bomb boy and the very explosive day
For my next story, I’ve decided to give my character some kind of deadline, maybe even a fatal one, a deathline. I don’t know much about them yet, I’m pretty sure they are a boy, and that their name starts with the letter K. I don’t know why K, I don’t like the name Kyle, or Ken, or Kevin. I wish there were fancier K names but instead I’m going to have to make one up/glean one. “Kickabod”
Poor Kickabod was born with a bomb in his belly. As he grew, so did the bomb. The bomb is made of heavy metals, and gunpowder, and watermelon seeds and chewing gum. All of those things his Momma told him not to swallow. “Get that gunpowder out of your mouth!” she would cry, pinching his mouth open and reaching in with her fingers.
When Kickabod was a young boy he would run away from home for weeks at a time. His home wasn’t abusive or anything, they had plenty of food and enough towels for everybody. It was just that when he was home he wasn’t free to do what he loved most. His parents were doctors you see, and they were very concerned about his gastrobombitosis. Every few days his father, Dr. Crumpinsteam, would hoist Kickabod up onto his knee, and he would use his stethoscope and one of those reflex-testing rubber hammers to bonk and bang at Kickabod’s protruding gut. This annoyed Kickabod so much that he grew to hate his father, and whenever he smelled the smell of rubber gloves or jalapeno potato chips (his father’s favorite) he would wretch and grow very sour. These check-ups caused Kickabod much dismay. He knew that he was a special boy, a medical anomaly, and that his parents had been keeping a journal in preparation for a book, about raising a bomb-boy. Whenever he would bring home an F on a math test, or whenever he would refuse to eat his Company Carrots, his mother and father would pull out their notebooks and begin questioning.
“What is it about math you find particularly hard?” his father would ask.
“Is the reason that you’re failing the fact that you may die very soon?” queried his mother.
He couldn’t stand these interviews. He was 15 now, almost a grown up. He knew he wouldn’t need his parents for much longer.
The only thing that kept him going in this town was The Sharks, his street hockey team. Every weekend, he would cruise across Flatlandia, north to south, swinging his stick from the banana seat of his blue beach cruiser, bashing at trash in the road. In Crossword Puzzle Park he would meet his mates, 6 of the baddest, maddest, plaidest punks the whole county had to offer. There was TimTim, son of the town butcher, a stocky 14 year old who arm-wrestled for quarters down by the shipyard. There was Inky, not yet 16 and already completely covered in tattoos. Spitwad, who could nail a pigeon in the head with a loogie from 30 yards distance. Goyem, a Hasidic jew from Israel who sold all varieties of hallucinogenic drugs. Munchy, the goalie, hugely fat, bald at 15, hilariously funny, and flamingly homosexual. And lastly there was Xenia, the undisputed captain of the team, calm and collected, intellectual, she wrote the famous Sharks playbook, and had a slapshot that could break a ball into forty pieces and score forty points. She had everyone’s hearts in her duffle, but she only loved one boy, our poor doomed Kickabod.
“Hey Bloopface!” shouted Inky to Kickabod on this particular Saturday, as our poor hero rounded the corner from 33 down to 14 across.
“How’s your tummy tweating you BloopyBloo?”
“Clamp you, Oyster breathe”, said Kickabod, the locally recognized master of insults. “My Tummy treats me better than your mom treats the mailman.”
A collective “oooooooo” went up from the gathered kids, which quickly faded to laughter, light laughter that hurts nobody, everyone wants to get to the game as quickly as possible.
“OK scruffians, get your skates on!” yelled Xenia. A couple of boys from across town had arrived and had already set up the goals and drawn the middle circle with chalk.
“Who are these llama lords anyway?” asked Kickabod.
“They’re the Halfies,” said Spitwad, hocking a chunk out over his shoulder in distaste. “They just beat the Roundabout Racecars last week. Gave lil’ Camper a black eye with some dirty high sticking.”
“Ya, they’re a new team, we gotta show ‘em who runs this ghetto,” said TimTim.
“Rally boys! Let’s go! Let’s go!” shouted Xenia.
The Sharks got in their positions, Xenia in the middle for the face-off. Kickabod paired off with a Halfie twice his size, a big mean looking kid with dark eyes and hair. The tension mounted as a legless boy in an old rusty wheelchair scooted out to the circle carrying the tennis ball they used as a puck.
“C’mon Archie!” yelled somebody, “we ain’t all handicapped ya know!”
“Jar it, Horsemeat!” Archie shouted back, intentionally slowing his roll. He reached the center circle and dropped the ball with no hesitation, quickly about-facing and scooting off as fast as a spider in a blanket. The game was on.
