“Yo, dude,” Brewster said, looking out the glass doors at the back of my kitchen. He pushed back his baseball cap and scratched his head. “…Do you own a dog?”
I looked up from my Pokémon game, frowning. It was about 2am and the neighborhood was as quiet as death, but leave it to Brewster to find my empty backyard more interesting than Pokémon. He was a textbook jock; an impressively tan lax bro with muscles the size of Texas and a brain the size of a tube of chapstick. I was a black nerd. Somehow, we were best friends. I paused the game to grab a fistful of popcorn. “Hell no, my mom’s allergic. It’s probably a stray.”
“It looks really sick, dude. It’s creeping me out.”
“Just close the blinds.”
“I don’t want to,” he whined.
“Jesus, Brew, we see strays every day!”
“I don’t know, now it’s like foaming at the mouth…” He cringed. “Ughh.”
I rolled up from the couch, grumbling as I dropped the Pokémon game and walked up behind Brewster. “Look, you moron, the—” I stopped as I looked out the door and into the darkness of my backyard, lit by a few garden lamps.
That was definitely not a dog.
That was definitely a naked gray bald man crouched in my backyard, drooling and staring at us.
My face screwed up in confusion. Leave it to Brewster to think that some poor homeless man was a dog. “Aw, crap. I’m calling the cops. That’s not a dog, that’s a homeless guy. And he’s probably mentally ill, it’s not his fault.”
“But he growled at me!”
I was already dialing the Baltimore City Police Department, ready to explain that there was some naked guy in my backyard at 2am. Typical stuff for “The City That Bleeds”. The dispatcher clicked on the line.
“Baltimore City Police Department, state your emergency,” a calm female voice answered.
“Good evening, uh, I live at 126 Woodbird Drive.” I looked back to the glass doors; the homeless man was still firmly rooted on my property. “Um, there appears to be a naked man in my backyard.”
Static suddenly crackled to life in the background. “Could you give me your address, please?”
Frowning, I gave her my address again and waited for her to respond. Silence; except for static and an occasional pop. I thought that I had lost the call but there was still no dial tone.
“Hello? M’am? HELLO, M’AM?” I shouted into the phone. “THERE IS A NAKED PERSON IN MY YARD.”
“Where are you going?”
A loud pop echoed on the phone before the same tone repeated itself:
“Where are you going?”
“M’am, are you on drugs?” I asked, that being the only plausible explanation at the time.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, the thick smell of rotting meat clogged the air. Both Brewster and I gagged; he stuffed his sleeve over his nose and looked back at me fearfully. “Why does it smell like hamburgers?”
“Hell if I know!”
His voice turned fearful. “It’s the dog!”
“Brewster, shut up!”
I turned my attention back to the phone, but the woman continued to repeat the same phrase over and over again.
“Can you connect me to the Baltimore county office?” I asked.
The women was about to respond when Brewster let loose a high-pitched shriek; I whipped around to see the homeless man’s face pressed against the glass door, snarling. I gaped at the visage and my eyes bugged. My mind struggled to process the face. That was definitely not a naked homeless man.
The thing had hollow, black eyes and a canine snout; its curled lips revealed dozens of stained fangs. A few gossamer hairs grew on its emaciated head; the rest of the body gray and taut. Its spine stuck out on its back. At this point Brewster crumpled up on the ground, sobbing and repeatedly screaming “Mom”, as the thing brought a huge, bloodied claw up to the door.
I dropped the phone, the woman’s voice now only reduced to something that sounded like Latin, or Japanese, I’m not really sure. The phone clattered on the counter as the Naked Gray Thing and I stared at one another, I shocked and horrified, it evidently enjoying scaring the crap out of two pathetic high schoolers. After what seemed like hours, the thing’s face crept into a huge grin and it paused to rasp two single words. Although the glass door muffled the sound, I heard the two words as clearly as if they were whispered in my ear:
Brewster stopped screaming and jerked back to look at me in horror as the thing shot off back into the darkness. I swallowed.
That was my name.
Brewster and I both looked at each other and screamed. We hit high octaves of horror.
