After the traders scurried off, Martialla and I sat around in the hallway for a couple hours not really doing anything. We had been all primed and ready to head out to explore (sort of) and then just like that the wind was taken out of our sails. For no exact reason. It’s like when you get up early and you get dressed to go to the gym and you’re raring to go and then just as your hand touches the doorknob to leave, suddenly you think “I don’t want to do this”. I guess the reality of the situation was sinking in. The end of the world and all that.
You know in the movies when the aliens are invading or the zombies come out of the ground or the Ebola monkeys are on the loose and there’s the one character who immediately jumps out the window (or whatever) and kills themselves? And you’re like “whoa dude, can you wait five minutes to see how things are going before you commit seppuku?” I kind of get it now. When something this enormous is staring you in the face, there’s a wave of helplessness that passes over you. Jumping off that bridge I suppose is a way of making what happens (death) your choice. But once that wave passes you’re just kind of . . . there.
We half-heartedly started talking about venturing out to explore again and essentially took turns saying why we should and then providing excuses why we should wait until tomorrow. We were commenting lackadaisically that we should have had the traders draw us a map of the area when we saw some shadows through the dirty glass. It’s fun how you can snap from a variety of bored malaise to being terrified to your bones in zero seconds. One moment you’re wondering if you even want to go on and the next moment you’re very much thinking about how you want to be super alive. Deadly threats have an interesting effect huh? It’s counterintuitive but I suppose we should have propped the doors open so we could see who was coming.
I really wanted to tell Martialla to go first and I would cover her, I wanted it more than I wanted that role in The Mummy Returns. And I wanted to be in The Mummy Returns a lot. I can’t play Egyptian? I got news for you, casting director Joanna Colbert, Patricia Velásquez ain’t from Egypt either. But that would have made no sense since Martialla is the shooter and I’m the talker. I should be proud of myself for not asking her because she probably would have done it even though it’s illogical. She takes this bodyguard shtick pretty seriously. Even I feel most bodyguard contracts have an out clause in case of world-ending events.
Do you ever have that thing where being scared of something makes you reckless instead of cautious? I get that every now and then. It’s not a good trait. I should work on that. No reason to let the end of the world get in the way of self-improvement. I decided that the best thing to do was to yank the door open and shout “What the hell do you want?” On the other side, the small filthy men with bad skin, bad teeth, and an even worse odor scattered like rats. Actually more like armadillos. I was on Conan once and the zoo lady brought an armadillo. Those animal segments on talk shows are death. I blame Carson for that. Yeah, I said it. The poor little thing just ran around and around in a circle. If it could speak, I imagine it would have been saying “oh dear, oh dear, oh dear”. They were more like that than rats. Rats are more self-assured. When they run they’re hissing at you, the rat equivalent of flipping the bird. They’ll be back.
The first three traders had returned with friends. Because of the difficulty communicating with them, I’m not sure if they thought we asked them to do that or were just taking it upon themselves or what they were thinking. Once they stopped freaking out over me startling them, they were excited to show us more junk, but before I could politely decline, there was a second commotion up top where their wagons were. There was some too-fast for me to understand talking and then some shouting. The guys down the ramp seemed to be torn between running back up to protect their trash wagons and trying to dash into the building for cover. I saw them eyeballing my gun like maybe it was worth the risk to charge at me.
Before they could decide, a few more of the traders came marching down with a couple other guys herding them. The newcomers were bigger, although I doubt any of them were over five six, and they were wearing some kind of pants that looked like a camouflage pattern with the colors all wrong – hibiscus on a pastel yellow. I don’t know where you’re going to hide with that scheme unless it’s on a Rose Bowl parade float. They would have looked totally ridiculous if they hadn’t been carrying guns but they were, so they were merely mostly ridiculous looking. Two of them had what kind of looked like big long flare guns to me. Martialla later called them “cut-down lever action rifles” but how can a rifle have a barrel that’s only eight inches long? Regardless, Martialla assured me they wouldn’t fire flares, assuming they fired at all. They looked to me like something the juvie kids would make in metalshop.
But the third guy had something else altogether. I’ve seen enough action movies to know an AK-47 when I see one (Martialla’s note, it was an AK-101). I guess those things do last forever. I almost had a studio convinced to let me play a terrorist in some dumb plane hijacking movie. I thought it would be interesting to have a woman terrorist, but they decided in the end that wouldn’t be cool with foreign audiences. I guess they thought people in those countries wouldn’t mind being portrayed as terrorists much as long as it’s a male actor in the stereotype, I mean role.
AK certainly seemed to be in charge. Was he in charge because he had the best gun or did he have the best gun because he was in charge? Or was it because of his potato head? You see, this fellow’s forehead was all lump and bumpy like he had tubers growing that hadn’t broken out from under the skin yet. It was like a crappy alien makeup design from Star Trek or some other sci-fi show like that, only even lazier than usual because they weren’t symmetric or matching or anything. Other than having a forehead full of tumors, he looked less scabby and unhealthy than the traders were.
He glanced at us and then spoke to the traders in a fast-clipped way that I couldn’t follow at all. I was about to speak up when he put the tip of his rifle against one of the trader’s chests and casually blew him away. Like he was reaching for a beer out of a cooler. No big deal, just killing a guy.
For a moment I thought the pain I was feeling was just in my head, like from the shock you know, but when I saw the blood, I realized that the bullet had gone through that poor sap and hit me right on the front point of my hip bone. It didn’t have enough force left to penetrate, but it was like taking a bad spill when your bike smacks into a tree.
I don’t know about the other two, but his gun sure as hell worked.