|20.20|21|22|22.2|22.22|22.222|23|24|25|Those Extra Four…|1|2|3|4|Back Matter|
Humey Wants To Throw Down
“Just for the record, I have absolutely no idea where we are right now,” Jack complains from the back of the pack as they climb the ridiculously steep path up the mountain that Sam always goes to when he’s bored.
“Yeah, no shit,” Chuck says, his body not sweating at all as if he was a snake or some other creepy plot twist that (don’t worry) he’s not. “You must have said that like thirty times already kid. Christ on a crispy cracked cracker. Cruh cruh-cruh cruh, cruh.”
Ever since his hearing of the distant echo of a strange noise that sounded suspiciously like a whoop, Chuck has been all business and no patience. He needs to find this bigfoot, he’s been searching for the creature ever since he was five years old. That’s thirty-three long, long years of searching. Three years is a long time to want something, but eleven times that? That’s just torturous. Thankfully, his long sought-after opportunity finally presented itself to him in the form of not having anything better to do, otherwise Chuck might never have crossed out the entry of his bucket list that says, quote, Find my mythical cryptid friend, unquote.
“Can we take a break? PLEASE?!” Sigmund borderline cries, literally swimming in the sweat suit that he regrettably traded for the pair of overalls he usually wears back in the Dirt Eater Mk I.
Which overalls? You know the pair that’s embedded with the leftover endoskeleton from an older model of Chuck’s business suit? Yeah, those.
Well Sigmund’s certainly eating dirt now, or at least he will be when he falls forward from heat exhaustion. If, that is, he’s lucky enough to not break all his teeth upon impact with the gigantic rocks which jut out of the mountain he’s about to be failing to climb.
“Nope,” Chuck says. “We’re probably almost at the top anyway, these mountains aren’t nearly as tall as they could be.”
Chuck is more wit’ the shit than he realizes – no more than three grueling, perspiration-riddled minutes later, the three come to a large triangle-shaped rock sitting on the path that, lo and behold, just happens to point right to the upcoming viewpoint. Almost as if it was put there by a human long ago… er, I mean. Because glaciers.
Chuck is the first one to knock the eyeballs from his head and toss them off the summit, allowing them to sweep over the beautiful horizon using the hang gliders he had Sigmund install last month. First they glide along the budding canopy before diving down into the valley where Jack lives and then back up over the little hill that separates Quarryville Road and Skunksville, doing the crossbeams of the power pylon like Chuck and Alvey did the big letter A back on Monday morning.
The tips of the glider wings skirting the water as they turn, Chuck’s eyeballs bank hard in a semi-circle and glide through the gap underneath the Skunksville Dam, relishing in the spray of mist off the waterfall before following the cascade in a divebomb just to use the swell to recoil back into open sky. They follow the path of the river that once flowed where the Wanapo now fills until the propulsion engines kick into gear and fly the eyeballs back up the mountain, re-implanting themselves into Chuck’s eye sockets with so much force that he’s forced to do a sick backflip, which he flawlessly lands.
When his sunglasses melt back onto Chuck’s face, and not a moment sooner, Jack joins him at the lookout. Unfortunately, Jack is much shorter than Chuck, plus his eyeballs aren’t exactly capable of hang gliding, so his perception of the breath-stealing view is obstructed by a bunch of trees.
“All right, I think it’s just about snacktime. Where’s Sigmund?” Chuck asks, his tummy overcome with a case of the rumblies that he thinks is hunger but is actual acute dehydration.
“I,” pant “don’t know,” pant “I think we,” pant “lost him back on the,” pant “way up,” Jack pants.
“You wo–… well, I’d think you’d be better at this kid, what with all the running you do.”
“Yeah, well,” as his lungs stop stabbing him in the guts with his ribs, “I’m used to running in a circle. A flat circle. This is a different animal.”
“Quite,” Chuck says, not understanding the difference because when he exerts himself, he does so in an entirely mind-manifesting way. “Well, while we’re waiting, are there any berry bushes or anything around here?”
“Uhhhh… I don’t think so,” Jack says before actually thinking about it.
Then, from deep within the recesses of Jack’s mind, a memory comes back to him, the memory of the one time he let Sam drag him to that uncomfortable campsite on the side of the hill that he and Tyler built. It was late in the summer, August probably, but after a horrid day of cleaning up all the trails with nothing more than sticks they tied together into rakes, Sam surprised everybody with two of their Mom’s Tubbaware containers filled with berries. There were blueberries, raspberries, uh… greenberries that looked more like grapes than berries. A whole bushel of stuff really, and they tasted fantastic.