Before the Halfie’s captain knew what had happened, Xenia had slipped the ball between his legs and took off. The Sharks were mobile now, taking up key positions and shooting off lightning fast passes. The Halfies stood mostly bewildered, unable to get a handle on the freaky, laughing kids and their razor sharp team game. Archie rang his little silver bell when he saw the Halfie’s net shake with the first goal of the game.
“Nice shot Goyem!” shouted Xenia.
“Hey fellas! Don’t be so hard on them cuties! I want to see a little action back here!” yelled Munchy, his facemask in his hands and his stick on the ground, resigned.
“Ha! No mercy for the newbies!” laughed Inky, lifting his shirt and revealing those same words in Olde English across his abdominal muscles. The Sharks laughed, they do every time.
The game went on like that for another 30 minutes. The poor Halfies could hardly keep the ball for a play, let alone score a goal on the humungous and intimidating Munchy. Archie called the game, 19-0, Sharks win again.
“That wasn’t even a game,” said TimTim afterwards, “I may as well have stayed home and played dress up with my sister”.
“We don’t care what you do on with your sister,” said Inky, to much laughter. The Halfies had packed up and left in shame, arguing and fighting amongst themselves.
“We’ve outgrown these little scratch matches,” said Goyem, “I think it’s time we got a match with The Unicorns.”
“Ya, bloop those one-horned donkeys,” said TimTim.
Through all the fuss and backslapping, Xenia held herself aloof. She sat off on a decrepit park bench and tied up her heavy boots, peeking up every so often to catch a glimpse of Kickabod, skating in backwards circles and laughing with the boys. She loved the way he skated, so fluidly. He moved his arms around in wild circles as if he were on ice, doing a show for the judges. He never glanced toward her.
“Well Hampers, I’d better skeedattle, Mom’s makin frog legs tonight,” said Munchy, to a resounding “eeeeeeew!”
And like that, one by one, they took off on their skates and bicycles, leaving Xenia on the same park bench, drenched in sweat and squirts from her water bottle. But before Kickabod could round the corner onto Alphabet Street, he heard her voice cry out, “Hey Kicky! Wait up!”
“Uh… hey Xenia, what’s up?”
“I want to show you something, wanna boat with me to the canal real quick?” she asked excitedly.
“Uh, ya sure, what is it?”
“I don’t want to wreck it for you, you’ll just have to see for yourself.” And off they went, silently walking west towards the big empty canal that borders Flatlandia.
A few awkward minutes and a few triangular miles later, Xenia worked up the courage to gut spill on a topic that had been knotting her. She knew she could trust Kickabod, he had never been the type to judge. She needed to tell someone, and something about him told her that whatever she said wouldn’t faze him.
“So Kickabod,” she began, “I bet I know something you don’t know.”
“I bet you know tons of stuff I don’t know,” said Kickabod, uncomfortably.
“Haha, I’m not that much older than you lil’ guy.” She regretted calling him that, it was an awful thing she always said to her friends, she didn’t know why she wanted everyone to be lil’ guy. “Ya but actually, aren’t you curious?”
“Nah,” said Kickabod. Xenia clammed up, and they didn’t say much else until they came to the canal. It’s steep muddy walls rising out of a field across the street from them and some busted out crusty houses, no one home. The two of them walked out into the dry grass and a few grasshoppers scattered. The muddy incline had dried in the mid day sun, and the dust they knocked up as they climbed fell slowly in strange patterns, like food coloring in a bowl of water. They reached the top, and Kickabod looked behind them at their skates and his bike, stashed in a scrubby bunch of war-thistle.
“Check it out,” said Xenia, staring down the dry banks of the canal. Kickabod walked beside her, and immediately saw what it was she was talking about. Laying on it’s side in the mud, with no tracks or clues to it’s origin, was what looked like a retrofitted Winnebago. A colossus metal bus, wheels and all, covered in dust, but still shining rays into their eyes. Protruding high into the air was a long angular wing, with a jet engine. There was a decal on the underside of the wing, it said “Hope For The Future.”
“Sacred Scat!” shouted Kickabod, holding his hair in his hands and smiling with his mouth open. Xenia was smiling too, looking at him. “Cool huh?” was what she said.
“Wow! What the hat is that thing?”
“Well it looks like a plane right?” asked Xenia.
“That’s a pretty lame plane then!” said Kickabod. “It looks like somebody built that in metal shop!” It did in fact. Even from where they stood the welding looked shoddy, and the decal was sloppy, with poorly chosen colors: blue, orange, and pink.
“You wanna go in there?” asked Xenia, “I haven’t gone in yet.”