“WHAT DO WE DO?” he shrieked.
“I don’t know. Calm down.” I grabbed his shoulders. “My mom keeps a shotgun in her closet. Grab that and come back downstairs.”
He bit his lip, resembling a massive infant for a split second before running upstairs. I heard his footsteps banging above my head before they stopped abruptly. It didn’t sound like he stopped to open the closet— it was as if he was startled by something and froze in fear.
“Brewster?” I called hesitantly.
“Uh…dude?” His voice was high with fear. “Do you have an adopted Asian sister?”
I frowned in confusion before busting it up the stairs, bursting into my mom’s room to see Brewster frozen in the middle of the room, staring out the window. My mom’s room has a small balcony, and on the balcony stood a small, thin Asian girl. She was about our age with straight black hair and a face that could’ve killed someone. Her downy brows sharpened low over her dark eyes in a mask of rage.
I stared at her for a moment. How could she have accessed the balcony?
“Are you lost?” I shouted at her. “This isn’t your house!”
She continued to stare.
And then she took a step forward.
I’m not sure if it was her furious expression, the fact that a strange girl just appeared on my mom’s balcony, or the fact that a weird naked gray thing had just attacked us, but Brewster and I both rushed into the closet and jammed ourselves inside. I grabbed the shotgun wedged in the back and cocked it, aiming it at the closed doors of the closet.
“I’m scared,” Brewster whimpered.
“Shut up,” I muttered. “It’s just a random girl.”
I cracked the closet an inch to look outside.
Looking into the space was the girl.
My heart stopped and I fired the gun wildly, the base slamming into my shoulder as bullets riddled the room and smoke filled the air. Brewster screamed and jumped on me in fear, knocking the gun away. As the smoke cleared, the girl still stood before us, unharmed. We silenced immediately as her furious expression changed into a deep frown.
“All right, you idiots,” she said. “You’re in trouble, and I’m here to help. The name is Mildred.”
Mildred and I sat opposite one another in armchairs, Brewster cowering next to me. Mildred wasn’t as terrifying as before, now seeing her in the light— although she still had chronic bitch face. The clock ticked on the wall.
“Uh,” I said. “We’d really appreciate you telling us why you followed us, broke into my house and then told us that we were in trouble.”
She nodded, disinterested. “Yeah. Right. Okay. So.” She paused. “I hate to tell you this, but…you’re being hunted down by a monster who won’t stop chasing you until he basically rips you up and eats your dead body.” She paused again. “I’m sorry.”
I narrowed my eyes. “Excuse me?”
She sighed. “Let me phrase this another way.” She paused. “You’re screwed.”
Brewster and I exchanged glances. “Uh…what?” Brewster managed.
She steepled her fingers a la Doctor Evil, turning to me. “If Garden Tool says your name…” Mildred made a chopping motion with her hand. “You’re good as dead.” She paused. “Except for me. I attribute my survival to my intelligence and charm.”
“That gray thing that came up to your door.” She rolled her eyes. “The grand council of internet virgins uses the name ‘the Rake’ and writes fanfiction about him. I don’t know, it’s stupid.”
I blinked at her. I was never exactly a horror aficionado, but the fanfiction I read never involved Naked Gray Dog Men. That was a subject I did not want to touch.
Her eyes snapped to mine. “I live a few doors down from you. I heard the screaming and went to investigate.” She paused. “It was after me last week, but I suppose it has a new plaything.” She shrugged. “Now both of us are screwed.”
I threw my hands out. “You say that so casually!”
“It’s pretty easy to talk about death once you’ve accepted the inevitability of it,” she said cheerfully.
There was silence for a moment.
“I can try to help you guys out,” Brewster mumbled guiltily.
I turned to him. “Goddamn, Bre—”
The powerful stench of rotting meat hit me and I stopped; Brewster and I both registered it at once and turned to Mildred, our eyes tearing and sleeves over our noses.
“Yo, dude,” Brewster whimpered. “It’s that smell!”
Mildred wrinkled up her nose. “That isn’t good.”
