Once the hooting and hollering of the assembled horde reached a fever pitch, it seemed like it was time to go. Martialla and I sat across from one another perched in J-Lo’s empty window holes and looked at each other. Why didn’t we just get in the car and look at each other? It is a little dark in there but mostly because it was cooler. Actually that’s a lie, the real reason is that it seemed like once we were inside that it was really happening. You know what I mean? I tapped on the roof a couple of times and she did the same like that was a thing we did.
I glanced at all the dust being kicked up by the mile long demolition derby about to unfold “Too bad we don’t have a tape deck, some tunes would be nice.”
Martialla nodded “Ride of the Valkyries or Eye of the Tiger, something like that?”
I rolled my eyes “You are such a hack Martialla, next you’re going to be suggesting Fortunate Son.”
She looked hurt “I thought you liked Credence.”
“I do, everyone loves CCR, but that song lost its luster in this context after playing over a scene of chopper in Vietnam after the fiftieth time.”
Martialla glanced out at the field as the sound of chattering automatic weapon fire and the screeching of metal on metal was growing into a roar “I suppose we should go.”
I took a look as well, although there wasn’t much you could see with all the grit in the air “Yeah, I guess we’ll just have to go into battle with Fantasy playing in our heads. Did you know that was the first song to debut at number one by a female artist? And that was nineteen ninety five. It took that long Mar, think about all the great female singers throughout history and not until the end of the century did a woman debut at number one.”
“Well that was over a hundred years ago Ela, it was a different time. Do you think Mariah Carey really knows how to rollerblade?”
I snorted “Hell no, I’m sure they had her trussed up like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade to keep her upright. She carries fifty percent of her weight in her boobs, I’m surprised she can even stand up, there’s no way she can operate on wheels.”
We slid inside, put the armor in place, and strapped in. I asked Martialla if she was good but the battle had grown so loud that I don’t know if she could hear me. Either way she gave me a thumbs up, clutching the nanocanister to her breast like a mother chimp with a baby. The idea was that we would drive along the road (flanking Martialla insisted on calling it) and then turn towards the fighting and try to ram the Invincible vehicles from the side. Since J-Lo has no weapons and she’s great off-road this seemed like the way to go.
Of course there were Invincible vehicles on the road coming at us head-on, so the entire idea was rendered moot immediately.
The first thing coming at us looked like the front of a semi (the tractor I guess it’s called, but to me and everyone else a tractor is a farm machine) cut in half horizontally with a little platform on the back that had a rocket launcher. The mutant on the back fired off the rocket, seemingly engulfing him/herself in flames in the process, and the projectile whirled around like a bottle rocket. It was spinning so crazily and randomly that I figured there was no chance it would hit us but it did. Direct hit from something that seemed to have the flight path of a drunken one winged grasshopper. How is that possible? J-Lo jumped up in the air but it was just like hitting a speed bump. I have no idea what she’s made of but it seems to be pretty close to being indestructible. Or invincible if you prefer.
The visibility out J-Lo’s driving slit isn’t great so I couldn’t tell where it was coming from but I could hear bullets clattering off the front armor. You cannot imagine how loud that is from the inside. It’s like putting a bunch of batteries in a blender and then putting your ear where the top thing goes before you turn it on. What is that top thing on a blender called? It must have a name. Some shrapnel ricocheted through the vision-hole and hit me right in the earlobe. I wonder if that would count for a purple heart back in the day. No more earlobe for a bit.
Even in a nigh-indestructible car, a head on collision seems like a bad idea so I cut to the right and whipped back over immediately for a sideswipe (a rake actually, but I’m not going to go over that again, except I just did I suppose). I guess there must have been enough clearance for J-Lo to get underneath them like a cougar flipping over a porcupine because the next thing I see is wheels going over the vision slit and we were rocked like a VW Bug being crushed by a monster truck.
When I came around I saw the half-semi (quarteri?) standing up on its nose like a seal balancing a ball. It was as if it had been dropped from a crane. I saw a couple people struggling to crawl out and I floored it at them like a dirty redneck splattering a family of raccoons crossing a gravel road. Chunks of what used to be people flew in through the slits like we were at the front row of a Gallagher concert. Which we were not.
Splash one bandit I guess. That’s what they say in the war plane fighter movies right?
Something slammed into us from behind but by the time I could swing around I didn’t see anything. Could have been someone on our own side for all I know since we weren’t even facing the right way anymore. Although how could there be a right way? All I could see of the battle looked like a prison riot, how could you even tell who was on your side?
