scales of Chinese music.
The purple truck roared at me and jumped on the back of the dead black truck. Its head lamp eyes searched me out, as it was now on level with me. Then it roared, a hot blast of engine exhaust and heated metal, and the magenta and yellow trucks turned away from the crowd, rev'ed their engines, and came towards me.
The boy suddenly stumbled, covering a lot of ground. He flipped up and over the purple truck and slammed his hand into the hood, all the time singing some strange song about white male Americans.
The yellow truck passed by the flying woman, and the woman jumped up, reached in, and broke the driver's neck.
I aimed right between the headlights of the purple truck. I fired, but as I fired the truck slipped to the side, and escaped.
The lime-green truck charged what could only have been a Hunter. The Hunter dodged handily. The truck however took out a granny as it spun around to face the Hunter again.
The yellow and magenta cars converged on the woman in the arena. One sideswiped her, and because it knocked her off-balance a little, the other missed.
From the PA system came a high giggle, and then the high-pitched voice saying, "We have first blood."
The woman in the arena answered by casually ripping off the wheel and wheel well of the magenta truck. Skip's answer was more incoherent, as he screamed back at the P. A. system. In the meantime, the purple truck was scrambling back up the black carcass, so I fired at it. As I was firing, Skip came scrambling up the trucks, and I had to pull my shot.
I heard a crunch and screaming metal, and I saw the lime-green truck settle to the concrete. The Hunter was not to be seen, but the exit holes on the lime-green truck were through its hood.
Skip scrambled passed me. Suddenly a boy with his pants pulled down came tumbling passed me, screaming as if he liked it, and crashed into the yellow truck. He went through the windshield and the truck roared. The monster yellow truck then started to grow.
I peered back up. There was the sound of crashing and breaking glass, and then the murmur of voices. A shadow loomed over Skip, so I fired at it. It slipped back out of view, taking Skip with it.
The purple and magenta trucks ganged up on the woman in the arena. As they charged by her, she ripped something off the magenta truck and stabbed the purple one with it. The purple one flipped over at 50 mph and smacked into the magenta one. Both ended up in smoking wreckage on the arena floor. She then came towards me, and leaped up the arena wall to stand in the VIP box.
That was when there was a noise like tearing paper multiplied by 1000 times, as if the fabric of existence or reality was being torn. Paper spit out, tore, and tiny bits all went rushing out. There was a picture on all the bits, of the man in the purple robes. All the bits went out in all directions, scattering away.
That was when the yellow truck charged me.
The woman that was in the arena ripped the yellow truck's tailgate off and stuffed it up into its cab. I heard Skip yell my name, and he back-flipped out of the booth above and tried to kick out one of the yellow truck's headlights. He missed.
I tried to get out of the way, but the truck caught me. There really is nothing like the feeling of hot, spinning rubber on fragile flesh.
The entire truck bounced as someone ripped another chunk off the back-end. I think it was the woman. I could hear Skip saying something about how sorry he was, that he wasn't its friend, and then he didn't mean to put the boy in the truck. Kids and demons. Not a happy combination.
I used both guns to fire up into the body of the truck, but all the holes simply closed right after. The truck spun around, trying to run me over again. I moved so that the banks of seats could protect me. Its liquids were all over me, heavier than blood. I caught glimpses of Skip using a knife on what was left of the driver of the yellow truck.
It spun away again, and this time went for the woman that was ripping its back-end apart. The truck charged the woman, she back-pedaled and then leaped to go over the truck, and as she flew, she took one of the doors with her.
The yellow truck slammed into the wall, took all the railing with it. The stands right around me creaked horribly, so I tried to jump away. But I've never been very good landing. I fell with all the splinters, and the yellow truck fell on its side and expired. A little while later, I heard Skip's voice calling my name. I answered, and he and a few others, along with his uncle Rick dug me out.
The stadium was far quieter than I thought it should be. The air thick, still with partially fractionated hydrocarbons and the stink of way too many frightened people. Over it all, sharp and coppery was the scent of blood. It made me bleary. So it took me a while to get what Rick was saying.
"Did you see where he took the kids?" Asked Uncle Rick, "You have got to get them back. We're gonna go broke if they say the kids came here and got kidnapped."
That's when Skip hit him, "It's bigger than that, man! Get a hold of yourself! Don't you see! Lots of people got killed!"
Rick calmed down, and then said, "But they took them all, the things, they took them all..."
That's when he pointed. The tunnel from which all the trucks had come in had collapsed. The collapsing of the stands also revealed a gaping dark pit attached to the ex-tunnel, and a glow from somewhere deep in its depths.
Skip, at that point, scratched his face with both hands, fingernails running down stripes, and he renounced the way of the Druggie Path and vowed to go the way of the Tiger.
Rick looked at me, looked at the two silver pistols I was still clutching in my hands, and then said, uncertainly, "I'm... uhm... I'm sorry if I ever... uhm..."
I shrugged. The vacation was over. I just said wearily, "It was fun, Rick."
He nodded and I walked away, out to the parking lot to get my Equipment.Back to first part