“We’re being followed…” his wide eyes and body language telling even more his words ever could. Suddenly, Mitch and Phil were equally freaked out despite not truly understanding why. Similar to the fear generated by seeing Brycen, an actual giant, feel the need to head in the other direction, Mitch and Phil felt helpless as this 8 foot tall man had panic in his eyes while flying a wicked sick helicopter.
“Followed by who?” Mitch asked scared of what the answer might be.
“Whom,” Phil needlessly corrected his short companion.
“Really?” Mitch momentarily lost his fright in order to shoot Phil a quick glance of disbelief.
“You’ll thank me later,” Phil responded with a smug look on his face. Mitch still looked at him in amazement for what felt like only a second before Jaime began shouting at them again.
“I don’t have time to explain who’s following us and still get away, you guys need to go,” Jaime yelled from far above. “Hurry!” The despair in his voice remained far too apparent for either of their likings. They both looked down at the ground only to find that during Phil’s quick grammar lesson, Jaime had descended enough for a safe jump to the ground below. Unfortunately for Phil, Mitch decided to make it interesting.
“You first,” Mitch shouted as he pushed Phil towards the ground in retaliation for being a nerd. Mitch was quick to follow Phil to the grass, but he did so on his own time. Immediately after Mitch hit the Earth, Jaime took off in the direction that they had come from. And just as Phil was about to berate Mitch for pushing him out of a still hovering helicopter, Mitch’s eyes widened as he pointed off in the distance. Phil followed Mitch’s gaze to find that there was a large city not too far from where they were which had a magnificent castle beyond it far in the distance from where they currently stood. It was still a long walk away, and clearly there was more to traverse in the meantime, but for the first time, they could really see it – the palace of the evil Queen Brit. The dread that Jaime had instilled in them was suddenly gone – if for a brief moment – and replaced with satisfaction. Their journey had been a long, dangerous one that had taken a real toll on the two of them. But now their previous troubles no longer seemed to matter as their final destination was now a real, visible place. This gave them both the energy they needed to pick up the pace in an attempt to stay away from whatever it was that had disturbed Jaime so greatly. Almost at a jog, Mitch and Phil were looking over their shoulders with every other step. Certainly in retrospect they had regretted not at least attempting to get more information from their pilot about what it was that followed them. Though the sun was still out and bright in the sky providing the least creepy scenario possible, they couldn’t help but assume that every loose blade of grass blowing in the wind noticed by their peripheral vision was an attack. They were in a wide open field less than a mile from the city’s exterior, but the non-cut grass left too much to the imagination. The fear escalating with each quick turn of the head until finally Mitch spoke up.
“Wanna go for a jog?” Mitchel asked already beginning to take off. Phil obliged without a second thought, and just like that they were getting in their daily exercise. Despite all the tension that built and had each of their hearts pounding through their chests, they arrived in the city without a problem. However, it didn’t take long for their fear of the unknown to transition to a well understood fear of their immediate surroundings.
“How did we already wander into the wrong neighborhood?” Phil asked as quietly as he could. Their jog had made them initially oblivious to what exactly they were walking into. As their heart rates came back down and they gained a greater clarity for what they were seeing, it didn’t take long for them both to figure out how they would almost die next. The bunches of angry people, all of whom were wearing the same color, glaring at them made Mitch and Phil immediately regret not taking a better approach than simply waltzing into the city. This city was literally the hub for all the evil that they had encountered thus far. But these epiphanies were happening too late for comfort for the two of them. Before they could even think of turning around, a car slowly pulled up alongside them.
“Get in,” the female voice said from the car. She didn’t talk with an overly menacing tone, but it was forceful enough to warrant little resistance to her request outside of a quick, shared glance by Mitch and Phil. In their quick look at each other, they each clearly understood that no good could possibly come from saying no to her. So, they got in the car while hoping nothing awful was about to happen. It was a quick ride to their destination; it gave Mitch just enough time to hum Just Keep Swimming to himself to keep his spirits up. When the car stopped, Mitch and Phil were hardly ready for it. They looked around wondering what exactly it was that seemed to be the destination. There were just more run-down houses and apartment complexes not two blocks from where they just were. Why was so special about these that this random girl needed to bring them here? Typically these were thoughts that they’d be having aloud in hopes of stumbling upon a solution, but they were largely too afraid to actually talk because of how dangerous the setting was. “Get out,” she told them as she exited the car herself. She motioned for them to follow her into one of the small houses. As they entered they saw someone barking orders at a couple of others – all wearing the same colors.