Coming around again back the right away and continuing up the road, some Invincible bikes scattered like frightened birds ahead of us. One of the crazy fuckers jumped onto J-Lo. I know this because his arm came through the vision-hole with a knife like that guy who was stabbing women through the windows of their apartments. What did they call that guy? The papers gave him a name. I didn’t get a chance to learn this guy’s name because Martialla reared back and stomped on his wrist and made his arm bend the wrong way and then I threw him free with a hard swerve. A couple of his fingers ripped off his hand as he was hurled and landed in my lap. I’ll think of a joke for that later. Something dirty.
Off the side of the road I saw one of those stupid Invincible log cabin machines just sitting there and I decided it was time to get in the fight. I took a gentle left and hit it in the side. The damn thing split in half like the boat in Man with the Golden Gun. It would be crazy to say that it was like driving through tissue paper but it was easier than it seems like it should be to literally drive through another vehicle. Maybe the front part attaches to the stupid wood part with duct tape. It was ridiculously easy to destroy.
I started off after one of the Invincible observation vehicles where the bumpy-head people sit and watch (although this time they were shooting a SAW like mad, I saw bullet casings flying off like candy in an explosion at a piñata factory) but I was intercepted by a thing that looked like the Munster’s car with three Mad Max spinning engine things on the front. The Munsters cut in front and fired a thing at us that looked like a bunch of harpoon guns from a whaling ship banked together like a missile carrier.
That hit sent us spinning like an old Mo-Town singer when they take their hat off during the chorus. By the time I got my bearings the Munsters had reloaded and were lining up another shot. We spun around each other three times like two drunks both trying to grab each other’s ass for a conga line before I slammed on the breaks and whipped the wheel around to plow into them like a butt-first torpedo.
Martialla shot through the hole and peppered the driver in the chest while their gunner launched the harpoons. The impact felt worse than any of the crashes we’ve been in. I swear it knocked J-Lo back ten feet. How can those things have more force behind them than actual rockets? One guy was trying to re-load harpoons while another tried to drag the dead driver out of the seat while a third jumped off and hoofed it. I guess he was the smart one because I backed up and bifurcated the Munster-mobile like a fruit stand in an action movie car chase.
Next thing I know one of the log-cabin mobiles slammed into us. I don’t know if it was an intentional ram or if it was just a crash in the chaos. What I do know is that J-Lo slid inside them like a very sensual leg into a silk stocking – only with way more splintering wood and scraps of metal and screaming and blood flying everywhere. Suddenly we were in the pitch dark. I drive to reverse out of the wreckage but the tires spun uselessly like we were on ice. Martialla waved for me to stop and then injected herself with some red nanos – right in the chest like a psycho. She could have at least done it into the arm or the thigh for my benefit.
She unstrapped herself, took down the armor panel on her side and spun to the side to kick her legs out the window into the shell of the other car around us. Since she wasn’t anchored in any way she flew back into me like that time my dad put me in the back of the old pick-up with a washing machine and told me to hold onto it while we drove out to the junkpile. I elbowed her in the back of head.
“Jesus, watch it, you’re fucking crushing me!” She slithered partway out the window between the two cars like a sliver between your fingernail and skin, and I saw her grabbing J-Lo’s edge for support “Hey, don’t bend her frame!”
Martialla managed to swing-kick off enough of the wrecked Invinci-car to get around the back and pull J-Lo free. Since the armor was down on her side I saw a spike-buggy thing coming at us and shouted a warning at her. She jumped out of the way and the spike-buggy slammed into J-Lo’s side with several spikes coming free and flying in the “open” window and hitting me in both elbows. One on the outside and the other going across to hit me on the inside of the other. You ever have a rusty spike driven through your elbow? It fucking hurts.
While I fumbled for the nanoinjector with my suddenly bloody hands, Martialla grabbed the side of the buggy and flipped it over like an angry toddler with a toy truck. The driver tried to crawl out and she stomped on his melon, which crushed under her boot far more easily than an actual melon would have. I’ve seen a lot of twisted stuff lately but that’s really going to stick with me. That guy’s skull cracked like it was an egg, barely any resistance. Those red nanos are no joke.
I finally managed to shakily inject myself with some blue nanos as I watched Martialla yank an axle (something long anyway) off the bottom of the overturned buggy and leap onto the wreckage of the first machine where she used it like she was spear-fishing to pin another Invincible car to the ground like that one kid in class did to bugs.
The blue nanos are weird, they immediately make you feel high off your ass but they also make you feel like you’re not really in control of your limbs for a moment. I should have just waited for them to do their thing but it felt important in that moment to try and drag the spike out of my arm even though I had the coordination of a drunk teenager playing pin the tail on the donkey.
I shouted out the window at Martialla “Get back in here!”
She jumped back down by the window and I handed her the injector on account of the bloody bullet-hole in her side and she helped herself to some blues as well “I don’t think I need to.”
She looked right and left “I think we won.”