Joey counted himself as he smiled.
He ignored Jonathan, who was fighting to keep Kayel at bay. Lucy’s fine. He didn’t want to check. He couldn’t move. There’s nothing left for him to do. Even if he could walk by her side, pulling her out would be risky. Those spikes were a bitch coming in, and they would be a bitch coming out. She might start to die after putting her down. It’s no use.
He caught someone fighting, screaming with all of his might from the corner of his eye. He was doing his best. He’s bloodied, with a club and a broken spear in hand. He was taking care of three other monsters and he wasn’t stepping back. Beneath him was his friend.
Another one was fighting for his life.
One was screaming at the top of his lungs after beating a monster. He was in the same state as the others. He had beaten the shit out of that monster, which called the attention of another comrade. They celebrated together as nothing else mattered in the world, calling the attention of seven other monsters ready to finish their job.
They only have six people left, with one turned into a piece of modern art and another needing a wheelchair. He didn’t know if he was healing himself, but the water from the rain started to fix his leg. He could feel his toes again, and it’s slowly becoming a bitch. He could heal himself, but why. Five more monsters were coming towards him.
He did his job. He did his best. He fought. It was not like him to even lead people to war. At best, he would be that questionable dude selling information, but he had to just lead them to battle. People may have been killed as a result. Lucy, too. But he didn’t know. He’s afraid to check. He could kick the bucket and—his mind emptied.
Joey laughed at himself.
There’s still something that he could do. Call it a last-ditch effort. He looked at Lucy, at Jonathan getting hammered to the ground by a gigantic sword but still getting up, at the people on the ground, at the ones back at the house, at George watching him from the porch, and at the dark skies pouring him rain. He finally had something. Enang seemed to finally have something. They all finally had something, and he won’t let this fall without a fight.
“Alright, fuckers!” He screamed. His voice broke, but he didn’t care. “The fight is still not done. I won’t look for forgiveness, and I’m not going to look for some fucker’s permission. We’re the only ones that could defend this something that we have after we’ve lost everything.” He breathed. Fuck. He’s crying again. He had to be honest with himself, huh? “For as long as I can remember… I just wanted to do what’s right for others. I haven’t done anything for myself. I chose not to want anything. That’s why I didn’t lose anything, either. But for fuck’s sake, all I had to do was to care. I got punched in the face. I can take that. I got kicked in the nuts. I can take that. I got punched in the face again. That’s fucking fair. I don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore. The only thing I knew before was to throw myself at my bosses’ orders and to serve. But I know that I could do something now.”
The five monsters grinned as they neared towards him.
“So get the fuck up, you fucking losers. I’m doing a speech, and I’m about to get lynched by crocodiles. Do you want to win? Do you want to get your revenge? Do you want to stand up again and take pride in fighting, or die to meet your fucking families in hell or heaven, knowing that you died fighting to protect something? I don’t care who you die for. I’m doing it for the people that picked me up at my worst in bitching. Hell, I feel like I’m compelled to survive by a fucking cactus.”
Joey remained on his knees, his eyes swollen as his tears fell along with the rain. He grinned at the monsters around him. One of them raised his stone club in the air. Joey sighed. His ears rang.
“Get the fuck up. Place your bets on me. Place your bets on this shot.” He faced forward, ignoring the monsters around him. He stretched his hands and placed his palms together, turning it into a water gun that he used at the pool when he was a child. “Give your life to me. If everything fails, I’ll die with you,” he chuckled. “If we lived, then we’ll grin and bear the sacrifices of others that died, probably, to protect what we have right now—”
He was hit. A club slid through the surface of his skull. Hot. It burns. But he kept his grin as the right side of his face turned red. He breathed long and heavy. He had a big target. Jonathan could make it work. He could still take the shot even if he’s blind. Ah. This bastard was going to attack again. Oh. There’s another one. Fuck.
Joey closed his eyes.
But the attack that he expected didn’t happen.
There came the scream. It was followed by others. One of the monsters was thrown to the ground. The other had fallen. Then the third. Then the fourth. Then the fifth.
“This better be worth it.”
“Save us, please…”
“I pissed my pants. Thank God it rained.”
“You didn’t have to say that out loud, man. That’s gross.”
“Ew, was that the reason why the ground felt warm?”
It was, indeed, very warm, at Joey’s side, particularly his leg. But his heart remained the same. People flocked to his side. He didn’t know these faces, but they were all beat up and bloodied. They screamed as they picked up rocks, anything, and slammed them against the monsters that they pinned down. These people formed a wall to protect him, to let him prepare for his final attack, even if they had to rush towards an armed monster with nothing but their fragiled bodies.
So this was how it felt.
To know one’s place.
To carry everyone on his back.
Thank the Gods he wasn’t Enteng.
“Jonathan,” Joey screamed, grinning. “bring that bitch here!”
He didn’t want to do this, but this was a short-range attack at best. He just imagined it as they did with an anime. But Jonathan followed, winking at him with his bloodied grin. He delivered a bomb that demolished Kayel’s ice helm. Kayel swung his sword. Jonathan dashed to close the distance between them, to catch Kayel’s wrist, to throw him over his shoulder, to slam him towards the ground, and to turn his body and throw him like a bowling ball towards Joey.
This would hurt.
Joey screamed, imagining that anime. They did it with blood, but he used water to converge all the water around him and shoot it from the gap of his palms like a high-pressure water cutter. But this wouldn’t cut it. He hoped that it would be close enough. He had already ripped his hands to shoot, to drill a hole through Kayel’s chest. He imagined it. He claimed it. For his victory. For everyone’s sake.
But Kayel’s armor melted, and Joey’s pin-point water cannon disappeared into steam as soon as it reached within an inch of his body.
Kayel’s body burned. He gathered his flames into his hand and summoned a wall of flames that burned everything in front of him. Joey pushed himself off the ground to create a wall of water to cover him, Lucy, and everyone that he could, but the fire pushed through to reach that house, to reach George.
Joey’s face paled. He didn’t get to scream.
But he watched as that rolling flame was spread out and killed by a blast of wind, dreaming only of touching that house or reaching George’s prickly skin.
"Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath, Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty." Enteng emerged from the shadows with a bloodied baseball bat resting on his shoulder. He grinned, bearing a burning scar on the side of his face. He wasn’t hurt.
“Romeo?” Uncle was at his side, on the ground, squatting like a ninja and looking so cool with a hoe in hand. “I didn’t peg you to be a Drama Teacher.”
“It’s called being cultured.” Enteng scoffed. He winked at George and stepped towards Joey and the gang with a bright smile like Kayel didn’t even exist. “I didn’t think you could read.”
Uncle chuckled. The flames that enveloped his body seemed to waver, revealing his face covered in scars. He remembered their fight with Rayan.
Both of them seemed different.