yearzerowriters

Predators Vs the Cowardly [100% SPOILERS]

In Gupter Puncher/Oli Johns on July 20, 2010 at 12:51 pm

 

[NOTE: This is very, very long, covering the whole film pretty much. Maybe take a break after the Laurence Fishburne part?] 

I don’t really know how I know this part, but…

 

Adrien Brody wakes up falling through sky. There’s no time to think of where he is or how he got there, because pretty soon he’s gonna hit the ground. Lucky for him, the button on his belt which looks a little like the Thundercats’ badge, lights up and, bam, he’s got a chute.

 

But, bam, the chute is a piece of shit, and he hits the jungle floor hard. No broken bones though, as he gets up and looks around and pretty soon he meets Danny Trejo.

 

Then the Russian guy.

 

Then five more, most with some sort of gun.

 

And then me.

 

***************************************

 

I wake up falling, and close my eyes again. It’s a dream. But it’s cold on my face, and it feels like I’m actually, honestly, falling through the air, so I open my eyes again and see the jungle coming towards me, and somehow I can think a little more clearly than Brody, and all I can think of are repeated scenes of my body hitting the ground and-…

I try to close my eyes again, but I can’t stop looking at the top of all those canopies, and for a moment I think, fuck, a canopy…a load of canopies…maybe it’ll be like landing on a cushion? But then I picture the branches and the ground, and even if it is jungle ground, with soil and no concrete, it’s still gonna work the same way as regular ground…

Then my button lights up and the chute opens, and I drift into one of the canopies and hit the ground on my back, but, hey, same as Brody and the rest of them, nothing broken.

Brody comes over and points a gun in my face.

A little late there, pal…”

And Danny Trejo and the Russian and the African and the woman and the convict and the Japanese guy and the…fuck, Topher Grace, what’s he doing here?…they all point something at my face, all wondering why I dropped down ten minutes late.

‘I don’t…I don’t know…’ I stutter.

Brody looks me up and down, shrugs, and tells me to go hold hands with the doctor. I don’t know who he means, but his head kind of nods slightly towards Topher Grace so I go stand next to him.

You a doctor too, man?” he asks.

I don’t know.”

Cool.”

********************************************

We walk through the jungle for a while before coming to some sort of giant boomerang half-buried in the ground. It’s pointing at the sky and no one knows what it means.

What does it do?” asks the convict.

No one says anything.

It stands still and looks real fucking mysterious,” answers the convict, in a different voice.

I stare at the convict from the back of the group and half-laugh at his line. He’s wearing the orange prison suit and Topher told me he was about to hit the African guy over the head with a branch before I got there, but still, he doesn’t seem so dangerous.

We walk past the boomerang and I start thinking of ways to ally myself with the convict. But what about Topher? He seems decent too…okay, rethink, a grouping of myself, the convict and Topher, a triple alliance. I guess there’s Brody too, but…I don’t know, he seems a little serious…

We’re going to higher ground,” Brody says.

Says who?” the convict says back.

Says the guy who wants to get some kind of defensive cover.”

Defending from what?” the African asks.

From whoever dropped us here.”

And who are they?” the Russian asks.

The Russians, man. The fucking Russians,” the convict says.

The Russian points his gun at the convict, and I wonder for a second if he’ll really do it, but there’s something in his eyes, something that says he’s a soldier, but not really a bad guy.

He doesn’t shoot.

We all follow Brody up towards higher ground, and I talk a little to Topher about how dominating Brody seems to be, and he thinks we should follow him for now, but we can always go our own way if it comes to it, and I nod and say,’ yeah, me and you’, and I don’t mention the idea I have of the convict coming too, and maybe the Russian and his big gun as well, because I’m not completely comfortable with a pairing of just me and Topher, mostly because I don’t know how to fight, and also because I’m pretty sure he doesn’t either, which means…shit what does it mean?

*******************************************

Brody stops by some rocks and talks to the woman and I get close enough to listen in. They talk about the rest of the group and who they all are, and, fuck, it seems they’re all out of their fucking minds.

The African guy,” says Brody, “he’s from a Sierra Leone death squad. The Mexican, Tijuana cartel enforcer…”

Enforcer?” the woman says.

And it comes to my mind too. I mean, Danny Trejo, he looks a little rough, and he does have two guns, but he seems like an alright kind of guy.

Sure, he’s one of them. I’ve seen them before. He kidnaps people and cuts them up when the ransom’s not paid.”

Cuts people up?

I look back at Trejo and weigh what I know. He kills people he doesn’t know, but only in Mexico. He hasn’t killed anyone here. He talks a little. He’s not that aggressive. He cuts people up. He cuts people up. But he does it for a reason, and there’s no reason here. Something else is after us. We’re on the same side. He needs me. As a human shield? No, he might be heroic. He’s not that aggressive. He asked me where I was from while we were walking earlier. He seemed genuinely interested in my answer. He’s not that bad. He has two guns. He cuts people up. He can’t cut people up with a gun. Can he?

The Japanese guy, he’s Yakuza. The convict…well, he’s got a shank so it’s pretty safe to say he ain’t petty…the Russian, fought in Chechnya maybe…”

So they’re all soldiers of some kind…”

Of some kind, yeah.”

And you?”

Yeah, Brody, what about you? You look like you know what you’re doing, and you’ve got a gun, and you’re giving orders…

I’m not important.” Brody points at me and the doctor. “But they might be…two doctors in a group like this…tell me that makes sense?”

They both look at me, and I shrug.

