Chapter 11:

The Wild Hunt


The Patriots brought in a group of prisoners dressed in orange jumpsuits. Bookmark here

‘Here they are, Colonel,’ said Girl Scout. ‘Thirty of the worst pinkos that Dominguez State Jail has to offer.’ She took a throwing knife out of the belts crisscrossed across her chest, slit a prisoner’s throat, and licked the blood off. ‘God, I love the taste of commie in the morning!’Bookmark here

The other prisoners grimaced and drew back.Bookmark here

Colonel Ripper slapped Girl Scout across the back of her head. ‘How many times do I have to tell you to stop doing that?! It’s dangerous, unhygienic, and downright creepy!’Bookmark here

Girl Scout looked down. ‘Sorry, Colonel. I didn’t eat this morning. I was trying to get the VHS to record G.I. Jesus, but…I’m not as tech savvy as my dad was.’Bookmark here

Colonel Ripper’s eyes softened. From out of his back pocket, he produced a burrito wrapped in tinfoil. ‘Here.’Bookmark here

Girl Scout took the burrito, smiled, and took a bite. Colonel Ripper patted her on the head.Bookmark here

‘Aw, bless!’ said Marilyn. ‘You can get the camera rolling now, Billy. The sentimental part’s out of the way. Nothing but senseless violence from here on out, baby! Ka-ching!’ She waved to the Blue Nasties and the Lonely Hearts. ‘Good luck, my lovelies! Break a leg! Literally!’ She snorted. ‘I’m funny!’Bookmark here

Colonel Ripper cracked his knuckles. ‘Everyone get into two lines! Prisoners up front, slashers behind! When I fire my revolver, the prisoners start running. When I fire my revolver a second time, the slashers run after them.’Bookmark here

Jack got into position next to the Plague Doctor, who leant close to him. ‘I don’t know about you, guv, but I’m quite bewildered by all this. The Colonel made me go sunbathing in a swamp full of alligators, so I fail to see how this is going to get me hot and bothered. Do you think he’s finally lost his marbles?’Bookmark here

Jack shook his head. ‘No. He’s a wily old coot. He’s definitely up to something.’Bookmark here

He heard sniggering behind them. Mammoth, Biker, and Girl Scout were whispering amongst themselves. They came over and leant over the shoulders of Puck, Mezu, and Sam.Bookmark here

‘Hey, runt!’ said Mammoth to Puck. ‘You sure you’re strong enough to even swing that hockey stick? Maybe I should sharpen a twig for you instead?’Bookmark here

‘Up yours, hoser!’ said Puck. ‘I’m plenty strong, and when I enter the Zone, I’m going to be even stronger, so watch your back!’Bookmark here

Mammoth laughed.Bookmark here

Biker tapped the sheath of Mezu’s ridiculously long samurai sword. ‘What’s this? A katana? No, too long. A kabuki prop?’Bookmark here

Mezu shifted the sheath away. ‘It’s a zanbatō, and I’ll thank you to keep your hands off it. My samurai ancestors used its length to cut down horsemen—and their horses—in battle.’Bookmark here

Biker whistled. ‘That’s pretty impressive…for the Edo period. If you run into a slasher with even the slightest modern technological advantage over you, though, you’re done for. Face it, the time of the samurai has passed.’Bookmark here

Mezu turned away. ‘I’m not going to dignify that with a response.’Bookmark here

‘Hey, coward!’ said Girl Scout to Sam, smirking an inch away from her cheek.Bookmark here

Sam’s eyes widened. ‘Yes, ma’am?! I mean yes, honey?! I mean yes, ma’am?!’Bookmark here

‘God, you’re pathetic. You can’t even stand up to a thirteen-year-old girl! It pisses me off that the Colonel has taken such a shine to you. I can tell his confidence in you is misplaced, though. I can see it in your eyes that you’ll always be a chicken!’Bookmark here

‘Yes, ma’am! You’re absolutely right! I question what the hell I think I’m doing here every day!’Bookmark here

This is cruel, thought Jack. Why are they doing this? To get us off our game? To what end?Bookmark here

‘On your marks!’ said Colonel Ripper as he raised his revolver. Bookmark here

The prisoners got into running positions. Bookmark here

‘Get set!’ Bookmark here

The prisoners tensed. Bookmark here

Colonel Ripper fired. Bookmark here

The prisoners sprinted into the forest. Bookmark here

Colonel Ripper fired again. Bookmark here

The Blue Nasties and the Lonely Hearts ran after them. Bookmark here

Jack saw a trio of prisoners ahead of him and cut them down. ‘All clear over here!’Bookmark here

The other slashers made short work of their prey too.Bookmark here

The Plague Doctor held his arms out. ‘I’ve had more frightening evenings watching amateur plays at the Young Vic!’Bookmark here

A third shot sounded behind them. Bookmark here

Mammoth with his giant spear, Biker on his motorbike with its roaring chainsaw wheels, and Girl Scout with her throwing knives came racing through the trees. The Patriots followed behind them holding machetes.Bookmark here

Now Jack understood. Bookmark here

They weren’t the hunters; they were the hunted!Bookmark here

‘What should we do?!’ said Puck.Bookmark here

Mezu turned around and raised his zanbatō. ‘We should stand and fight as one. This is clearly the challenge we need to help us enter the Zone.’Bookmark here

With no other ideas, everyone turned around and raised their weapons too. Bookmark here

Something about this didn’t feel right, though. Like they were missing something vital.Bookmark here

Predictably, Sam ran away crying. ‘I’m sorry, guys! I can’t! I just can’t! Marilyn can blackmail me if she wants to! Prison has to be better than this! I’ll send you letters!’Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.