“What the hell do we do?” I asked desperately.
The doorbell rang.
All three of us looked to the front door, still overpowered by the rotting smell. It was about 3 AM. My mom was on a business trip. Who the hell would be at the door at 3 AM?
Brewster jumped up from his seat. “I’ll get it—”
“Brewster, you idiot!” I grabbed his arm and pulled him back, picking up the shotgun from the side of my chair.
I inched to the door, looking through the peephole.
Darkness. Not the darkness of night, but pure black with a glass sheen. My mind worked to figure out what I was looking at, when I suddenly realized in horror what it was.
“Oh, shit!” I scrambled back just as the door began crashing on its hinges, battered by something huge. Cracks raced across the wood and I cocked the shotgun, aiming it at the door.
“I have no experience shooting a gun,” I said, cowering behind my armchair. Meanwhile, I think Brewster wet himself.
Mildred sat up in her chair. “We need to leave. Now. Get a car; it’ll catch us on foot.”
The door was almost down. “I don’t have a car.”
Mildred looked at Brewster and he shook his head, trembling. “Mine’s in the front.”
“Shit.” She tried to knock the gun out of my hands. “Don’t even bother, that won’t work anyway.”
My eyes bugged at her. “What?”
“We need, like, holy water or some religious shit.”
“You tell me that now?” I shrieked.
The door fell down with the splintering of wood and a huge crash.
The three of us shot behind one armchair to hide, which was both stupid and ineffective. I heard claws scratch against the wood floor as whatever broke down my door walked into my house. There was silence for a few moments, coupled with wheezing, before I heard a familiar, rasping voice. I knew instantly what had just broken down my door.
When you’re about to die, you notice the little things in life. Like the fact that the kitchen faucet was dripping, carelessly left on by Brewster, or the sudden knowledge that you forgot to pick up beef jerky from the store. The little things.
Death was approaching, and I knew that in that moment, we weren’t infinite.
We were fucked.
I eyed Mildred, muttering to her. “Are you absolutely positive a gun won’t work against it?”
“Well, it won’t kill it.”
“Commeee out, meattt…”
I shot up from behind the armchair and pumped lead into the monster, tumbling back from the shotgun’s recoil. I attempted to say something suave, like “This time, it’s personal,” but all I said was, “AUGGGG”.
As I fell back, Garden Tool did too, lurching back with the shots and splattering the room with black blood— but just as he rolled on he floor he rose again, bullet wounds filling up with flesh. The blood faded. That was definitely not normal.
I stood, paralyzed, as he stalked forward. The thing cracked a grin, revealing stained sharp teeth, black eyes narrowed. He knew that I was terrified.
“Guns don’t workkk.”
Suddenly, I heard a shout behind me:
Brewster came through for me just this once, hefting an armchair over his head with mighty roar and heaving it at Garden Tool. The monster tried to duck away but the chair was too large and it smashed into his body, trapping him back in a corner. Black blood began to pool around the chair and his twitching limbs.
The three of us stared at the bloodied armchair.
“Is he dead?” I asked.
The armchair moved and in a split second the three of us tore up the stairs while Garden Tool was incapacitated, stuffing ourselves back into my mom’s bedroom closet.
“Why the hell didn’t we run outside?” Mildred asked angrily at us.
“We can’t worry about that now,” I whispered. I turned to Brewster. “Bro talk. What do we do?”
“I don’t know, man,” Brewster sniffed. Tears appeared in his eyes. “I’m scared, bro. Guns don’t work. Chairs don’t even work.”
“Brewster, we’ll get through this.” I grabbed his hand. “Remember the power of friendship. I love you, brother.”
“I love you too, dude.”
“Okay. What do we do?”
“I got the keys to my car, we just need to get to the front of your house.”
“How?” Mildred whispered angrily, cutting into our heartfelt friendship fest.
“A distraction,” Brewster whispered. “How about I jump out, start flapping my arms and meowing—”
Garden Tool threw the closet door open, screeching in fury. I screamed and for once in my life, had a good aim— I shot him directly in the mouth; he jerked back from the force, screaming in pain and frothing blood.