Why are you here, pal?” Brody asks me.

I told you, I don’t know. I’m sorry.”

We’ll see…”

And then he’s off again, into the jungle and away from the high ground we just came all this way for.

I drop back to where Topher is and ask him if he’s feels okay about not having a gun.

Man, I wouldn’t know what to do with it even if I did…”

You’ve never been to a firing range or anything?”

Never even fired a water pistol.”

Fuck, Topher, even I’ve done that. And played paintball.

Yeah, I guess we might not need one…”

And Topher smiles and walks a little further ahead and out of the corner of my eye I see something sharp in his hand…a scalpel, maybe? Why’s he got a scalpel?

**************************************************

Back in the jungle, the convict gets a bit tetchy and asks a few of the others for a spare gun.

They all shake their heads.

Come on, man, I’ve got nothing. [To the Russian]You’ve got this huge fucking tank in your hands, [To Danny Trejo] you’ve got two oozis…” He looks at the African, “Man, I know you’ve got a spare…I just want to feel a little safer, that’s all…I ain’t gonna do nothing…give it to me, man…give me the gun.”

The African seems to be thinking about it. And so am I. If the convict gets a gun then he’ll be a better guy to have on side…

The convict charges forward and gets his shank up against the African’s neck.

Give me the gun, man. Now.”

Fuck, convict, what are you doing?

The others all point their guns his way. The Japanese guy cocks his hammer. Fuck, this is it, the alliance shattered, the convict down…but…they’re not really gonna do it, are they? I mean, I know they’re bad, but I’ve never seen them kill anyone, so maybe it’s all lies, maybe they’re not killers, maybe they’ve never killed anyone in their lives…I’ve never seen them do it, I’ve never seem them kill anyone or cut them up or…

The African puts the spare gun to the convict’s neck and it’s a stalemate. The convict smirks and drops his shank and moves back a bit.

Just after a bit of parity, that’s all…”

***********************************************

A few seconds later and we’re all in the shit.

It comes out of nowhere. Or they come out of nowhere. I can’t see what they are, but they’re some kind of creatures, and they’re running towards us and I don’t…I don’t know what to do…it almost doesn’t feel real, and I stand there frozen until I can see if it really is real…

And then everyone starts shooting.

And it feels very fucking real, and I can see the creatures now, there are three of them, and…but, it’s not that bad because everyone is shooting so they can’t get near us, they can’t get near me because…

But the creatures aren’t dying. They’re taking the hits and they’re running towards us and…fuck, where’s Topher going? He’s running away from…shit, he’s running off on his own, and maybe…maybe I should be doing the same thing…

I take a few steps backwards, watching one of the creatures turning and going after Topher.

And I stop, and I think, fuck, fuck, fuck…what do I do? What do I do? Topher’s gonna get eaten and everyone else is shooting and they’re…they’ve all switched, they’ve all changed faces to deal with these things, and…I can’t…I can’t change my face, I can’t accept this, any of this…I wanna go home, I wanna go home…I don’t want to be eaten, I wanna go home…

The woman shoots the creature chasing Topher and he’s okay.

And the African shoots another one on top of the convict and from a distance I can see there’s some kind of respect between the two of them now. But there’s still one more…and it’s after Brody and the Russian, and…fuck, where’s Danny Trejo going?

I start to breathe a little easier and think to myself, I’m standing here doing nothing, Brody’s gonna deal with the creature, so what can I do? When it all stops and the creatures are dead, what am I gonna say I did?

So I decide to go and find Danny Trejo.

I walk to where I last saw him and then go through a few bushes until I come to somewhere that seems to be a world away from the all the shooting and drama happening back through those bushes. About fifty yards ahead I can see Trejo in his blue shirt, with no sweat stains at all…how did he do that? I mean, we’re in a jungle here, it’s hot, it’s really fucking hot, and…and what’s he doing? Dancing?

Trejo does really seem to be dancing. His arms shoot to his left, then back to his right, and it’s either dancing or he’s practising some kind of kung fu…

Trejo stops moving and seems to hang in the air.

But that’s not…it’s not possible, how’s he doing that? How can he-…

And then I see the thing holding him. Like a ghost coming back to life, it appears behind, huge, hulking…more than hulking, way more than hulking, it’s as big as a fucking truck…but it’s not looking at me, it’s not-…

I look at Trejo and I think about him asking me where I was from earlier and how he didn’t seem that aggressive, and I want to step forward and scream at the truck thing, charge forward and save Danny Trejo, but I can’t…I can’t move…

But that’s wrong, I can move. I can move backwards. I am moving backwards. I keep moving backwards and I don’t stop until I’m back on the other side of those bushes and all the others have stopped shooting and they’re asking me where I went and what’s happened to Trejo.

I don’t know…I went to look, but…”

And?”

I couldn’t find him…I looked, but…I couldn’t-…”

And then there’s a “help me” from beyond the bushes. And the group run towards it and I think about running the opposite way, but I don’t, I can’t…I can’t be alone with that truck thing out there…no fucking way…

So I walk quickly onto the tail end of the group and we all get to where I’ve just been, and the truck thing isn’t there anymore. But Trejo is.

He’s kneeling in the same place I left him…or not left him, walked away from him…or not walked away from…that wasn’t what I was doing…I was…I was just…fuck, what was I doing? Leaving him to die? No, I didn’t…I wasn’t…and he wasn’t even dead, he was still over there, kneeling…

Adrien Brody tells everyone it’s a trap and that we can’t help Trejo anymore. The woman doesn’t agree and stays behind, and I want to stay with her and help rescue Trejo, but it’s only her…everyone else is leaving, and if it’s just me and her against that…that truck thing, then…

I look at the blue shirt of Trejo one last time, scanning for blood stains, scanning for death.

