Quietly I crept for a peek over my barricade. In the dim morning light, I saw them. Clumsily clad in awkward looking body armor, they stood. An array of pale and dark shelled creatures moved swiftly, stripping off their garments until only their most vulnerable forms showed. Yes, these were the giants of this purple fortress I had slowly taken over with my comrades.
I tilted my head down to glance at the fallen corpse of my companion. Curled in a ball and dried up like eye crust, he laid. As far as I knew, I was the last soldier left in this sector. The rest had suffered from smoke bombs and merciless slaughter from the enemy. My troop’s sacrifice had paved the way for this treacherous risk.
Rest easy, my friends, I thought, sadness welling up in my chest and boiling over. Victory will soon be ours.
Crawling up to the edge, I set my unwavering gaze on the monsters. Those four-legged creatures were vile. Their scent washed over me, and bile rose to my throat. It took me everything in me not to vomit. I guzzled the acid back down. Tiny pastel bottles sprayed the air with a sickeningly sweet smell that was clearly fatal to their adversaries.
But not to me.
I was a warrior.
And god damn it, I was going to survive.
Pounding their fat feet into the ground, two Amazonian women ventured into my dwelling place. Light poured down from above, drenching me in white. I had to blink a few times to let my eyes adjust.
These things were even bigger than I thought. I swallowed nervously. I had to stay hidden. My life was on the line.
“…I just don’t get why there are urinals here,” the blonde said, her voice thundering and shrill. “This is the girl’s locker room for Pete’s sake…”
I crouched low. Now was not the time to be discovered. I just needed to wait them out. Then I could continue the great journey to find food for my people.
“This used to be an all boys’ high school,” the brunette explained, “But, like, that was in the fifties, so—holy shit!”
The scream caused me to jump. Boy, could they scream loud. The ringing in my ears wouldn’t seem to stop.
Had they found me already?
“Ew!” the blonde squealed, hopping around anxiously on one foot, “Oh my god! Where?”
“There!” the brunette shouted, pointing, “In the urinal!”
I scrambled as fast as I could to get the hell out of there. However, the pearl wall was too slippery and made me slide all the way down to the drain. My legs dangled in the holes, delaying my escape. On got caught on a metal snag.
I winced. How tragic. The very place that had been my safe haven was turning out to be my deathbed. To live, or not to live? It was an easy choice to make—I yanked myself free, only costing me one leg instead of the two I had predicted. The pain was searing, but it was worth it. Rather a leg than my life.
I looked up. Hope surged through me and pumped life into my veins. Once more, I dragged myself up to the ledge, using the dead corpse of my fallen comrade for leverage. But it was too late. They were already upon me.
I quivered in fear, my bladder ready to give way any second. No amount of preparation could have readied me for death.
Guilt took hold of my gut and wrung dry, squeezing every last ounce of courage out. Disappointment hung heavy on me. It was a look I didn’t wear well. My fellow soldiers had given their lives so I could go on. So I could complete our mission. Yet here I was, about to die.
What a waste.
As the enemy came close and leaned down to get a better look at me, I realized something. There weren’t actually looking at me. In fact, they were crouching in front of the urinal next to mine.
I skittered along the rim and propped myself up to get a good look. My jaw dropped.
Oh no, I thought, my stomach plummeting like an anchor. It’s Rodney.
Rodney was an old friend of mine. He had been in boot camp with me, and although he was in a different troop right from the get-go, we were bunking buddies in the old tuna can back behind the baseball field. He had always been an odd sort of fellow. Had a strange habit of collecting small rocks. Nice guy all the same though.
Which is why it sort of killed me to watch him press himself against the back wall, trying to make himself seem as small as possible. It was as if he was willing the marble to take him in. Oh, but Rodney was a goner. There was no way he could hide, what with his black body against the white wall.
I heard him scream in horror as the blonde picked him up with a tissue, and then dropped him suddenly when he tried to squirm out of her grasp. Immediately, she threw him back in the urinal and kicked the knob with her foot, causing the almighty water to come flooding in over him.
That’s it, Rodney, I thought, my antennas crossed in wishful thinking. You can survive drowning. Just hold on.
The blonde kept kicking the damn switch. Again and again, time after time…It was like this crap would never end. After a period of time passed, I couldn’t even hear his shouts for help. It was like watching a horror film—you just couldn’t tear your eyes away from the screen…even though you knew everyone was going to die in the end.
Suddenly, a loud buzzing noise came, calling the blonde and the brunette away. As soon as they had gone, I rushed over to Rodney’s side. It took me a little while to get to him though. Crawling out of my own urinal and then into his took the wind right out of me. I was grateful for all of that training I had gone through when I was just a tyke.
“Rodney!” I called, flipping on my back and scooting down to his side. It wasn’t hard to do. The place was soaked in blood and water. “Rodney, buddy, old pal—ya gotta get up!”
I wrapped my front legs around him and picked him up. I leaned in close, trying to get a sign—any sign that he was alive. And then it came. Weak, and feeble, barely there, but it still came all the same.
“C-Caldwell?” he whispered, coughing up water.
“That’s it, Rod,” I encouraged, rubbing his back and looking at his half-destroyed body in worry. “Just stay with me. We’ll get a recovery unit here in no time.”
“Nobody’s comin’, Caldwell,” he chuckled tiredly. “We both know it.”
I closed my eyes, holding back the tears threatening to fall. I had already lost so many friends in this battle. I couldn’t afford to lose another.
“I thought you were dead,” he said, with a half-smile slapped across his face, “Glad to see you’re alive. At least one of us can carry out the mission.”
“What’re you talkin’ about, Rodney?” I laughed, trying to prevent sobs from breaking out. “We’re both gonna finish it. Together.”
“Nah,” he said, patting me on the chest, “This is somethin’ you gotta do on your own.” He coughed again. “Now listen, I ain’t got much time. Get your shit and leave before they come to finish the job.”
“No, Rodney,” I pleaded, my voice cracking, “No!”
“Come on, Caldwell,” he said. “You’ve gotta do it. For me.” He heaved. “For them.”
I narrowed my eyes as the tears came. He was right. We both knew it.
“I can’t just leave you,” I pushed.
“Ya can, and ya will,” he insisted. “Now go.”
“Go, ya damn bastard!” Rodney shouted, “Get outta here!”
But I was already running. I couldn’t stay and watch another comrade die…another friend leave me… No, I had to go. I pushed myself hard, limping along the cold floor, leaving a trail of blood behind. “Gotta do it,” I muttered under my breath, “For Rodney.”