“EVERYONE MOVE!” Mildred howled, pushing us into a run. We barreled to the front of the house, Garden Tool springing up and tearing after us.
I leapt through the busted front door and shot out into the winter night, stuffing myself into the passenger seat of Brewster’s car. Brewster and Mildred followed suite, Brewster taking the driver’s seat and Mildred tumbling into the back of the car. I cocked the shotgun as Brewster struggled to take his keys and stick it in the ignition, much like R. Kelly.
“Brewster, MOVE!” I yelled.
He blinked back tears. “I’m scared!”
I pulled him into the passenger’s seat, jamming the shotgun into his hands and shoving myself into the driver’s seat. I heard scrabbling outside the car.
Garden Tool leapt onto the front of the car and then smashed it’s head on the windshield. I gunned the engine and floored the car forward; Brewster blasted a bullet into the windshield, missing Garden Tool completely and blowing a massive hole in the car. Glass exploded everywhere; I threw my arms up to shield my face as Garden Tool forced his torso through the broken glass, screeching in my face.
HIs breath smelled like, guess what, surprise, that rotting meat smell that followed him everywhere. He was about to lunge at me when Mildred shot up from the back seat and threw something around his neck, pulling back.
Garden Tool shrieked, choking, scrabbling to untangle itself from whatever was choking it. I caught a glimpse of the rope for a split second, a crucifix charm dangling off of it. A rosary.
Mildred let go of the rosary and Garden Tool fell back from the front of the car. I rammed the gas and the car roared before shooting forward, running over the creature with a satisfied thump and roll of wheels.
We burned rubber onto the street, shooting into Baltimore city. Mildred looked back and saw Garden Tool for a split second, slowly rising from the ground. She flipped him off.
“MILDRED, DON’T TAUNT HIM,” I screamed back at her.
I drove blindly, flashing past side streets and continuing deep into the city. The more people, the safer. “Okay, Mildred, where the hell do we go?”
“I’m kind of hungry,” she mumbled. “McDonalds?”
“You said that religious items hurt him? All religious items? Where’d you get that rosary?”
“My grandpa’s church. The Korean one out in the county.”
“Can you tell me how to get there?”
“Sure, but we’ll have to bust in.”
“I don’t care. If you think it’s safe, we’re going there.”
Mildred gave me a look that wasn’t the most confident thing I wanted to see, but I steeled myself and turned onto the highway, burning rubber the rest of the way.
Soon enough, we rolled up to a darkened church on one of Baltimore County’s smaller streets. A sign with Korean lettering stood in front of the church. The road was deserted.
“My grandpa’s church,” Mildred muttered. “I forgot how deserted it was.”
“Well, let’s get inside before that thing hunts us down…” I got out and slammed the car door behind me, tossing the keys to Brewster. I pulled on the church’s front door, armed with my shotgun. Locked, obviously. I had no clue how to pick a lock, let alone bust a door down, but I wasn’t going to look like an idiot in front of Mildred and Brewster. I had already shot a monster in the face; might as well continue my descent into badassery.
Brewster stood next to me at the door, frowning. “I don’t like this, bro…”
“I know, dude. But this is all we can do right now.”
He paused, eyes downcast. “This is all my fault. I’m sorry, Fred. I’m the worst bro ever.”
I punched his shoulder. “Hey, don’t be like that. You’re the best bro ever.”
“But you still condemned your friend to death,” Mildred chimed in, worming her way into the conversation. Brewster went back to looking depressed.
I turned back to the locked door and began using the shotgun as a kind of battering ram before Mildred shoved me aside. “Idiot. Let me do it. You’re not fooling anyone.”
I quailed away as she got busy picking the lock, finishing with a smug smirk and the click of an unlocked door. She cracked open the door, smile turning into a frown. “Jesus. I forgot what a dump this place was.”
The three of us piled into the church, locking the door behind us. Mildred flipped on some lights and the space illuminated in a disappointing array of empty chairs and a fake wooden podium. It looked nothing like the predominantly white-Catholic churches of Baltimore; it might have well been a multipurpose room. Bowls of what I assumed were holy water stood at random places in the church. A massive Jesus crucifix was poised behind the altar, weeping blood tears.
