“Phew, we made it!” adventurer/thief/modern day pirate/spy(??) Chunk Dongle said, wiping the sweat off his glistening forehead with his meaty hand. “And those bastards in SWIFT will never even know we snuck past them.”
Eva Lockhart swept the scene with her stunning, outrageous, Post-It-note-bright green eyes. They had come to the museum at night, hoping to find it empty save for a bored security guard or two. Turned out the museum was a lot closer to SWIFT than they thought, and they had fought through…Eva counted quickly…twenty-six nameless foot soldiers.
And ‘fought’ was an understatement.
“That’s my name, don’t wear it out,” Chunk said, giving her finger guns. Chunk’s best friend/sidekick/heterosexual life partner/homosexual life partner (??) Pylon Dickjoke started laughing hysterically.
“Good one, Chunk!”
“Ha ha…ha.” As a rival thief she’d always admired Chunk’s work from afar. She couldn’t understand how he managed to get whatever jewel or artifact or ancient scroll he was looking for every single time. After a few days working side by side, she was starting to get the picture.
The extremely bloody picture.
“So,” she said. “I was just wondering…you always bill yourself as a…pacifist?”
A single tear rolled down Chunk’s meaty cheek. “There are too many assholes in this world already, killing whoever they want.”
Pylon Dickjoke stood at attention next to Chunk, holding his hand over his chest and humming “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
“Too many human terrors who think only of themselves, only what they want, stopping at nothing to get it, even if that means stepping on the little man. Stepping on them…until they’re dead.”
“And to that I say,” Chunk continued, his voice echoing down the back corridor they were hiding in. “No more, sir! No more death! No more treating human life as disposable! I achieve my goals with a little grit, a few scuffles, sure! But never…never…will I take another human life!”
Pylon hurriedly pulled his cap on so he could start applauding. Eva only stared at him while he posed, hand over his heart, foot up on a trash can, staring off into the middle distance.
“You just killed twenty-six people, Chunk.”
Chunk looked appalled. Pylon started throwing up in the trash can.
“I did no such thing!”
Eva stared at him, eyes wide, and then slowly turned to gesture at all the dead bodies behind her. Another fell from the rafters.
“How did that get up there?” Chunk muttered.
“Twenty-seven!” Eva hissed. “How can you be a pacifist if you just killed twenty-seven people!”
Pylon looked up from the trash can and wiped vomit from his face. He stood next to Chunk with his arms crossed. “Tell him, Chunk!”
“It’s very simple, Eva!” he said, smiling warmly at her. “They’re not dead.”
Eva looked again, honestly wondering if perhaps she was seeing things. But, no. The closest body to her was riddle with so many holes you could drain spaghetti with him. Further on were several bodies in a very, very large pool of blood. There was the guy who fell from the rafters, directly on his head, but that didn’t matter because his entire groin area had been shot until it was completely gone. And there were the four guys in the back who had been exploded.
“Yeah, no, they’re fucking dead.”
Chunk sighed and rolled his eyes like this was the most basic thing in the world and she wasn’t getting it. “Well, yeah, they’re dead here. But they’re alive in their reset universes!”
For the first time, Pylon wore a face that wasn’t blind admiration. If Eva wasn’t off her mark, he was trying very hard to look concerned but it had been so long he wasn’t quite mastering it. He might simply have been trying to hold back the runs.
“I’m sorry…’reset universes?’”
“Well, yeah. You know.” Seeing her blank face, Chunk held out a meaty hand. “You know.”
“Pretend I don’t,” Eva said. “Explain to me like I’m a tiny, tiny child.”
Chunk sighed. “I can’t believe this, this is the most simple thing…every time we die, we don’t really die, we just restart in a new universe from a few minutes before we died. That way, we can do it again and get it right this time!”
Eva was beginning to wonder which one of them was crazy. Meanwhile, Pylon’s mouth was slightly open and there was a different look in his eyes. He seemed more…present.
“Chris, what the fuck are you talking about?”
“Dude!” Chunk hissed, cutting a look at Eva. “That’s not my name anymore!”
“Okay, okay, hold on,” Pylon said, making a T with his hands. “You think that everyone you just killed in this room woke up in another universe where they relived the moment until they got it right and lived?”
“Well, yeah! That’s what happens to me!”
Eva blinked. “He said what now.”
“I can’t believe I have to explain this. Have you guys seriously never died before?”
“No!” they both said. Pylon had started to distance himself from his meaty friend.
“Have you?” Eva asked.
“Oh my God, so many times,” Chunk said. “Just tonight, getting into this museum? I died five…no, six! Six times!”
“Six?” Pylon asked.
“Yeah, first that dude hiding behind the door got me. Then I slipped in a mop puddle and hit my head…that one was on me. And then minigun, minigun, minigun, and finally that dude in the rafters dropped the dinosaur bones on me. That one pissed me off. A lot. That’s why I aimed most of my bullets at his general penis area.”
Eva shifted on her feet. Following after Chunk into the museum had made her question if he’d really been here before, even though he’d swore he hadn’t. He had seemed to make all the right moves, know where every goon was hiding before they even popped out…
“No,” Pylon said. “No, this is insane! People who die don’t just get deposited into another universe! A, that theory comes absolutely loaded with the idea that the multiverse theory has been proved, which it fucking hasn’t. And B…I mean, if this was happening to everyone, wouldn’t everyone know? Wouldn’t moving on to another similar world after death become a major, if not the central tenet of every single organized religion on the planet? Wouldn’t the scientific community be conducting continuous research to discover how this happens and if they can recreate it?”
Pylon was yelling by the end of it, panting, hunched over with his arms out, as though begging his best buddy in the whole world to start making sense again.
Chunk shrugged. “I’unno. What I do know is, I die, I come back. Must be true for everyone.”
“It isn’t!” Eva shouted.
“Look, I’ll show you.”
Pylon ducked down under Chunk’s meaty fist holding the gun and missed the bullet by inches.
“You know what? That’s it. I’ve had it. I thought this whole ‘pacifist’ thing was just some sick, twisted joke you were constantly making and honestly, I was into it. But this? This is an actual mental health issue and I want no part of it. Fuck you, Chunk. Pylon, out.”
With that, Pylon marched out toward the front of the museum, picking his way over dead bodies and going around pools of blood.
“He’ll be back,” Chunk said. “He just gets emotional. Come on, let’s go get that ancient ceremonial headdress with the coordinates to Atlantis.”
Chunk wandered off down the corridor without waiting for her. Eva thought about following Pylon. After all, if Chunk believed half of what he had just said he was crazier than a pack of silly straws and her life was in way more danger than she thought.
But, since she was secretly a descendant of the lost Atlantissians, she had to follow, otherwise she’d never reconnect with her culture and also all the jewels that were rightfully hers.
Hopefully ‘getting it right’ for Chunk meant she lived, too.