Yeah, and he probably is dead over there anyway…and we can’t help him now because it’s a trap…and it’s not like I could’ve saved him before either…the truck had him, and the truck looked like it knew what it was doing, and if I’d gone over, what would I have done anyway? I don’t have a gun, I don’t have grenades, I don’t even have a shank. What could I have done?

I walk away and catch up with the rest of the group, and a few seconds later we hear a shot.

Trejo’s dead then. She’s shot him. And there isn’t anything I could’ve done to-…it’s not like I could’ve stopped the truck…it’s not like I could’ve fixed what he’d already done to Trejo…the injuries he’d already done…and…

I look around at the others. The Russian, the African, Brody, the convict…

…and it’s not like they would’ve saved him either. They’d have made the same call as me and they do this shit for a living. I’m just a normal guy, like Topher…and it’s not like he would’ve done anything…how could he? How could I? It’s just not realistic…it’s not a fucking movie, it’s real life, and…and that truck thing was huge, and it knew what it was doing and…it would’ve killed me, and I wouldn’t have got away and…and why should I sacrifice myself for someone like Trejo anyway? He was a killer, he cut people up, he…he cut people up, and he got cut up himself…it’s…it’s some kind of-…fuck, I don’t know what it is, but I don’t need to beat myself up over this…

I’m not dying for someone like Trejo,” I mumble.

What’s that?’ Topher asks.

Nothing, man.”

*********************************************
For some unknown reason, Brody wants to follow the creature’s trail back to its source.

I need to find out what we’re dealing with here,” he says.

None of them figure it’ll lead to anything too bad, so they shrug and say, ‘okay, yeah’. But no one knows about the the truck thing I know about, and I want to tug on Topher’s sleeve and get the convict on board and maybe the Russian and go in the complete opposite direction, but I don’t know how to explain any of it, so I don’t. And I don’t want to go off on my own, so there’s nothing else to do but follow that mad-man, Brody.

**********************************************

We find the source pretty fast. It’s a camp, with skulls and bones and some kind of fire that’s nearly burnt out.

I see the woman retch when she sees the bones, and that makes me feel a little better, and as I look around and see how deserted it all is and how many guns are in our group, I start to breathe a little easier.

Until I see the huge fucking truck thing hanging off another boomerang.

It’s over the far side of the camp and as I get closer I see the Russian put his gun to its neck to lift up its head and then…

Raaaarrrrrrrrr!” it says. Or something like that.

And I can see it clearly now, and it isn’t a truck…

It’s a fucking Predator.

And right away my mind spins into action and pulls up the original movie and the jungle and the Arnie and the other guys who all had big guns and the one Predator who cut them all into little pieces and blew their fucking heads off, and…and they had that blue gun, and those three red dots and…fuck, they were invisible, they were invisible, they were invisible…they were fucking-…

There’s a bang and the African guy shoots five feet up into the air. Out of his chest comes some kind of spike, a harpoon…and everyone just stands there and watches the blood gargle in his throat and…and we wait to see if the spike will do anything else…

And then there’s a blue flash, And another.

And then we’re running. I don’t even realise I’m running, I can’t feel my legs, but I’m definitely moving and…all the time, I’m trying to slow everything down and really focus on how huge the Predators are and what those blue flashes are gonna do to me and how they’ll catch up any second now and stick one of those spikes in me, but…but all of this is flashing by so fast that there isn’t time to do anything stupid, and…

Then I’m falling again, and there’s water, and…

************************************************

We’re standing on some rocks near the river we’ve all just dropped into. My legs are shaking, my throat is dry, and my heart is practically ripping itself out of my chest.

And for some reason we aren’t even moving.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, is pretty much all I can think. Fuck you. Brody, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you…

And as I think this, I become aware that the rest of them are having some kind of normal conversation about something, about the way things stand, and between ‘fuck yous’ I can sense most of them are panicked too, and the convict and the woman are telling everyone they should get out of there, but again, Brody…fucking Brody, is telling them to make a stand.

I don’t want to make a stand. I can’t make a stand. I can’t fight. I don’t have a gun. There are only six of us left and…

It’s the only chance we have,” says Brody.

Fuck you, Brody. Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you…I’m not making a stand.

**********************************************************

We sit in another piece of jungle waiting for the Predators to come.

Brody says he looked back at the blue flashes in the camp and saw three of them, so there are at least that many. And then he explains how to kill them, but I’m not convinced. I know better. And my body knows better. It hasn’t stopped shaking since the camp.

You okay, man?” Topher asks.

Yeah…” I try to stop my leg, but can’t. “It’s automatic, I guess…just automatic…fear…”

I hear you, man. I hear you.”

But does he? He’s not shaking, none of them are. They’re just sitting around, like it’s fucking paintball.

And the convict, now he’s talking to Topher about cocaine and raping bitches when he gets back…

Five o clock. Time to rape some fine bitches…” he says.

Yeah, totally. Five o clock. Bitch raping time…yeah,” Topher says back, unsure.

And suddenly the convict isn’t looking so good as an ally, but what else do I have? And what does it matter anyway? I’m fucked. I’m completely fucked. And I’m shaking, and they’re gonna come in here and spike me, and…and pull my bones out of my body, and stick more things in me, and I’ll have to lie there and…and I know I’ll be frozen, there’s no way I can’t be frozen, and when I’m frozen they’ll spike me and I’ll have to watch them and they’re gonna spike me and kill me, and…and I’m gonna die, and die…I’m really gonna die, and…

Brody comes over and puts his hand on my shoulder.

