Friday Flash !
The machine was quiet, not moving high above their heads, hidden in its own shadow. It was a black monster with hungry claws and all of them had a good reason to fear it- once it got a hold of you there was no coming back.
They stood silent beneath it not knowing when it might strike again. The wounded bodies of their friends lied around them.
There was no escape from this prison. None of them remembered how they got here in the first place.
They couldn’t tell how much time had passed since they’ve been battling with the beast. Many they’ve saved, but some were lost forever.
They prayed for them to be in a better place.
Marty Cotton sat down tired. His arm was hurting from the fight. Today The Claw had taken little Smith.
Clara Fur was worried about him.
-We need to help him. Pull him on his feet. I’m afraid he’ll go insane after today.
Joseph Skin slowly nodded:
– Aye. If he gets lost, same goes for us. We don’t need everyone to panic. Let me talk to him.
Joseph sat next to his friend.
– You ok chief?
– Stop calling me that Joe. I’m nobody. Useless.
– Not all is lost boy. It wasn’t your fault. Listen, these kids depend on you. Look at them.
Marty lifted his head. He saw scared faces, trembling souls; curled up bodies in the corner waiting for the worst to happen. They needed desperately someone to tell them everything is going to be ok. Alas Marty couldn’t find such strength in his heart.
– I can’t be the hero. I can’t protect all. – His face twitched from the sudden movement of his wounded arm. Then he stared at the floor again, silent.
Joseph spoke louder:
– If not you then who? From the start you’ve been our hope. For you all of us kept fighting and dreaming of a different life. And through us you found something, a driving force. You are a leader Marty. This is who you are. Don’t give up on us yet. Don’t let us choose death.
Marty looked at Joseph. He meant what he just said. Everyone was smiling and nodding, agreeing. Clara too.
– You…think so? – He asked with a trembling voice.
– When have I lied to you?
Marty stood up.
– I made a promise. I’ll keep it. We will all be free, without fear, without pain and without lost friends.
Everyone cheered. The energy filled him. He felt complete again.
Marty opened his mouth to say something else when a loud buzzing noise silenced all the joy.
Out of the darkness The Claw came, fast and furious, hungry for their flesh. The sharp fingers glistened while it speeded down towards the group.
– Quick everyone move! To the left! NOW! – Marty watched Joseph hug Clara and pull her towards the left corner.
The Claw was few inches from them, metal mouth opened, roaring.
Marty knew what to do next. It was the only possible thing to prevent a death.
He ran towards the swinging mechanical monster and jumped grabbing on one of the sharp claws.
– Marty no! – Screamed Clara, reaching out a hand to him.
– Don’t worry. He knows what he’s doing- yelled Joseph.
Before Marty could move The Claw sensed it had caught something and instantly closed.
Clara’s heart skipped a beat. But she dared look up.
And she gasped.
Marty was alive, half climbed up the long, tin body of the monster, only his leg trapped inside.
– Marty! –shouted Clara.
– I’m fine- he said to her and then whispered to himself- I’ll finish this once and for all.
It started lifting up, back into its layer.
“Goodbye” he said in mind, looking down until he couldn’t seem them.
The machine stopped and Marty felt the grip of The Claw loosen up and he pulled his leg out. He then climbed to the very top.
– So here is the place where everyone disappears into? – There was a big hole a bit bellow to his right, light came through it.
He jumped from the tip of The Claw to a narrow edge right above the socket. The same second a strong shake made Marty nearly fall.
He griped tight to the wall and waited for it to cease. Then carefully he turned around, back to the wall, face to The Claw. He needed a plan.
A bit unsure Marty putted his legs on the side of The Claw and with the remaining strength tried swinging it. It was very heavy and his arm and leg were bursting with pain. Few pushes and it barely touched the opposite wall. Another hard one and it scratched it a little.
– Come on! – shouted Marty and with a final swing The Claw hit the wall so hard something broke very loud.
The “neck” thing holding the head of The Claw had cracked open, cables coming from inside; some of the claws had folded inwards, a final impulse of the dead machine trying to close them properly making out an awkward buzzing sound.
The Claw was defeated. Marty looked at its large, now deformed, hanging to one side body and couldn’t help but to cheer.
He did it.
Marty felt his knees giving up on him and fainted, feeling like he was flying.
The boy kicked the Claw machine again.
– Stupid game! – He had caught a toy bear for his girlfriend but it didn’t come out from the hole. Then when he tried to put another coin the whole bloody thing just died, power off.
– Someone fix this crap! It’s only eatin’ people’s money.
– Come on John!
– Coming… – John looked inside the glass box deciding between the pink rabbit and the crocodile for the next time he plays when the machine is fixed.
Then he turned away and walked to his girlfriend.