Mildred flopped down in a seat. “Well, here we are. Feel free to start praying. I don’t know.”
I paced the back of the church. “Okay, so, I propose that we create a gun filled with holy water and wine, call it the Baptizer 2000, and then—”
“Uhhh,” Mildred said.
I turned to her. “Uh, what?”
She paused before muttering, “I kind of lied about the power of Jesus thing.”
I frowned at her. “Excuse me?”
“The religion thing?” She avoided eye contact. “Actually, that was just a guess.”
“WHAT,” I screamed.
She thrust up the rosary she had used to choke Garden Tool. “My grandpa gave me this from this church, and that seemed to work. I threw a dollar-store crucifix at Garden Tool once and he laughed. I don’t know, okay?”
Brewster finally seemed to comprehend what was going on. “So…you drove us out here for nothing?”
“No! I know there’s something about this place that must work, it’s just…” she gave a little shrug. I saw her face sadden. “I was actually hoping you two could help me. You didn’t think I broke into your house just because I wanted to help you out, did you?”
“You don’t seem like the most charitable person.” I glared at her.
She matched my glare. “I’ll have you know, I donate—”
She silenced at a far off noise— the sharp, muffled ring of a telephone.
I scanned the room and saw the telephone perched on the far side of the room. I started towards the phone as Brewster yelped, “Wait, bro!”, but I caught the call on the last ring, answering with a hard, “hello”. I was getting tired of these games.
Static on the other end.
“This isn’t scary,” I said. “I live in Baltimore city, for God sake!”
There was a pop of sound, before:
“Where are you going?”
I shrieked like a small child and hung up the phone. Suddenly, there was a bang and the church lights cut to black. I froze, my voice taken away.
“Fred, bro?” Brewster’s far away voice called.
“What the FUCK,” I responded.
Something slammed into my temple and white-hot pain split through my head. I fell back, my mind going dizzy for a minute, the darkness and sudden sounds of shouting mixing together in my head. I figured that this was what a hangover felt like. I tried to get up but I struggled; after a minute I managed to stumble to my feet again. Something was strange.
The church was completely silent.
I steadied myself on the wall, pinching the bridge of my nose. My head pounded.
“Brewster?” I called. “Mildred?”
Silence; the pain in my head made it hard to think straight and I ended up stumbling backwards. I thought I was going to hit the wall but instead I fell back into a seat behind a heavy curtain. I panicking for a moment, feeling walls around me, but then I thought back to my church days— a confession box.
I rested my head in my hands, rubbing my head. “Jesus Christ…”
I looked up, eyes wide. That was definitely not the voice of Jesus.
That was the voice of Garden Tool.
“You are not Jesus!” I yelled in a random direction, blind in the darkness.
Garden Tool rasped a laugh; I realized he was on the other side of the confession box. The stench of rotting meat filled the air. “I have something that is everything to youuu…”
“What, the Pokémon game? I don’t care what you steal from me!”
“Return to this church at dawn and I will let him go.”
My heart dropped. “What?”
The lights suddenly flashed back on. I hissed and squinted before stumbling out of the confession box and throwing the curtain aside. Garden Tool was gone.
I cursed and suddenly remembered Brewster and Mildred before running to the front of the church. Mildred was just raising herself up off the ground, a hand at her bloodied head.
Brewster was gone.
“I feel like I just got hit by a truck…” Mildred mumbled, still groggy.
“BREWSTER!” I rushed past her, screaming Brewster’s name. At some point I tripped on a chair and tumbled onto the floor, but instead of getting up I just stayed there for a while. I knew my search was fruitless— Brewster was gone.
Return to this church at dawn and I will let him go.
I eventually got up, Mildred standing over me. “What the hell just happened?”
I swallowed. “Garden Tool took Brewster.”
Her eyes widened. “What?”
I whipped around to her. “The religion shit didn’t work, Mildred!” I yelled, kicking a chair. “All of this is bullshit! He took Brewster! You took us here for nothing! NOTHING!”
