Chapter 53:

Chapter 53 - Fruit Salad


Morgan inched his way across the pit on his haunches, heedless of the strident laughter that had filled the arena since his run-in with the monkeys. In the long minutes since, Morgan had given the audience little reason to change their tune; with no gun and no ability to retaliate against Simone, the man had been forced into the position of ingratiating himself to the little monsters.

“Here, monkey monkey monkey…” he wearily intoned, shuffling toward his quarry as sluggishly as he could manage. The pack of apes eyed him warily as he approached, huddling protectively around his target: the monkey that carried Ricochet.

At that moment, the announcer abstained from his own laughing fit long enough to utter the very words Morgan had been dreading: “We have reached the five minute mark, everyone!” he exclaimed, gesturing toward the half-drained hourglass at his side. “If the match continues like this, I think we all know who will be taking home the prize…”

“Damn it!” Morgan pounded his fist on the filthy floor of the arena pit, inadvertently spooking the gang of monkeys ahead of him. In a panic, he lunged, his fingertips clawing through the air mere inches from the tail of his chosen prey… And once again, the tricky band of simians escaped beyond his grasp, leaving him floundering in the dirt like a moron.

“DAMN IT!” He rose into a kneel and wiped a rogue strand of spittle from the side of his mouth. This is pointless, he concluded, glowering after the retreating apes. They’re faster than I am, and harder to trick than I thought. If I can’t find some kind of edge in the next five minutes, I’m done for!

He whipped his head around, searching the pit for something he could use to turn the tide. Since stealing his gun, the monkeys had kept to the arena walls in an apparent effort to maximize the amount of open ground around them. This had prevented him from ambushing or otherwise surprising them, but a brief glance in the direction of the arena’s cluttered center led him to discover a hole in their tactics.

By leading him to the wall, the monkeys had provided him with a perfect view of the pit’s central building. And there, lying atop the only intact portion of its roof, Morgan spied the advantage he’d been looking for:

Simone herself.

She was lounging around up there without a care in the world, chewing idly at the flesh of a shiny red apple. In a rush, Morgan realized that this was the core of her battle strategy–complete inaction! By producing a flood of monkeys right at the start of the match and retreating to a safe place, she made herself nigh on invincible. She relied on her cheeky little servants to harry and harass her opponent until they lost their only means of protection–their weapon. Then she let her merry band of minions play keep-away until the round was over, leaving her to be declared victorious by default.

It was downright ingenious. Even as cross and winded as he was, Morgan had to respect the strategy. But she’d made one crucial oversight–one that she’d be paying for presently:

The girl hadn’t counted on Morgan discovering her hiding place.

He snuck up to the southern wall and peeked up over the edge. She lay there with her ankles crossed and one forearm supporting her head, her long green scarf blowing in the wind. Her gun–a fur-lined handgun with a big, fluted barrel and a coiled-up tail where the hammer should be–lay at her side. Both scarf and gun lay within Morgan’s reach, ripe for the picking. His hand extended toward the gun without a second thought until the recollection of a recent memory stopped him cold.

The first time he and his posse had crossed paths with Simone, she’d been eating a pear. He recalled her grabbing that pear from an unexpected place–a place that, in his current circumstances, might just bear fruit!

He tugged sharply at her scarf, sending the girl spinning across the rooftop. As expected, a heap of fruit came spilling out from the folds of her scarf in the process: a pear, a plum, another apple…

…And a banana.

Morgan snatched up the banana in one hand and her gun in the other before dropping to the dirt and making tracks toward the same gaggle of apes he’d been trying to coax earlier. The girl screamed obscenities from behind him and gave chase, the pounding of her bare feet ringing louder in his ears with each passing second.

He didn’t have much time. Morgan dashed as close to the squad of monkeys as he dared, cornering them just below the edge of the announcer’s balcony and prostrating himself before them. The monkeys parted to reveal the identity of their ringleader, the sole monkey charged with the responsibility of bearing Ricochet:

The one Morgan had affectionately dubbed “Jojo.”

