He nodded, trying not to stress her vocals too much by asking her to elaborate. Instead, he encouraged that same vim and vigor he saw in her eyes when he mentioned food. "Yeah, warm chicken. Steaming hot, fresh bread..." He was getting hungry himself, and as they approached the end of the debris, he would have given anything for a hotdog stand or something. Sappo would probably approve of it, he thought, and dialed the corporate helicopter to pick them up, a privilege that had been restricted since the energy crisis. "Hope you're not afraid of large machinery," he said.
She only knew what bread was. Chicken was of some magnitude. She just nodded slightly about the food, but grew nervous at the Nayaran logo on the large helicopter. Her feet pulled her away.
He took a step into the helicopter, looking forward to cruising around in his own personal flight apparatus, when he noticed her apprehension. "Oh, no need to worry," he said, eyeing the Nayaran logo on the machine. He shook his head. "A compromise, all right? Simple choice. You get in the helicopter, we get to food faster. Then the boss is so excited to meet you. And he would not want to see you starve." He placed his hand on his electric riot stick, powering it up again, so that the light on its tip illuminated the dark underground city. "Come on, follow this."
Taking a few more steps back, she suddenly took off in the opposite direction, through the debris and darkness.
He lunged into the machine and ordered the pilot to follow the girl into the debris, as he hung his body off the side, his electric riot stick brightly announcing his chase. Though part of him felt dirty doing it, he knew this was the part he had to play, the badge he wore, and anyway, what a load of fun it was to be the guy in the sky. "YOU ARE A PRODUCT OF THE NAYARAN CORPORATION," he announced through the JetRanger's PA system as the spotlight blazed upon her. He took a fourth level gas grenade from the cockpit, pulling out the pin but not yet releasing the trigger.
She fell around a pile of discarded refrigerators. When she saw the large black helicopter coming towards her, she hid underneath a cross of iron pipes. A puddle of darkness seeped between her toes, and she shivered from the breeze of the helicopter's turbines.
He kicked a zip line ladder off the helicopter, and ordered the pilot to approach the girl. He stepped halfway down the ladder, with his hand clutching the gas grenade. Suspending his body, he spoke to the dark shadow of pipes where she was hiding. "You are a product of Nayaran Corporation," he announced again. "You are..." he sighed, hearing the parody in his own voice as he said it, naming a defunct organization as if they still owned anything anymore, playing on helicopters as if he still had the jurisdiction. What were they now, but deserters, lapping up the excesses of life that fell through the pipes. "Listen," he said, just as the gas grenade malfunctioned, exploding in a rushing cloud of mid-air green gas, obscuring everything around it except for his unconscious body as it fell past the ladder, landing with a reverberating "THUD" on the hollow pipe.
She shivered, catching the dark liquid beneath her with a rusted rice counter, and tossing it into a fallen refrigerator. The sound of that machine had vanished. She winced when she heard the noise. It took her a few moments before she realized that she could come out from beneath the pipes. From the look of the corpse she thought that the man was most certainly dead and was unsure of what to do with the lifeless body. She did not know how to check if someone was hurt or breathing, so she just kind of sat there watching.
Previously published in The Houston Literary Review, Danse Macabre and Hando No Kuzushi, Kawika Guillermo writes stories about growing up in Las Vegas, stories about traveling throughout Asia, and speculative flash fiction stories with social themes. His work focuses on the (infra)structure of cities as transitory spaces that condition characters. In his fiction, these spaces reveal how characters participate in daily life through daily bus commutes, a cafe's interior design, and the mind-maps that enable their struggles and desires.
Currently, Kawika is living in Seattle, pursuing a Ph.D. in literary studies. Check him out at KawikaGuillermo.weebly.com.