“I didn’t promise anything.” Her voice was hard. “I could’ve just left you two to die. Instead, I try to help. You should be thanking me for even trying.”
She threw her arms up in huge movements to show all that she did for us, which added up to breaking into my house, forcing Brewster to cut up a pineapple, asking to go to McDonalds when we were being hunted down, and then taking us to a random Korean church.
I stormed away from her, and, having nowhere else to go, walked up to the altar. I sat down at the front of it and attempted to pray, but no matter how desperate I was, I was still an Atheist. I attempted to be proud of my mental fortitude.
I put my head in my hands and struggled to be calm. All I had to do was face Garden Tool at dawn and Brewster would be fine. Brewster would be fine. Brewster would be fine.
There was still a massive hole in my heart as I attempted to comprehend my own death at the claws of a monster. The fear was there, but no hesitation— Brewster was my main bro, my heterosexual life partner. I would take a bullet for him, let alone sacrifice myself to a monster. He would do the same. I looked up at Jesus hanging over the altar. I supposed that’s why people coveted religion so much— the feeling that someone had your back, no matter what.
A thought suddenly shot through my mind.
My eyes widened and I got up from my seat, effectively standing in awe of my own brilliant idea.
I knew exactly what to do.
Mildred puttered up behind me, giving me a skeptical look. “Are…are you okay?”
“…I’m fine. I’m perfectly fine.” I turned to look back at her. “Hey, Mildred?”
“Where’s the closest place we can buy dynamite?”
The sun peeked through the windows as I stood at the altar of the church, smoking a cigarette. The cigarette tasted disgusting, but I looked like an absolute badass so I was struggling through it.
The monster was due to appear any minute now, and I had my shotgun at the ready. If my plan worked, it would be the most epic day of my life. I could write all of my college essays about it. The birth of my first-born child would be welcomed with an apathetic nod, because nothing would be as beautiful as this moment. If my plan didn’t work, Brewster and I would both be dead.
You win some, you lose some.
There was the loud bang of a slammed door somewhere from within the church, and I whipped around to see Garden Tool slinking from the front of the church, black eyes shining. He wore a massive grin of needles. That hunched, gray form was nothing human or animal— and he dragged something along behind him in one of his claws.
He was dragging an unconscious Brewster behind him, my best friend completely out but otherwise unharmed. For a minute I thought he was dead, but then I saw the copious amounts of drool dribbling from his mouth.
As Garden Tool neared me, his eyes flickered and he noticed the shotgun in my hand. He hesitated for a moment before leaving Brewster behind on the floor and slinking closer.
“You never said no weapons,” I said nervously, as if using logic would appeal to a gray dog-human monster.
He hissed a laugh. “I fear no weaponnn. Prepare for deathhh.”
Garden Tool tensed, looking ready to pounce, and I released an incredibly pathetic whimper of fear. I caught myself, attempting to remain stoic.
“This isn’t a regular gun,” I managed, relatively close to peeing myself in fear. Garden Tool suddenly seemed to notice that I had modified my gun with something. Don’t ask how I modified it; I’m in AP Engineering. “I call this baby the Baptizer 2000. Not only does it shoot bullets, but holy water too.”
“Your pathetic religion won’t kill meee…” Garden Tool hissed with laughter once more, squinting in delight. He moved from his crouched position, and my fear dampened. He was amused.
“You know, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.” I paused to exhale smoke from the cigarette, attempting not to choke and start tearing up. “I’ve been contemplating life.”
“Sucideee?” he asked, hopefully.
“No. I’ve been thinking about all of the joys of life, and what makes all of our struggles meaningful.” You could’ve heard a pin drop; Garden Tool’s expression became slightly confused. “I know that religion might not hurt you…but you know what will?” I paused, letting it soak in.
“Love. Love will kill you.”
Although he tried to hide it, I saw his expression flicker into one of absolute fear, and then switch immediately back to an expression of amusement. “Love? Love? Emotion is nothingggg.”