“Hah! Well hey there, little buddy!” Morgan laughed, wiggling the banana in what he hoped was a tantalizing fashion. “I got a nice little treat here for ya… All you have to do is hand over that gun and I’ll–


Simone slammed into his back with incredible force, sending them both sprawling to the dirt. Both the banana and Simone’s gun flew free of Morgan’s grip, littering the empty patch of ground between the monkeys and the combatants. The gun lodged itself in the earth at Jojo’s feet, prompting him to pick it up with a curious look in his eyes.

“Now, Jojo,” Morgan coughed, trying to lift himself off the ground.

Simone slammed her elbow into his back. “Quiet, fool!” she growled. “These are my monkeys. They do not have names–they exist only to win my matches for me!”

She crawled forward from her place beside Morgan, her hand outstretched toward the dual-wielding monkey. “Give me the guns, little one,” she cooed, “Mama has to make the bad man go away.”

Morgan looked up in time to see Jojo shrinking away from her. The monkey clutched the two guns to his chest, as if he liked having them. The man took the opportunity to grab hold of Simone’s ankle and yank her back across the dirt, throwing himself into the gap created by her absence.

“She’s havin’ you on, Jojo!” he grunted, stretching across the dirt in an effort to get ahold of the discarded banana. “She’s the bad one, here! Think about it–in all of your short monkey life, has she ever shown you a shred of respect?”

Simone’s fingers raked his back, lodging themselves beneath the loop of his belt. “SHUT UP!” she bellowed, pulling Morgan back across the ground with all her might. “The way I treat my monkeys is none of your business!”

Jojo looked between the struggling humans in obvious confusion, unwilling (or unable) to pick a side. From the looks of things, he just wanted to keep hold of his guns–a sentiment that Morgan related to on an almost spiritual level. The monkey shied further away as his master and her enemy tussled, vying for control of a single banana. What must that monkey think of us? Morgan wondered. If I were him, I wouldn’t cooperate either. We must look like a couple of proper dolts right now.

Simone capitalized on his moment of self-reflection by lunging forward to grab the banana, taking it in-hand with a wide grin on her face. “There we are!” she gloated, staring down at the thing as if it were a hunk of gold instead of a dirty piece of fruit. “Joj–I mean, monkey! The time has come! Hand over the guns or–”

Morgan tackled her from behind and wrested the banana from her fingers. “Tasty banana for ya, Jojo! Don’t listen to that witch, she’ll only–”

Simone punched him right in the jaw, kicking off an ugly battle for the banana. He punched back. She slapped him. He shoved her to the ground. She kicked him in the groin. He bopped her on the head. She poked him in the eyes, and so on.

When all was said and done, Morgan had the banana. Jojo watched him expectantly, and this time their eyes met. Man and ape connected for the first time. Morgan put aside his hubris, and Jojo put aside his fear. Slowly, tentatively, he reached out to offer the banana to the terrified little creature…


Simone grabbed at the banana and squeezed as hard as she could, trying to twist the fruit from his hands. She squeezed so hard that the edible portion suddenly and quite literally jumped out of its skin. Human and monkey alike looked on in awe as the skinless banana rocketed skyward, shooting from Morgan and Simone’s joined hands straight toward the balcony above…

…The MC’s balcony, over the edge of which he had been leaning in order to keep track of the competition!

The fruit collided with his face, spattering it with a generous helping of banana-matter. It got in his eyes, his mouth, his nostrils–even his ears. The announcer was quick to announce his displeasure:

“ATTACK! ATTACK ON THE ARENA STAFF!” he wailed, wheezing through his mouthful of banana as if he was going to die. “NOT cool, Simone! That settles it; for the first time in a decade, Simone has lost the champion’s title!

“The victory goes to Morgan!”

Patreon iconPatreon icon