Author: Odette C. Bell PM
Oatmeal is a bounty hunter; his favourite past times include getting into bar fights and finishing them. But when he is tasked to pick up a clumsy, annoying, awkward Earth-girl, Oatmeal has to give up his bar fights and concentrate on saving the galaxy.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Humor - Words: 2,002 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 3 - Published: 11-24-11 - Status: Complete - id: 2973738
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The heat from the fissure under the child's feet was unbearable: tearing at his skin with hot bursts of steam.
'Get to the transport craft!' A faceless soldier shouted. His body was shaking under his jump suit as if he'd walked into a blizzard naked. 'Get that kid to the craft now!'
Another fissure opened up off to the side of the kid. It was like staring down into hell with little red demons of molten rock jumping high into the sky all around him.
Two men grabbed him, one either side, and hurled him forward. He looked up and could see their white helmets stark against the red sky.
'Is that all?' The soldier in charge shouted as they threw the kid into the cargo cabin of the transport. 'Is that all?' His voice piqued like a soprano trying to crack glass.
The kid picked himself up and turned around to stare at the soldiers by the door. They were just white shapes against the soot filled air and red boiling clouds.
The soldier in charge, the one the other exhausted soldiers looked up at even though their shoulders were caving in from exhaustion, shook his head. 'Too late then. Close the doors and take off.'
The doors slammed closed just as a chunk of burning rock sailed through. One of the soldiers stamped on it with a jerky leg, hanging onto the railings as the transport craft tipped and shot forward.
Some lady he didn't know put a hand on the kid's shoulder and pulled him back. She rested her chin just by his face, her tears eventually seeping through his shirt. 'Everything is lost... it's all lost'
He pulled himself free. 'Don't say that! Zero's gonna come! Zero's going to save our planet!'
One of the soldiers laughed. 'Oh she's coming alright kid, but it won't be to save that planet. That dump of a planet is dead-'
'Stow it,' the soldier in charge kicked sharply at the metal floor by the other soldier's legs, 'kid doesn't need to know a thing.'
'Zero's going to save us all!'The kid screwed up his fists, he could feel his knuckles pop and crackle. 'Zero's going to save us!'
They all sobbed behind him, all the other survivors, pallid faces caked under soot and tears.
He wasn't going to cry.
Zero was coming.
'Sit down kid,' the soldier in charge wiped one of his gloves over his helmet, smearing the dust in great dirty lines. 'We'll be docking in a second. And if you're lucky you'll see her kid – you'll see Zero. Just sit down.'
'Docking in 5,' a voice crackled over the intercom. It was so harsh and static filled that it sounded like the guy was still off world, shouting through the tons of ash and soot that were engulfing the planet. '4, 3, 2, dock.'
The floor lurched forward and metal screeched on metal like a crying cat.
The transport doors opened.
More white suited soldiers teemed through the door, grabbing at the refugees and hauling them onto stretchers.
This time they didn't have helmets, this time he could see their faces. They all looked sickly and pasty white like walking corpses.
One of them bent down to him, offering a gloved hand. 'You okay kid?'
The kid slapped at the hand. 'Where's Zero? Why isn't she here?'
'Woah buddy. Calm down, you'll see her soon enough.' The soldier rose to his feet, his eyes flicking over the other survivors with jerky movements.
He wanted to see her now.
The kid pushed past the guy, sinking his small soot blackened hands into the thick fabric of the soldier's suit and pushing hard. The soldier teetered and the kid shot past into the hallway, dodging around two other men that made grabs for him.
'Get back here kid!'
He ran through the corridors. They were all white and clean, all metal and new paint.
There was an alarm, it kept whirling and whirling and this little red light above every doorway flickered an angry red.
'Hey kid! You shouldn't be here!'
'Stop that kid from reaching the bridge!'
He dodged past this old guy with a donut shaped belly and ran on. He'd never felt his heart beating like this – it was like it would slam out of his chest and bounce around the walls like a rubber ball.
He didn't care. He had to get to Zero. Zero was going to save his planet.
Then the corridor opened up through these thick doors. He knew it was the bridge right away. There was this massive screen stretched across nearly all the wall and everyone was staring at it.
There was a red ball in the centre of the screen. It looked like the pictures he'd seen of his planet in class… except it was a different colour. Red not blue. Everybody knew that Onus was a blue planet – so why did they have a red one on screen?
'The singularity is growing sir. 5 minutes before the planet's core is compromised.'
'Can the machine be decoupled? Is there any chance we can reverse the effects?'
'It's doomed. It was doomed well before we got here.'
Then a soldier in his clean uniform turned from the screen. 'Hey what the prack is a kid doing on the bridge? Get him out of here.'
Strong arms wrapped around his middle and picked him up.
'Let me go!'He screamed at the arms, kicking and scrambling, desperate to get loose.
The guy sitting in the biggest chair in the centre of the room turned and looked straight past him. 'Call her.'
