Just then ,A.J., my boyfriend, walked in. Without him, he says, I would have been a Streetie. Yeah, but I would have at least a home. The Industry doesn't let it's inhabited live without some kind of roof, no matter how shabby. He's the one who found me, after our shelter was broken, and led me into the City. Battery City. He was almost my age. He tried to leave my clothes, but I wouldn't let them go. They were all I had left. He led me in with promises of a “better life”. I thought that would be nifty. Now, as I stare through the window, I see people blindly, dumbly walk across their sidewalks to go to work. They all work at the same place. The Industry.
“What's the matter, babe?” A.J. Came and wrapped his arms around me, looking out the window also. “Are you looking at the future this country has always longed for?”
“Are you looking out the same window? All I see are people living too normal lives.”
A.J. Looked around cautiously, at the cameras, or “FLIES”. He knew what I said aloud was risky. “You're sick, remember? You need more rest. You love this city. It is the city of hope.”
Those were all lies, but I had to hide my feelings, again. I sighed, “Yes, city of hope. People living perfect lives. I love this city, but I need to lie down.”
“Of course, of course.” He laughed nervously. “Rest, rest. That's all you need. You will be better tomorrow.”
“Yes, to go live my life as normal.” I responded.
I went to lie down. I wanted the screens down, but if A.J. Was here, there was no way he, or the Industry would let me. I demanded to be a stay at home girlfriend. To clean the house and look beautiful and be the best housemaid and earn my living as a cook for him, like olden times. So, I never had to go to the Industry. I fell asleep, with no dreams but the ones of old home.
As the morning came, I woke up with A.J. Next to me, in his “couchbed” which is like a couch\bed. ( I disapprove of us I the same bed) smiling in his sleep. I got up and started on breakfast. A.J followed in about ten minutes later.
“Morning sleepy,” I said, trying to act like I forgot all about yesterday.
“Mornin' babe,” he said, more down then usual.
“What's the matter?” I asked, really curious this time to find out.
“Oh, nothing, just problems with some rebels.”
“Nothing you need to worry about, sweetie.”
I looked up like I was really scared, “What if they come to hurt me? How will I know it's them? I need to know about them, so I can stay safe.” Ugh, I hated this act, but it always worked.
“Well, it's a long story, but I don't have to go to work till afternoon, so I'll tell you. You see, a couple years ago, these people were found hiding in a gas station, talking. We thought they were survivors of the war, planning out action for finding food and water and such. We tried to help them, but they attacked us. They said they did not care for the perfect world and would fight to stop it. They said they knew out 'scheme' and told us to buzz off or they would kill us. We left them alone, knowing they would not last long. Then they started breaking into the city for supplies and weapons. They killed a lot of our guards and then let back into the desert. He led me to the T.V. These are the Killjoys, as they like to call themselves. He showed me many pictures of the desert and people with colors all around them. On a T-shirt is said, “Art is the Weapon.” Amen, I thought, as I saw the pictures flash before me like a beautiful, colorful parade. This, I thought, This is exactly what I want. But how to get it?
I pressed A.J. For more information. “Where are these horrible rebels?”
“That's just it, we don't know exactly. Some where in the Zones.”
“Who is out there looking for them?”
“Our finest Draculoids, or Dracs, for short.”
“Oh, what are they?”
He sighed, “Do you really want to know?”
“I need to know!” I pretended to look scared.
“Okay, okay, calm down. Shhh. Okay, well, they are like the super police, which is why you don't need to worry about anything.”
“Thanks. It's getting late, I see, don't you need to go?”
“Yes, I do!” A.J. Looked so happy to be able to leave.
“ Could you let me look up a bit more information on the Killjoys, just so I know what to look out for?”
“Of course, dear.” A.J. Said, swallowing an extra dose of B.L\Ind pills.
After he left, I looked up more. There were four leading “trouble makers”: Party Poison, Kobra Kid, Fun Ghoul, and Jet Star. The Killjoys are made up of lots of different aged people, from older men, to a young girl of only 7. I looked up a record page, and it said:
“Savage beatings have been reported on the outskirts of Zone Four. Troops have been deployed, but have yet to make any arrests or gain any new information on the whereabouts of the gang suspected in the killing and dismembering of S/c/a/r/e/c/r/o/w Metropolitan.