I think I’ve found a way to make you useful,” he says.

Then he sees my leg shaking and mutters something and moves over to Topher and says the same thing.

And the next thing I know Topher is running through the trees and the rest of them are waiting with their guns aimed.

But you can’t…you can’t shoot a predator like that…

And then something is after Topher and it’s big and fast and it’s almost on him when the woman pulls the trigger.

Got ya.”

We walk over to the dead Predator, but even before we get there I know it can’t be a Predator as they never go down that easy and it isn’t a predator, it’s something else, some kind of alien, and Brody says ‘shit’ and looks around a little and then…

Don’t move,” he says, frozen.

And behind him is one of them. A Predator. And I know straight away this is it, and it’s not gonna be quick, and we’ll have to wait in a line to be gutted and cut into little pieces and I don’t know about the rest of them but I’m so scared I’ll just sit there and shake until it’s my turn, and even when they have the spike over my skin I’ll still be-…

And the Predator takes off its mask and-…

Fuck, it’s…it’s Laurence Fishburne. Laurence fucking Fishburne. What’s he doing here?

**************************************************

[INSERT:

Laurence Fishburne was sitting at home, waiting for his agent to call, waiting for Angela to call, waiting for anyone to call.

But nobody did.

So he sat there for a few more hours, watching HBO, looking at the white of the wall, making toast and putting ham in the middle, drinking water, drinking rum, looking at one of Angela’s books, reading the first page, putting it back on the table, looking at the wall again, looking at the cover of the book and picking it up and throwing it across the room.

‘Where’s all the motherfucking work gone?’ he said to the wall.

But the wall didn’t answer. And the agent didn’t call. And neither did Angela.

So he stood up, got the car keys and went out to the car.

He drove for miles and miles and miles and before he knew it he was in Texas, so he thought, fuck it, might as well go to Austin, so he went to Austin and drove around a little, but nothing was really going on so he drove back out of town and before long he came to some kind of jungle, and even though he didn’t think Texas had any jungles, he stopped and got out and walked into it and pretty soon he realised he was lost, so he tried to retrace his steps and figure out a way back to the car, but every tree he saw looked the same and every plant looked the same and there was no sign of the road, so he sat down and closed his eyes for a while and when he woke up it was night, and he got up and walked around a little more, but the jungle was endless and unforgiving and the road just wouldn’t show itself so he had no choice but to sleep again, and he continued with this routine for a few days and then a few weeks and then…and then he forgot to count the days and lost track of time completely, and each day he walked a little further, out of the jungle, into something else, and after a while he found some kind of spaceship near some kind of desert and inside he found some kind of food so he sat down and started sleeping there instead, and after a while he started talking to the wall and when he got bored of the wall he would start talking to the air next to him, and even though he knew it was a bit wacko to do something like that, he figured it was okay as there was no one around to witness the wacko, so he carried on, and a lot of time passed and he thought a little about what he’d left behind and whether or not anyone had found that thing he’d come here in, and if Angela had ever tried to look for him and if she’d really been fucking John Singleton behind his back, and then he heard noises outside and went to investigate, and after about half an hour of walking he found himself next to Adrien Brody, and for some reason he now had a gun and some kind of mask and…

END INSERT]

******************************************************

 

Laurence Fishburne takes us all out of the jungle and into a disused spaceship, which I guess must’ve crashed sometime before any of us got there.

Fishburne tells us what I already know. That they are Predators, that there are three of them, and that we are all completely fucked.

‘So how long you been here, man?’ the convict asks.

Fishburne talks to the empty space next to his shoulder before answering.

‘Eight…no, ten seasons.”

And how long’s a season?”

But this question gets no answer.

And it doesn’t really matter, because we’re still fucked. The Predators are still gonna find us and come in here with their spikes and three red dots and…we’re still fucked. But having this time out, this break from being immediately fucked…it gives me a chance to formulate some kind of plan. Maybe figure out new members for my alliance? Or get hold of some kind of weapon?

So I sit there in silence for a few minutes and try to focus on weapons and alliances and who’s trustworthy and who’s a nut, but it doesn’t stick…none of it sticks, because…

…all I can think of is Danny Trejo.

Danny fucking Trejo. The guy who cut people up. The guy who got cut up. The guy I let die. The guy I might as well have murdered with my own hands. The guy I ran away from. The guy I left. The guy…I can’t think of what else I did to him. The poor bastard.

Topher, the convict and the Russian sit in a circle and talk about back home. The Russian pulls out a picture of his kids and says how old they are. The convict lifts his shirt and shows a tattoo of a naked whore he says is his sister. Topher says nothing.

And I sit on the edge of them, my leg still shaking a little, thinking of how I’m not really a coward for leaving Danny Trejo.

And then a little while later I sit alone with Topher and tell him about what happened. The whole story. The truth.

…but he was already dead…the thing had him, and…he was dead…so what could I do?”

Don’t play it back, man. It wasn’t your fault,” Topher says.

But it was…I could’ve shouted something…I could’ve run over there and…I don’t know, done something…”

There’s nothing you could’ve done. Really.”

But…yeah, I guess you’re right…but…”

It’s not a movie, man. There’re no heroes…you saw he was dead, you saw the thing that killed him and you ran. It’s real life, that’s all.”