“You keep on saying that things are nothing. You’re wrong. Love is everything. Back in my house? The shotgun and armchair hurt you because Brewster and I were protecting one another. Mildred’s rosary worked because her grandfather gave it to her.”
As I ended my speech, Garden Tool’s eyes widened. Damn, I should’ve written my thesis paper on that shit. It was pure gold.
“Garden Tool, you’re right. Religion won’t hurt you. But you know what will?” I cocked the gun. “This, and 100 pounds of explosives. Filled with love. Bro love.”
Garden Tool didn’t react; I knew that he didn’t want me to see his confusion. I cocked my head at the Jesus statue behind me. He glanced at the statue, its arms held out in a welcoming gesture— arms now full of dynamite, dynamite that I bought using my mother’s credit card at a shady downtown Baltimore weapons shop that Ray Lewis probably frequented. The dynamite gathered in a string that lead down to directly in front of me. Garden Tool couldn’t contain his shock; he whipped his head at me with an expression of pure fury. His nostrils flared.
He lunged at me, claws out and jaws agape, and I shot him square in the mouth with a combination of holy water and bullets. Garden Tool seemed to freeze and drop in mid-air like lead; crumpling on the ground and frothing from the mouth. An inhuman gargle ran from his jaws. He attempted to rise; I shot his back and he crumpled up, howling.
I stepped up to him, tossing my gun aside. I daintily held my cigarette in my fingertips. I was glad to stop smoking it, smoking tasted like shit.
“You’re reign of terror is over, Garden Tool,” I said. “Never again will you prey on random high schoolers.”
Through his gurgling and writhing, I saw something slip from one of his eyes, as clear as day. A tear.
My heart fell. I wasn’t as badass as I would’ve liked to think I was, despite the despicable nature of the creature. I blotted out the cigarette out on one of the chairs and aimed the gun at Garden Tool’s head.
“Au revoir, asshole,” I said. It was the best I could do.
I ended up pulling Brewster’s dead weight by his foot. I had to bump the church door open with my back and drag him through, but as I was doing so the door accidentally closed on his head and he woke his a start.
He held the door open, sitting up and blinking groggily at me. “Dude…?” He suddenly snapped back into consciousness and jumped up, crushing me in a massive hug. “BRO! YOU’RE ALIVE!”
We pulled back. “I’ve never been more alive!”
Tears sprung up in his eyes. “And you saved me, bro.”
We fist bumped. “Hey, Brewster. That’s what I do best.”
We walked out from the church and to where Mildred was waiting outside, leaning against Brewster’s car. After taking a tour through more of the unsavory parts of Baltimore, trolling for explosives, she wasn’t exactly happy with me.
She sighed and cocked an eyebrow. “So, did you kill him? I thought there was supposed to be an explosion and you walk out of the church triumphantly.”
“He’s dead, but no explosion.” I paused, shrugging. “I really didn’t want to blow up a church. Also, I guess I’m not one for theatrics and death in the same situation.”
Suddenly, the church exploded behind me, filling the air with a massive boom and an upward rush of smoke and fire. The three of us jumped behind the car, watching the church’s frame burn and crackle.
My eyes widened. “That wasn’t supposed to happen!”
Brewster patted me on the back. “Yo, dude, don’t worry about it. The Korean people can fix it.” Mildred glared at him.
We sat back against the car and all took deep breaths. I nodded at Brewster. “Well, buddy, everything turned out okay. Want to go back to my house and play some more Pokémon?”
“Most definitely, brother.”
So the three of us drove Brewster’s completely destroyed car back to my house, stepped through the busted-in front door, and sat down to play Pokémon. Even though our adventure amounted to several million dollars in damage and probably months of therapy for Brewster and I both, I had my friend by my side. And when it comes right down to it, religion or no religion, afterlife or no afterlife, good life or bad life, the people you love are all that matter.
At that moment, life was good.
I looked up from the Pokémon game for a moment to see Brewster on the other side of the room and looking out my busted up front door.
“Yo, dude,” he said, scratching his head. “Why is your neighbor wearing a suit?”
Credit To – Ellen Meny