Battery City has been seeing some sunshine these past few weeks. Ultra violet consumption is at an all time high, leaving the power drought a supposed thing of the past. So if you're thinking of heading to Wolfblood Beach this weekend, get an early start as experts are expecting record attendance. In other news parts of the Neon District can expect some heavy acid winds this evening, but the burn is expected to subside around 21:00 and should not effect the Fever Festival being held there this evening.”
There isn't much more information to go on, though I liked the Killjoys more and more as I read about them. I decided it was time for me to join. This would be very hard to do, and they might not accept me, but I had to try. I hated it here and I wanted out. That's exactly what I was going to do.
That night A.J. Came home and I tried to ask him more, but he said not to worry about it and that there was not more to be said. I guess I have to figure out the rest myself. I sat down and readies my plan.
The next morning, I told A.J. That I needed to go to the grocery store and I might be out running errands when he gets home. True enough. I'd either be “out” or being called as a sick, crazy person at the head Station. Either way, I would be gone. Gone....Wow, my dreams finally true, but would it be true? Who could tell? I just would have to take my chances.
After A.J. Left, I went and shut the screens. They would only stay down for a few minutes, but I could used that time. I grabbed all my old clothes I hid, and packed them into my bag, then I grabbed some batteries, always useful, I thought. We already have a few gas masks in the car, so I'm good. I grabbed my city pass. A.J. Certified it, so hopefully, it will let me out.
I drove out to the gates. I wore dark sunglasses to hide my eyes and my hair half covered my face. The guard looked at me weirdly, and then my card, then my car.
“Uh, ma'am, where are you going?”
“Oh, sheltering the poor box out a few miles into the desert, for any stragglers.”
“I see, well, ma'am, we have certificated gentlemen who do that every day.”
Ah, so this was going to be harder. I looked at the guard and made my voice sound truly hurt. “When I was young, our family would bring old clothes to the poor all the time. Every day we would do it, and I stopped, but my cousin used to do it, and she is deathly ill, being 80. I promised to bring this last load for her. It was her dying wish.” Well, not a complete lie. Our family did bring clothes to the poor. Before the war, and before I was orphaned, and before A.J. Found me.
The easily fooled man looked as if he would cry, “I wish I could help ya, ma'am, I really do, but I do not have the authority to let you out. If you can get a signed pass, then I can let you through.”
I glared at him, all feelings gone except for the hatred for all the pill-taking, emotion-free guards. I revved my engine and screeched out of the city, into the desert. I heard sirens, and cars after me, with lazer guns. I gunned it, and sped away, not knowing where I was headed. Suddenly, a bright light flashed, and I was blinded. I couldn't see a thing, just colors everywhere. Then my car flipped over, and I feel through something. I heard the large explosion a few yards away from me. That was way too close. I was sure to be taken in. I dreaded the arms that eventually picked me up. The Guards had found me, and I was going back to prison. “Too late.” I thought, and blacked out.
“We should do what we usually do, Karma.”
“She doesn't look that dangerous, besides, she was running away.”
“Doesn't look like the usual run away.”
“She's not going to hurt us.”
“Ha! She couldn't even hurt a fly. I'm not worried about that. She's a skinny weakling and I could take her out any day.”
“Don't say that! You'll scare her! Well, she should be waking up soon. Shock doesn't last longer then this.”
“Pah! I hate girls who get scared easily.”
“You hate all girls. No surprise. Sweetie? Hello? Are you awake?”
I opened my eyes to see a girl, about my age, so more of a lady, but she was sitting about a foot from where I was lying. Behind her was, to my surprised recognition, Kobra Kid. I blinked. The girl, or Karma, had red hair, but with some brown in it, weird and colorful clothes (the kind of style I liked), and had a bandanna over her mouth.
“Hey there, sleepy.” She smiled there and winked at me.
“Wha....who?...” I managed to mumble out, too shocked to speak. So, it was the Killjoys, finally. It was almost too good to be true, but also very frightening.