“…C’mon son!” she holla’d at the end of a long speech that they could barely make out from outside the house. Rockin’ two chains, a bandana with the gang’s colors, and an expensive looking watch that was as fake as it was bedazzled; it was obvious to Mitch and Phil that she was the leader. Whether that was good or bad news for them was still to be determined.
“Natalie,” the driver began talking to the leader, “What do you wanna do with these two?” Natalie looked at Mitch and Phil with an inquisitive eye. And in sizing them up, Natalie realized how little there was to fear from the two of them.
“Who are you guys? And why are you here?” she asked. Her intonation was a peculiar one. It was arrogant, but not excessively so. They could sense she really did want to hear their response, but that she assumed she already knew what that response would be.
“We’re here to retrieve my Tiger Card from Queen Brit,” Mitch answered with complete honesty hoping to get out of this nightmarish scenario as quickly as he could. “She stole it because even though it’s 2013, haters continue to hate. And so now Phil and I are on a quest to get it back from her. And we may have promised to put an end to her tyrannical reign.”
“May have?” Phil asked Mitch.
“It’s almost 4 in the morning; I can’t remember if that happened or not,” Mitch said shattering the fourth wall like he was the Kool Aid man. Phil and Natalie both looked at him like he was crazy for a quick second before continuing the conversation pretending that never happened.
“If you’re against Queen Brit, then you’re OK by me,” Natalie responded shocking both of them. “I used to be a communications studies major. I had dreams, ambitions…I wanted to do something good for the world,” she continued worked up by just the mention of Queen Brit. Her quick monologue dropped both Mitch and Phil’s jaws to the ground. It was a quick turnaround from figuring they were all but doomed to watching a gang leader get emotional. “Then she came along. She ruined everything. Just look at me,” she exclaimed while holding up her two chains. “Now I rep the North-Central-Side. And even though I’m holdin’ it down for my clique, the truth is I didn’t choose the thug life; the thug life chose me.”
“Well, if you just let us be on our way, we’ll stop Queen Brit. No matter what it takes,” Mitch responded. He was inspired by Natalie’s troublesome story, in addition to the many other stories they had encountered at that point.
“I can’t just let you go like that,” Natalie responded momentarily freaking out Mitch and Phil with the nature of her comment. “There’s a major battle that’s about to take place between the two other major gangs and us,” she continued her thought allowing Mitch and Phil to breathe more easily after realizing it wasn’t a direct threat she was hinting at. “But we can try to get you through the havoc as best as possible. We can only take you so far, but it’s better than going in there alone.”
“Sounds like a deal then,” Mitch proclaimed excited at how everything seemed to be nearing the end. He could almost taste all the meals his Tiger Card would allow him in the fantastic eating establishment that is The 5. “However, Phil’s going to require his own North-Central-Side chain because he’s been low on bling as of late.” Phil couldn’t decide between confusion at the thought or anger at Mitch for putting him in an awkward, no-win situation. And before he could decide which emotion to pick, Natalie had already grabbed a spare chain and handed it to him. Phil was now compelled to put it on, lest he should insult the gang leader who was still very much in charge of everything about Phil’s life at the moment. Promptly after putting it on, gun shots were heard in the distance.
“Let’s go,” Natalie told them as they all got ready to head into the battle of their lives. As they raced to their starting position, Natalie explained what brief details she could to them about the situation. It wasn’t much, but there weren’t a lot of other options any more. Heading into a massive fight with Queen Brit’s castle looming just ahead, Mitch and Phil mentally prepared themselves as best as they could for what lie ahead. And just as Natalie got them into their position, readying them for the right moment for their mad dash forward, the entire dynamic of the situation changed. Suddenly, Mitch and Phil both caught a glimpse of who had been following them for the duration of their journey, what had freaked out Jaime enough to abort immediately, and what had kept Queen Brit in power all this time…