“Well ya I do, but how will we get back up? I don’t think I could climb that slope.”
“Hmm, well, why don’t you go down there, and I’ll go get my stick to hoist you back up,” Xenia was writing the plays.
Kickabod looked from her to the bus-plane. He squinted, trying to see through the tinted front window, and anxiously tapping on his belly through his thin t-shirt. “Ya, ok,” he said, and he returned the confident smile that Xenia was giving him.
With a leap, Kickabod was scooting and hopping down the bank, kicking up dust and rocks. At the bottom, he glanced up and saw that Xenia was gone from the ridge. The high afternoon sun blinded him, and he rubbed at his eyes for a moment, seeing colorful explosions in his eyelids. His eyes adjusted, and he walked into the shadow of the spaceship. He put out his hand, and touched the cool grey metal. He pushed at the deflated front tire, hanging in the air above his head. He looked around for a door, but the traditional bus entrance was smashed into the earth. He searched around and around, climbing onto the smashed right wing, bonking and stomping on the shell of the behemoth.
“You see anything!?” shouted Xenia, back where he left her, holding her stick and covering her eyes.
“Nah! I can’t find a way in!”
“There’s no emergency exit!? Like on the roof!?”
Doesn’t she think I would have tried that? He thought. Then he had another much more aweful thought. If I can’t get in, then whoever crashed this here can’t get out.
“I’m gonna break the window!” he yelled. “Throw me your stick!”
“I don’t know, I don’t think you should do that!” she gripped her stick, her most prized possession, and started to wish she hadn’t brought him out here. What was it she wanted bringing him here anyway? “Let’s go Kickabod! I don’t want to stay here anymore!”
“Listen Xenia! Whoever landed this thing might still be alive in there! We gotta at least check right!?”
A few silent moments go by, Kickabod staring up to where he imagined her face to be, hand over his eyes. Finally, wordlessly, her stick came spinning through the air, and he snagged it expertly, like a twirling baton.
He rounded back, and without hesitation, ran at the glinting windshield, stick cocked back, running like a Germanic warrior, Thor ready to strike with all the might of a bolt of lightning.
WHACK! The fissure that ran out from the impact rang a pitch that would terrify any ice fisher. Dust and tiny shards of tinted glass knocked loose and slid to the ground. Kickabod laughed out loud despite himself, and wound his war hammer back with the same tautness as the smile on his face. SMASH! He broke clear through the window, a hole that could fit his fist. WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! Slowly, he broke through the prison wall, and when the hole was large enough to step through, he kicked at the knives of glass bordering his portal, and shouted into the darkness.
“Is there anybody in there?” he managed to shout through his panting. He stepped into the hole and disappeared from Xenia’s sight.
“What do you see!?” she shouted, “Kickabod what’s in there!?” No answer, she looked behind her at the row of houses in the distance, across the field, on the road, she saw people, a group of kids walking their bikes.
As he moved passed the instruments in the cabin, nothing more unusual than a city bus it seemed, his eyes adjusted to the dark dusty glow inside. The inside of the ship was a mess, several suitcases had exploded and left the interior littered with red cloth, nothing but red. He picked up a piece and unfolded it, a long hooded robe. What the Hades? He thought. These are some wicked cultish threads.
He continued to dig through the refuse, tossing more and more red clothes behind him. He found a few odd objects, bottles of ink, books of world history, a Richard Nixon mask, a ukulele, a small silver key, a headlamp! With the push of a button he had illuminated the rest of the bus’ innards. Staring at the ceiling, he let out a long exaggerated whistle. There, in full color, was a large mural, or more like it, a comic strip. It seemed to read from the top right corner, spiraling counter-clockwise into the center. The first panel depicted a small village of oddly shaped huts, surrounded by an expansive desert scrubland. Walking amongst the huts were figures, clad in the scarlet cloaks. He followed the story panel to panel. Here the figures are seen around a fire, one is kneeling near the flame, the cloak covered all their faces but Kickabod got the sense that this was a meeting of dire importance. In the kneeling ones arms there was a bundle of red cloth, another figure, draping down, a dead curtain. The next picture was of an excavation, mounds of sand being hauled out of a large pit, in the center of which, a silver shining wingtip protruded from the dust.
CLACK. TING! TACK! The sound of rocks hitting the hull of the bus. It must be Xenia, he thought, I never seen her so nervous before. “Hold your Norsemen!” he yelled. “Kickabod! Th— —-fies! —- —t of th—-!” He could barely hear her. “Jesus grease us, what is it!?” he shouted, turning toward the broken window with the headlamp still clinging to his forehead.