“Huh, she's also brainless, it seems.” I heard Kobra Kid mumble.
Karma turned to Kobra Kid with a look of disgust. “Shut up, would you? You weren't so different when you first saw your death shock.”
“Death....what? Where am I? What's going on?” I needed to know these answers.
Kobra Kid smirked, “We should be the ones asking questions, little girl. Luckily, Party Poison is on his way. He'll take care of you nice and right.”
“Kobra, stop, you know what Poison will do. Don't scare her.”
I blinked in surprise. “You...you all are the fabulous Killjoys. You haven't hurt me yet.”
Karma looked at me curiously, “Are you a worker of B.L.\Ind?”
I quickly shook my head. “No. I was just a citizen, and not a good one at that. They would have thrown me in the mad house, for saying I wanted a more colorful world.”
Karma smirked at Kobra, then turned to me. “It's okay. We'll have this all worked out in no time. Poison will know what to do.”
Just then I heard a screech of tires and shouting coming from inside a car, then loud laughing, and then I saw Party Poison and Fun Ghoul walk in. Party Poison was glaring at Fun Ghoul and saying, “That's the LAST time I'll let you drive!”
Fun Ghoul only laughed and shook his head.
“So, what have we here?” Party Poison looked at me, and at first I felt afraid, then I felt weird. It was like he was looking into me, instead of just my appearance.
“Well, she was given a death blast after crossing into our Zone. She was coming from Battery City. I don't think that was a coincidence. I think she knew we were here, and she was a trained spy, and she's here to....”
“You aren't helping at all, Kobra.” Party Poison interrupted him. “We need to ask the right questions, now that our nice cover is blown. Yes, girl, your appearance is quite suspicious. What were you doing out in the desert?”
I was surprised by his formality. “I was running out of the city. I hated it there. No color. Nothing. People losing everything they felt or have. I wanted to get out.”
Party Poison looked at me in a way that meant he was deciding something. “Fine, we'll bring her into the other room. Karma?”
Karma nodded and led me into a smaller room. In there was a truth tester. They don't need that, I'll tell the truth. But then I realized, they do. How could they trust anyone from the City?
“I have a name, you know.” I didn't like how they called me, “girl”.
“We don't want to hear your real name, that's not gonna help us. Do you have your own nickname or something?”
“No. My name isn't good with nicknames. The ones I've had before were so cheesy.”
Karma looked at me like she understood my predicament. “You need a nickname like ours. Then we know what to call you.”
“Hold up, Karma,” Party Poison looked at her, exasperated, “We don't know if she's even eligible to join us yet. No need to rush.”
“Look, I just want to join you. There is nothing else to say...”
“ There's way more you need to say.”
Party Poison motioned toward the table. I sat down and they hooked me up. The simple machine would turn green when I was telling the truth and red when I lied. With that, the questions started.
“First tell us your story.”
I told them about everything. I told them about my childhood, the disaster of the bomb shelter collapse, and the loss of my parents. I told him about A.J. All about how he helped me. How he kept me with him for, “Safety's sake”. I told him about how he lost his feelings. How I knew what goes on, and why I hated it there. How I was repeatedly almost thrown into the mad house. I told them my story like I had nothing to hide. Which I didn't. With the way the company was set up, you stayed a virgin and a happy one. I told them about my discoveries, and told them about the information out there. They didn't look happy, but they were not mad at me. I told them all about my escape. I had to warn them that A.J. Would go crazy, but that They probably would not do anything more about it. After I was all done, they went outside to talk. I heard much discussion going on, and lots of yelling from Kobra. Finally all three came in. Kobra was sulking.
Party Poison looked at me tiredly, “Okay, moterbaby, you can join. You'll have to get a name for yourself, though, soon. Well, first you must pass the test.”
“What test?” I asked. I didn't know there was a test.
“A test to prove you are a part of us for good.” Party Poison looked solemn for a moment, then all of a sudden, cheered up. “All right everyone, get your boots strapped and guns close! We're goin' home!” With that, they all left the room, and I followed. Karma grabbed me by the arm. She smiled at me, and I knew she at least was happy I was joining. She didn't look at me like the others did, suspicious. She looked like I was already part of the gang. We all went outside to this old Trans Am. It was decorated very brightly. Not with neon paint or anything, but with all kinds of designs and a giant white spider on the hood. The “old red white and blue” stars and stripes were on it. It was all together the most awesome car ever. I looked at Karma.
