The fight started when Spider, a known gangster, decided to show his best gal Regan a good time by taking her to the film center after everyone in the Northern Hemisphere watched the eclipse. He showed up without tickets, wielding fear like a Tonka dump truck to muscle his way past us. We didn’t have tickets either, but Westin and I were quiet and stealthy and the usher was in the middle of taking our temperature when Spider tried to cut the line.
“The film industry is a propaganda machine!” He bellowed. “People who have fingers on their faces aren’t given any privilege in society!”
“Good point,” I whispered to Westin, pulling him to one side.
“Hey, man,” Westin said to the twisted collar of Spider’s leather jacket. “Do you even know who is in this film?”
“Nicolas Cage,” Spider said without hesitation.
It was a lucky guess. Most of the films in the remaining theaters featured Nicolas Cage. He is the only actor who has been able to keep production rolling after the heatwave of ‘85.
“Oh, sure,” Westin said. “But are you even interested in a movie about a man who was born from a penguin egg, or are you just curious about digital technology sent forward in time from the lost heyday of cheesy snow effects?”
“The fuck do you mean?” Spider’s lady asked.
“Well, ma’am,” Westin turned to her. “Spider seems like he’s using a false sense of confidence to observe a landscape that doesn’t exist any longer. How’s that fair?”
“The fuck do you mean?” I said it this time, worried about my own motivations.
“Look,” Spider said. “I know this isn’t normal for you. You don’t often see a guy barging in here and demanding seats to a sold-out show, then flashing a wad of oxygen-dealing money at the concession stand to impress those poor underpaid college students—which I plan to do—but this is my normal. It’s what I do everywhere I go. Normal is relative.”
“Fuck normal,” Westin said, and reared back to hit Spider, whose back was still to us.
Before we met Spider and Regan, we’d spent the entire day trying to sell a design for a tower to the moon that would be made out of recycled baby diapers. So, it was no surprise we thought Spider was so fight-worthy and cool. I noticed a scar on the back of Spider’s head and wondered if it was from a jail fight or something, or if it was more innocent. The scar was next to a tattoo of a snake wrapped around a dagger sticking out of a low-rider that was cruising along the surface of a transparent eight ball.
Also, side note, a baby diaper tower would solve a lot of problems. There are baby diapers filling up the ocean, flooding the beaches of Utah. Even after they are all wet, the absorbent pads are still filled with poop because mothers wrap them so tightly that even the toxic waste sludge of the ocean can’t penetrate those mother-knots. So, our idea is, we round them all up, right? These literal stink bombs. Then we build a tightly-packed tower. Even with the reduced population, Americans use enough disposable diapers to stretch from the surface of the scorched planet to the surface of the scorched moon about seven times every year. So, we could reduce waste and create jobs at the same time. Plus, if you wanted to climb to the moon, you’d have to be able to stand the smell of baby poop, especially at high altitude and in zero gravity. That’s how you filter out people who are just tourists. In the end, you’d probably end up with a colony of tired moms on the moon, and that’d be good for everyone, too.
After Westin laid out Spider—and kicked him in his lower set of ribs—we decided to skip the movie. We’d stream it back at the junkyard instead.
Westin talked Regan into going home with him because he was the new alpha male. When we got back to the capsule, Regan wasn’t impressed with our growing pile of diapers even though we told her we were really smart, but she gave ol’ Wes the time of his life anyway, because of the eclipse and all, but also because she knew Spider would be by in the morning to pick her up. He had installed a tracking chip in the back of her head when he’d injected her daily radiation dose.
Sure as shit, Spider showed up at 5:30am, sober as a famous horror writer. He shot both Westin and I in our shared femoral artery. Then the couple left us to bleed out on a goldmine of an idea.
Scott Bryan is a zinester and filmmaker whose pandemic-produced short movie, “My Monster and Me”, recently had its premiere at Halloweenapalooza in Ottumwa, Iowa. His fiction has appeared in Cape Magazine, Rejection Letters, Novel Noctule, Coffin Bell, and Hellhound Magazine, among others. Sometimes he live-Tweets horror movies @scott_bryan.