‘We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Gun’ (Part One) by Kareem Mahfouz
This is a story that, if you read past the first paragraph, you will soon realise does not take itself very seriously. I wrote it pretty much two years ago to the day, and it came about when I was stressing over my main WIP. I wanted something I could let my hair down with, something that was just… fun. Every single one of the characters is a close personal friend, bar Bill, who is my brother. And you’re going to have to trust me when I say they all maintain their real life characteristics. The story is basically Gears of War (which most of the real life characters worship) meets Skyrim. If more than one person reads all four parts and actually enjoys them, then I would very much like to write a follow up, one wherein even dumber shit happens.
And remember, the right path is always the right one. The other one is the left path.
– Kareem Mahfouz
Ah, the intimate high-pitched whine of tinnitus, a thing so private only Bill could hear it. It was his, his alone, no one else’s, and it just wouldn’t fuck off. Some eager scab had fired a beach ball, far away enough to do Bill no real harm, close enough to leave a permanent flatline playing in his head.
Scabs, he thought. Massive, hulking, ugly, lava-throwing, humanoid monsters. Maybe they were men once — who knows? Who fucking cares?
It was Charlie squad’s job to wipe them out, and Bill’s job to keep his squad alive, if a little singed.
They’d come upon a nest of scabs over fifty strong, forcing the squad into a ditch some past eruption had scarred into the Hot Fields. At least thirty Runts, easily as big as a big man. Ten or so Towers — name says it all, really — and a good seven or eight Hoffys, or Hasselhoffs. They were the big boys, the dinosaurs, the fucking monoliths, and named for the huge balls of magma they propelled that resembled a—
“BEACH BALL!” Sam yelled. He pointed it out with the barrel of his M16 as it sailed through the air in a deadly arc aimed right at Bill.
“Shit!” Bill cursed, running wide to the right. The ball landed outside the ditch with a deafening bang just as Bill clicked a button on his right shoulder strap with the stock of his rifle. It triggered a shield on his left gauntlet; the six-inch electronic disc expanded in circumference with a pulse of bluish translucent plasma energy.
Bill watched a splatter of hot lava slide down the face of his plasma shield.
Bollocks, that was close!
“Cheers for the warning, gorge,” Bill called across to Sam.
“No worries, Billy,” Sam replied through his self-proclaimed beard of ginger magnificence.
“Az,” Bill yelled over to his sniper. The man stood stone-still, carefully observing the enemy’s movements. “Pop the shithead that just tried to singe me!”
The scabs were clever; they stayed out of range of all but Az, but they knew he couldn’t kill them all. He only shot those that looked as if they were heading towards them.
“Wind’s up,” Az said.
“Can you kill the prick or not?” Bill snapped.
“Didn’t say I couldn’t. Said the wind’s up.”
Bill glared up at the sky, looking for more beach balls. “Predict my next fucking sentence,” he said.
Az turned his head, looking at Bill until his commanding officer looked right back. He wiped away beads of sweat that ran down from his forehead and into his short crop of stubble, then turned his head to stare down his scope. Az took a second to adjust his wind and elevation dials with a few intimate clicks, then spat off to the side and squeezed the trigger. The rifle fired with a barely audible pop.
In the distance stood the Hoffy that spat the beach ball, celebrating with a bunch of smaller scabs. It was looming over the others and they fawned at it, like pups would an older dog.
The back of its head sprayed out in a cone of blood and brains and bone as the bullet punched its way through the skull. The giant’s corpse collapsed to the ground and a guttural cry rang through the night as a dozen enraged Runts charged towards Charlie squad.
“Here we go, boys. Rock ‘n’ roll!” Bill roared, taking position with his men.
Az pulled away from his rifle, casually spun around and slid down the wall of the ditch onto his backside with his knees up. While everyone else was all systems go, he just rolled a cigarette. He never wasted bullets on a close-range fight.
“Line up!” Bill ordered.
All along the ditch heads popped up and took aim. To Bill’s left were Sam, Ashman, Dan and Boner, with James, Toby, Liam and Lee to his right.
“Wait for it!” Bill yelled.
“Loser carries the rocket launcher!” Bill fired, clipping a Runt in the thigh and sending it rolling along the ground, tripping another.
The squad roared in unison. Muzzle flashes lit up the line and the men whooped and cheered, making wagers over who’d kill the most, each man doing their best to win so they didn’t have to lug the antique Quad Launcher across the Hot Fields.
“Ten points for a bollock shot,” Sam yelled.
“They don’t have bollocks, piss-for-brains!” Ashman shouted over his shoulder in between bursts.
“Fine. The fanny, then!”
Ashman rolled his eyes, aimed down his sights and opened up a Runt’s head mid run. “They have heads, though.” He punched Sam in the shoulder and winked.
“Wasn’t a fanny shot! Don’t count for shit!” Sam yelled over the chaos of gunfire. He put a Runt down with three to its crispy-skinned chest.
Idiots. Bill had put three down himself but they were getting close. Close enough to spit…
The remaining Runts suddenly changed direction, running to the left.
Hold on, Bill thought. Where the fuck is Kris? I swear, I’ll kill him!
Sure enough, Kris — a little soldier but cowshit crazy — had climbed out of the ditch with a small box and was running after the Runts.
“Hold fire! Hold fire!” Bill yelled. They all froze to stare at Kris, or ‘Death Wish Kris’ as he was better known.
The Runts started spitting. Glowing hot magma raged within, lighting them up like deformed giant burn victims before their throats opened to propel fist-sized globules of lava.
Kris had his plasma shield up, opening his arms wide and taunting the Runts between attacks. But they were too close.
“Kris!” Bill yelled. “Get out of there, you fucking idiot!”
Kris ripped the lid off the box, pulled something out and stabbed it into the hot earth.
“Ha! The crazy bastard!” Sam yelled.
“Is that my last claymore?” asked Lee.
“We’ll soon find out,” Sam said, still laughing.
Kris was now running away from the Runts, yipping, hooting and throwing childish curses at them. The Runts followed, lumbering on with big, earth-chewing steps.
“Shields!” Bill roared, a fraction before the explosion. Everyone hefted their shields overhead and held them in place whilst bits of scorching Runt rained down on them.
Whispers of “mad fucker”, “lunatic”, “crazy bastard“ and every other way of conveying what an utter arse their kamikaze brother was hissed along the line until the thud and thwack of mutated entrails ceased to sizzle on their shields.
I’m going to tear that boy four new arseholes when he returns.
A minute later, Kris was back. The little man was wearing a cheeky grin. “I won,” he announced.
“Won what?” Bill asked through gritted teeth.
“You said the loser has to carry the Quad Launcher. That thing hurts my back like a twat!”
Bill and the rest of the squad stared at him.
“What?” he asked.
END OF PART ONE
Read part two HERE