“That’s BULLSHIT!” Danny threw the controller down on the couch, being careful enough to to throw it gently into a cushion, but throwing it nonetheless. “No way he got a headshot on me!”
Bobby hissed at Daniel, but it was too late. Bobby’s Mom poked her head around the doorframe and smiled at the two boys. “Now now! Language!”
Danny swallowed his bile and picked up the controller again. “Sorry Mrs. Hanson. I didn’t mean it.” He unclicked the mute switch and sullenly muttered “Good game, guys.”
Bobby’s Mom nodded benignly and smiled at her son. “One more round, OK Bobbby? Then Danny should go home, or at least call his Dad and ask if he can stay for dinner.”
Bobby’s face lit up at the implied invitation. “Can he? Thanks Mom!” He turned to his friend “Whaddaya think Danny? Want to stay for dinner?”
“Well . . . “ Danny feigned nonchalance, which fooled nobody. If Danny was lucky his father had left him a TV dinner before heading to the local sports bar. “What are you having?”
“Chili.” Bobby’s Mom said with a twinkle in her eyes and voice. “And I think we may have some chocolate ice cream left over if you boys behave.”
“OK!” Danny grinned gratefully at Bobby’s Mom. “Chili is my favorite.” He paused to think and then turned to Bobby with a frown. “What about Peter? We promised him that we’d play some co-op later.”
Bobby turned to his mother, pleading writ large on his face. “Can Peter come over for dinner too? PLEEEEEAAAAAASSSSSSEEEEEE?”
Bobby’s Mom pretended uncertainty as she teased her son. “Well, I don’t know. Peter is a pretty big guy. What if we don’t have enough chili?”
Bobby rolled his eyes with the impatience that only a twelve year old boy can possess. “Mooo - ommmm” he protested, stretching the word until it broke into two syllables. “You know there’s plenty of chili.” He snatched up his own controller as the new map finished loading and the game began anew.
“OK, Bobby. I’ll call Mr. Hackenmeyer - but ONLY if you take out the trash after we eat.” She smiled again at the two boys and returned to the kitchen. Bobby’s muttered “Yeah sure.” went unnoticed by both boys as they plunged into another round of Stigmata 3.
To the surprise of nobody Danny’s Dad didn’t even answer his phone. Mrs. Hanson left a curt message to the effect that Danny was going to stay for dinner, and he could stay the night if it was alright with Mr. Smith. After that she called Peter’s mother and the three-boy sleepover was arranged in the time it took for Danny to wreak his karmic revenge on the bullshit camper sniper. It was the work of another two rounds before Peter actually arrived with a sleeping bag and a change of clothes snugged under his arms but neither Bobby nor Danny noticed the lack of parental input.
Dinner went about as you would expect. Bobby’s older sister Alissa was disgusted by the presence of the two additional “overgrown rug-rats” as she referred to her brother and all his friends. But she was going out to the movies after dinner anyway so she wouldn’t be around to mock the three boys. Bobby’s parents were both easygoing and after the meal concluded they admonished the boys to not stay up too late before retiring upstairs with a DVD. It was only a matter of moments before Bobby had the Xbox online again. Both Danny and Peter had brought memory cards with their profiles and before long the Grim Reaperrzzzz clan was online and taking on any foolish enough to challenge the three friends.
It was 2 AM when Mrs. Hanson came downstairs and smiled gently and the three boys, all asleep in various chairs, controllers still gripped tightly in sleeping hands. She turned the TV and console off, and tucked blankets gently around all three boys before heading back upstairs again.
“HANDS OFF COCKS, ON WITH SOCKS!” Danny shook his head blearily as the outrageous cry repeated. He rubbed sleepy crust from his eyes and tried to focus on the situation. He was slumped in the Hanson’s overstuffed chair, his feet still propped on the matched olive ottoman. But the room around him appeared to be some sort of highly chromed bunker. He saw a couch against the far wall, Bobby and Peter both asleep on it. In the middle of the room stood a tiny man, only shoulder high to Danny and closer to waist high on Peter. He was dressed entirely in forest green leathers, and albino-blond hair protruded from his pointy green cap. He clutched a strange baton under his right arm.
“Link?” Danny breathed in confusion. “Where are we?”
“WHAT?” bellowed the green-clad man in an unnaturally loud voice. “WHEN I WANT YOUR OPINION NOOBIE, I’LL GIVE IT TO YOU!”
“What? I don’t understand. Where’s Mrs. Hanson?”