Through a watering mouth, Jack says, “Actually, yeah, a bunch of berries grow around here. They’re not fruiting yet though, I don’t think. Oh well.”
“Fuck you and your white man’s logic,” Chuck says as his right forearm turns into some type of weird ray-gun-looking thing that Jack’s definitely seen somewhere in an archaic science fiction film. Or maybe in an old video game about killing zombified Nazis, definitely one of the two.
When he’s done allowing Jack to ogle over his ray gun, Chuck walks over to and fires mercilessly upon a group of sapling-looking bushlets with oval-ish leaves and tiny lil’ white flowers, basking the bushels in a beneficial beta-wave of radiation that accelerates their life cycle to the point of fruiting. Then, he peels a thin layer of his tie off and it reshapes itself into a bowl, Chuck using said bowl to collect as many blueberries as physically possible before returning to Jack.
Well, he would have went right back to Jack if he didn’t notice that fuzzy thorn bush with similar lil’ flowers first. He lights up this bush too, really more bramble than bush, and fills the now twice-as-large bowl with the succulent wineberries that he gingerly plucks off the vines. Then, after licking the juice from his gloved fingers, he goes back to Jack.
And whaddya know, Sigmund made it too!
“Just in the nick of time, good buddy! I got us a little snack.”
Sigmund, a tired but worth it smile on his face, goes to reach for the berries, but then he stares at something above Chuck’s head, likely his fedora, and freezes. The man is so petrified he allows his hand to hover no less than two centimeters from the bounty of forest berries that Chuck just dispelled absolutely none of his energy collecting. What gives? Jack is doing the same fuckin’ thing, save for reaching for his berries – he’s just standing there, wide-eyed, looking up at Chuck’s fedora. Is there something suddenly wrong with Chuck’s hat? Should he just leave it at home next time? Should he have left it in the store instead of buying it? ‘What gives, guys?’
Then, Chuck hears a voice coming from behind him, a burly, well-enunciated voice that can only escape from the mouth of a very specific primate. The bowl of berries falls to the rocky outcrop below their feet, sealing itself up with a lid so Chuck doesn’t feel like he just wasted the past handful minutes of his life.
Chuck spins around and, as he does, his body is overtaken by the power armor. Not his normal power armor, no – this is a special upgraded version of it, one that he designed within the confines of his own mind nearly two decades ago when he first revisited the island his father brought him to as a child, the very island that was reduced to soot and rubble by a force of destruction Chuck has never gotten around to disintegrating from this reality because, honestly, he’s had better things to do than get revenge on what was likely just an especially lightningy hurricane.
Standing eight feet tall in his business-suit-colored suit of power armor, the face under the metal casing around his fedora that of a bipedal ape creature, Chuck Leary towers face to face with the one, the only, Tiny Tim.
Tim-nah’tee, the last of the Quatchfut species, clenches his fists, his knuckles audibly cracking as he does so. This must be it, the thing’s scent cannot lie – finally, after thirty-three long years, the last surviving Quatchfut has finally come within striking distance of the destroyer of his species. Why else would the human don armor that makes himself bigger when turning to face him, it must be an intimidation tactic, a threat, a challenge, even. Tim came up this mountain just wanting to talk, but… fuck it, if humey wants to throw down, Tim’s always packin’ a gauntlet.
Tiny Tim draws back and launches a punch with enough force behind it to pulverize concrete, but Chuck catches the fist without so much as flinching. Tim is surprised, but not nearly as surprised as he is when he finds himself flying through the air like a ragdoll, clearing the trees and heading straight for the water of the Wanapo. Moments before the splash, after throwing the appropriate hand signs, Tim’s body is swallowed by an orb of light and he drifts back to the summit of the mountain, daintily landing on his feet.
Chuck, who used the flight time to stash Jack, Sigmund, and the berries in a nearby tree, now stands in standoff with the bipedal ape creature. A frigid, icy wind blows from within the chip in Tim’s shoulder, the cold disrupting the otherwise balmy atmosphere of this beautiful spring day. The surviving local members of the indigenous cricket population, nearly hunted to extinction by the gray folk of Quarryville’s industrial park, chirp wildly to ramp up the tension that festers between these two titans.