“We're riding in that?” I asked with a grin on my face.
She gave me an equally wide grin, “Yes! Of course! Unless you brought your own car!” and winked at me.
I smiled and laughed. I realized I hadn't done that in years. It had been so long since I had even really smiled. It all felt good. Even the heat. The sun finally shone on my face and I felt free. We got into the car, and it was quite a tight fit, but soon we were off. The land was barren. Like a desert, but not one. Here and there a hawk or vulture flew. Then I realized that Fun Ghoul was staring at me. I wanted Karma to sit next to me, but she sat in front, with Party Poison. I sat in the back with Fun Ghoul and Kobra Kid. Fun Ghoul had to sit between us, to keep Kobra's peace. I looked at Fun Ghoul back, and he finally spoke, with a interested half-smile.
“So a new moterbaby. Usually we start them out as crash-queens, but I guess you are special”
I shrugged, “Not especially.”
“Most who come out of interrogation are scared to death of our driving and don't want to talk at all. Explain that.”
I rolled my eyes, “ I don't want to have to re-explain my story.”
“That's okay, I already know it.”
Karma looked back at us and said, “Oh you ghoul! You are such a troubling eves-dropper! Ugh!”
Fun Ghoul laughed with great zeal. “Ha! You thought you could keep me away from listening to that little room! Well, you of all people should know better.” He gave a knowing smile to the car in general.
I smiled and looked out of the car again. The sky looked almost blue. More beautiful then I had ever seen it. I saw the purple of night nearing, but not here yet. Then I felt a poking at my shoulder. I looked over to see Fun Ghoul looking at me, in mock hurt.
“I wasn't done talking to you yet!” He complained, “what are all your dirty secrets?”
Karma looked back at us again. “Stop! You know she hasn't got any.”
He looked shocked, “You can't tell that! She might have some!”
I laughed and shook my head. “Nope, I have none. I was a sheltered child, and I never got around to much.”
During this whole conversation, which kept on mostly with Fun Ghoul, or Ghoul, as everyone called him and appropriately, complaining with an annoying mock-whine that he never knew anything and that he just wanted to talk about life and stuff, Kobra Kid just stared off, with a frown on his face. He never looked at me or anyone once. I wondered why he was so mad. I never did anything to him, and at least he could have listened to his friends. What was it that made him so sulky and bitter? I couldn't be just his temper. We finally stopped and parked at the head of this old gas station\garage. I was abandoned, by the workers long before the war. Lots of the pumps were rusty, but they looked like they still worked. “Cool, free gas.” I thought.
A dude with this curly brown afro came out, with aviators and a bandanna over his mouth. Yep, there was Jet Star.
“Hey, whatcha bring home?”
“Oh, my fiance`, my brother, the annoying one, and few other things,” Party poison listed and then added, “We might have to get out an extra can.”
I looked at him shocked, so, Karma was his fiance` and Kobra Kid was his brother? Well, then, shouldn't Kobra at least trust his brother to make good decisions? Well, they are brothers. I wouldn't know. I had neither a sister or a brother.
Jet Star raised his eyebrows. “So we have a crash-queen?
Party Poison shook his head. “No, a moterbaby.”
“Yeah, you'll see.”
I grinned at Jet Star and winked, even though I had no idea what he was talking about.
Fun Ghoul sauntered up and put his hand on my shoulder. “Do I get to show this lovely lady around?”
Jet Star grinned. “No way!” grabbed me, then put me in a dip “I get to this time.”
Party Poison picked me out of his arms and stuck his tongue out at the other two. “No, you forget who is the leader is around here.”
“Aww. That's no FAIR!”
“Nuh uh! It's my turn.”
Karma rushed in and rolled her eyes at all of them(an amazing feat) and took my hand. “I'll do it since all three of you fight.”