He stopped struggling.
The bridge smelled of sweat, he could make it out now as he hacked up the black ash that clogged his nose and throat.
The guy that was holding him stopped, about to push him through the bridge doors, and stepped back as if he'd been burnt. He didn't let go, but he back tracked quickly as if he was scared the doors would turn red and scream at him.
They swooshed open and Zero walked through.
He'd seen her before, he had her poster and Steve even had a figurine. But it was like all the other soldiers in the room hadn't ever seen her at all – they were all staring with these wide, unblinking eyes.
She was pretty right? Wasn't that why guys stared? Or was it the cool black and white armour that hugged her like a jump suit? That wasn't what he liked best though. He liked the rod she held. It was awesome with a blue glowing bubble at the end. If he had a rod like that he'd get the other kids that bullied him. They wouldn't stand a chance against that rod. Or better still, he'd just take Zero along, she'd sort them out.
It was all okay now, Zero was here. Zero would fix everything.
The kid relaxed further.
'Singularity growing sir,' some guy said, 'we're running out of time!'
'Zero.' The guy in the big chair stood with his feet planted firmly apart, like a gym teacher doing star jumps. 'The planet is lost.'
'I will destroy it,' she said.
The guy that held the kid slackened his arms for a moment.
'No!'The kid forced his body forward, a heat he'd never felt before spiking through his bones, 'You can't destroy it – you're Zero!'
They all looked at him, then she looked at him.
Zero smiled and disappeared in a twist of blue transporter light.
Seconds later, the planet Onus was crushed like an egg…
Oatmeal woke up with a start. He put a hand up to his chest and rubbed through the fabric of his shirt with a gruff movement.
God damn dreams. Always the same god damn dreams.
He pushed himself up and took one hell of a breath, holding the air in until he could feel it push out the corner of his lungs, expanding his chest like a hot balloon.
Just one night, just once, he'd like to dream of something else.
Oatmeal pushed himself up and leaned forward, resting his arms on his knees, still sucking in the air and trying to coax his heart into a steady rhythm.
Was it too much to ask to dream of pretty girls, or bunny rabbits or goddamn ice cream? Why did it always have to be the same sickening sequence over and over again? Prack, prack, he'd been dreaming of the destruction of his planet for his whole life and it still had the power to rattle his bones.
Oatmeal rubbed at his eyes, pressing too hard and seeing streaks of light before he realised what he was doing.
'Prack!' He bunched up a fist and struck the wall by his bed. He was satisfied at the chunks of plaster and paint that crumbled around his knuckles.
'You're up then?'Jelly called from the other room, 'hitting walls as usual.'
'Shut up Jelly!' Oatmeal screamed ferociously, 'I thought I told you never to talk to me in the morning.'
'Oh I haven't forgotten sir, but you also told me to tell you the moment a target came up. And boy have we got one.'
Oatmeal frowned at the wall, picturing Jelly's ball like face beyond it. The kid better not be playing. 'Serious?'
'Oh yeah.' Jelly called back, 'I fixed your motor bike too.'
Oatmeal nodded approvingly at the wall and flicked off the plaster that was still clinging to his fist. 'Alright.' He rolled to the side and jumped out of bed, his bare feet slapping against the cold floor. 'Well fix me some breakfast Jelly, I'm going hunting.'
'Already? Aren't you going to watch your morning TV? MacGuyver's on later.'
Oatmeal pulled on his favourite pair of pants. These babies had been with him through all the tough years. So they were a little tight now, they were still pracking lucky. And no bounty hunter leaves his house without a lucky charm. 'Tape it. I'm sure this won't take very long.'
It never did. He'd been on Earth nearly a year now, and in between watching reruns of MacGuyver and the A Team, he'd always managed to wrap up his cases before lunch. Oatmeal may have been a galactic screw up who found pleasure in putting everyone he met off side, but that made him the perfect guy for the job. Bounty hunters were supposed to like punching people and getting in laser gun fights, and Oatmeal loved that stuff.
Oatmeal cracked his knuckles and ran a hand through his wiry black hair. He hadn't brushed it for 23 years now, and wasn't about to start. Jelly called it a mad cubist experiment that belonged in the broom cupboard, but Oatmeal didn't care. The bounty hunter business wasn't about looks.
The Bounty hunter business was all about making enemies and Oatmeal was really, really good at that. Jelly called it uncanny, Oatmeal called it a gift – but sure as hell, no matter how angelic the person, Oatmeal could find a way annoy the prack out of them.
God makes us all special right?
Well Oatmeal knew he was real special.
This story is actually complete. It's about 80,000 words long. It is no longer available on Fiction Press, but it is available for sale for $2.99 cents through Smashwords and the Amazon Kindle Store. To find it do a search for Zero on those sites, or for my pen name, Odette C. Bell.
Have a great day, and thanks for reading!