“OH NOW YOU WANT BOBBY’S MOMMY DO YOU? FRACKIN’ DISGUSTING IF YOU ASK ME! GET THE FRACK UP NOOBIE! DO YOU WANT THE FALLEN TO TAKE OVER YOUR TOWN? WELL DO YOU?”, bellowed the man in green.
The Fallen were the aliens in all three of the Stigmata games. Danny was still asleep but he knew there was precisely one answer to this question. He jumped up to a ragged semblance of attention. “SIRNOSIR!” Danny screamed, his pre-pubescent voice cracking under the pressure.
“THE MAGGOT SPEAKS! RANK AND SERIAL NUMBER MAGGOT!” The man in green swiveled to face Danny and took several long steps until his face was right against Danny’s, his thin aquiline nose touching Danny’s.
“Uh, er . . . Private Danny Smith sir. Serial number . . . I don’t know sir!” Danny quavered in a high voice.
“WRONG! YOU’RE PRIVATE MAGGOT UNTIL YOU EARN A NAME FROM ME! DO YOU UNDERSTAND PRIVATE MAGGOT?”, the man in green underscored his words by tapping Danny on the chin with his odd baton.
“ Stop spitting on me Link. I mean, GOD! I want to fight The Fallen and all, but I don’t want to drown before breakfast!”
“WHAT?”, roared the man, spittle flecking Danny’s face with even more coverage and enthusiasm? “LINK? YOU THINK THIS IS FRACKIN’ NINTENDO? DROP AND GIVE ME TWENTY! AND YOU CAN CALL ME BY MY PROPER NAME! I’M YOUR GOD. IF, GOD HELP US ALL, THERE IS AN OFFICER PRESENT THAN YOU MAY CALL ME PUCK. SERGEANT GOODFELLOW IF YOU’RE NASTY!”
All the ruckus had finally woken Peter and Bobby. Peter rubbed his eyes sleepily and casually drawled. “What the fuck is wrong with Link over there? Is it Halloween already?”
In a flash Puck abandoned Danny and was inches from Peter’s face, his baton tucked under Peter’s chin and forcing his head up. “VERY FUNNY PRIVATE ASSWIPE! I SUPPOSE YOU’LL BE LAUGHING WHEN THE FALLEN OVERRUN CAMP OBERON? YOU DROP AND GIVE ME TWENTY OR YOU’LL BE ON LATRINE DUTY!”
Peter looked sideways at Bobby and rolled his eyes. “Dude, this is wack. Next week we’re staying over at my place. In fact . . . “, Peter broke off as a sharp CRACK rang through the air and his head rocked to the left. A glowing red handprint rose on his cheek as Puck shouted again, spittle flecking Peter’s face.
“SHUT UP YOU GODSDAMN FALLEN-LOVER! DO YOU WANT TO SEE YOUR FAMILY AGAIN? THE THREE OF YOU HAVE EXACTLY ONE PRAYER OF MAKING IT THROUGH TODAYS EVENT AND THAT’S LISTENING TO GOOD OLD ROBIN GOODFELLOW!”
Peter rubbed at his cheek in shock, staring uncomprehendingly at Puck. At that moment a dapper man strode inside. He wore a pith helmet and sported
an entirely improbable handlebar moustache of completely white hair. He completed the picture by rubbing a monocle into his his natty shirt before screwing it into his left eye.
“That’s quite enough Sergeant Goodfellow. Pip pip and cheerio, and all that. P’rhaps I can take a tick and explain the young lads why we need them to fight. Then you can carry on with all your noxious drilling, wot wot?” Bobby almost laughed out loud. Bobby’s dad was a huge Monty Python fan and this new gentleman was the spitting image of Graham Chapman, declaring that the entire sketch was “much too silly”.
Puck grumbled something inaudible under his breath and slouched over to a ridiculously reflective wall. He drew a toothpick from a vest pocket and shoved it in his mouth before leaning against the wall and jamming his hands in his trousers.
“Right then lads. Up and at’em! Now Sergeant Goodfellow here has expressed to me the opinion that he’s dealing with a bunch of cock-ups who can’t tell the difference between their arse and a hole-in-the-ground without a set of flashcards. But I says to ‘em I says ‘ere now! That isn’t true. These are the lads who founded the Grim Reaperrzzzz, don’tchaknow? These lads will willingly fight The Fallen, we just have to give them the right orientation, wot wot?”