Real life. Yeah, you’re right.”

And then we fall into silence, and back in my own thoughts I figure that maybe Topher is right, it is real life and there really was nothing I could’ve done.

*************************************************

[INSERT

It was Liverpool, it was near the Everyman, it was the end of the night.

Four of us stopped outside the kebab shop on the hill, and one of us said they were going in, so the others went in, and I turned to Darren, who was playing with his phone, and I told him we were going in, and he mock-saluted back at me, and said, ‘one minute, man.’

I went into the shop and looked at the menu. Or I tried to look. It was three something in the morning and I couldn’t see so well anymore, but I wasn’t as far gone as Darren was outside, so it wasn’t so bad.

And two minutes later Darren still hadn’t come into the shop, so I said to the others that I was gonna go and look for him, and they said, ‘hurry’, so I jogged outside and a little further up the hill I saw Darren turning into a side alley, so I walked after him and got to the alley and it was dark and I couldn’t see very well, but I was pretty sure I could see him chasing a guy…

But I didn’t follow him.

I walked further up the hill, away from the alley, stopped at the top and pretended to look for him, then faked exasperation and walked back down to the alley. As I looked back in I couldn’t see much, but I knew there was a guy on the ground and I knew someone was kicking him in the head, and deep, deep down I knew it was Darren, and I knew I had to run over there and help him.

But I didn’t.

I walked back into the shop and asked the others if Darren had come back yet.

They shook their heads and I sat down on the bench next to them, thinking about what was happening right then in that alley and what I wasn’t doing, and how much of a fucking coward I was and if I didn’t get up off this fucking bench and do something then I’d never be able to…to what? Look at myself in the mirror? I didn’t know, but I had to get up, I had to stop being a coward, I had to stand up and run into that fucking alley and do something…

I’m gonna go look for him again,” I said, and got up and walked out and went up to the alley and took a deep breath and then another one, and then I walked into the alley and hoped to fucking God it was over already.

And it was.

Ahead of me I could see Darren on the ground, not moving.

Around him were a couple of people, trying to pick him up. I ran over and asked them what had happened.

Some guy kicked him in the head and ran off…” one of them said.

Yes, I know, I thought, but said nothing.

And I sat with him until the ambulance came but he never woke up. They tried the heart clamp things, but they didn’t work. Nothing did. He was gone. Dead. Fucked.

And I was still alive.

END INSERT]

************************************************************

 

I wake up with smoke in my eyes and think I’m in Hell.

Let us out,” the woman’s screaming.

To who?

I look around and see Fishburne with a towel round his head, lurking in one of the surrounding corridors.

I’m not sharing food, and I’m not sharing my ship,” he shouts at us.

Brody screams at him to open the door, but he doesn’t, so Brody shoots at the wall. There’s a blue flash and a little shake of the ship but nothing really changes.

That didn’t do anything,” the convict whines.

Wasn’t meant to. It was a cavalry call.”

****************************************************

None of us knows where Fishburne has gone or what’s happened to him, but a few minutes later one of the Predators has kicked in one of the wall panels.

And we wait.

But it doesn’t come in to spike us.

Are they just waiting outside to slaughter us? Are they after Fishburne first?

Either way I don’t really give a fuck. I know what I’ve done to Darren, I know what I’ve done to Trejo, and I know what I deserve.

****************************************************

We get outside into the corridor and look for an exit.

Topher appears at a hole in one of the walls and says he fell behind, and we have to get him out of there.

But no one stops. The Russian hesitates for a second then carries on after the others.

What do I do, man?” I ask Topher.

Come and get me, man. Please…you can’t leave me here…you can’t…”

But the others are already gone and I can’t be alone, and even if I do find Topher, what kind of team will we be without any kind of gun? And why isn’t he telling me to run and save myself anyway? Is he a coward too?

You can’t…you can’t leave me…” he whines again.

And I know he’s a coward, and I know he deserves what I deserve so I run and leave him there, and as I run I tell myself that if I had a gun I would’ve gone back for him, or if he told me to run and save myself then I would’ve gone back, and it’s true…I’m not a coward…not really…

******************************************************

I turn another corner and the Russian’s there. He grabs me and says we have to go back.

Back for Topher?”

He shakes his head.

I can’t leave him to them.”

And he runs past me and I don’t know why but I follow him and this time as I run I know for sure I’m not a coward and that I’m doing something good, and if I ever was a coward before then I’m about to make amends for it, and if I see a Predator in the next corridor then I’m just gonna keep running at him and…and I’m gonna show him some fucking fire…and he’ll see I’m not a coward, he’ll know it, and the Russian will see me, and he’ll know it too…and I never was a coward, I just had a cowardly moment and it’s not defining, it’s not how I am, not really…

There are gun shots up ahead and I come round the corner to see green blood coming out of the Predator and the Russian disappearing down a hole, and he sees me and calls me over so I run and pull myself down after him.

Down the hole, it’s some kind of tunnel and Topher’s at the other end, trying to shift one of the wall panels…but it won’t budge.

I run over and put my weight into it and pull but it still won’t budge, and I turn to call over the Russian…

Another shot.

I look back and the Russian is down on his face. Behind him, at the other end of the tunnel, the Predator is de-ghosting.

Fuck, fuck…” I say, and turn back to the wall panel, but it’s already ripped and Topher’s climbing through, and…

The sound of something sharp unsheathing.

I turn back round and see the Predator walking towards the Russian, some kind of sword attached to his arm.