“Thirty-three long years ago,” Tim begins, straightening his back and beating on his chest with his fists, “my island, my home, my entire species was destroyed, consumed by the inferno of the expansion of the human race. They killed my family, destroyed our resources, severed our connection to the astral plane… I had to hold poop in my system for weeks just to save the seeds from the last fruit I ate so I could start a new Grove once I escaped the circus I was interned in as punishment for allowing myself to be captured. For years now I’ve wondered, I’ve asked the higher power that flows around me, Why? Why did this travesty occur, why was it allowed to happen? And up until now, I have received only one answer: to make me stronger.
“But now, with you standing in front of me, you blasphemous manifestation of everything that is wrong with HairlessFut kind, you’ve given me another answer. I have been compressed under the weight of my past for so long, but it has made me solid. It has hardened me. And now, I come face to face with my ultimate enemy: the very thing, the only thing that could possibly be capable of the feat of destruction that was the Decimation of the Isle of Fut.”
Tim spreads his feet past shoulders-width, aligning his chakras and placing his body into a battle-ready stance. “Now, I shall get my vengeance. The Quatchfut will bE AVENGED!”
Tim leaps, clearing the ground between himself and the soulless pilot of the robotic war suit in mere seconds, just enough time for Chuck’s expanded torso to open up and reveal a gravity wave projector which deflects Tim and sends him hurdling into a tree with such force that the tree shatters and timbers to the forest floor. The worst part: with all these lifeforms here to watch it fall, the tree doesn’t make a sound.
The helmet of Chuck’s power armor melts away and, with his disproportionately small-looking head, he says, “Hol’ up. I know the island you’re talking about. I haven’t been there in like twenty years, but when I last went it was still destroyed. And I was as surprised as you are to see me when I saw that shit. Is your name Tim, by chance? Tim-nah’tee, son of Jym’bah-kay?”
“HOW DARE YOU SPEAK MY FATHER’S NAME, SCUM!” Tiny Tim shouts, his shattered backbone convincing him to maybe not try to stand back up right this second.
“Dude, it’s me!” Chuck says as the rest of his armor opens up and he walks out of it. “It’s Charlie! Do you remember me? We used to chill! We’d go fishing and running through the forests together! The spotted nightprowls would always chase us and you always knew how to fuck them up, but you never actually did because you didn’t want to scare me! Holy fuck, I knew you were still alive!”
As Chuck turns to explain the sitch to his tree-dwelling friends, Tim takes a trip down memory lane. He does remember a young Charlie from his island days… and if what this human is saying is true, that leaves only one culprit to be responsible for not only the destruction of his island and family, but also his imprisonment in that dreadfully unentertaining circus and his exile to this foreign land.
“Charlie,” Tim-nah’tee croaks, beginning to bleed internally. “I need… to have a word with your…”
Earth’s last Quatchfut is unable to finish his last sentence. Tim’s beginning to fade – that orb move used up a lot of his power, and it’s been days since he’s visited the Grove. The impact took a lot out of him too, almost too much… unequivocally too much. What was Tim thinking? Just randomly striking out at a human like that, one he used to be best friends with, no less… his father, his whole tribe would be ashamed. This is the fate he deserves, dying against a tree with an immobilized body, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
Tim-nah’tee’s ancient consciousness, the last consciousness of the Quatchfut race still present on Earth, begins to lift from his battered body. His spirit approaches the gilded gates of the greatest transition ever experienced by a living soul… until he feels a slight pinch in what he once considered to be his right bicep.
“Hold on, you’re not done here fella,” Chuck says as he injects Tim with the special Cape brand reanimation serum that hasn’t even hit the market yet back in New Manhattan.
Usually, when one is reanimated using the fluid provided by the traditional channels, one’s body is healed just enough to step away from the brink of death. While alive, the recently reanimated are still forced to suffer through an immense amount of pain that can only be alleviated through years on years on years of physical therapy, prescription medications, spiritual healing circles, whatever floats your goat. Chuck’s serum, which he keeps to himself because he doesn’t want the employees of the many physical therapy lodges, prescription drug companies, and spiritual healing clinics that he owns to be angry at him, sweeps through the body and rejuvenates all of its systems and functions instantaneously, regardless of the biology of the species. Chuck’s not sure how it works, something to do with stem cells or something or other, but it definitely works, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters.
With the serum flooding his system, Tiny Tim is back on his feet in no time, embracing Chuck in a hug, a hug that’s been a very long time coming.