Author: Bryan Pastor
Arnett heard the commotion approaching, so he was ready when it suddenly stopped right outside his door.
“What is it?” he asked in a sing-song voice, chuckling to himself. This was a first time in a while that he had not been in a bad mood. Things were starting to look bright. He imagined the three youths jostling each other, silently goading the others to be the one to knock.
Juno stumbled in first, probably pushed by Husk. He would speak to the boy later, just because he was bigger, didn’t mean he should be shoving the others around.
The parting of the cloth covering let a bit of fading light through. “Almost dusk.” Arnett groaned to himself. He’d been spending too much time planning; today and ever since Cerneya.
Following Juno was Husk and finally Codee.
“What trouble did the three of you get in now?” Arnett asked, eyeing the boys suspiciously.
“Codee killed a Jammer.” Juno and Husked said together.
“Jinx” they looked at each other, then realizing the mistake, down at their shoes.
“What?” Arnett replied. That was the last thing he was expecting. He gave them his full attention, turning for the first time in weeks from the map on the table.
“It was just a little bit ago.” Juno started.” Arnett shot him a look that said, this isn’t your story.
“I was coming up the old reservoir trail, and I heard noise off in the woods.” Codee began. He had been nervous about admitting that first part, he wasn’t allowed near the reservoir, but it was better to get the truth out of the way first.
“I crept in real quiet like, just like you taught us. I come around this big pine, and there, not ten feet from me is a Jammer. Its bent over examining something, intent like, so it doesn’t hear me. I took my buzzer and jammed it in that socket above its hips just like you showed us.”
“Did it put up a fight?” Arnett asked, impressed but a little unsure of the story. It was more likely that the Jammer had been dead when Codee found it. What was more troubling was hearing one had been this close. They hadn’t come out this far before.
“Not one bit, dropped like a paperweight on the deer carcass it was looking at.”
“Mighty impressive Codee. Tomorrow morning you are going to take me to it. I want to get a look-see. That is if you don’t mind. I’d like to see if I can figure out what it was doing.”
“No need to wait. Here.”
The boy brought a head from behind his back and held it on high. Its aluminum and glass frame a mockery of humanity. In the waggle of flailing boy limbs Arnett hadn’t noticed that Codee was keeping something from view.
None of the boys saw the motion. Practice brought the blade from Arnett’s hip and with a flick through the air and square between the Jammer’s eyes. The force was enough to knock it from Codee’s hands and out the door. There were sizzles and pops before the loud ping of a bursting capacitor.
Cuss words flooded Arnett’s mouth, but became back wash; no use punishing them now. The dawning look on Juno’s face meant he recognized their mistake.
“Go boys, warn the others.”
Arnett stepped outside.
Night was falling and the forest was quite as the grave.