And the Russian’s struggling backwards, but not fast enough…nowhere near fast enough…

I watch the scene, trying to control breaths.

It’s down to me.

I’m trying to keep the energy I had before, the fire I was gonna unleash on that mother fucker, but it’s…it’s too late, it’s gone and…that motherfucker’s huge and his sword is huge and he’s walking closer and…what can I do?

What do I do?” I shout to the Russian.

And he doesn’t even have the energy to say ‘run, save yourself’.

What do I do?” I repeat.

But it’s too late. Or some part of me tells the rest of me it’s too late, and if I don’t want to die then I better start running.

So I run. I turn my back on the Russian and I run, fast.

***********************************************************

[INSERT

How to save a Russian [when faced with a Predator]:

1- Pick up the Russian’s gun and shoot the Predator.

Pros: Heroic, might get a lucky shot and kill it.

Cons: Ineffective, three red dots will appear and blow me in half.

2 – Throw a rock at the Predator.

Pros: A lucky head shot? So weak the Predator might not respond.

Cons: Might miss completely and look like a twat. Three red dots, blown in half.

3 – Run at the Predator and rugby tackle it.

Pros: Surprise factor? Insanely heroic. Instant legend.

Cons: Gutted by sword. Suicidal. No one to witness and tell of legend.

4 – Talk to the Predator, get inside its head.

Pros: Might confuse the Predator and buy time.

Cons: Might annoy the Predator. Three red dots…

5 – Stand in front of the Russian and pray for Deus Ex Machina

Pros: God is everywhere.

Cons: God doesn’t give a shit. Gutted by sword while looking stupid.

Conclusion: Defending the Russian would be impossible.

END INSERT]

********************************************************

 

And as I run to catch up with the others I figure it out in my head. I’m not a coward this time, because…because if I am then they’re cowards too. And Topher Grace definitely is. The little prick, he didn’t even pretend to make a choice.

And I catch up to them and they’re climbing out of the ship and onto the roof and I follow them up and when the woman reaches down and helps me I’m about to explain to her what happened back there with the Russian and…

There’s an explosion. I hear it before I see it, but I know it’s gonna come out of the hole I’m almost out of.

And it does.

I dive onto the metal ground like the rest of them and cover my head and when it’s done my arm starts to throb. I hold it out in front of me and try to stretch it a little but the pain is too much so I stop. But I can straighten it at least so I know it isn’t broken, and I look around at the others to see if they’re in pain too, and…fuck, nothing. They’re all standing up like they dived onto a fucking cushion.

And the convict…he’s dancing around singing, ‘we killed it, we killed it…’

There’s two more, asshole,” Brody says back.

And then there’s a blue flash from somewhere and the convict goes down.

What the-…

We all look for the source of the flash, frozen. The next one will come. This is it. A shot in the gut and then…

Three red dots appear on Brody’s head and another Predator de-ghosts in front of us. And I mean right in front of us. It’s too near to get away from, and my legs won’t move anyway. All I can think is, ‘be like the Russian, be like the Russian, be like the Russian.’

And Brody waits to be the first to have his head blown open, probably as scared as me, definitely as scared as me…

Then there’s more green…and the convict is on its neck…and that shank…fuck me, he’s stabbing it, he’s stabbing a Predator like it’s the prison laundry room…

Run!” he shouts at us, still stabbing.

Brody runs first, and then the others, and as I see the convict thrown to the ground and the Predator waving his arms like a nut, I run too. And this time I don’t feel so bad about it, as I’m not the first to leave, and…more than that, I’m not a coward either…or if I am then the rest of them are cowards too…just as coward as…just as cowardly as me…

*******************************************************

We run off the ship and back into the jungle. Behind us we hear the Predator screaming, a war cry, not a death scream. Which means…it means the convict is dead. Horribly dead. Heroically dead.

And as we run I change perspectives and judge myself not against Brody or the woman or the Japanese guy or Topher fucking Grace, but against the Russian, and against the convict. They weren’t cowards. We are, but they weren’t.

And then I wonder why I’m doing all this thinking when there are still two more Predators out there.

Keep it zipped up, Oli. Keep it closed till you get out of this jungle.

So, I zip up my thoughts and watch the trees pass by. One tree, two trees, seven trees, ten trees…and then out of nowhere, a field of long grass.

One grass, two grass, five grass…

The Japanese guy stops halfway into the field. Doesn’t say a word, he just starts taking off his shirt and pulling a sword out. Where did he get that? The spaceship?

And I watch him prepare for whatever the fuck he’s preparing for, even though I know he’s doing exactly what that nut from the Predator movie did. Taking his shirt off, holding something sharp, waiting…it’s exactly the same. What the fuck? Didn’t he see that scene properly? The guy gets gutted, what is he doing?

And I’m gonna ask him, but when I turn back to the others I can see they’re almost out of the field already and there’s a choice between the three of them and the nut with no shirt on, so I leave him to his dance and run for the thousandth time that day.

***********************************************************

Topher Grace falls to the ground and screams like a bitch.

The woman checks his ankle and finds some kind of metal thing stuck in it. I look around the trees and the canopy above for a smug Predator face, but there’s nothing.

Did they plant it before? When?

He’s dead weight,” says Brody, already turning away.

We can’t leave him here,” says the woman.

No, you can’t leave me here,” whines Grace.

I’m halfway between Brody and the other two and not sure. There are still at least two Predators chasing us, and they’re invisible so they could be anywhere…they could be watching us right now…and it’s never a good idea to stand still in a hunt, and…fuck, if Brody isn’t sticking around then there’s no good reason I should, and…and doesn’t Topher deserve this anyway?