He stepped out of the portal to the sound of shouting and laughter. Rocks were falling from the sky and crashing all around him. He looked up to where Xenia stood, but she stood no more. She had hit the deck, attempting to dodge the stones that someone was hurling at her. “Xenia!” she looked down at him and winced as a dirtclod exploded against the side of her head. Kickabod filled to spilling with rage and confusion. It must be those bass turds the Halfies, that’s what she was trying to tell me. “Get down here Xenia!” he shouted, dodging the downpour of rock and dirt. She looked at him and back at the attackers, undecided. “CLAMMIT XENIA!”
With that she had made up her mind, and down she came tumbling into the canal. He ran to her and helped her under the wing of the bus. The rocks stopped flying, and they heard a nasally voice call, “Thanks for the bike, baby!” Then the laughter trailed off, and there was no sound at all.
“Those phalluses, that union of carrion! That sewage! That silt! That slop!” he was so angry, he was stuck on S, and Xenia didn’t say a word until he had finally made it from “sludge” to “party of putrescence”. “Kickabod, we’re stuck down here.” It was true, even by stacking on top of one another, there was no way out. The banks of the canal were too steep, too high up. They lamented this as the sun finally left them and the rocketbago in shadow.
Kickabod and Xenia, after walking several hundred yards in each direction looking for a ladder, had come to the realization that they’d be spending the night in the ditch. “May as well get comfortable,” said Xenia. Kickabod was glad it was so dark, he felt himself blushing. “We should stay in the bus, it’s getting cold,” she said, and soon after they had stepped through the window they heard the patter of raindrops on the hull of the ship. The two of them, shivering, each picked up a red robe, and then another, they made a pile and reclined against the slanted floor and wall.
“This is so ludicrous,” said Xenia, “where could this thing have come from? Is it from another planet?”
“I don’t know, look at the drawings on the ceiling,” said Kickabod, acting disinterested. She took the headlamp from him and started sharing her thoughts as she read the glyphs.
“It’s all here! The story of this bus and the weird red robes! Look here, here’s them digging this thing up in the desert, heres them test flying it. So strange, in each panel there are more dead figures. Look Kickabod! They’re packing their things! Blast off! Looks like they’ve been around, in this panel they’re in a rainforest, in this one they’re on an island. Holy Bowly, Antarctica! I wonder how long they were flying this thing. Why would they come here? I guess that wasn’t their first choice obviously…..” She stopped, and got silent. The headlamp turned off.
“Kickabod…” she frightened him in the darkness, he jumped to hear her voice so close to him. “I need to tell you something now. I’ve been thinking about this, wanting to tell you, it’s about the Sharks.”
“What about em?” He started edging away, she followed.
“I have to leave the team Kicko. I’ve been recruited by the Unicorns.”
The only sound after that was the rain.
“Kickabod? Aren’t you gonna say something? Are you mad?”
“No, I uh. I guess that’s fine. The others might get cheeked though.”
“Dammit, you never seem to care about anything you know that? I could tell you I was dying, I could tell you I was in love with you, you wouldn’t care about any of it!”
“Geez Xenia, it’s not like that. I do care about stuff. I just can’t take anything to seriously, you know? My life isn’t exactly care free.”
Another rainy silence. He felt her hand on his, her other hand, hand sandwich. A faint ticking sound, tick. tick. tick. tick.. tick.. tick.. tick… tick…. tick… tick. She kissed him, missed him by a fraction. She kissed him again, nothing but net.
The search parties roaming the streets all crouched down and covered their heads. The explosion was felt all over flatlandia, satellite service was interrupted, peoples radios made crazy new songs. Kickabod’s parents looked at one another, dropped their flashlights, and collapsed sobbing into each others arms. The Sharks, a minute before speeding all around the city on their skates, fell to their kneepads and grieved as ash blended with rain and fell, black cruddy splotches painting everything. Their search was over, their friend had alerted them to his location, he had told them that he was everywhere now. The searchers picked themselves up and hurried towards the blast’s epicenter.
When they reached the Canal they found a smoldering pillar of fire reaching to the sky. Scraps of metal lay around the field, and they dug through them. Xenia, miraculously, had survived. They found her huddled inside what looked like a jet engine, stuffed with red cloth. She popped out like a pimento from an olive, stunned and quiet, speechless. The fire was soon put out by the rain, and the townsponges headed home, soaked inside and out.
A month passed before the Sharks got together again. Play was somber, they kept looking for that 7th piece, the perfect pass was missing, and they were totally, unequivocally bummed. The only cheer they got was from their new logo. Munchy had found it in an alley by his house. It was a scrap of metal with a picture on it, two sharks kissing on a red background.