The kid was in the square painted on the concrete. Pacing. Back and forth. Back and forth. Around. Backwards. Figure 8’s. Kicking his worn boots in the dust and grime on the ground. The old cell phone flickered next to his ear and he pulled it away, smacking at it. Piece of shit.
He looked at the sky again, listening to the phone ring. Not good. Not good. It was grey and black and fat and furious. Plump like a pig ready for gutting. Where the fuck was the ice-eater? He kept on pacing.
In the distance, further down the lot was another kid, in another square. The two were connected by more lines— neon 90 degree bends, sickly yellow/green against the dull pavement. He did the same dance as the 1st. Old black boots, cut-offs, bandana and goggles hanging around his neck. Pink hair and a dirty face. Back and forth inside the square, kicking at the ground, dead buildings all around.
A dot appeared on the horizon, shimmering in the heat.
The ice-eater, finally.
The kid in the first square slapped the cell phone shut and it fizzled out of existence. He watched as the ice-eater approached, continuing to pace. Kid number 2 didn’t look up.
The ice-eater rolled in on his board, trailing a cloud of dust. He stepped off, kicked it into the air and it fizzled out of existence. Pulling his bandana and goggles off, he walked up to the line and the two of them shook, their fingerless gloves doing an elaborate dance: palm, thumb, slap, pull, grasp. The ice changed hands. A flash of crystal blue from palm to palm up the sleeve. The kid in the square popped his cell phone open and checked it— flicker, flash, SLAP. He nodded at the ice-eater. Done. In the distance, kid number 2 continued to pace in his own square space, head down.
The ice-eater kicked his board back and hopped on, pulling his bandana and goggles around his face. He knelt, pushing hard into the wind. The sky roiled in the distance.
The trio watched the ice-eater whiz past, and gave chase from the shadows. The little faggot had fucked around long enough in this city. Untouched and entitled. He was going down.
Whoops and hollers. The ice-eater looked behind him, cursing when he saw them. 3 in total, long trenches and elaborate masks. A variety of weapons, but none that could hit him from here. He’d seen these guys around before. So much for staying under the radar. He knelt lower and pushed the board to its max, the wind beginning to sting. The cries behind him grew louder.
Rounding the corners he was nearly horizontal. He knew this playground. He was about to find out if the trio did.
They did. It was a good chase but they got him, overtaking him slowly in the speed and the dust. They didn’t kill him, though (their mistake). The big one with the drain tanks on his back jumped from his board onto the ice-eater’s, the two of them flailing for a moment before going down. The dust was so thick it was nearly impossible to see what was happening, but in the haze and the madness they got his coat and all of his stuff— including the ice.
But he got away in the shuffle, no broken bones, nothing.
He leaned his back against the warm brick of his hiding place, listening as their cries faded in the distance, his breath heaving in his chest. This wasn’t over.
Slowly, he fastened the bandana around his nose and mouth, donned the goggles and engaged the soft-touch on their side.
The kid in the second box snapped to attention, looking into the distance. His goggles flashed around his neck.
The ice-eater gave chase, on foot, full-tilt.
The kid in the second box did the same, breaking from the lines and bounding across the parking lot, throwing his board down and hopping on. Black boots on translucent neon, bandana and goggles cutting the wind. He reached the ice-eater in less than a minute, bending into a long arch and relaxing to a pace just slow enough for his board-less counterpart to jump on. The two of them knelt low and bore down on the trio.
The attackers had slowed, joking around and tossing the ice-eater’s stuff back and forth as they loafed on their boards. Suddenly one of them hollered, pointing behind them. The brute and the ice-eater, on one board, coming straight for them. They panicked, scrambling and dropping some of the stuff as they took off.
The brute slowed the board where the trio had been and the ice-eater jumped down, gathering up some of his things. Most of them were broken. So much time and effort collecting them, too. Fucking idiots. He looked up as they sped away in the distance, calculating. After a second he hopped on and they were off again, hair and clothes whipping the wind.
They followed them to the old hospice and watched as they kicked their boards and ran inside, thinking this gave them the advantage. Maybe it did. Doubtful— but maybe.
The brute and the ice-eater dis-boarded outside the door and took their places on either side. It was pitch black over the threshold, and the last of the light from the day-night was fading. They did the shake — palm, thumb, slap, pull, grasp — and soft-touched the night vision on their goggles. One deep breath, together—into the building.
Above them, the black clouds broke open, finally, and a massive tear of thunder ripped into the sky, puking rain down onto the dead earth.
It was time to get their ice back.