I heard “Awws” and “Come ons” as I was led by Karma into the gas station. She looked at me and sighed. “Sorry about that. They just can't seem to not make fun of the moterbabies. Here's your room.” It was a snug little lean-to of a room. There was a board or two to block it off from the rest of the station, and it just held a cot on the floor. It was ten times as worse as my bed room, but I loved it twice as much.
“Thanks so much.” I smiled at Karma. “This is probably the best day of my life.”
“Well it probably will be better if you make it through.” She winked. “Oh, and by the way, no kissing with my man or you die! Sleep tight!”
I laughed, “Don't worry.” and laid down. Sleep came easy after such a long day.
A few days passed. I learned more and more about the Killjoys. They were all normal people, just looking for a truly good life. They didn't like to think about the easy way out. Kobra Kid stayed quiet. He started talking to everyone again, but not me. He didn't give me any more death glares, though. Fun Ghoul was the most fun, though. He was always teasing everybody. They seemed to lean on him for a bit of smiles after a long day. There wasn't much to do in the desert, but everyone kept busy with something. They all seemed to like to talk about the Old News. This was a radio station run by the radio pirate, Doctor Death Defying. He told things as they were, through a poetical sense. He was always majorly attacked a lot, but he seemed to keep the show going just fine. We always had the music going in the background of everything we did. Most of the day, half of everyone were gone patrolling. Karma, who I learned her full name was Toxic Karma, stayed and kept me company. We grew to be really good friends. She always seemed so bright and excited. I got most of my answers from her. This life seemed like paradise. It wasn't all bad. The food came out of a can, and water sometimes got scarce, but life was good. I was dreading the “test”, though. No one would tell me what it was, but they said a lot of people died after. They said the test was painless, but the consequence was either them running off and getting blasted, or staying forever. Some made it, and the went off to search the rest of the land and never came back. Some picked up stragglers and made up their own safe houses in their own zones. I just wanted to get it over with so I could be officially part of the group. I was thinking about my Killjoy name. I thought of Fatal Fashionista, for the name.
Finally, Party Poison, flanked with Fun Ghoul, Jet Star, and Kobra Kid came and took me to the middle of the desert. There was a small shack. They led me into it. Inside was a large tech room. With screens and blinking lights. Inside was a short mousy dude with really spiky hair.
“Neon Avenger, this is our moterbaby I was talking about.”
“Ah” he had a voice of a teenager, “Alright then!” and started tapping away at the thousand buttons on the board. Then a little white screen popped up and showed a loading section. Neon Avenger showed me to a spot on the right of the screen. I noticed a camera facing right at me.
Party Poison walked up to me. He looked me straight in the eye. “Look, you are amazing girl. You are strong and you can make a difference. This is going to be hard, but I and most of the others believe in you.”
I knew by, “most of the others” he meant Kobra Kid and a couple other older Killjoys who didn't believe in me. I knew most were on my side.
“You have to look right into the camera and tell the official B.L. Ind. Company that you hate everything about them, and you are part of the Killjoys forever. After that, you are officially part of us.”
I looked at him, shocked. Didn't he know? They would kill me! What if it was A.J.'s cousin? He was one of the founders of the city. I hoped to God that it wasn't. I stood there. There was no way I could run. The screen turned white, then up popped the face of A.J.'s cousin. He was always creepy, but today he looked the creepiest he ever had. I was scared silly by even his glance. He looked at me suspiciously, even murderously.
“Hello, Mr. Brandon.”
“Trinity? Is that you? What are you doing? Don't you know that we have been looking for you?”
“Yes, sir. Sir, I must tell you something.”
“What is it, Trinity? Is it something about the rebels?”
“Kind of.” I exhaled. This is it. No turning back. No more nice beds, no more good food. No more luxury. But then I thought about the fun I had, the exhilaration in the Trans Am. The kindness of others and no more secrecy. I stood up taller. “Sir, this whole corporation is crap. It's total blasphemy. You lie and drug everyone, and you know it. There is no way I am ever coming back. Ever since you started this whole idea I've hated. I don't want a perfect world. I'll get that in Heaven. I want a world where there is hardship, but there is truth. There is fun and there is Art. Your city is so clean-cut and perfect is sickens me. I hate it all. You can say all the lies you want about me, but the truth is, I turned on you long before now. Now, you suffer the consequences. I am a Killjoy and never goin' back, baby!”