Danny, being slightly more awake than the other two nodded vigorously, his hand still drawn up in an unacknowledged salute. “That’s right sir! I hate me The Fallen. Not like Peter over there, he’s a known Fallen-Lover!”
Puck surged off his wall, almost swallowing his toothpick in indignation before the Graham-Chapman-alike put up a conciliatory hand. “I’m handling this good-fellow Sergeant Goodfellow.” He winked at Danny and continued. “Did you see that there? That there was what we call a pun - or your typical ‘play on words’. That’s the sort of thing that will put the men at ease. This is what they taught me as an officer and a gentleman.”
Bobby finally jumped up and joined the conversation, unable to keep his peace any longer. “Begging your pardon, sir, and I hate The Fallen more than anyone but where are we?”
“Ah.” “Ah.” “Indeed.” The officer took a rather extended pause at this point to withdraw his pipe, knock the dottle onto the also-very-chromed-and-reflective ground, create a new plug of tobacco in the pipe, and then proceeded to carefully light the pipe with an uncommonly sulfurous match. Having lit the pipe he completely failed to draw at all upon it. The small fire went out as he clutched it by the bulb and jabbed at Bobby with the stem. “Right. A fine question. A fine, fine question. Indeed, this is a fine, fine example of a question, a veritable paragon of questionhood. I’m personally agog at the fine, fine quality of this . . . “
The officer blinked as Puck darted forward and slapped him on the face. Puck swiftly resumed his lounging posture against the shiny wall, rolling his toothpick from one side of his mouth to the other.
The officer blinked twice more before briskly nodded an acknowledgement at Puck and continuing. “Quite right Sergeant Goodfellow. Quite the ticket, wot wot?” He nodded at Bobby “Well then. You’re in Gruesome Gulch. I imagine you’re familiar with the place what?”
Bobby frowned, his forehead creasing in puzzlement. “You mean the Stigmata 3 map? But that’s not a real place!”
“A real place? Well what is real then? I suppose you think that Los Angeles is real? Have you ever been there? I have and I can tell you on a hot day it shimmers like the craziest mirage you could ever imagine. No compared to LA Gruesome Gulch is quite real.”
Peter snorted disbelievingly. “Right. We’re in a Stigmata map. And I’m the King of Sweden.” Puck lunged forward from his wall, arms outstretched but the office brought him up short with a simple hand gesture.
“Look around Pete. You know full well where you’ll find the C4. And you know you’ll need that if you want to get inside The Fallen base from the sewers. Go ahead and scrounge. We’ll wait.”
Peter rolled his eyes, but he tossed his padded quilt on the floor as he stood up. He yawned hugely, stretching his gangly frame out to his full extent. “Fine. I’ll be right back.” He trotted out a oval gap in the wall.
Bobby leaned forward and began to speak, only to find the officer placing a single finger across his lips. “Shush child. Wait for Peter to bring back his news. It will be naught but a moment.” Even as he spoke Peter loped back in from a corridor on the left.
“Guys.” Peter spoke flatly, carrying a rectangle of gray putty and wearing a bandolier of more blocks over his Mario pajamas. “He’s right. The C4 was right by the sewer access. I don’t know what is going on, but it does look like the red base of Gruesome Gulch.”
The officer nodded in a self-satisfied manner. “Take five men. Robert, Daniel - you’ll both want to get your preferred weapons. The Fallen will arrive in twenty minutes. Pip pip! Stiff upper lip and think of England, wot wot?” He strode confidently out the main door, which slammed shut behind him.
Bobby and Danny both eyed each other warily until Puck erupted in speech again. “YOU HEARD THE LIEUTENANT! GET YOUR WEAPONS YOU MAGGOTS. BEFORE THE FALLEN SLAUGHTERS US ALL!” Startled, Bobby and Danny fled out opposite exits. It was less than a minute before they returned. Bobby now had a Red Cross hat and a cartoonishly large doctor’s bag. Slung over his back was a wicked-looking sniper rifle. Daniel carried a freakishly huge rifle and had saddlebag of ammo on both hips, incongruous against his Darth Maul pajama tops. Even worse he had two bandoleers crossing his stick-like chest, both bristling with an ominous array of grenades.
“Well, OK. We appear to be in Gruesome Gulch. What the fuck do we do now?” Bobby said softly.
Puck eyed the three boys and stepped forward, speaking quietly for the first time since they had woken up. “Now boys? Now you pray for grace. The Fallen arrive in fifteen minutes.”
Blogged with Flock