Chapter 41:

The Last Supper

Slashers


Jack took a bite of his chocolate chip muffin. It was spongey and sweet, just the way he liked it. The Tarantula House Café hadn’t changed under new management. It was still the same weird place he and Mezu used to come to between fights to unwind. The décor and furniture still looked like it had been bought at a garage sale, only now there was a portrait of Mezu over the Golden Sword arcade cabinet. Though he had let the previous management get killed by ninja slashers under his nose, he had also helped save the world from a nuclear holocaust, so the scales tipped in his favour.Bookmark here

‘So, what’s next for you guys?' Jack said to Puck, Sam, and Lobo, sat around the table with him in the otherwise empty café.Bookmark here

Puck squeezed an unhealthy amount of maple syrup onto her pancake. 'I'm staying with the San Antonio Snakes. I don't care how weak I am in comparison to the guys, and I don't care how much we lose; so long as we're having fun, that's all that matters.'Bookmark here

Sam spooned some fried ice cream into her mouth. 'Why don't you just use the Zone? Then you'd be sure to win.'Bookmark here

Puck shook her head. 'A game where the winner can feel no pride in winning and the loser can feel no shame in losing is a bad game.'Bookmark here

Jack and Sam nodded and spoke simultaneously. 'Oooh.'Bookmark here

Lobo chewed on a dog biscuit. 'Puck said big wisdom.'Bookmark here

Puck blushed. 'Shut up.'Bookmark here

'That's great, Puck,' said Jack. 'I'm glad you've gotten over your competitive—'Bookmark here

'Having said all that'—Puck's eyes narrowed—'were I ever to get bored with playing, I could always become the team coach. With a little hard work and foul play, there's no reason why the San Antonio Snakes couldn't go in for in the Hockey World Championships.' She forked a slice of pancake into her mouth and chewed on the idea with an evil grin.Bookmark here

Jack smiled. Old habits die hard. He turned to Sam and Lobo. 'What about you two?'Bookmark here

'Weeell'—Sam twirled her spoon around her fingers—‘slashers have been slim pickings since the end of the Death Game, so Lobo and I have decided to quit the Agency of Slasher Hunters, branch out to the wider Multiverse, and become monster hunters. From what Lobo tells me, there's good money to be made in the United Worlds if you join the Adventurer's Guild. Plus, I really want to travel, to experience new things, to find myself. I've spent far too long either running from or running after psychopaths in Texas.'Bookmark here

'Wow,' said Jack. 'Sounds great. Is that what you want, Lobo?'Bookmark here

Lobo nodded. 'Want become monster social worker. Want teach monsters not to be monsters.'Bookmark here

Jack smiled. 'That's wonderful, Lobo. Fubsy would be proud of you.' He patted Lobo's head.Bookmark here

Lobo blushed. 'What Jack do now?'Bookmark here

‘Me? Between the fall of the USSR, the rebuilding of infrastructure after the Death Game, and keeping the Horror Universe safe from the wider Multiverse, I've got my hands full. It's going to be tough being the only war dove in the GOP, but I guess that's a small cross to bear for everything I've done. The first thing I'm going to do is put up a memorial for Mezu, Billy, and...Marilyn.’Bookmark here

Silence.Bookmark here

Sam put her spoon down. ‘I think they would have liked the way we turned out.'Bookmark here

Jack nodded. 'Yeah.'Bookmark here

Puck’s pager rang. She read it. ‘Damn. I've gotta go. The Austin Armadillos manager just found his wife in bed with our team captain, and now he's chasing him across town with a double-barrelled shotgun. The bus will be here any second.’Bookmark here

Sam’s cellphone rang. She answered. ‘Hello...? What, now...? Okay, okay, I'll be there.' She put it down. 'Looks like I have to go too. The United Worlds spaceship to the Space Opera Universe just rescheduled to avoid a brainstorm in the Dungeon Universe tomorrow.’Bookmark here

Puck and Sam got up and hugged each other.Bookmark here

'Stay safe out there, Mountie,' said Puck. 'Ah, what am I saying? You're General Ripper's little super soldier. Try to pull your slashes on the monsters, eh? Give them a fighting chance.'Bookmark here

'Okay.' Sam started crying. 'Good luck with the Hockey World Championships. I'm sure you'll be a great coach. Just, uh, don't stab any of your players for underperforming, huh?'Bookmark here

'Don't stab. Got it.'Bookmark here

Puck and Lobo hugged.Bookmark here

'It's killer seeing how far you've come, Lobo.' said Puck. 'At this rate, you'll be the best monster social worker in the Multiverse before long, and a wolfy little lady to boot.'Bookmark here

'Thank, Puck.' Lobo started crying. 'Find mate before too late. Hunt good; cub better.' She patted Puck's stomach.Bookmark here

Puck gave a pained smile. 'Isn't that cute. She's giving life advice already.'Bookmark here

Puck, Sam, and Lobo came over and hugged Jack.Bookmark here

'Don't stress yourself out too much, hoser,' said Puck. 'You're smart, but you're also an idiot, so cut yourself some slack once in a while.'Bookmark here

Sam sobbed. 'Marilyn would be so proud of the man you've become.'Bookmark here

Lobo whimpered. 'We proud too.'Bookmark here

Jack felt himself getting emotional. He held them tight. 'Are you sure you guys can't stay a while longer? It feels like we've barely had any time back together.'Bookmark here

Even Puck started tearing up. 'We can't. We're all improving...and we're...a bad influence on each other.'Bookmark here

The San Antonio Snakes bus pulled up on the road outside.Bookmark here

A giant castle door materialised on the pavement. An Army green attack helicopter-fighter jet with UNITED STATES OF EARTH written on it flew out and landed in front of the café. Bookmark here

Puck, Sam, and Lobo let Jack go, ran out of the café, and boarded the bus and the spaceship.Bookmark here

They waved at him from the windows.Bookmark here

Jack smiled and waved back.Bookmark here

The bus drove away.Bookmark here

The spaceship flew into the castle door, which dematerialised behind it.Bookmark here

Alone.Bookmark here

Jack was alone.Bookmark here

Bookmarked
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