Wait, no…no, you can’t leave me…please…” whines Topher again.

Would I ever whine like that? I know Brody wouldn’t, I know the woman wouldn’t…would I?

Brody ignores the whine and runs off. The woman pulls Topher up onto her shoulder and asks me to help.

I don’t know…” I say.

Help me, man…please…”

But I can’t. Brody’s on his own, and I can’t leave him, so…I run.

God damn you!” shouts the woman after me, but I don’t care. It’s not like I’m a coward. It’s different now, way different. Everyone’s leaving everyone.

***************************************************

I catch up with Brody in the Predator’s camp, which is pretty much the same as before. I don’t feel too great about being back here, but I understand we have to be.

The ship must be near here,” Brody says to me.

Can you fly it?”

I’ll give it a shot.’

And then he walks over to the Predator who’s still strung up on that boomerang, and he talks to him even though I’m pretty sure the Predator’s asleep, but then, no,he isn’t, his head’s raised and he’s nodding, or I think he’s nodding, and then…fuck, Brody, what are you-…?

Brody swings his knife and cuts the Predator down.

Man…” I mutter.

The Predator stands up straight and goes for Brody’s neck.

Raaa…grrrr….raaaa…” it says.

But he doesn’t break Brody’s neck, he drops him and presses some buttons on his arm and a little further back into the jungle I hear something like the sound of a huge ship firing up.

Great, a ship…but what about this dude? We’re just gonna fly next to him all the way back to Earth?

The Predator points at where the ship must be and Brody nods.

What if we piss him off somehow? What if I talk too much?

But it’s all redundant now as another Predator is standing at the edge of the camp.

Shit…” says Brody.

Yeah…” I confirm.

And I quickly try to figure out the odds of the two Predators fighting each other instead of us, and what kind of chance two humans will have against two of them, and…but I don’t even have a weapon…and…fuck, a whole fucking day on this planet and I still haven’t picked up a weapon…not even a stick…

But the new Predator seems to dislike the other Predator and they growl at each other and start brawling like a couple of drunks.

Brody grabs my arm and says, ‘come on.’

***********************************************

We run away from the camp and towards the ship and just as we get there Brody turns and looks back at the camp area and I know what he’s thinking…it’s the same thing I’m thinking, the same thing I was thinking when I left the Russian, the same thing I was thinking when I left Trejo, the same thing I was thinking when I left Darren…

But Brody doesn’t dwell on it. He turns back to the ship and looks for a way in.

And I run after him, thinking, fuck, at least I’m not the only one…

************************************************

The ship explodes in the sky above us.

Luckily we weren’t able to find a way in so we don’t explode too, but it’s not like I didn’t try. There isn’t a piece of metal on that thing I didn’t try to rip off, but then Brody…he had another ‘am I a decent guy or not?’ moment, and…

So, we’re running back to the camp, looking for the woman and Topher. And on the way I have a sudden thought…

Hey man…”

Don’t talk, keep running,” Brody barks back.

Yeah, I know, but…about Topher…”

What?”

I don’t know exactly, but…did you ever get a funny feeling about him?”

I’m not sure what I mean exactly, but for some reason all I can remember is how Topher left the Russian so quickly, and how weird it is that he’s here at all. I mean, I’m here, and that’s weird too, but I know I’m alright…not the bravest guy in the world, but a realistic kind of guy, a pragmatist when it comes to leaving people to die, but…Topher?

You mean, why does he come across like a sociopath?”

Err…yeah. I guess.”

Brody stops and looks at me.

I could say the same about you…”

Yeah, you could, but…wait, no, you couldn’t. I’m alright…I’m-…”

You’re…?”

I search for the words to describe what I am.

Coward. Coward. Coward. Coward. Coward. Coward. Coward. Coward. Coward. Coward.

But the words won’t come…

I don’t know what I am.”

We’ll see…”

************************************

And Brody starts running again and pretty soon we’re standing over a pit and down in the pit are Topher and the woman, and the woman isn’t moving and looks like she’s been cut, but a little cut, and…and I remember the scalpel Topher has, and before Brody can help them up, I pull him to the side and tell him what I think, and he nods and tells me to go find some rope or something…

And I don’t know why but there’s some rope lying nearby…I guess the Predators use it too, which is kinda strange, but they look kinda humanoid so maybe it’s not so strange…and I throw the rope to Brody and we pull the woman and the sociopath up.

When they get to the top Brody looks at the woman’s wound, which is small and on her neck, and despite me warning him about Topher being a nut, Brody turns his back on Topher and…and it’s up to me again…it’s up to me to pick up a big stick, and…

I’m surprised you came back…” Topher says very calmly to Brody’s back, and I can see the scalpel slipping into his hand…

I pick up a nearby stick and hold it tight.

This is your moment, Oli, I tell myself, and I think, yeah, it’s Topher fucking Grace, I can take him, and I’m behind him too so there’s absolutely no risk at all, and all I have to do is swing this stick and whack him on the head and…

But I don’t. I just stand there, and stand there and do nothing.

And Topher aims his scalpel at Brody, but he’s not fast enough, or Brody’s too fast, and somehow the scalpel gets flipped around and…it’s Topher’s neck that’s cut, not Brody’s.

I’m real fast…” says Brody.

Please don’t kill me, man…please…” whines Topher yet again. Jesus.

I’m not gonna kill you.”

