by Max Barry

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by The Resurrection of Yugobatania. . 13 reads.

"The Fat Man & The Skinny Boy"

SEPTEMBER 12, 2019 Tanabon, SEATTLE, 0159 HOURS

One more wire had done it. The device was all set. Now to prime it.

“Markov, hurry up! They’re onto us…”

They were in an alleyway in a derelict ghetto, the stench of spoiled alcohol and used cigarettes had lain dormant in the air for quite some time. The police, as brutal and unforgiving as they were, hadn’t bothered to look here. Until now.

“Markov!” the man said once more. He was a tall and thin man. His eyes were constantly on the lookout - perhaps for an opportunity or an escape route. One could never tell.

“Yeah, yeah, I just need to prime it! Sheesh Rodin, loosen up a bit.”

Markov, on the other hand, was a stout man. If one were to put Rodin and Markov together, they would most likely be called complete opposites. In terms of height, that was true, but personality-wise, they were perfect together. They always had each other's backs, like bacon on milkshakes. The sirens were getting louder - an indication that perhaps the Tanabonian police forces weren’t as incompetent as they both thought.

Rodin pulled out a small pistol from his trench coat - a P-45, an OCorp-made sidearm. Both Rodin and Markov had been hired by OCorp to travel to Tanabon to drop off a “gift”, as they were told. They had been in the middle of a gun run, delivering illegal OCorp firearms to some shady gang in North Osea. OCorp had been fully aware of their illegal activities, as the messenger OCorp sent to them had explained. If they accepted the job, their criminal records would be wiped clean, and no one would ever bat an eye towards their direction.

Of course, that was before the messenger mysteriously disappeared after he was sent to Rodin’s and Markov’s hideout…

The messenger had left the device with them, as well as a neat little pamphlet explaining what they had to do. They had both figured it was some sort of bomb, but they weren’t even sure what type of bomb it was. For all they could understand from the pamphlet, it would cause some major damage once it exploded. And they both were hoping they weren’t around when it did.

Now they were here, with this odd device they were told to plant.

“Let’s hope those others guys set theirs already,” said Markov, as he made some final adjustments to the device's timer.

“Just hurry up,” Rodin said harshly. He cocked his pistol, ready for a firefight that he hoped wouldn’t come.

What Markov was referring to was another surprising thing the messenger told them: others were sent by OCorp to other nations to do the same thing they were doing. This strange operation seemed to have been underway for quite some time, behind the public's eye, of course. From what they were told, a total of almost two dozen nations would be affected, yet they somehow felt it was exaggerated. They couldn't tell if it was higher or lower than what they are letting on. And that’s what scared them. The unknown.

“Done. Now, let’s deliver the gift, shall we?”

Markov had set the timer to ten minutes - just enough to set it and make a getaway in time. He closed up the suitcase the device was inside and locked it up. Smuggling the suitcase was easy. The security and customs were not as well-equipped as they thought - their tech was dated, as old as the 1960’s. The plan was to drive to the Tanabon capital of Seattle and leave the suitcase there in a crowded area. Rodin and Markov weren’t afraid of taking human lives - they had done it many times in the past to be even the least fazed by it.

Perhaps that’s why OCorp chose them for the job.

They quickly walked to their car, a black, four-door sedan. A quite antiquated one at that. Markov, in the driver's seat, started it up - or at least attempted to. It was out of gas!

“I thought you filled it up before we left!” Rodin exclaimed. Now he was annoyed.

“I did! I swear!”

Perhaps he shouldn’t have been focusing his attention on those lovely Tanabonian girls who passed by at the gas station...But then, he remembered that they had extra fuel cans in the trunk. He was a doofus, but not that much of a doofus. After spending an extra two minutes filling up the tank, Markov stepped on it and quickly sped out of the alleyway...just as a Tanabonian police cruiser turned down into their street behind them. It turned on its sirens and quickly sped behind them. They had no time to lose. Every second counted.

“Merde…” Rodin said under his breath.

“What do we do?!” asked Markov frantically.

“Keep your eyes on the road and keep driving! I’ll keep him busy…” Rodin cocked his pistol. As he was about to peer out the window, Markov grabbed his arm.

“No! Wait, we can’t risk hitting it up with the feds!”

“It won’t matter if we get em now or later - we’re still gonna have to deal with them anyhow! Now let me do my job, and you focus on yours!”
Rodin peered out the window and opened fire. During this whole chase, Markov had been skillfully weaving and bobbing through traffic, careful not to hit anyone. Strange, since they would be harming human life anyway. They just didn’t need any collateral, that’s all, Markov had been telling himself.