He didn't say anything, his face was in shock. Before he started to say anything, the screen turned black. Suddenly I was grabbed into a great big group hug. Kobra Kid at first stayed back, frowning, but I heard Fun Ghoul mutter something that got Kobra over here. All four Killjoys finally accepted me. We went back to the hideout with the biggest grins on our faces. Karma was there to greet us.
“You did it! I knew you would! Yeee! I'm so happy!” She was bouncing up and down in delight.
Kobra just walked back in, his shoulders ridged and a sour look on his face.
“Don't worry about him, he just likes to brood.”
I couldn't speak. It hurt a little that he didn't accept me like I thought he had, but everyone else was so glad, that I couldn't think about it long. I grabbed Karma by the arm and we went inside. There was, well, it's hard to explain. There were banners, and everything was sorta decorated, though there wasn't much to decorate with. I was led into the room with cheers all around me. Karma smiled hugely.
“Now that you are a Killjoy, what do you think your name should be?”
I whispered it into her ear, which she then whispered into Poison's ear. Poison came up to me, and had me kneel. Then he took an old car antenna and used it like a sword in those old movies.
“I now dub thee, Fatal Fashionista.”
There were cheers and laughing. I bowed to everyone. This was the best day of my life, and that was true. There was lots of talking and laughing that night, and we had a great time. Finally, we went to be late at night.
A few hours before sunrise, I woke to the sounds of stomping and whispered arguing. I looked up to see Poison following Kobra out of the station. I got up and followed slowly. The arguing went on outside. I stood outside the door and listened.
“Why can't you just accept her?”
“You know exactly why.”
“No, I don't. Enlighten me.”
“She...she looks exactly like..like Monica.”
“She even sounds like her. I can't watch her without remembering her.”
“You mean, after three years, you can't let an innocent girl into your heart?”
“Yeah, it's been only three years. You can't expect me to get over everything that soon.”
“She's a great girl. She's funny, and has lots of spirit.”
“Just like Monica did.”
“Neither she, nor Ashley survived the war!”
“Yes, and you forgot her and got a new girl right away. Well, you were always first to do everything and I guess you always will.”
“That's not right. I never forgot her. I hurt for her every day, but I have to move on. You need to also.”
“I can't! Especially not with her around.” Kobra's voice was cracked.
“ You can't keep your life this way. She's going to change everything, and for the better. Now, you're either on our side, and you can listen to her and be her friend, at LEAST. Or you aren't and you can act all gloomy and everything and you can hate her, but you hate us too.”
Kobra sighed. “My own brother. MY OWN BROTHER! Would you believe that? My own brother turns on me!”
I stood there, shocked at everything I heard. Was there nothing I could do? Is that really why I was so hated? Why me?All I wanted was to be accepted. What was Poison talking about? I wasn't that important. That's why I thought leaving would be so nice. And quiet. Apparently not. I just hoped I wasn't expected to save the word.
“I'm not turning on you. We were the ones who started this life because you know that our lost ones wanted us to. Anyway, Fatal could even save the world.”
Well, there went that hope.
“Save the world? She couldn't hurt a fly! She's useless.”
Poison's voice got dark, “You know that isn't true. In fact, I think you will learn to love her soon.”
“You are sorely mistaken, brother, and you know it.” With that I heard Kobra storm off into the shack.
Wow, that was...shocking. I pulled back a bit as Poison walked through the door and acted as though I just walked up, sleepy and stumbling. I pretended to almost trip. Poison caught me and helped me up.
“You okay, Fatal?”
I blinked up at him. He was really good at the poker face. He didn't seem to be flustered or anything. “Yeah,” I answered, “I just woke up after the long night. Why were you up?”
“Oh, just checking outside, making sure there wasn't a blue sky instead of a pink.” He laughed.
I chuckled, “Yeah, don't we wish.”
“Well, I've got to go get the car washed if we are going to keep the paint good. See ya later, Fatal.” He waved bye.