And Brody straps a couple of grenades to him and puts him back in the middle of the camp, and fiddles with something then stands up and walks back to where me and the woman are.

It ain’t nothing he doesn’t deserve…”

And neither myself or the woman disagree.

****************************************************

Brody has his shirt off and is standing on the edge of the camp, explaining what my role will be.

See, the thing’ll come back, the grenades will go off, and…shit, hopefully that’ll be the end of it, but if it isn’t…if it isn’t, we set off the fire, we confuse him, we run in and we swing with the knives. Aim for the neck, the head, or the legs…if we work together, we should have a chance…okay?”

I don’t nod or shake my head. I just stand there with the knife he’s given me.

Okay, well, try and work yourself up…like a frenzy, okay?”

Yeah…frenzy…”

But all I can think is ‘analysis’.

Look, if you don’t, we’re fucked. Get it?”

Yeah…frenzy…”

**********************************************************

The Predator comes back into the camp and finds Topher on the ground and I can’t see very clearly, but it looks like he stabs him a little to check if he’s dead or not, and then he flips him over and…

Topher Grace explodes.

The Predator flies backwards, and for some reason I do too.

What are you doing?” Brody asks.

From the ground I look at the Predator and wait to see if he gets up or not.

He gets up.

Fuck.

I scream a little and say my eye’s hurt.

Brody shakes his head and runs off somewhere, and as soon as he’s out of sight I take my hand away from my eye and try to think of a way out of this.

I could run back into the jungle.

I could see what the fire does to the Predator and then, if it fucks him up, I attack.

I could hide behind the woman.

I could pretend to be dead.

None of these options seem decent enough. Whichever one I play out, it always leads to me being cut to pieces.

Fuck.

************************************************

The predator walks back into the middle of the camp and then the fire goes off and surrounds him. He makes noises like he’s annoyed, and…it looks like it’s working.

I sit there and watch.

Brody runs in and hits the Predator in the face with a stick.

I think about doing the same.

Brody does it again.

I don’t.

Brody hits him on the leg.

I stand up.

Brody hits him in the gut.

I sit back down.

Brody hits him on the head.

I can’t move my legs.

Brody hits him in the leg again.

I pray to Jesus for Brody to just stab the fucker in the neck.

Brody goes in once too often and the Predator grabs him.

Fuck.

He throws him to the ground and then picks him up again.

Brody looks over at me.

I grip my knife.

The Predator raises his sword to Brody’s neck and prepares to swing.

I stand there as still as a tree.

Do it, Oli, do it, Oli, do it, Oli, do it, Oli…

But I can’t stop being a tree.

And the Predator swings the sword and…

Bang.

Green shit flies out of the Predator’s shoulder and he goes down. I spin and see the woman holding her sniper thingy.

Brody picks up the Predator’s sword and goes to town on him.

I watch.

Then Brody swings one last time and the Predator’s neck opens up just like that Kurgan guy in Highlander and his head drops to the ground.

And right away I start looking for excuses.

Sorry, Brody, I couldn’t see straight.

Sorry, Brody, I was worried about the woman.

Sorry, Brody, I thought you were doing okay by yourself.

Sorry, Brody, I was scared.

I was fucking terrified.

I was waiting until your head was cut off then I was gonna run like a fucking coward.

Brody walks over and says ‘thanks for the save, asshole.’

And I want to use one of my excuses, probably the ‘I couldn’t see straight’ one, but I know he won’t believe it.

We both know what I am.

And Brody goes over to the woman and asks if she’s okay and then they tell each other their names and he picks her up and carries her away, and…neither of them seem to give a shit if I follow or not.

So I stand there for a while, wondering what to do.

And the only thing I can think of is to pick up the dead Predator and pretend he’s coming back to life and then fake-kill him again.

Fuck, I’m pathetic.

And I walk over and pick up the shoulders of the dead Predator and do it anyway.

*********************************************************

EPILOGUE

For the next year, Brody, the woman and myself run through that jungle, hiding mostly, and killing the occasional Predator.

Or Brody kills the occasional Predator.

And the woman helps when she can, usually as a distraction or a far point sniper.

And I try to offer excuses when I can, but no one really listens to me.

We don’t make any kind of permanent shelter, because Brody says this will make us too comfortable, and we can’t do that, not if we wanna get home.

So we keep on moving every day, and despite what he said about being comfortable, Brody and the woman start fucking.

Every night they tell me to go sleep on the edge of the camp, and I know what that means.

And most nights I sneak back and watch them fucking. I see how Brody does it, how aggressive he is, like she’s a Predator and he’s on top, and…

And every morning they make breakfast together and give nothing to me. So, I have to go into the jungle and eat berries instead.

Which makes me weak and frail…but it’s fine. I can live like this.

But then one time, Brody gets into a fight he shouldn’t and is pinned down by two Predators. They shoot him in the gut and we watch from a bush as they de-ghost and rip out his spine.

I have to hold back the woman to stop her running in. Even when they’re polishing his skull.

So Brody’s gone and it’s just me and her left

The next few weeks, she hides up a tree and cries. I wait at the bottom for her to stop.

Then she stops. And comes down. And we run again.

And we stop trying to kill the Predators, and instead try to go as far away as we can and live out the rest of our days.

And it works.

The Predators seem to forget about us.

And the woman seems to forget about Brody.

And after what must be a few months, we even start fucking.

And we make breakfast together.

And then one day, sitting in our makeshift tree-house, with the jungle still and peaceful around us, she turns to me and says, ‘I hate you.’

Huh?”

But she doesn’t say anymore.

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