Shots were exchanged from their sedan and the police cruiser. None of them hit their car, but all of Rodin's rounds hit home. The police cruiser chasing them had significantly slowed down, as its front tires had been popped. It swerved into a fruit stand. Ironically, no one was seriously hurt.

Finally, Rodin and Markov arrived in what appeared to be the main square of Seattle. They slowed down the car to relax a bit, and keep their nerves down. They parked the car on the curbside.

“How many minutes are left?” Markov asked. His hands were shaking, and he was staring out into the plaza, his eyes alert for any police presence. Rodin reached into the back seat and grabbed the suitcase. He flipped up the locks and peered inside. There was a small cylindrical device, with white and red accents, presumably the bomb. Beside it was a digital timer with some wires running into the bomb.

“Seven minutes, forty-three seconds.” Rodin was getting a bit nervous now. “And counting,” he added with much trepidation.

“We’ll just leave it over by that fountain there. That’ll give us enough time to skedaddle on -”

Markov’s words were cut short, as a shot flew past their car, hitting a building. They had both instinctively ducked and looked up. The police had found them. And they were armed - and not afraid to shoot apparently. Rodin pulled out his pistol and returned fire. Loud groans and shouts were heard, as pedestrians scattered about, trying to get away from the battle zone. Police was dropping here and there. Rodin’s expert marksmanship had been making its mark.

“Set down that damn suitcase already!”

Markov was already on it. He had sprinted from the car as fast as he could, using anything he could for cover. Bullets were whizzing over, around, and behind him, but Markov tried his best not to think about them. Just one second of doubt and he was dead. He ducked behind the fountain and covered his head from getting turned into a bloody mess.

Now he was starting to realize that the bomb would be pointless, as there was little to no citizens around. It was just them and the police.

Oh well. He was this far in the plan. There was absolutely no going back now. Plus, neither Rodin nor himself had any idea how big the blast radius was. It was a small bomb, but it seemed that it packed a punch.

“Markov! What’s the holdup?!” Rodin yelled from the other side of the fountain. The gunfight was still raging on.

Markov flipped open the device...only to see that there were thirty seconds left on the timer. He swore that he set the timer correctly! He swore upon his life! Well, perhaps it was those lovely Tanabonian girls again, he said, smiling to himself.

He stood up and made eye contact with Rodin, who was hiding behind the sedan for cover. Immediately he could tell something was wrong.

“Dammit, Markov...” Rodin said very quietly.

SEPTEMBER 12, 2019, Tanabon, SEATTLE, 0215 HOURS

Georgie had just finished school and was heading home down the street when he heard a loud boom come from the big fountain. He was in the 6th grade and was having the best day of his life. He had gotten golden stars from all his classes, his best buds in the world were going to come for a sleepover later, and his crush Laura-Ann said “Hi” to him for once.

Life was great.

His mom was at the big fountain downtown, and his dad was making dinner tonight. He made the best hot dogs in town, bar none.

Suddenly, he heard a loud boom coming from the town. At first, he thought it might have been some fireworks, but it didn’t make any sense. The sun hadn’t gone down, and President Flores only allows fireworks during Independence Day.

Some of the big kids started running away, as well as adults. He didn’t know what was going on, and that was what scared him the most. The unknown.

He could see his friends Tommy and Buck running away, so he decided to chase them down the sidewalk.

“Hey, guys! Wait up!”

Tommy looked back and screamed. Was it something he said? He decided to turn around himself and was awe-struck with what he saw.

A huge yellow cloud was coming his way quickly, and he could see big kids and adults coughing a lot. Some of them dropped to the ground. G just stood there, scared as any little child would be, as adults and big kids ran past him. Then, the yellow cloud engulfed his vision.

Immediately, it burned his eyes, and he shut them. He screamed and dropped to the ground. He felt as if his skin was on fire, and he began to erratically cough.

“Mommy! Help!” he cried out helplessly. He began to tear euncontrollably, and could feel pieces of his skin come off. The last thing Georgie saw was his friends, as well as his mother. Hey, Laura-Ann was there too.

He peace. It felt as if he was living a wondrous dream. He could see a bright light coming towards him, engulfing his vision. Perhaps he’ll have those hot dogs up there eventually.

FIN...for now

The Resurrection of Yugobatania