“Bye!” I called, then went out the door. There was an old guitar leaning against the door post, I picked it up and sat in an old lawn chair. I started strumming and realized that this guitar was completely in tune. I grinned and started playing my favorite song I used to love playing as a younger girl. As I played, I sang. I had no idea if I still had a good voice, but I loved the song, so I kept playing.
Make a wish when your childhood dies
Hear the knock, knock, knock when she cries
Were all alone tonight
Hold your breath when a black bird flies
Count to seventeen and close your eyes
I'll keep you safe inside
He burns my skin
Never mind about the shape I'm in
I'll keep you safe tonight yeah
Move your body when the sunlight dies
Everybody hide your body from the scarecrow
As I finished the last verse, I heard someone step up behind me. It was Karma. She was smiling, but it was an almost sad smile.
“I used to play the guitar for everyone at night, but I've gotten so busy, I've almost forgotten about it's existence.”
“I've played all my childhood. I wanted to be in a band and tour the world. Look how that dream turned out.”
“It's sad, how all the dreams of children have either turned to taking pills and barely learning anything, or have dusted away.”
I felt hot tears crawl my down my cheeks. “I had a friend, her name was Melissa. She wanted to write about her life in an autobiography and when she got really old, sell it so she could see people stare at it and be amazed. She had a bad case of breast cancer. She survived the cancer, but died in the war.” I felt my face grow hot. I didn't know why I was telling her this. I hadn't told anyone since I found her dead.
“War is a terrible thing. Many people were lost. Many dear people were lost.”
“Did you lose anyone?”
“Not that I know of. They all could be in the city. I have never gone in. Poison has. Lost someone, I mean. His old wife. He really loved her. It hurts me every day to think that I'm probably second best.”
“I'm sure he really does love you.”
She gave me a slight smile. “I know. Kobra lost his wife also. It's really hard on him. He's never met anyone, and practically hates it all. The being alone, but never finding the one girl to make him happy.”
“You can't know that.”
“Oh, please, I overheard he and Poison arguing about me. He hates me. Why shouldn't he? He says I remind him of his wife. I'm beginning to hate myself.”
“Don't! None of that. Now, I won't tell Poison about the eavesdropping, but you can't come down on yourself like that. You are a great friend, and a wonderful person, plus you had enough guts to yell at the B.L.\Ind head. You are awesome. Don't forget that.”
“Yeah, you're right, Karma.”
“I'm just gonna hang out here for a bit. Maybe play a bit more. Okay?”
“Sure, I'll get some breakfast for us.”
“Thanks.” I smiled at her as she into the station. Then I started strumming an old lullaby my grandma taught me. The sound was sweet, and it kept me from crying. I almost teared up at the fact that I had not heard that tune for fourteen years. As the rest of the crew woke up, some came out to talk and listen to the music. Fun Ghoul asked me to play something fast, and when I did, he started dancing a square dance-ish jig. Jet Star and Purple Pixie danced to a couple of my songs, and finally, we were all hungry. I had lots of pats on the back and people were amazed that that was one of the best mornings they had spent in a while. There were smiles all around. Well, except for Kobra. Should I talk to him? Would that make things better, or worse? Well, I was too hungry to decide.
After breakfast, Fun Ghoul came up to me. “Wanna see something awesome?”
“Sure!” I smiled.
“Okay, but we have to be all sneaky-like.”
“O...kay?” I followed him out of the main room and there was a smaller room filled with more beds, all decorated with blankets and what not to show possession. I followed him to a door that led to a downstairs. Down there was a master piece. A room filled with art. All over there were manikins and paints and all kinds of fabric and extra clothes. It was the Art Lab I dreamed about as a kid. I walked in, close to happy tears. Fun Ghouls sauntered to a safe, unlocked it, and brought out a white lazer gun. I gasped. Surely he wouldn't kill me after all I had done! No, what a ridiculous idea. He took to end and held the handle out to me. I took it. A tingling sense of power and happiness shot through me.
“Now you have to be careful with it, don't shoot anyone.” He winked. “But here you customize your gun.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well,” He pulled out his gun. It was green with all types of zany writings and pictures on it. “I did mine when I first got my gun, and now everyone does it.”
“Awesome.” I gazed at the gun. So many possibilities. So many things I could do with it.
Fun Ghoul laughed. “Yeah, I know what you are thinking, 'what to do with it?' All of us took about a week to perfect our guns, so don't think you will be getting something right off the bat.”
“What if I've been thinking about it all week, before you even showed me it?”
“Well, then you are a right good planner, and what are you doing here?”
“True.” I smiled. He was right, if I was that good of a planner, then there was no reason to be a Killjoy.
“I guess I'll leave you to do your thing...hey, you want some music?”
“Sure!” I always loved working to music as a kid.
“Well we have this boom box and a Mad Gear and Missile Kid cd. Wanna try that out?”
“I always had a saying I like to use, 'I'll try anything at least once.”
“Cool, well, I'll put it on. We don't have anything much other then the radio.”
“ Awesome. I'll listen to it.” Fun Ghoul put the CD on and I started working, first I sketched up a few ideas, and at first, nothing, then, little by little, I got an idea. It grew and grew until I finally had my idea. I worked for hours, trying to get it all perfect. Yes, I'm a perfectionist. Finally, after a whole day's work, I had it finished. Fun Ghoul came down, took one look, grinned, and then ran to a cupboard.
“Shoulder or leg?”
“Shoulder or leg holster?”
“Really? My own holster?”
“Well, if you want to keep it in your pocket, I mean, it might shoot you accidentally, but if you really don't want a holster...”
“No! No, no, no, I want a holster. I don't want to get shot. I definitely want a holster.”
“That's what I thought. Now, shoulder or leg?”
“Which works best?”
“Well, I have a shoulder one here, see? But Poison and Kobra have leg ones. I prefer the shoulder, but it's your choice.”
“Hmm, I think I'll take the leg one.”
“Of course.” He rolled his eyes and grabbed one for me. “Enjoy.”
I put on the holster, slid in the gun, and out on my sunglasses and my bandanna. I was a killjoy now. Nothing could stand in my way...I hoped. I came back upstairs. Karma loved my gun, and everyone thought it was awesome I finally had one. Now, they said, I could really fight. That idea was scary to me, killing agents that were trying to hurt us, while a good thing, was scary to think I would actually be doing it.
Life went on. I helped cook, when there was food and time to cook. I helped clean, though it was hard with a floor always covered in dust, and I helped fix things. I even got to work on target practice, but I was not near as good as Karma, Fun Ghoul, or Party Poison. I was trained by Jet Star and Fun Ghoul, and training sessions were the highlight of my day. Fun Ghoul always made it fun, and Jet Star made sure I learned something. I was set all the way.
The day came when Party Poison came to talk to me. He lead me into the back of the station where there was old car supplies.
“It's time for you,” He smiled, “to start coming with us to watch the Zones. I'll station you with Karma to start you up, but eventually you will have to work with at least everyone once.”
I smiled and nodded, I knew what he was implying, and I knew I could handle it. I was part of the family now. I had some who liked me less but I was used to it.
“Can you handle that? Being with people, for a whole day, without anyone else to talk to?”
“I can handle myself very nicely, thank you.”
Something was up, Poison was acting too weird. He wasn't the happy go-to guy I usually saw.
“Hey, is there something going on?” I wanted to know if there was anything I could do to help.
“What? No, not really. Do I seem anxious? That's normal for me, especially when I haven't had much sleep.”
“Is that all?”
He walked off. I stood there, perplexed. Why would he want to tell me about Zone Strutting (what we call checking the Zones) and then just leave it at that? Was there something going on? Was I causing trouble? He didn't look mad at me, but then, he was really good at poker face. I knew someone who wasn't, though. Jet Star. He would tell me what was on Poison's mind. I walked into the station and I saw Purple Pixie standing at the counter, eating leftovers from last night. I liked Purple alright, but she always seemed distant. She and I talked a lot about our past lives. Before the war. She used to be a singer, and she strutted the stage. Then the war came and she was almost killed. When Battery City was built, she was not allowed to sing. She and I were the only two to escape the city. The rest of the killjoys were never in the city. Party Poison, Fun Ghoul, Kobra Kid, and Jet Star had raided the city only once and almost died in the effort.